Downturn hurts Apple’s iPhone sales

WEAKENING economies and falling prices of rival smartphones are hurting sales of Apple iPhones across Europe, data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows.

The October roll-out of Apple’s iPhone 4S boosted its position in Britain and the US, but the new phones failed to excite interest in Europe, where Apple’s share of the fast-growing smartphone market slipped.

The smartphone industry is dominated by Google, which has stormed the market with its free Android platform.

“In Great Britain, the US and Australia, Apple’s new iPhone continues to fly off the shelf in the run-up to Christmas. However, this trend is far from universal,” said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director.

Apple’s market share in the 12 weeks to the end of November rose to 36% in the US from 25% a year earlier and in Britain to 31% from 21%.

However, in France its share slipped to 20% from 29% and from 27% to 22% in Germany. Similar drops were seen in Italy and Spain.

“The French market is showing increasing signs of price sensitivity,” Sunnebo said.

In part, the European sales of the Apple model were hit by weakening economies across the continent.

Eurozone GDP grew just 0.2% in the third quarter and economists expect it to contract in the fourth as well as in the first three months of next year, sending the bloc back into recession after its two-year recovery from the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s.

The eurozone debt crisis has scared off investment and eaten into business and consumer confidence, particularly since August when investors intensified their scrutiny of the bloc’s problems.

European consumers are keeping a lid on their expenses as government spending cuts and job losses deprive companies of demand for goods and crush exports.

Google had market shares of between 46% and 61% in all markets.

Mobile phone makers like Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG Ericsson and Motorola all use its Android platform in their phones.

“In Germany, Android achieved a dominant 61% share of smartphone sales in the latest 12 weeks, with the Samsung Galaxy S II the top selling handset,” Sunnebo said.

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