Windows Phone still struggles to gain considerable traction in China, Japan, US

Windows Phone may have managed to overtake Apple's iPhone in a small number of markets, based on sales, and become the third most popular smartphone operating system, but it -- and the devices that run it -- do not get much love from US consumers who are still buying Android smartphones and iPhones in droves.

Based on a new report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, in the US Windows Phone continues to struggle to gain considerable traction as the OS only had a paltry 4.7 percent market share, in the three months ending November 2013. This may represent a whopping 80.76 percent increase compared to the same period from 2012, but it is not large enough to even remotely threaten the local dominance of either Android or iOS. The results of the report are based on smartphone sales.

In the three months ending November 2013, in the US Android had a 50.3 percent market share while iOS came in second place with a 43.1 percent market share. The remaining market share was attributed to BlackBerry -- 0.6 percent -- and other platforms -- 1.3 percent. It is worth pointing out that Android and iOS traded places, compared to the same period from 2012, when Apple's iPhones had a 53 percent market share while Android ruled 42.3 percent of the market.

In other parts of the world, Windows Phone does better. That said, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo warns that the platform still needs to succeed in at least one of the two largest smartphone markets. "You don't have to conquer China and the US to win in the smartphone market, but you do need success in one of them. At the moment there are few signs of progress in either country for Windows Phone and momentum needs to be made soon before OS loyalty severely limits the available market".

"China is likely to be the easier and more rewarding target for Windows", adds Sunnebo. "After all, Nokia has a huge existing presence in the market, retains strong customer preference and can sell handsets at the right price to capture the huge numbers of people with relatively modest budgets. However, with Microsoft soon running the show it's hard to imagine a change in strategic direction away from the US".

In China, Windows Phone's market share is lower at 2.7 percent (Android -- 78.6 percent, iOS -- 17 percent), and marginally higher in Australia compared to the US -- 6.9 percent (Android -- 55.1 percent, iOS -- 35 percent). The worst news comes from Japan, where consumers want nothing to do with Microsoft's OS and the smartphones that run it -- Windows Phone had 0 (yes, that is zero) percent market share (Android -- 30 percent, iOS -- 69.1 percent). That's a tough nut to crack for the platform.

In the five European markets -- France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain -- that Kantar Worldpanel ComTech uses in its reports, in the three months ending November 2013, Windows Phone's market share topped 10 percent (5.3 percentage points higher compared to the same respective period from 2012 when it had a 4.7 percent market share). Android dominates with 69.1 percent market share, followed by iOS with 18.1 percent of the market.

It will be interesting to see what sort of impact winter holiday sales have had (if any) over Windows Phone's market share. We will find out more once IDC, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech and Gartner release their reports for Q4 2013.

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