Back in 2015, things were the other way around: Android was being squeezed by Apple little by little in all big markets - including China - and even a month ago it would have seemed that iOS can still continue its conquest in Asia, judging by the last market snapshot for Q4 2015.
However, Kantar's latest report shows signs that the tables have turned. The smartphone sales data for the three months ending in February 2016 paints a picture that may have been expected by some, especially if you saw Apple's report for Q1 of FY2016. In short, while the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were a success, they didn't help increase market share, especially in the Chinese market.
According to the British research firm's data, this is the first time since August 2014 when the market share of iOS hasn't grown in urban China. Compared to February 2015, iOS' market share has declined 3.2 percentage points, sitting at 22.2% in February 2016.
Meanwhile, Android devices have sold like hot cakes during the Chinese New Year, and their market share has grown by pretty much the same amount that iOS has lost between February 2015 and February this year - 3.4 percentage points that now place it at 76.4% market share in the Chinese market.
Huawei, the company who recently announced its latest flagship pair of smartphones sporting Leica optics, can now be proud as it has replaced Apple as the top smartphone brand in China, sitting at 24.4% while the Cupertino giant bites the silver medal with a 22.2% market share.
If that was not enough competition for Apple, Kantar says that Meizu and Oppo have also shown impressive year-over-year growth, with both companies managing to grab 6% market share. Android also had varying degrees of success in the top five European markets, with the OS managing to sit at 90% in Spain, while not making it to 56% in the U.K..
Kantar's Lauren Guenveur speculates that it's not all bad news for Apple, as consumer spending habits seem to indicate that there is some room for iOS growth with the iPhone SE, which carries a $399 price tag that is very close to the $350+ that 31% of the people who buy Android phones are willing to shell out. Not only that, but some people may have been holding out for a compact smartphone just like the iPhone SE, even as larger handsets are becoming more popular.
As we look at year-over-year performance for iOS and Android, we can't help but notice that Windows phones are not doing very well, and although we do know from Gartner that sales of Windows handsets have been more than disappointing for 2015, that trend has yet to show signs that it can reverse.
The market presence for Windows phones in China hasn't changed between February 2015 and February this year, but the problem is that it has declined 2.2 percentage points in the U.S., and the EU5 region has seen the same overall trend of Windows phones getting squeezed to a corner of the market, even when Europe was supposed to be the promised land for its growth.
What is perhaps the most disappointing consequence of Microsoft's lack of focus on Windows phones is the fact that even with the launch of the Lumia 950 series, the market share of Windows handsets in Europe has been decreasing almost every month between November 2015 and February 2016.
What do you think about the latest snapshot of the smartphone landscape? Are you interested in buying the iPhone SE? Sound off in the comments section.