Apple is booming in Europe -- at Google's expense

For Apple, the good times keep on coming: New data from Kantar Worldpanel show that the Cupertino company’s smartphone business is continuing to grow at Google’s expense in Europe.

Between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015, the iPhone has increased its market share in the “big 5” — Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Spain — from 18.6% to 20.3%, while Android has dropped from 71.5% to 68.4%.

In certain countries, this trend is even more pronounced. In Britain, iOS share has grown from 31.2% to 38.1% in the course of a year, with Android dropping from 57.7% to 52.9%.

It’s further evidence of the incredible drawing power of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which gifted Apple the most profitable quarter at the end of 2014 of any company ever.

And Kantar’s data is also further evidence of how Apple is no longer sitting at the top of the market — it’s actively skimming off customers from Android. Kantar points to an increased rate of “switchers” as a driving force behind this growth. “On average, across Europe’s big five countries during the first quarter, 32.4% of Apple’s new customers switched from iOS to Android.”

Here’s a section of Kantar’s data. Note that China refers only to “urban China,” rather than the entire country.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has woken up to the power of “switchers.” In Apple’s earning call last month, he said “switchers” 5 times — more than ever before. He says he sees “significant opportunities” in moving beyond Apple’s traditional positioning exclusively at the top of the market.

“The upper income earners, there’s only so many of those. And you can’t grow those kind of numbers without getting significantly into the middle class,” he told analysts. “And so I think that’s where we are. I hope we’re also beyond the middle class. but I don’t have the data to sugges that that’s the case or not the case. But it’s clear to me that the middle class statement has to be true.”

Some maintain that Apple’s iOS does not present an existential threat to Android because fundamentally, they target different markets. Sure, the iPhone 6 all but wiped out the high-end Android market — but the low-end, high-volume sector is secure.

But as Apple now targets switchers to move “beyond the middle class,” this may no longer be the case.

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