While Android and Apple continue to dominate the UK smartphone landscape, the battle for third place heats up as Windows Phone overtakes BlackBerry.

Windows Phone 8 Overtakes BlackBerry in UK Smartphone Wars
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer displays a Nokia Lumia 920 featuring Windows Phone 8 during an event in San Francisco, California October 29, 2012. (Credit: Reuters)

BlackBerry UK chief Rob Orr happily told IBTimes UK on Friday he had successfully defended his position as the third biggest smartphone player behind Android and Apple. However figures released today by research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech suggest otherwise, with Windows Phone overtaking the Canadian company to become the third most popular smartphone platform in the UK.

While there may be no individual Windows Phone devices listed among the top ten selling smartphones for the first three months of 2013, in total 7% of all phones sold between January and March featured Windows Phone, while only 5.1% were BlackBerry devices.

The past 12 months has seen BlackBerry's market share drop dramatically from 15.3% as the company seeks to turn around its fortunes. During the quarter in question, the company launched its completely redesigned BlackBerry 10 platform as well as the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone.

BlackBerry however disputes the figures, saying they are based on survey research as opposed to actual sales figures. It points to figures from another research firm, GfK, which puts BlackBerry's market share during the same period at 10%, double that Kantar estimates.

"With 1 million BlackBerry 10 devices shipped globally in February alone and a positive response to the new BlackBerry Q10 in the UK, we're confident of maintaining and strengthening our position as the third most popular smartphone in the UK market," a BlackBerry statement said.

Microsoft's Windows Phone has seen slow but steady growth in most markets, though the UK, France and especially Italy are particularly good markets for the platform. Nokia and HTc are the two companies driving adoption of the platform with a series of devices running Windows Phone 8 launching towards the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013.

Continue to dominate

While Microsoft and BlackBerry fight for the scraps, Android and Apple continue to dominate.

Taking into account all models of Apple's iconic smartphone, the iPhone remains the most popular smartphone in the UK. It accounts for 27.4% of all smartphones sold in the first three months of 2013, with the iPhone 5 the clear market leader with 15% of sales while the iPhone 4S took 7.5% of the smartphone market


iPhone 5 Most Popular Smartphone
A store worker picks up a new Apple iPhone 5 during the launch, at the Apple Store in Covent Garden in London September 21, 2012. (Credit: Reuters)

However the pervasive nature of Android has seen it continue to grow market share, rising almost 10% year-on-year, now holding a 58.4% UK market share compared to Apple's 28.7%.

This is set to continue in the current quarter with the high-profile releases of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and their associated marketing blitzes.

"We expect to see a further spike in [Android's] share in the coming months, as sales from the HTC One start coming through and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is launched. This will pile pressure on Apple, BlackBerry and Nokia to keep their products front of consumers' minds in the midst of a Samsung and HTC marketing blitz," Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said.

Samsung = Android

Samsung's hugely popular Galaxy S3 was the second best-selling smartphone between January and March of this year, with 11.4 percent of the market, despite it being on sale since May of last year.

The Galaxy S3 Mini was also popular with 5.7% of the market and indeed five of the top ten selling smartphones in the UK in the first quarter of 2013 were made by Samsung. The Galaxy S2, now two years old is still selling in significant numbers with 3.4% of the market.

These figures seem to confirm that Samsung is the only manufacturer making any money from the Android platform, with the only other Android phone in the list the LG-made, Google Nexus 4 which combines superb hardware with a low price - however stock restrictions meant many people were unable to purchase it during the early part of 2013.

Sunnebo added:

"Samsung already accounts for half of the ten bestselling smartphones in Britain and much has been said in the past about Samsung's strong distribution, but it is clear that one of the key drivers of Samsung's performance is how targeted each device is. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data clearly shows that different Samsung models are appealing to a very different type of consumer."

UK smartphone adoption remains high, and in the three months to the end of March smartphone penetration in Britain remained at 63%, with smartphones making up 84% of all mobile phone sales.