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New iPhone? No thanks, say cash-conscious Europeans

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Apple's new iPhone 4S failed to create interest in continental Europe, where the company's share of the fast-growing smartphone market slipped.

Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said yesterday that weakening economies and falling prices of rival smartphones are hurting sales of Apple iPhones across Europe.

The October rollout of the iPhone 4S boosted its position in Britain and the US, but not in Europe.

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 shelves in the run-up to Christmas. However, this trend is far from universal," says Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director.

Kantar said Apple's market share in the 12 weeks to end-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 in Germany to 22% from 27%. Similar drops were seen in Italy and Spain.

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

Euro-zone GDP grew just 0.2% in the third quarter, and most economists expect it to contract in the fourth quarter and also 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.

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.

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