Elsewhere, Windows is experiencing strong European growth, particularly in Britain and Italy, with shares hitting 5.9% and 13.9% respectively -- up from just 2.2% and 2.8% a year ago.
Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, comments: "At the end of 2012 the global OS picture shows Android on top, but clearly the rate of growth it experienced over the past year is beginning to slow as easy wins from first time smartphone buyers begin to reduce.
"It has been far slower than Microsoft would have liked, but Windows Phone is now starting to gain respectable shares in a number of key European countries. However, its performance in the Chinese and US markets remains underwhelming. As the two largest smartphone markets in the world, these remain key challenges for Microsoft to overcome during 2013."
iOS continues to perform well in the States, now holding half of the US smartphone market for two consecutive periods and taking two-thirds of the rapidly expanding Japanese smartphone market.
Sunnebo continues: "Among the handset manufacturers, Samsung has held onto the number one spot in Britain, claiming 35% of smartphone sales, although Apple is now biting at its heels with 32%. Nokia is experiencing something of a turnaround in Britain with its smartphone sales share at 6.2% and actual sales growing by over 50% compared with last year. Meanwhile, BlackBerry continues to find trading tough in the run up to the BlackBerry 10 release; however, its 9320 handset gave it a boost over Christmas with two-thirds bought as a gifts."
Smartphones proved popular over the festive season with a third of all handsets bought in December given as Christmas gifts. The BlackBerry 9320 was the most popular gifted handset in December, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and Apple iPhone 4S. The majority of smartphone gift recipients were under 18 years old and 57% were women. More than one in five handsets bought as gifts in Britain during December were from Tesco.
Smartphone percentage penetration in Great Britain hit 61% in the latest period, 82% of all mobile phone sales over the past 12 weeks were smartphones.
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