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iPhones are gaining market share in the US, but losing in the UK

The iPhone 12’s strong performance so far has led eMarketer to increase its projections for iPhone users in the US for 2021 and beyond. We now expect iPhone usage in the US will grow this year to 116.3 million, slightly ahead of our Q1 2020 projection of 113.4 million.

We have also bumped up our user share figure for iPhones—46.9% in 2021, versus 45.9%. Apple’s small share gain comes at the expense of Android’s share, which we have lowered slightly from 54.0% to 52.9%. Despite Apple chipping away at competitors, Android will remain the more popular operating system (OS) for the entire forecast period.

“In what was a dismal year for the global economy, Apple surpassed expectations and saw remarkable revenue growth, driven by strong sales of its new iPhone 12,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence Oscar Orozco.  “Driven by pent-up demand, interest in 5G-enabled devices, and carrier promotions too good to pass up, consumers have purchased the new device in droves. We expect this momentum to continue into 2021.”

In the UK, Android continues to gain share over competitors. This year, 28.9 million people in the UK will use an Android smartphone, representing 59.4% of total UK smartphone users (48.7million). Currently, the iPhone is the second most popular device, representing 40.4% of users (19.7million). We increased our Android figures slightly and decreased Apple’s share compared with our Q1 2020 forecast. 

“The Apple ecosystem is slightly less all-encompassing in the UK than it is in the US, with messaging providing a particularly pertinent illustration,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence. “The WhatsApp messaging platform, which works across OSs, is hugely popular in the UK. It allows smartphone users in the country to send multimedia messages across platforms (iOS and Android) without incurring additional fees—multimedia messages sent between iMessage users are included in mobile operator bundles, but once you step outside that bubble, messages are charged.

“During the recent lockdowns, WhatsApp's cross-platform capabilities were vital to many consumers, with iMessage’s limitations laid bare. The relative lack of pricing tiers across the iPhone range has also played into Android’s hands, with price sensitivity increasingly top of mind as economic worries snowball during the pandemic-plus-Brexit maelstrom.”

We anticipate that the number of UK Android users will surpass 30 million by 2023, amassing 60.0% share in the process. Meanwhile, Apple’s share will drop slightly to 39.9% by 2023.  The total number of UK smartphone users will grow steadily at 1.7% per year for the remainder of our forecast.