iPhone temporarily bests Android, at least in the UK

The iPhone had a huge October in England, roundly defeating Google's Android operating system. 

In the UK, iPhone sales have outstripped those of Android handsets. Here, users line up outside an Apple store in London.

Earlier this month, Google announced that it was logging 550,000 Android activations a day, up from half a million in June and 400,000 in May. In the US, Android is inescapable: It has bested Apple in both sales and app downloads, and according to the most recent Nielsen report, Android phones currently account for 43 percent of the US market.

For those keeping track at home, in the previous quarter, Android devices accounted for only 39 percent of the American market. In other words, Android leapt up six big percentage points in the US, while Apple managed to stay pretty level, and BlackBerry weathered a dip. (In an interesting twist, not only does Android dominate the US market, but it also serves as a big fat target for mobile malware developers.) 

But across the pond, things are very different indeed. In a new report, analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel estimates that the iPhone accounted for more than 43 percent of all smartphone sales in the UK in October. By comparison, Android phones took only 35 percent. It's worth noting here that Android still powers the majority of UK smartphones, just as it does in the US. This just accounts for newly purchased phones.

But the sales figures do seem to represent a major coup for Apple – as well as a neat flip of the situation stateside, where Android still reigns triumphant. 

"The October launch of the hugely anticipated iPhone 4S has catapulted Apple into second place among operating systems based on the last 12 weeks of sales," Kantar Worldpanel rep Dominic Sunnebo told the Guardian. "However, if you just look at the month of October, Apple took a whopping share of all smartphone sales, giving it a significant lead over Android – a feat many thought was impossible."

So will Apple manage to maintain its momentum? Doubtful. It took a major release for Apple to pull ahead. And, over at GigaOmDarrell Etherington wonders if Apple’s October gains won't "give way to Android successes on the back of devices like the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone packing Ice Cream Sandwich." Still, Etherington points out, Apple will be just fine. 

The iPhone, he writes, "likely isn’t done posting big sales, especially since it’s high on people’s lists in terms of ideal gifts for the holidays, but it’ll have more competition in the coming months. It’ll be interesting to see whether Apple can continue gaining back share in the face of the Android juggernaut, or whether this spike is just a one-time blip on the radar."

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