Nokia Lumia 820

Windows Phone is finally making sales headway with the news that the platform grabbed nearly one in 10 smartphone sales across Europe’s five largest markets over the summer.

In the three months to August, Windows Phone accounted for 9.2% of sales across the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, proving especially popular in France (12%) and the UK (10.8%), according to figures from analyst Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

These are its highest ever sales numbers and take Microsoft’s platform to within one percentage point of matching sales of Apple’s iconic iPhone on the largest market of all, Germany.

Android remains on top of the pile with 70.1% of sales to August although its growth rates have tailed off compared to its rivals.

“Windows Phone’s latest wave of growth is being driven by Nokia’s expansion into the low and mid-range market with the Lumia 520 and 620 handsets. These models are hitting the sweet spot with 16-to-24-year-olds and 35-to-49-year-olds, two key groups that look for a balance of price and functionality in their smartphone,” said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s strategic insight director, Dominic Sunnebo.

Android’s growth was being driven by Samsung’s marketing effort, ahead of other firms developing for the platform, Sony, HTC and LG, in that market share order.

“After years of increasing market share, Android has now reached a point where significant growth in developed markets is becoming harder to find,” he said.

What the figures suggest is that there is a natural ceiling for any platform and Android has probably reached that. There is also room for three platforms although with only 2.4% of sales that will not include the ‘fourth way’ of BlackBerry. Longer term, Microsoft’s growth on the back of its acquisition of Nokia is likely to be in the mid market sector.

Exactly how Apple and Microsoft will fare is hard to call but it looks possible that Windows Phone will move into second place in Europe in the next two years; Apple’s year-on-year numbers dropped from 16.1% to 14.1%.

This contrasts with the US where Apple’s sales remained strong at 39.3%, Sunnebo said.