updated 10:50 am EST, Mon February 27, 2012
Android secures grip in Greece, Portugal
Apple's dependence on high carrier subsidies for the iPhone is giving Android devices an advantage in parts of Europe, especially the south, suggests research firm IDC. The group notes that Apple had over 20 percent of the US and UK smartphone markets last year. But in Greece and Portugal, two of the countries hardest hit by European economic problems, the iPhone claimed just 5 and 9 percent shares, respectively. Shipments of smartphones costing over $300 before subsidies dipped below 50 percent in those countries.
Android now controls over 50 percent of the Greek and Portugese smartphone markets. The platform's advantage is mainly price, since many Android phones cost less than $200 without a contract. In parts of southern Europe many customers don't sign contracts, and may be unwilling to pay the high prices associated with an off-contract iPhone. In Portugal an 8GB iPhone 4 can cost $680 through Vodafone, whereas the same carrier is selling Android phones for as little as $106. The Wall Street Journal comments that carriers in Greece, Portugal, and elsewhere don't subsidize most smartphones.
Carriers in nations like Denmark and Spain are said to be tiring of underwriting the cost of the iPhone. Apple is known to impose high subsidy demands; in the US, for instance, Sprint says it its iPhone subsidies are about 40 percent higher than average for other smartphones it sells, and it doesn't expect to turn a profit on the device until 2015. IDC nevertheless notes that 90 percent of US smartphone shipments during the part four years were for devices costing over $300, versus just 67 percent for Italy, and 40 percent in Greece and Portugal.