Microsoft Gains as Windows Phone Sales Rise

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The latest survey of U.S. smartphone sales reveals steady growth for handsets using Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system, more rapid growth for Apple's ( AAPL) iOS models and a huge gain for Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows Phones - all at the expense of BlackBerry ( BBRY) models.

Microsoft was gaining 0.7% to $35.13 while BlackBerry was falling 3.4% to $13.49. Google was dropping 1.2% to $860.11 while Apple was slipping 1.1% to $444.53.

According to new numbers from Kantar WorldPanel ComTech USA, in the three months ending in April, 2013 Android phones now control 51.7% of all U.S. smartphone sales up from 50.3% one year ago. In that same period, Apple sales climbed from a 39.1% market share to 41.4%.

The big winner, though, was Microsoft's Windows Phones, which also showed more rapid growth than Android models. In the first quarter of this year, Microsoft's share of smartphone sales jumped to 5.6% from 3.8% the year before. Kantar found that Windows Phones are becoming increasingly popular with young buyers (25-34). In past surveys they were popular with 50-64 year-olds.

Of course, if there are winners there have to be losers too. In this case BlackBerry/RIM wins the unwanted title. A year ago, Blackberry commanded 5.3% of the smartphone market. In 2013, their share plummeted to only 0.7% - barely ahead of fifth place Symbian - a phone platform that Nokia ( NOK) abandoned two years ago. Symbian garnered a 0.3% share.

On the other hand, these new Windows Phone OS numbers are very good news for Nokia who now produce a number of the most popular Windows smartphones including the Lumia 920 and 820. The fact that Windows phones generally are available at lower prices than Android or iPhones also helps Microsoft gain share.

When comparing these results with last quarter's, Apple's iOS share is actually dropped slightly. That's probably because potential buyers are waiting for Apple's next model. The refreshed iPhone - and possibly a less expensive model - are expected to be announced at next week's Worldwide Developer's Conference.

Kantar also ranked U.S. mobile carriers by market share. No big surprises here. Verizon ( VZ) showed a nice gain, year-over-year, from 34.5% at the beginning of 2012 to 36.3% this year. AT&T ( T) grew slightly from 26.0% to 26.3%. Sprint/Nextel ( S) is now in third place with 13.1% of the current market up from 11.7%.

The big loser among carriers was T-Mobile ( TMUS). Market share dropped from 14.8% in 2012 to 11.3% in the last quarter. Their numbers should improve with the recent addition of the iPhone 5 as well as their attractive, new pricing plans.

Both AT&T and Verizon actually saw drops in iPhone sales compared to 2012. Android phones saw an good increase at AT&T while Windows Phones made huge gains at Verizon.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.