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Is a Window of Opportunity Opening for Windows Phone in Latin America?

Windows Phone share of smartphone sales in Argentina reached 12.9% in March 2014

Sales of Windows Phone smartphones in Latin America improved slightly during 2013. Continuing in early 2014, the trend may be the sign of a window of opportunity for Microsoft to gain traction in the region—and for marketers targeting users of Windows Phone devices. Among the three largest economies in the region, Argentina was the brightest spot for the Microsoft operating system (OS).

According to Kantar Worldpanel, sales of smartphones running on Windows Phone reached 12.9% in Argentina in March 2014, up from 8.3% in December 2013. Kantar Worldpanel has documented other spikes in Windows Phone sales that resulted only in slight share gains—both in Argentina and Mexico. This, however, was the first time the multimonth trend happened in parallel with an Android slide. Android smartphone sales in Argentina peaked at a 78.5% market share in November 2013. Since then, the incumbent OS in the country has experienced monthly drops that resulted in a 71.8% share in March 2014.

Meanwhile, Research in Motion/BlackBerry appears to have stopped its losses in Argentina. Sales of smartphones loaded with the Canadian OS have hovered around a 10% market share in Argentina since August 2013—but hit a two-year low of 8.7% in February 2014 to climb back up to 9.9% the following month. iOS devices, which are some of the most affected by official policies aimed at reducing imports, have steadily taken between about 1% and 2% of monthly smartphone sales in the country.

Windows Phone gains in Brazil and Mexico, both of which are still experiencing Android sales expansions, were modest in comparison. In Brazil, Windows Phone was the only mobile OS to hold its ground to Android during Q1 2014, managing to up its market share from 4.0% in December 2013 to 5.5% in March 2014. Microsoft’s gains came amid losses from every other competitor as Google’s OS powered 87.6% of smartphones sold in March 2014, up from 86.7% in December 2013.

Mexico appears to be the least welcoming market to Windows Phone for now. Android’s share of smartphone sales in the country expanded from 49.3% to 76.5% between December 2012 and December 2013—and inched up to 77.6% in March 2014. In the shadow of Android’s dominance in Mexico, no competitor has been able to break away from the pack this year. According to Kantar Worldpanel, the shares of smartphone sales held by Windows Phone, BlackBerry and iOS in the country have hovered between around 5% and 8% since December 2013.

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