Microsoft's Windows Phone is still lagging a long way behind Android and iOS in terms of market share, but new figures indicate that the mobile operating system has experienced strong European growth over the last year, particularly in Britain and Italy.
The figures from research firm Kantar Worldpanel Comtech show that Windows Phone has almost tripled its market share in the UK, rising from 2.2 percent to 5.9 percent in the last twelve months.
This growth appears to have come mainly at the expense of RIM's BlackBerry platform, whose market share fell from 16 percent to 6.4 percent during the same period. Symbian's share also fell from 3 to 0.7 percent and iOS fell from 34.1 to 32.4 percent, while Android grew from 60.7 to 66.6 percent.
Overall, in the EU5 (Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy), Windows Phone's market share grew by 2.8 percent, and in Italy shares hit a very respectable 13.9 percent - up from just 2.8 percent a year ago.
"It has been far slower than Microsoft would have liked, but Windows Phone is now starting to gain respectable shares in a number of key European countries," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
"However, its performance in the Chinese and US markets remains underwhelming. As the two largest smartphone markets in the world, these remain key challenges for Microsoft to overcome during 2013."
The research also found that, among the handset manufacturers, Samsung has held onto the number one spot in Britain, claiming 35 percent of smartphone sales, although Apple is now biting at its heels with 32 percent.
Nokia is experiencing something of a turnaround in Britain with its smartphone sales share at 6.2 percent and actual sales growing by over 50 percent compared with last year.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry continues to find trading tough in the run up to the BlackBerry 10 release; however, its 9320 handset gave it a boost over Christmas with two-thirds bought as a gifts.
Smartphone penetration in the UK hit 61 percent in the latest period; 82 percent of all mobile phone sales over the past 12 weeks were smartphones.