By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
November 27, 2012

FORTUNE — As expected, sales of the iPhone 5 have pushed Apple (AAPL) back into the lead in the race for U.S. smartphone sales, according to a report issued Tuesday by Kantar Worldpanel.

The London-based consumer research firm found that Apple accounted for 48.1% of U.S. smartphone unit sales in the 12-week period between Aug. 5 and Oct. 28. In the same period, sales of Google (GOOG) Android phones fell from 63.3% to 46.7%.

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the U.S. was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods,” said Kantar’s Dominic Sunnebo. “This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3% and achieve its highest ever share of the U.S. smartphone market within the next two periods.”

Android, meanwhile, is still far in the lead in Europe. It accounts 73.9% of sales in Germany, for example, and 81.7% in Spain according to Kantar. Apple did make gains in four out of the five largest European countries, however, and its market share in the U.K. is back up to 32.7%.

The survey found that 62% of iPhone 5 sales in the U.S. came from existing iPhone owners. People switching from Android phones accounted for 13% of iPhone 5 purchases, and users switching from Research in Motion (RIMM) BlackBerries another 6%.

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