Strong early sales of the new iPhone 5 have pushed Apple’s iOS to the smartphone number-one spot in the US, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The firm calculates that Apple’s mobile operating system now has a 48.1 percent share of US smartphone sales, compared with Android at 46.7 percent.

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the US was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods,” noted Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “This time we predict that Apple will beat its previous high of 49.3 percent and achieve its highest ever share of the US smartphone market within the next two periods.”

According to the firm, the majority of US iPhone 5 sales (62 percent) in the 12 weeks since its launch have come from existing Apple owners upgrading to the new device, although Apple is also said to have benefitted from people switching from Android (13 percent) and BlackBerry (6 percent), and a “small number” of first time smartphone owners. 

Apple’s rise in the US has not been replicated in quite the same way across Europe where Android still takes the lead, accounting for 73.9 percent of sales in Germany and 81.7 percent in Spain.

However, the data shows that iOS recorded share gains in four of the five major European countries – with a particularly strong performance in the UK.