When it comes to Windows Phone, you need to take the good news wherever you can find it. And this week, a report from Kantar Worldpanel claims that Microsoft’s smartphone platform has seen “steady growth” in the crucial US market, jumping to its “highest sales share figure so far.”

By “sales share figure,” Kantar is referring to market share, which is a measurement of actual device sales. And in the first quarter of 2013, Kantar claims, Windows Phone handset sales jumped to 5.6 percent of all smartphone sales in the United States—up 1.9 percentage points from the same quarter a year earlier when it delivered 3.7 percent of the market.

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To be fair, I am not familiar with Kantar Worldpanel, though every tech outlet on Earth seems to be broadcasting these figures in what can only be described as a slow news week. Kantar says this information is derived from what is apparently the largest continuous consumer-research mobile phone panel of its kind in the world, which conducts more than 240,000 interviews per year in the United States.

And that report shows that although Google Android and Apple iPhone still dominate the US smartphone market, there have been some interesting changes since last year.

First, Android has extended its lead against the iPhone, Kantar says. Android now controls 49.3 percent of the market—up from 47.9 percent in the same quarter a year ago. And Apple’s iPhone, meanwhile, owns 43.7 percent of the market, down from 44.6 percent a year ago.

BlackBerry, meanwhile, has dropped off a cliff, falling from 2.6 percent market share in Q1 2012 to 0.9 percent this past quarter.

The Kantar report, despite its mysterious origins, is interesting in a number of ways. As noted previously, Windows Phone isn’t usually the subject of a lot of good news, and Nokia’s recent earnings report stated that its Windows Phone handset sales in the United States were lagging behind the rest of the world and had actually fallen year over year. So it’s unclear how Windows Phone could have seen such a huge bump in a market in which the leading phone maker for that platform experienced a drop-off.

It’s also worth noting that this report claims that Windows Phone unit sales growth (1.9 percentage points) in the quarter was actually higher than that of Android (1.4 percentage points).

It sounds good. But I trust Nokia’s publicly reported figures more than this Kantar report. However, even taken as a rough guide, the Kantar numbers simply confirm that Windows Phone has a long way to go. And that’s as true in the United States as it is around the world. 

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