Over half of the British population (50.3%) now owns a smartphone according to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (http://www.kantarworldpanel.com). The figures also show that smartphones made up 71.4% of mobile phone sales in the 12 weeks ending Jan. 22.

“For the first time ever, you are now in the minority if you don’t own a smartphone,” says Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director, Kantar. “With more people jumping on the bandwagon, there is huge opportunity for both retailers and manufacturers. However, the competition is intense.

Android holds on to its lead but Apple is making inroads, increasing its share of the British market from 21.7% a year ago to 29.1% now. Windows Phone 7 is also creeping up, taking over 2% of the market for the first time with the Nokia Lumia 800 taking the lion’s share.

It’s a slightly different story in the US with Apple continuing to make gains on Android. Apple now has 48.4% of the US market compared with Android’s 42.6%.

“The jump we saw in Apple’s share last period was clearly not just a blip caused by the iPhone 4S release,” says Sunnebo. “Although the majority of growth is coming from the new handset, Apple’s latest pricing structure is also working in its favor with no discernable drop in sales of older iPhone 4 and 3GS models.”