Apple 2.0

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Man bites dog: Windows Phone overtakes Apple iOS in Italy

November 5, 2013: 8:21 AM ET

How a marketing message makes its way from press release to headline.

Screenshot: Techmeme

Screenshot: Techmeme

FORTUNE -- The PR folks at Kantar Worldpanel are worth every penny they're getting paid.

Kantar is the research arm of the London-based WPP Group (which happens to handle Microsoft's (MSFT) online ad sales). It's best known for its quarterly reports on smartphone shares in 10 markets worldwide.

And for the third quarter in a row, Kantar's press release led not with the results for Android (No. 1) or iOS (No. 2) but with the No. 3 operating system (with a 3% percent market share worldwide): Windows Phone.

Kantar's headlines:

To drive that message home, the first paragraph of Kantar's Monday release mentions that Windows Phone overtook Apple's (AAPL) iPhone in Italy.

Unsurprisingly, given the tenor of Apple's media coverage this year, that fact ended up in the headlines of more than half of the press reports gathered by Techmeme's news aggregator. (See attached screenshot.)

To Kantar's credit, its full release included this caveat about iPhone sales in August from "insight director" Dominic Sunnebo:

"August is traditionally a quiet month for Apple as consumers wait for the release of new models, and strong sales of the iPhone 5S and 5C at the end of September did not manage to make up for the lull. The full impact of the new iPhones will be seen at Christmas when iOS is expected to bounce back strongly."

A few of the reporters who jumped on the Italy angle made note of that subtlety. Most did not.

Below: Kantar's September quarter spreadsheet.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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