No sign of let-up in Android, iOS dominance

Tuesday 19 February 2013 | 12:46 CET | Background

New figures from IDC confirm Android and iOS' dominance on the global market for mobile operating system. Gartner has also just released data giving the same picture of the market. It appears the long-awaited third major platform has yet to emerge. The situation on the Dutch market is in line with the international picture, apart from a few small differences.

The Android OS grew to a market share of almost 70 percent in Q4 2012. According to Gartner, almost 145 million Android phones were sold in the quarter, nearly twice as many as the 77 million in Q4 2011. Apple's iOS meanwhile accounted for nearly one in five smartphones sold in the quarter. BlackBerry's market share fell from 8.8 percent in Q4 2011 to 3.5 percent, while Windows Phone took a 3 percent share, up from 1.8 percent a year earlier. 

Gartner also includes Samsung’s Bada in its statistics. Launched in 2010, Bada has since been integrated in the Tizen platform, under development by Samsung and Intel. Bada only accounted for a small number of phones in a few local markets.  

The market shares are very similar in the Netherlands: Android and iOS lead the market, with a big lead over the competing systems, according to research by Telecompaper on current smartphone ownership. A notable difference with the international trend is that BlackBerry is still doing relatively well in terms of market share, although this is still down in 2012 to 12 percent. Windows Phone / Windows Mobile has yet to take off, and is even surpassed by Symbian in the Dutch market. 

Mobile OS ownership, market shares in percentages. Source: Telecompaper, Dutch Smartphone User Q4 2012.

Symbian was widely withdrawn from the market in 2012, with few operators showing any interest in promoting phones with Nokia's former OS, according to Telecompaper's market monitor on promotions by mobile operators and retailers. Windows 7.5, used on Nokia's first Lumia smartphones, was promoted in Q2 and Q3, but by Q4 the devices were moving from the front windows to the back shelves at retailers. Windows Phone 8 device were more widely on offer in the first weeks of 2013, according to the latest promotions data. The annual figures from IDC are in line with the Q4 results. IDC estimates that Android and iOS together had 87.6 percent of the global market sales. A total 497.1 million Android phones were shipped last year, versus 135.9 million running iOS, according to the market researcher's estimates. BlackBerry shipped 32.5 million phones, and Symbian ended at 23.9 million. Windows Phone and ‘others’ completed the list with respectively 17.9 million and 15.1 million units.  

Mobile OS phone sales, market shares in percentages. Source: IDC, Gartner. 

Android, iOS: rich ecosystems

The above figures do not come as a major surprise. The Android ecosystem is in full bloom and counts the most hardware partners, while Google's OS is also the most prominent among app developers. The app store Google Play offers almost 800,000 apps, which up to January last year had been downloaded over 40 billion times.

Google is profiting not only from partners introducing high-end Android models, such as Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG, but also from the growing number of mid- to low-end Android devices gaining favour in especially emerging markets. These are coming from Chinese suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE, as well as Samsung, which has introduced a broad range of models to the market in an attempt to capture new customer segments. This included the recent Rex series of Java-based feature phones, targeted at emerging markets, which are expected to help offset the slowdown in more mature smartphone markets. Samsung is the world's biggest smartphone maker, followed by Apple. 

Apple’s App Store, the pioneer in mobile app stores, has about the same number of apps available as Google Play, and is driven by growth in both iPhone and iPad users. In its latest reported quarter, Apple shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones, led by the roll-out of the iPhone 5. The previous quarterly record was 37 million phones, achieved 12 months earlier. Apple also shipped 22.9 million iPads in the latest quarter, up from 15.4 million a year earlier. It's possible, although Apple had not said anything yet, that the company will refresh its portfolio this year with new form factors for both the iPhone and the iPad. If it follows Samsung's strategy, it will also target emerging markets with mid- and low-end iPhones. 

Crucial year for Windows Phone, BlackBerry

This all means Windows Phone and BlackBerry still have a ton of work to do to overcome their marginal market positions. This year will be crucial for both to start building a more substantial market share. While mobile operators have openly said they prefer a more competitive mobile operating system market, the question is whether consumers will start turning their backs on Android and iOS. 

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