Android Dominates Q4, Combines with iOS for 91% Smartphone Share

| News

Apple’s iOS and Android’s Google continued to dominate the global smartphone market in 2012, combining in the fourth quarter for over 91 percent of total smartphone shipments, according to data released late last week by IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. According to the IDC report, Apple and companies manufacturing Android-based smartphones shipped a total of 207.6 million units worldwide during the last quarter of 2012, a 70.2 percent increase from the 122 million units shipped in the last quarter of 2011.

IDC Global Smartphone Shipments 4Q2012

The performance of the competing smartphone platforms was nearly as good for 2012 overall, with both combining for 87.6 percent of the global market on 722.4 million units during the year. This represented a 68.1 percent increase from the 494.5 million units shipped in calendar year 2011.

Ramon Llams, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone division, summarized the findings:

The dominance of Android and Apple reached a new watermark in the fourth quarter. Android boasted a broad selection of smartphones, and an equally deep list of smartphone vendor partners. Finding an Android smartphone for nearly any budget, taste, size, and price was all but guaranteed during 2012. As a result, Android was rewarded with market-beating growth.

Likewise, demand for Apple's iPhone 5 kept iOS out in front and in the hands of many smartphone users. At the same time, lower prices on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S brought iOS within reach of more users and sustained volume success of older models. Even with the Apple Maps debacle, iPhone owners were not deterred from purchasing new iPhones.

IDC Global Smartphone Shipments CY 2012

Although iOS performance remains strong, the IDC report notes the slowing rate of growth for the platform that has likely contributed to the recent fall in Apple’s stock price. In the face of robust growth for competitors like Samsung, Apple may consider revising the iPhone mid-year instead of waiting for another fall release, the report argues:

[W]hat…stands out is how iOS’s year-over-year growth has slowed compared to the overall market. The smaller volumes during 2Q12 and to a smaller extent 3Q12 underscore the possibility for a mid-year iPhone release in order to maintain market-beating growth. Speculation about the release of possible larger-screen and inexpensive models during the middle of 2013 continues to follow Apple, which would help sustain growth. But until any model is formally announced, speculation remains simply that.

Overall, however, the success of Android and iOS will make it tough for newer platforms to gain a sustainable foothold, according to IDC’s program manager Ryan Reith, but a desire by consumers for a diverse product line still leaves room open for competitors like Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. “There is no question the road ahead is uphill for both Microsoft and BlackBerry, but history shows us consumers are open to change. Platform diversity is something not only the consumers have asked for, but also the operators,” Mr. Reith stated in the IDC report.

IDC’s data supports the findings of Strategy Analytics, released in late January, which showed a combined global market share of 92 percent for iOS and Android in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Welcome to 1994. You cannot own a market by walling it off.


I don’t think Apple wants to “Own” the smartphone market. They want to “Own” their customers. Walling off their garden keeps customer Owned.

But the Gilded Cage isn’t for everybody, especially cheapskates.

“We’ve a lot to lose if we found you gone
Consider what it would cost you if the other side got you
Here’s your home from home called the gilded cage
All at peace and contented these are words we invented.”


Precisely, ctopher. And Apple has many irons in the fire, they really can’t be measured by smart phone metrics alone, it’s necessary to look at their combined efforts in totality. Still, I can hardly wait to see what the next iteration of iOS will bring to the table.

Just as with Windows at one time, the geeks forget that the majority of people buying Android devices just want a smartphone at a low price, they don’t care about under the hood functionality, not one iota. All of the talk of open vs. closed is pretty much lost on them, all they see is the price tag and that’s about it. Innovation doesn’t live in either of those spheres, I’m afraid, that’s the end of a creative cycle, not the beginning (and this is Google’s biggest problem, just as it was with Microsoft - they will wait for something innovative they can emulate rather than taking any real chances themselves).

It really does seem to be everything old is new again, though. Customers were actively dissuaded from buying Macs by computer salespeople at one time too. However, in business, longevity is the most telltale metric of all, and it can only be assessed over time. Think Dell/Apple, or even Microsoft/Apple.

Can’t hit a moving target. wink


I am always suspicious of these charts where they aggregate all of the vendors of one OS against Apple. Break up the chart to show individual vendors compared to Apple and the picture changes. Lay in another chart depicting individual company profits from smart phones and the picture changes even more. Apple is not competing against some monolithic “Android” company, they are competing against a bunch of companies and succeeding quite well.


....and don’t forget to whom go 70%+ of smartphone profits worldwide.

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