Android Fortifies Its Lead In The Smartphone Race

Despite a small stumble in market share, Android emerged from the fourth quarter stronger than ever in the global smartphone race.

According to Gartner, Android’s share of global smartphone sales was 70 per cent last quarter, down from 72 per cent in the third quarter, but up from 51 per cent a year prior. For the whole year, Android accounted for 67 per cent of global smartphone sales. Apple’s iOS platform took 19 per cent of the year’s sales.

iOS did make the biggest quarterly gain, jumping 7 percentage points to a 21 per cent share on the strength of iPhone 5 sales. However, while impressive, the numbers also show that Apple’s ability to produce a big pop in market share is fading. When Apple released the iPhone 4S last year, iOS saw a larger 9 percentage point lift in market share, and that was for a relatively minor iteration of the iPhone.

The smartphone market is scaling— annual sales were up 43 per cent— and Apple’s relatively expensive products just aren’t a feasible option for many new consumers entering the market. Despite broader price disruption, the iPhone’s average selling price has remained remarkably high.

When we consider that Android weathered a major new iPhone release with barely a dent in market share, it’s easy to see that it is in a stronger position than ever. With more extensive product offerings and greater price diversity, Android is poised to pick up even more market share with the next wave of adopters among less wealthy consumers, many of them in emerging markets. 

It seems very possible that iOS may never again account for more than 20 per cent of quarterly unit sales, unless Apple goes forward with the rumoured plan to release a cheaper, stripped down iPhone. 

Meanwhile, Windows Phone sales rose 124 per cent year-over-year to 6.2 million for a 3 per cent share of global sales, the platform’s best result since the first quarter of 2011. That’s good news for Microsoft, but Windows Phone market share is still smaller than BlackBerry’s.

Click here to view a larger version of this chart.

smartphone market share

Photo: BII

Here’s another look at global smartphone sales by platform:

Click here to view a larger version of this chart.

smartphones sales by platform

Photo: BII

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