Android Took 79% Global Share Of Smartphones In 2013 — But Grew At Its Lowest Rate Yet, Says Analyst

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2013 has been dubbed the year of Android by Strategy Analytics, which has just put out its smartphone OS shipment figures for the year. This follows a mobile device-maker centric report it put out yesterday.

Google’s Android platform accounted for 79% of global smartphone OS shipments in the year, according to the latest Strategy Analytics estimates. It reckons a record 781.2 million smartphones shipped globally running Google’s mobile OS, out of a total of 990 million smartphones.

(Another analyst, IDC, put out its own smartphone market figures yesterday — in which it had global smartphone shipments just pushing past the billion mark in 2013. Either way, plus or minus 10M, it’s a whole lot of smartphones.)

Despite Android breaking its record for shipments last year, the platform is not quite the powerhouse engine of growth it has been, with some slowing down evident in the data.

Strategy Analytics notes that 2013 saw Google’s mobile platform grow at its lowest rate yet — which it pegs at 62%. It’s also expecting further slowing down for the platform this year.

“We expect Android’s growth to slow further in 2014 due to market saturation, and rivals like Microsoft or Firefox will be ready to pounce on any signs of a major slowdown for Android this year,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director, in a statement.

Fierce competition in the smartphone space has taken its toll on a range of mobile device and platform makers, over the years (from Palm to Nokia to BlackBerry, to name a few). And, returning to Android, after such a long run of growth, it was inevitable the road for further platform expansion on smartphones would start to narrow.

Slowing growth on the Android platform may go some way towards explaining one of Google’s current projects aimed at raising the standard of lower cost Androids via its Motorola device making division — and the likes of the Moto G handset: a relatively cheaply priced device that has a feature set that punches above its price-tag, and is clearly aiming to outshine the budget Windows Phone competition.

It also explains Google seeking to push Android into other areas — like cars — and indeed, expanding its wider business in new directions via various acquisitions (such as Internet of Things company Nest; robotics company Boston Dynamics; and AI builder DeepMind, to name a few recent purchases).

Still, returning to the smartphone market, Android remains head and shoulders above the competition — and Google remains the mobile kingpin by reach.

Apple’s iOS shipped 153.4 million devices in 2013 — taking a 16% marketshare. This is a sizeable drop on the 19% marketshare Strategy Analytics recorded for iOS back in 2012 (although it’s worth noting that the number of smartphones being shipped globally has increased, year-on-year, so a platform maker can still grow units shipped yet shrink in overall marketshare — as is the case with Apple).

Strategy Analytics said iOS grew a “sluggish” 13% annually during 2013 — although it also notes Cupertino saw “record volumes”. The iPhone 5c not performing as well as expected is cited as one reason for what it characterises as “sharply slowing” growth on Apple’s platform.

As for third place, the analyst says Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is now “firmly established” as the smartphone industry’s bronze-coloured third major ecosystem.

The Windows Phone platform shipped 35.7 million units worldwide in 2013 — giving it a 4% marketshare last year. (NB: Out of those 35.7 million Windows Phones, 30 million were Nokia Lumia devices — underlining exactly why Microsoft is buying Nokia’s mobile making division: Nokia’s phone business is the Windows Phone business).

Despite establishing Windows Phone at the back of the smartphone platform leadership pack, Microsoft still has its work cut out to keep building momentum, says the analyst.

“The Windows Phone platform is still struggling to gain traction in the low-tier and premium-tier smartphone categories and they remain serious weaknesses that Microsoft will need to address in 2014,” noted Linda Sui, Senior Analyst, in a statement.  

As for the rest — aka BlackBerry OS, Firefox OS, and the even littler guys such as Jolla with its Sailfish OS — last year these platforms collectively accounted for just 2% marketshare globally, and just 19.8 million units shipped.

Still, that’s well within touching distance of the industry’s third placed ecosystem, Windows Phone. So there’s plenty to play for when it comes to taking home the bronze. Microsoft’s new CEO better make sure to keep looking over his or her shoulder — as well as pushing to close the gap with iOS.

Strategy Analytics