Android Still Growing Market Share By Winning First Time Smartphone Users

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Android is continuing its onward march. The latest market figures from analyst ABI Research peg the platform at 80% marketshare of smartphone OSes, with just under 300 million smartphones running Android — or an Android fork — shipped in the quarter.

The analyst notes that basic mobile phone operating systems lost 5% share in the quarter — with Android hovering up most of those users as they upgrade to smartphones.

That suggests Google’s mobile platform is set to be the biggest winner as the “billions” of remaining mobile subscribers upgrade to smartphones — helping to keep what is already the dominant smartphone platform ahead of the competition.

“Android looks set to completely dominate the high growth developing markets and increase its market share still further,” noted Nick Spencer, senior practice director, mobile devices, in a statement.

That’s bad news for Microsoft — which now owns Nokia’s mobile making business, and will be hoping to on-ramp users of basic Nokia mobile phones to its Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones. Currently, Android continues to exert more pulling power for first time smartphone buyers.

Taking the mobile market as a whole — so looking collectively at both smartphones and basic mobiles — Android took a 44% share of the market in Q1 (up 24% year-on-year), according to ABI’s data, with the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) — which companies including Amazon and Nokia have used to fork Android — taking 13%.

ABI’s figures suggest usage of ASOP is growing, albeit at a slower rate than Android proper.

ABI

Microsoft’s Windows Phone also grew its share of the market in Q1, with 16% sequential growth and a 3% share overall — but the platform remains very much the underdog vs the dominance of Android.

Still, Microsoft can console itself that it’s the top underdog in mobile. The analyst described Windows Phone as “the only viable third ecosystem” — noting the complete collapse of BlackBerry’s OSes, and adding that low-cost Firefox OS remains a potential challenger but has yet to make any significant dent.

Apple’s iOS grew 17% year on year but ABI said its growth is “undoubtedly flattening”, noting that the iPhone 5c has done little to boost sales volumes.

Apple’s decision to limit itself to selling premium devices continues to constrain its marketshare — and as the lower-end portion of the smartphone market continues to expand, fueled by users of basic mobiles upgrading to their first smartphone, that share will inevitably be diluted further.