They’d make unhappy bedfellows but — taken together — Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS accounted for a record 92 per cent of global smartphone shipments in Q4 last year, according to new figures from analyst Strategy Analytics. The analyst estimates that 152.1 million Android smartphones were shipped globally in the quarter, nearly double the amount shipped in the year ago quarter (80.6 million) — taking Android’s global smartphone share from 51 per cent at the end of 2011 to 70 per cent at the end of 2012. Meanwhile, global smartphone shipments for the full year 2012 reached a record 700.1 million units — increasing “robustly” from 490.5 million units in 2011.
Commenting on the results, Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, described Google’s platform as the “undisputed volume leader” of the smartphone industry. “Android’s share of the global smartphone market has surged… crushing Symbian, Bada and other platforms in its wake,” he said in a statement. “Android’s challenge for 2013 will be to defend its leadership, not only against Apple, but also against an emerging wave of hungry challengers that includes Microsoft, Blackberry, Firefox and Tizen.”
Strategy Analytics said Apple’s iOS grew in terms of shipment units — rising from an estimated 37 million units in Q4 2011 to 47.8 million in Q4 2012 (29 per cent annual growth) — but iOS’ marketshare declined slightly, as Android increased its lead, with iOS taking 22 per cent marketshare in Q4 2012, down slightly from 23.6 per cent in Q4 2011.
The analyst estimates that global smartphone shipments as a whole grew 38 per cent annually — to reach 217 million units shipped in Q4 2012 — but notes that global shipment growth slowed from 64 per cent in 2011 to 43 per cent in 2012 “as penetration of smartphones began to mature in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe”.
Android’s low end reach is clearly helping to fuel continued growth, even as Apple’s marketshare saturates at just over a fifth of the smartphone pie.
“The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs,” added Scott Bicheno, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, in a statement.