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Android Mobile Phones See Triple-Digit Growth

The Android operating system saw triple-digit growth in the number of mobile phones shipped in the last year, while iOS--which runs on Apple's iPhone--also experienced significant increases in shipments. Nearly half a billion Android smart phones shipped in 2012, as iOS devices hit about 136 million.

"The two horse race between Android and iOS has collectively accounted for more than 50 percent share of the smartphone OS market over the past two years," according to market research firm IDC, which released its latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker Thursday. "At the same time both BlackBerry and Microsoft have been working on competing platforms that have recently launched and are poised for competition. Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 in 4Q12, and BlackBerry more recently released BB10 in January, marking the first time two new platforms have been introduced to the smartphone space in the past several years."

12 Months: Google, Apple Shore Up Leadership
According to IDC's report, for the full year, 497.1 million Android smart phones shipped worldwide, up about 104.1 percent from 2011's figure of 243.5 million. For the year, Android increased its market share from 49.2 percent to 68.8 percent.

"Samsung was the biggest contributor to Android's success, amassing 42.0 percent of all Android smartphone shipments during the year," IDC reported. "Following Samsung was a long list of vendors with single digit market share, and an even longer list of vendors with market share less than one percent. The intra-Android competition has not stifled companies from keeping Android as the cornerstone of their respective smartphone strategies, but has upped the ante to innovate proprietary experiences."

Apple increased its unit shipments by 46 percent in 2012, reaching 135.9 million units. Its market share remained constant at 18.8 percent, according to IDC.

"iOS posted yet another quarter and year of double-digit growth with strong demand for the iPhone," according to IDC. "But what also 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."

Windows-based devices saw near-triple-digit gains as well, though on much smaller unit shipments. For the year, Windows-based devices totaled 17.9 million units, up 98.9 percent from 2011. The market share of Windows mobile devices grew from 1.8 percent to 2.5 percent.

According to IDC: "Windows Phone/Windows Mobile made market-beating progress in 4Q12 and 2012. The addition of Nokia's strong commitment behind the platform was the key driver in Microsoft's success. At the same time, the relationship has benefited Nokia, which amassed 76.0 percent of all Windows Phone/Windows Mobile smartphone shipments. Beyond Nokia, however, is a short list of other vendors who have been experimenting with Windows Phone while also supporting Android."

BlackBerry devices shipped in 2012 totaled 32.5 million units, down 36.4 percent from 2011. Market share dropped for the year from 10.3 percent to 4.5 percent.

Symbian saw the worst declines of the top-5 mobile operating systems, dropping 70.7 percent to 23.9 million units.

All other systems combined totaled 15.1 million units, a decline of 7.4 percent.

All told, 722.4 million smart phones shipped in 2012.

Fourth Quarter: Windows Creeping Up on BlackBerry
For the fourth quarter of 2012, Google's Android OS expanded its lead over all other smart phone operating systems, though iOS also saw healthy gains. Meanwhile, Microsoft's mobile operating systems made triple-digit gains, coming within a point of BlackBerry's market share, according to IDC's report.

For the quarter, Android device shipments grew 88 percent to reach 159.8 million units. Android's market share grew from 52.9 percent in Q4 2011 to 70.1 percent in Q4 2012.

Chart: Worldwide Smartphone Market, OS Share, 2012 Q4Description: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 54 countries by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or [email protected] detail about this tracker can be found at: smartphone, iOS, Apple, Android, Samsung, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Microsoft, Symbian, iPhone, Galaxy, Nexus, Mobile, operating system, mobilityAuthor: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Apple's iOS increased 29.2 percent in Q4 2012, hitting 47.8 million units. Its quarterly market share declined slightly by IDC's reckoning, from 23 percent in Q4 2011 to 21 percent in Q4 2012.

Windows mobile devices grew 150 percent in Q4 2012, hitting 6 million units. Its quarterly market share increased from 1.5 percent in Q4 to 2.6 percent in Q4 2012.

That market share figure puts Microsoft within a single point of BlackBerry, which experienced a severe decline during the quarter. BlackBerry unit shipments fell 43.1 percent in Q4 2012, landing at 7.4 million units. Its market share fell from 8.1 percent in Q4 2011 to 3.2 percent in Q4 2012.

Linux-based smart phones also declined in the quarter, dropping 2.6 percent to 3.8 million units. The market share for Linux smart phones fell from 2.4 percent in Q4 2011 to 1.7 percent in Q4 2012.

All other operating systems combined dropped 84.6 percent, totaling 3 million units.

Total smart phone shipments for the quarter reached 227.8 million units, an overall increase of 41.7 percent over Q4 2011.

"With the recent introductions of two new smartphone platforms we expect some ground to be made by the new entrants over the coming years," said Ryan Reith, program manager with IDC's Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. "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."

Additional details can be found in IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

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