Despite the best efforts of Microsoft and BlackBerry, Android and Apple continue to tighten their stranglehold on the mobile market.
Worldwide, Google’s mobile operating system and iOS combined for 91% of all smartphone shipments during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to International Data Corporation’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report. “The dominance of Android and Apple reached a new watermark in the fourth quarter,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team.
Apple and Android smartphone vendors shipped a total of 207 million units worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2012 -- up 70% from the 122 million units shipped during the same period in 2011.
"Android boasted a broad selection of smartphones, and an equally deep list of smartphone vendor partners,” according to Llamas. “Finding an Android smartphone for nearly any budget, taste, size and price was all but guaranteed during 2012.”
Potentially improving Android's position even more, reports emerged this week that Hewlett-Packard is planning to adopt Google’s operating system to run a new line of mobile devices. However, neither HP or Google have yet to confirm the partnership.
Separately, despite Apple’s Maps debacle, “demand for Apple's iPhone 5 kept iOS out in front and in the hands of many smartphone users," Llamas said. "At the same time, lower prices on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S brought iOS within reach of more users and sustained volume success of older models.”
For calendar year 2012, Android and iOS combined for 87% of the 722 million smartphones shipped worldwide -- up from 68% of the 494 million units shipped during calendar year 2011.
Going forward, whether BlackBerry or Microsoft can challenge Apple and Google remains to be seen, according to IDC.
Windows Phone/Windows Mobile, for one, made “market-beating” progress in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The addition of Nokia's strong commitment behind the platform was seen as the key driver in Microsoft's success. Beyond Nokia, however, IDC sees a short list of other vendors that have been experimenting with Windows Phone while also supporting Android.
Following several delays, BlackBerry has unveiled its BB10 mobile OS, hoping current BlackBerry users will upgrade rather than migrate elsewhere, while persuading smartphone users of other platforms, including previous BlackBerry users, to switch.
“There is no question the road ahead is uphill for both Microsoft and BlackBerry, but history shows us consumers are open to change,” said Ryan Reith, program manager with IDC's Mobile Device Tracker. Platform diversity is something not only the consumers have asked for, but also the operators."