by Anton Shilov
11/02/2012 | 01:22 PM
In just about four years after the launch, Google Android operating system became the dominant operating system on the market of smartphones. The Android OS was found on three out of every four smartphones shipped during the third quarter of 2012, based on recent data published by International Data Corp. (IDC).
"Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008. In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition. In addition, the combination of smartphone vendors, mobile operators, and end-users who have embraced Android has driven shipment volumes higher. Even today, more vendors are introducing their first Android-powered smartphones to market," said Ramon Llamas, research manager of mobile phones at IDC.
Total Google Android smartphone shipments worldwide reached 136.0 million units, accounting for 75.0% of the 181.1 million smartphones shipped in Q3 2012. The 91.5% year-over-year growth was nearly double the overall market growth rate of 46.4%. IDC claims that Samsung once again led all vendors in this space, but saw its market share decline as numerous smaller vendors increased their production.
Apple’s iOS is also growing faster than the market with 57.3% shipments increase year-over-year, but since the platform is supported by only one vendor, it does not have a chance against hundreds of Android partners. The late quarter launch of the iPhone 5 and lower prices on older models prevented total shipment volumes from slipping to Q3 2011 levels.
The fastest growing mobile platform in Q3 2012 was Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 with 140% annual shipments growth. Considering the fact that the operating system remains generally unpopular and only 3.6 million of handsets were shipped during the quarter, it will take quite some time before Microsoft’s mobile platform will have a significant impact on the market. Still, even 3.6 million units is fewer than the total number of Symbian smartphones shipped.
RIM’s BlackBerry's market share continued to sink, falling to just over 4% by the end of the quarter. With the launch of BlackBerry 10 yet to come in 2013, BlackBerry will continue to rely on its aging BlackBerry 7 platform, and equally aging device line-up. Still, demand for BlackBerry and its wildly popular BBM service is strong within multiple key markets worldwide, and the number of subscribers continues to increase.
Nokia’s Symbian posted the largest year-on-year decline of the leading operating systems. Nokia remains the largest vendor still supporting Symbian, along with Japanese vendors Fujitsu, Sharp, and Sony. Each of these vendors is in the midst of transitioning to other operating systems and IDC believes that they will cease shipping Symbian-powered smartphones in 2013. At the same time, the installed base of Symbian users will continue well after the last Symbian smartphone ships.
Linux volume declined for the third straight quarter as did its year-over-year growth. Samsung accounted for the majority of shipments once again, but like most other vendors competing with Linux-powered smartphones, most of its attention went towards Android instead. Still, that has not deterred other vendors from experimenting, or at least considering the open-source operating system, as multiple reports of Firefox, Sailfish, and Tizen plan to release new Linux-based experiences in the future.
"The share decline of smartphone operating systems not named iOS since Android's introduction is not a coincidence. The smartphone operating system is not an isolated product, it is a crucial part of a larger technology ecosystem. Google has a thriving, multi-faceted product portfolio. Many of its competitors, with weaker tie-ins to the mobile OS, do not. This factor and others have led to loss of share for competitors with few exceptions," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC.