IDC released the latest number of smartphone shipments for the forth quarter of 2012 and it should come as no surprise that Android and iOS are at the top of the pile. Specifically the two represent 91.1% of all smartphone shipments during Q4 2012. Apple shipped a total of 207.6 million units worldwide during 4Q12, up 70.2% from the 122.0 million units shipped during 4Q11. For calendar year 2012, Android and iOS combined for 87.6% of the 722.4 million smartphones shipped worldwide, up from 68.1% of the 494.5 million units shipped during calendar year 2011.
We cant talk smartphones without forgetting about Blackberry and Microsoft who each are working on their new platforms to grow marketshare. 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.
Smartphone Operating System Highlights
Android continued its overall upward trajectory, reaching triple-digit growth for the year. Samsung was the biggest contributor to Android’s success, amassing 42.0% of all Android smartphone shipments during the year. 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.
iOS posted yet another quarter and year of double-digit growth with strong demand for the iPhone. 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.
BlackBerry‘s decision to postpone the release of BB10 to 2013 left the platform vulnerable in 2012 and reliant primarily on older smartphones running on BB7. As a result, BlackBerry’s tight grip on enterprise users has loosened and its popularity within emerging markets has been diminished by the competition. Now that BlackBerry has unveiled BB10, the company is faced with migrating current BlackBerry users to upgrade while persuading smartphone users of other platforms, including previous BlackBerry users, to switch.
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% 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.
Linux has remained essentially flat from the previous year, with longtime supporters NEC and Panasonic moving to Android and newcomers K-Touch and Haier making up the difference. Linux will bear close observation in 2013 as new smartphones from SailFish, Tizen, and Ubuntu are all scheduled to launch this year. Still, these new Linux-powered operating systems will require time and investment to gain momentum in the market, making for a slowly growing trajectory.