Android and iOS continue tightening their smartphone stranglehold

Android and iOS continue tightening their smartphone strangleholdIt's number crunching time courtesy of IDC's global smartphone market share stats for Q1, and the picture is pretty clear: Android and iOS are strong, and only getting stronger.

Between them Google and Apple smartphones accounted for 82% of all smartphones sold in the first three months of the year – compared to just 54% a year ago.

The interpretations – and indeed some of the figures – may change depending on who you speak to, but in broad terms everyone knows Android has taken a firm grip of the smartphone market, with iOS the only rival seemingly able to defend its position.

What we weren't expecting, however, was for Android to keep on coming well past the watershed 50% market share level, and for none of those gains to come at the expense of iOS.

Over the 12 months ending in March, Android spiked from 36.1% to 59% as handset sales more than doubled to 89.9 million. Arguably more impressive, though, was Apple going from 18.3% to 23.0%, and of course that's just one product as opposed to the army of devices contributing to the Android total.

The problem for everyone else, though, is that the portion of the smartphone market not controlled by Android and iOS has plummeted from 45.6% to just 18% – a much bigger decline than anyone expected.

The main reason has been the collapse of Symbian, which went from 26.0% to 6.8% in just 12 months, which Nokia alluded to in its most recent earnings reports by saying Symbian sales had fallen far more steeply than it had bargained for.

Then there's BlackBerry OS, whose slice of pie was more than halved to now sit at just 6.4% – BlackBerry 10 can't get here soon enough, it seems.

And then there's Windows Phone, which actually fell from 2.6% to just 2.2% of global sales, and continues to give no indication that the bullish promises from Microsoft and Nokia are anything more than hot air.

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8 comments

JanSt / MOD  May. 25, 2012 at 08:59

And there comes Windows 8 - made to look like WP... Only: nobody would know...

Nah, I think WP will be doing okay in a year or 2. ;)

Stelph  May. 25, 2012 at 09:44

"The main reason has been the collapse of Symbian, which went from 26.0% to 6.8% in just 12 months, which Nokia alluded to in its most recent earnings reports by saying Symbian sales had fallen far more steeply than it had bargained for."

Amazing, the CEO of Nokia (one of the largest backers of Symbian) goes on stage and publicly announces that a smartphone OS is a "burning platform" and that they need to get off ASAP and they say theyre surprised customers have left Symbian in Droves?

I really do think Elops burning platform presentations will go down in history as one of the stupidest presentations ever given. I understand that he was trying to get across the message that the company was moving to support WP7, but the slating of Symbian was not really necessary. Without the slating I think we would be seeing a much slower decline in the Symbian market share

JanSt / MOD  May. 25, 2012 at 10:00

Completely agree. Whatever one thinks about Elop's motives or WP... the Symbian eulogy was outrageously stupid. Nokia are now at risk of running out of cash within 12 months.
It's fair to say, hey, give WP a chance. Android didn't 'make it' in 12 months...but Symbian could have generated much needed resources for the transition. Elop's mad hatter speech killed a lot of income.

rash  May. 25, 2012 at 12:17

The reason Android is so popular is:

1 - Number of apps/games it has.
2 - Open nature of the platform, means ROM's are a plenty.
3 - Low price - I have a Orange San Francisco running ICS - and it runs fast!

iOS on the other hand is better for developers as their are plenty of punters willing to pay cash for apps. Same can be said for Android but I think more people want free stuff on Android than iOS.

WP7 on the other hand has few apps (not an issue once we get a few devs), but it's a closed platform, no custom roms like Android - which is what made Android popular AFTER iOS had already been launched.

The point being there is nothing NEW that WP7 offers. BB 10 has a chance because businesses use it but WP7 me thinks ain't going to be so popular. The numbers speak volumes.

Stelph  May. 31, 2012 at 10:39

The reason Android is so popular is:

1 - Number of apps/games it has.
2 - Open nature of the platform, means ROM's are a plenty.
3 - Low price - I have a Orange San Francisco running ICS - and it runs fast!

iOS on the other hand is better for developers as their are plenty of punters willing to pay cash for apps. Same can be said for Android but I think more people want free stuff on Android than iOS.

WP7 on the other hand has few apps (not an issue once we get a few devs), but it's a closed platform, no custom roms like Android - which is what made Android popular AFTER iOS had already been launched.

The point being there is nothing NEW that WP7 offers. BB 10 has a chance because businesses use it but WP7 me thinks ain't going to be so popular. The numbers speak volumes.


I agree, or to expand on what you said, its not so much that theres nothing new, more that theres no big hook to pull people away from the ecosystem that they had already settled with.

With mobile phones already at market saturation and smartphones quickly becoming close to market saturation as well (77% of all phones in the UK sold end of 2011) most people are/were already settled on an operating system ecosytem by the time the Lumina's came to market, and once someone has settled on one ecosystem (i.e. iOS) and has downloaded/bought some apps and has got settled, it would take a very large hook or feature to drag people away from it.

WP7 is quite nice, its user friendly and I think looks quite swish, but without a big hook and as it came a significant amount of time after iOS and Android youll see it being a very slow grower rather than the instant hit/dominator that has been predicted before

rash  May. 31, 2012 at 10:54

It reminds of what a big Nokia CEO once said - they could make a decentish phone that's not quite ready for release, but still push it out and shift millions of units!

Why? Because it had a Nokia badge on it - that brings with it rock solid build quality and quality components (i.e. mic is actually useable and clear and the speakerphone is actually useable unlike even the latest silly Anroid handsets - that includes the SGS2).

Despite the Lumias having the Nokia badge on it, they just ain't shifting. Looks like Elop really f*cked up

JanSt / MOD  May. 31, 2012 at 11:06

The reason Android is so popular is:

1 - Number of apps/games it has.
2 - Open nature of the platform, means ROM's are a plenty.
3 - Low price - I have a Orange San Francisco running ICS - and it runs fast!

iOS on the other hand is better for developers as their are plenty of punters willing to pay cash for apps. Same can be said for Android but I think more people want free stuff on Android than iOS.

WP7 on the other hand has few apps (not an issue once we get a few devs), but it's a closed platform, no custom roms like Android - which is what made Android popular AFTER iOS had already been launched.

The point being there is nothing NEW that WP7 offers. BB 10 has a chance because businesses use it but WP7 me thinks ain't going to be so popular. The numbers speak volumes.


Re 2) => nonsense. That is NOT the reason Android is so popular. That is merely the reason why tech-bloggers like to talk about Android.; That is not the same thing! 95% of people will not flash a cooked ROM or even know what ROM/firmware version they are running. Most people do not know the difference between freeware and Freeware, open source or open bar...

I'm not saying they are 'stupid' or 'sheepish' - there really are more important things in life ;) We folks here and on other tech sites mustn't start to believe our own fetishistic hype :p

rash  May. 31, 2012 at 11:18

Perhaps - but I guess the open nature meant developers were more on board (I think alot more developers prefer a Linux to Windows and even more prefer Java).

I do think the ROM's make a difference, perhaps the number of people use cooked ROM's is small (around 1 million'ish according to the CM9 site). It still means they are more likely to recommend Android than WP7 - I'm sure the most of the 95% of folk that don't use custom roms at least ask techies like yourself for advice - and you say Android of course! ;-).

Ultimately it's speculation - with a hint of some reasoning; if we knew exactly how to shift millions of units of a phone we'd try and do that!

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