There can be only two.
With apologies to Highlander, that appears to be how the global mobile smartphone market is shaking out: there’s room for Android and iOS, and not much else.
According to data from research firm IDC Corp.’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker for calendar year 2014, Android and iOS accounted for 96.3 per cent of all smartphone shipments in 2014, up from 93.8 per cent in 2013.
“Many of the same drivers were in play for Android and iOS to tighten their grip on the market,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team, in a statement. “A combination of strong end-user demand, refreshed product portfolios, and the availability of low-cost devices – particularly for Android – drove volumes higher.
Android took 81.5 per cent of the market, growing its shipments by 32 per cent year over year, while Apple’s iOS captured 14.8 per cent of the market, growing by 25.6 per cent.
“What will bear close observation is how the two operating systems fare in 2015 and beyond,” said Llamas. “Now that Apple has entered the phablet market, there are few new opportunities for the company to address. Meanwhile, Samsung experienced flat growth in 2014, forcing Android to rely more heavily on smaller vendors to drive volumes higher.”
After that, it’s a long ways down to the other vendors. Windows did manage to record positive growth, increasing shipments by 4.2 per cent with 2.7 per cent of the market. There was no such silver lining for BlackBerry who, with 0.4 per cent of the market, saw their shipments decline by a staggering 69.8 per cent. Other vendors accounted for a combined 0.6 per cent of shipments.
“Instead of a battle for the third ecosystem after Android and iOS, 2014 instead yielded skirmishes, with Windows Phone edging out BlackBerry, Firefox, Sailfish and the rest, but without any of these platforms making the kind of gains needed to challenge the top two,” said Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “This isn’t to say that vendors aren’t making moves, especially for the growth segments – the low-end markets. With Microsoft bringing ever-cheaper Lumia into play and Tizen finally getting launched to India early this year, there is still a hunger to chip away at Android’s dominance.”
Diving a bit deeper into the numbers, by vendor within the Android segment Samsung’s total volumes remained fairly flat, with Asian vendors such as Huawei, Lenovo (including Motorola), LG Electronics, Xiaomi, and ZTE fueled Android’s growth. Apple saw record volumes with strong demand for its new, larger iPhones but actually lost a small amount of market share overall.
Windows Phone hopes to make gains with the launch of Windows 10 later this year and a more concerted effort in the high end of the market. And if BlackBerry CEO meets his goal of 10 million units shipped in 2015, it would be a 72 per cent improvement over its 2014 performance.