Android and iPhone Achieve Smartphone Duopoly

Android and iPhone Achieve Smartphone Duopoly

With various market-analysis firms weighing in on end-of-year sales for smartphones, one trend is holding firm: Android and iPhone share a duopoly that controls over 90 percent of the market, leaving just a pittance for alternative platforms like Windows Phone and BlackBerry. And that market is humongous, with a record 700 million units sold in 2012.

Related: IDC: Android Utterly domanates the Smartphone Market

Strategy Analytics claims that Android controlled over 68 percent of the worldwide smartphone market for all of calendar year 2012, while Apple’s iPhone came in a distant second with over 19 percent. Combined, the two platforms controlled nearly 88 percent of the market for all of 2012.

And their combined dominance only increased throughout the year. In Q4 2011, Android controlled 51 percent of the market, with Apple coming in at 23.6 percent, Strategy Analytics claims, a combined share of 74.6 percent. By Q4 2012, Android market share had surged to over 70 percent, while iPhone came in at 22 percent. Together, these two platforms held over 92 percent of the market heading into 2013.

 “The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs,” a statement credited to Strategy Analytics analyst Scott Bicheno notes.

The numbers are somewhat staggering. More than 700 million smartphones were sold in calendar year 2012, about double the number of personal computers that were sold. And device makers sold 217 million smartphones just in Q4 2012, up 38 percent from the 157 million units sold in the same quarter a year earlier. Growth is starting to slow, however, as the North American market in particular has become “saturated,” Strategy Analytics claims. But even that slowing is relative: Smartphone sales still grew an incredible 43 percent in 2012, compared with 64 percent in the previous year.

Looking at specific handset vendors, Samsung was the biggest maker of smartphones again with 213 million units sold in 2012, good for over 30 percent market share. Apple came in second with 136 million units, or 19.4 percent market share. The distant third-place finisher? Oddly enough, it was Nokia, with 35 million units and 5 percent market share.

Since we know Nokia sold 13.4 million Windows Phone handsets in 2012, and that Nokia controls about 74 percent of the market for Windows Phone, we might extrapolate a rough market share number for Windows Phone (which Strategy Analytics doesn’t explicitly address): 3.3 percent for 2012. The firm separately noted that Nokia “lacks a true hero model in its range that can be considered an Apple iPhone or Samsung S3 killer.” This despite high-profile launches for several new Lumia handsets, including the Lumia 920, which Nokia sells only through select wireless carriers.

Related: Windows Phone 8 Devices Significantly Undercut iPhone Pricing

TAGS: Windows 8
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