The IDC revealed in its Worldwide Quarterly Smartphone Tracker that combined Android and Apple (vendor) shipments in Q4 reached 207.6 million units, a 70.2 per cent rise on the previous year’s equivalent figure of 122 million.
The research company attributes the growth and continued market dominance to Android’s broad range of handsets for all prices, as well as the launch of the iPhone 5 and Apple’s decision to lower iPhone prices.
“The dominance of Android and Apple reached a new watermark in the fourth quarter,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone team.
“Android boasted a broad selection of smartphones, and an equally deep list of smartphone vendor partners. Finding an Android smartphone for nearly any budget, taste, size, and price was all but guaranteed during 2012. As a result, Android was rewarded with market-beating growth.
“Likewise, demand for Apple's iPhone 5 kept iOS out in front and in the hands of many smartphone users...At the same time, lower prices on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S brought iOS within reach of more users and sustained volume success of older models. Even with the Apple Maps debacle, iPhone owners were not deterred from purchasing new iPhones.”
As to the full-year results, IDC revealed that Android and iOS accounted for 87.6 percent of the 722.4 million smartphones shipped worldwide in 2012, an increase on the 2011 figures, when the two operating systems accounted for 68.1 percent of the 494.5 million units shipped globally.
Android and iOS have dominated the market - together holding at least 50 per cent of the market - for over two years now. However, analysts suggest this may be set to change, given the launch of the Windows 8 Phone by Microsoft and BlackBerry’s recent BB10 launch, providing consumers with two new alternative platforms.
“With the recent introductions of two new smartphone platforms we expect some ground to be made by the new entrants over the coming years,” said Ryan Reith, programme manager with IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers.
“There is no question the road ahead is uphill for both Microsoft and BlackBerry, but history shows us consumers are open to change. Platform diversity is something not only the consumers have asked for, but also the operators.”
However, having launched the BB10 platform in January, BlackBerry is now faced with the challenge of getting current users to adopt the system upgrade while simultaneously trying to attract consumers to switch over to using BlackBerry devices.
The Windows Phone/Mobile enjoyed good progress in the last quarter of 2012, which IDC attributes largely to the support of Nokia, the vendor accounting for 76 percent of all Windows Phone and Windows Mobile shipments.
Meanwhile, Linux has flatlined over the past year, with traditional supporters - such as Panasonic - moving to Android.