The total numbers of Apple iPhones and Android-running Samsung smartphones that shipped during the first quarter of 2012 highlighted that the worldwide mobile market is really a two-company race. While there are ostensibly six major mobile platform options to chose from, most users lean toward either Apple or Samsung.
Or, more broadly speaking, people chose either Apples iOS or Googles Android OS. Combined, the two operating systems accounted for more than eight out of 10 of the smartphones that shipped during the first quarter, or 82 percent, research firm IDC reported May 24. Of the 90 million Android smartphones that shipped, 45.4 percent were from Samsung.
This most recent quarters 82 percent, compared with 54.4 percent a year ago, is the result of a combination of features that competitors are simply unable to match, said Ramon Llamas, IDCs senior research analyst, in a statement.
Neither Android nor iOS were the first to market with some of these features, but the way they made the smartphone experience intuitive and seamless has quickly earned a massive following, added Llamas.
Androids total market share for the quarter was 59 percent, compared with 36.1 percent a year ago, while iOS claimed a 23 percent share, up from 18.3 percent, as Apple boosted shipments from 18.6 million units to 35.1 million.
Symbian, despite losing Nokias focus to Windows Phone, came in third, with a 6.8 percent share. (With Nokia rebuilding its brand around Windows Phone, Android-running Samsung smartphones likewise enabled Samsung to end Nokias 14-year reign as the worlds top-selling phone maker.)
Research In Motions BlackBerry OS followed in fourth place, with its share falling to 9.7 percent from 13.8, as consumers had little of interest to keep sales moving forward. RIM plans to launch new handsets running BlackBerry 10which it showed encouraging glimpses of at its BlackBerry World 2012 event May 1but not until later this year.
Compounding this issue, said the IDC report, many companies now permit users to bring their own smartphones, allowing competitors' operating systems to take away from BlackBerrys market share.
Linux was up next, with a 3.5 percent share, up from 3.2.
Samsung accounted for 81.6 percent of all Linux-powered smartphones, a 3.6 percent share gain versus the prior-year period, said IDC. Other vendors, meanwhile, have been experimenting with Android to drive volume. Still, Linuxs fortunes are closely tied to Samsungs strategy, which already encompasses Android, Windows Phone and, later this year, Tizen.
Microsofts Windows Phone, meanwhilethe ball finally nudged forward, if not actually slowly rollingincreased its market share from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent. Although, IDC added, Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases, or more vendors launch their own Windows PhoneÂÂ-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system.
Nokia is expected to release a few more devices in time for the holiday season, which, in combination with Windows Phones growing app store, perhaps will help to better balance out the ecosystem.
For this to happen, OS creators and hardware partners need to secure developer loyalty, said Kevin Restivo, IDC senior research analyst. Developer enthusiasm, he added, is typically a leading indicator of hardware sales or success.