Smartphones running Apple's iOS operating system or rival Google's Android platform represented a stunning 92 percent of the worldwide smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the latest research from IT research firm Strategy Analytics' Wireless Smartphone Strategies service.
Apple's worldwide smartphone shipments in last year's fourth quarter reached 47.8 million units, up 29 percent from the same period in 2011, Strategy Analytics reported. However, Apple's smartphone market share in the latest quarter, at 22 percent, dipped from 24 percent a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Android's share of the global smartphone market has surged from 51 percent to 70 percent over the past year, thanks partly to innovative handsets from Samsung and low-cost devices popular in emerging markets. Strategy Analytics estimated that 152.1 million Android smartphones were shipped globally in the latest quarter, nearly doubling from 80.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs," the report noted. "Android is clearly the undisputed volume leader of the smartphone industry at the present time. Android's challenge for 2013 will be to defend its leadership, not only against Apple, but also against an emerging wave of hungry challengers that includes Microsoft, BlackBerry, Firefox and Tizen."
Overall, global smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter grew 38 percent to 217 million from 157 million units during the same period in 2011. Worldwide smartphone shipments for the full year reached a record 700.1 million units in 2012, up from 490.5 million units in 2011.
However, the report also noted that global shipment growth slowed from 64 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2012 as the market penetration of smartphones began to mature in developed regions, such as North America and Western Europe.
On Jan. 25, IDC reported that strong holiday smartphone sales raised shipments of the iPhone, Android-powered devices and other handsets to levels nearly equal to those of feature phones. In the worldwide smartphone market, vendors shipped 219.4 million units in last year's fourth quarter, representing 45.5 percent of all mobile phone shipments, the highest percentage ever.
The IDC report also pointed to the rise of smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, which made impressive gains—reaching third place with a nearly 5 percent market share—through a focus on innovation. Samsung and Apple took the top two positions, with Samsung also setting a record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and in a single year, while Huawei, ZTE and Sony rounded out the top five.