Google's Android and Apple's iOS mobile operating systems were the No. 1 and No. 2 smartphone operating systems, combining for a whopping 92.3 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2013, according to new data from IDC. For the first time, Microsoft Windows Phone came in third, ahead of BlackBerry, the research firm found.
Android remains the leader in the smartphone OS market, increasing its market share, and along with Apple, the two platforms shipped a total of 199.5 million units worldwide during the first quarter, up 59.1 percent from the 125.4 million units shipped during the same period in 2012. Samsung was once again the clear leader among all Android smartphone vendors, commanding 41.1 percent market share.
Although the iOS platform marked its largest first-quarter volume on the strength of its iPhone shipment volumes, the OS posted a year-over-year decline in market share and lower year-over-year shipment growth than the overall market, suggesting the platform is in need of an overhaul to get users interested in an improved interface and user experience.
"Underpinning the worldwide smartphone market is the constantly shifting operating system landscape," Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phones team, said in a statement. "Android and iOS accounted for more than the lion's share of smartphones in the first quarter, but a closer examination of the other platforms reveals turnaround and demand for alternatives. Windows Phone has benefited from Nokia's participation, and BlackBerry's new BB10 devices have already hit a million units shipped in its first quarter of availability."
For the first time, Microsoft's Windows Phone—boosted by sales of Nokia phones, which accounted for 79 percent of all Windows Phone shipments during the quarter—dislodged newly revamped BlackBerry to land in third place. Since Nokia began shipping Windows Phone devices, the company has shipped a total of 20.3 million units and grown the footprint worldwide to address multiple market segments, the report noted.
"Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia," Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement. "Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS."
During the first quarter, BlackBerry formally introduced and shipped more than a million units running on its new BlackBerry 10 platform, which IDC analysts called a "significant breakthrough" for the company. Rounding out the top five was the open-source Linux platform, which saw continued decline in shipment volumes to start off the year, reaching levels not seen since the first quarter of 2010. The company represented just 1 percent of the smartphone market in the first quarter, a 41.7 percent drop from the same period last year.
Just outside the top five was Symbian, which also suffered the steepest drop in year-over-year shipments for the first quarter, falling 88.5 percent to represent just 0.6 percent of all smartphones. IDC researchers said Symbian shipments could continue into 2014, but in drastically lower volumes.