Android, Windows Phone Make Big Gains in Smartphone Market: IDC

Apple's iOS platform, despite seeing total volumes increase and reaching new record third-quarter volumes, saw its market share decline during 3Q13.

With a total base of 211.6 million smartphone units shipped during the quarter, Google's Android operating system accounted for 81 percent of all smartphone shipments, marking the first time that Android topped 80 percent in its short history, according to a report from IT research firm IDC.

Samsung accounted for 39.9 percent of all Android shipments for the quarter, while the rest of the vendors either saw single-digit market share or, in the case of the majority of vendors, market share of less than 1 percent.

Microsoft's efforts to push Windows Phone, with Nokia's support behind it, helped drive the platform into multiple tiers and price points—the platform grew an amazing 156 percent year over year, although the report noted volumes started from a small base of 3.7 million units a year ago and overall market share is still less than 5 percent.

Apple's iOS platform, despite seeing its total volumes increase and reaching record third-quarter volumes, saw its market share decline during 3Q13, most likely due to soft demand in the weeks leading up to the launch of iOS 7 smartphones.

However, the report noted that if the 9 million units sold during the last week of September is any indication of future adoption, iOS stands to reap another record quarter in terms of volume, market share and year-over-year growth.

"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward."

Beleaguered smartphone maker BlackBerry recorded the largest year-over-year decline among the leading operating systems during 3Q13. Underpinning its results was softer demand for its new BB10 operating system and continued demand for its older BB7 within emerging markets.

Smartphone average selling prices (ASPs) have continued to decline as the appetite for more affordable devices grows. ASPs were down 12.5 percent in 3Q13, accounting for an average price of $317.

The ASPs of large-screen smartphones (5-7-inch screens), also known as phablets, were notably higher than the market average at $443. However, the third-quarter ASP was down nearly 23 percent from the $573 phablet ASP in the same period last year.

"Almost all successful Android vendors have added one or more 5-7-inch phablets to their product portfolios," Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said in a statement. "And Nokia's recent announcement of the Lumia 1320 and 1520 put them in the category as well. In 3Q13, phablet shipments accounted for 21 percent of the smartphone market, up from just 3 percent a year ago. We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple's inability to grow share in the third quarter."