Window Is Closing for Third Major Mobile OS

    The operating system vendors angling to become the third choice after Android and Apple’s iOS better get busy. Results from three analysts’ firms suggest that the dominance of the top two players is getting deeper. This, it seems at this point, will be a hard trend to reverse.

    CNET reports that IDC last week said that during the fourth quarter of 2012, Android and iOS’s products were embedded in a combined 207.6 million devices (159.8 million for Android and 47.8 million for iOS). During the quarter, Android held 70.1 percent of the market; the number for the year was 68.8 percent. During the fourth quarter, iOS held 21 percent of the market, 2.2 percent better than its overall 2012 market share. iOS’s shipment totals for the quarter and the year were 47.8 million and 135.9 million, respectively.

    The bottom line, according to CNET and IDC: BlackBerry was down and, while Microsoft was up, its totals were not impressive:

    During the fourth quarter, it was hard to find too much for competitors to feel good about. BlackBerry OS came in third place with just 3.2 percent market share in the fourth quarter. The company’s shipments hit 7.4 million units, down 43.1 percent year-over-year. And though Windows Phone shipments jumped 150 percent during the fourth quarter, the operating system could muster only 2.6 percent market share.

    comScore MobileLens suggested the same sort of growth. As reported at Mashable, the firm found that during the third quarter of 2012, Google had 52.5 percent of market. That number inched up by nine-tenths of a percentage point during the fourth quarter. Apple’s operating systems moved from 34.3 percent to 36.3 percent. Meanwhile, BlackBerry was down 2 percentage points and Microsoft sunk .7 percentage points. They ended the year with 6.4 percent and 2.9 percent of the market, respectively.

    Late last month, Strategy Analytics also looked at the smartphone sector. The firm found that Android finished 2012 with 68.4 percent of the market, a jump from 48.7 percent at the end of the previous year. The fourth quarter exploded from 51.3 percent to 70.1 percent. iOS ticked up from 19 percent to 19.4 percent for the year-ends of 2011 and 2012. The firm found that Android and iOS grew their combined market share from 67.7 percent at the end of 2011 to 87.8 percent at the end of 2012.

    There is a tremendous amount of numbers to digest in the trio of reports. The thread, however, is clear: Android is getting significantly stronger and iOS is growing, albeit more slowly. The bigger takeaway, however, is that the window may be closing on other players. For instance, Strategy Analytics found that the “other” category – essentially, BlackBerry and Microsoft – shrunk from 32.3 percent at the end of 2011 to 12.2 percent at the end of last year.

    There has been a lot of news about BlackBerry during the past few weeks. Microsoft and its Windows Phone also has made some noise. The best advice to these two firms is to do anything possible to reverse the trend of the past year.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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