Together, Apple's iOS and Google's Android own more than 90% of the smartphone market. That leaves very little room for Microsoft and RIM.
Smartphone shipments surged by 38% during 2012 and reached a staggering 217 million devices in the fourth quarter alone. Of those 217 million, 92% are running either Android or iOS, according to Strategy Analytics. In other words, Microsoft, RIM and others are fighting over scraps.
Globally, hardware makers shipped 700.1 million smartphones during 2012, which is up significantly from the 490 million shipped during 2011.
"We estimate 152.1 million Android smartphones were shipped globally in Q4 2012, nearly doubling from 80.6 million units in Q4 2011," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. "Android's share of the global smartphone market has surged from 51% to 70% over the past year, crushing Symbian, Bada and other platforms in its wake. Almost half-a-billion Android smartphones were shipped in total worldwide during 2012. Android is clearly the undisputed volume leader of the smartphone industry at the present time."
Apple's iOS is a distant second to Google's Android, with fourth-quarter shipments of 47.8 million and total 2012 shipments of 135 million.
The rest of the market, which includes BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Bada, Symbian, Tizen and others, added up to an anemic 17 million for the fourth quarter and 85 million for the year.
Strategy Analytics calls the smartphone industry a "duopoly" that has "polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs." They aren't wrong.
Microsoft relaunched its Windows Phone platform during the fourth quarter in a bid to win some market share from Apple and Google. So far, it hasn't. Nokia, the largest provider of Windows Phones at the moment, shipped 4.4 million handsets during the fourth quarter, less than 10% of what Apple shipped during the same period. HTC and Samsung have not provided a breakdown of their Windows Phone sales, but surely they aren't anywhere close to Nokia's figures.
In the U.S., RIM's BlackBerry OS is all but forgotten. Hardly anyone purchases RIM's legacy BlackBerry 7 devices. RIM is hoping to change that later this week with its launch of BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry 10 is an entirely new operating system and will ship on entirely new hardware from Research In Motion.
Obviously, RIM and Microsoft both have long roads ahead of them if they hope to steal market share from Apple and Google.
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