75% of phones shipped last quarter run Android

IDC finds Google's OS powered 135 million new smartphones; Apple grows to 14.9% of market

Apple may have the most recognizable smartphone on the market with the iPhone, but Google has the most used smartphone operating system. According to International Data Corporation, three out of every four smartphones shipped in the third quarter of this year ran the Android OS.

The research firm has the Android platform growing dramatically, with last quarter's shipments of 136 million Android smartphones up 91.5 percent year-over-year. By comparison, Apple shipped 26.9 million iOS smartphones for the quarter, bolstered by the launch of the iPhone 5. That was good enough to give the company 14.9 percent of the market and 57.3 percent year-over-year growth.

Windows smartphones saw the most dramatic growth (relatively speaking) with a 140 percent increase in shipped handsets over the third quarter of 2011. However, Microsoft still only shipped 3.6 million smartphones, good enough to claim 2 percent of the market.

Most of that trio's market share growth came at the expense of BlackBerry and Symbian phones. IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo singled out software support as one key area where the shrinking players are struggling.

"The share decline of smartphone operating systems not named iOS since Android's introduction isn't a coincidence," Restivo said. "The smartphone operating system isn't an isolated product, it's a crucial part of a larger technology ecosystem. Google has a thriving, multi-faceted product portfolio. Many of its competitors, with weaker tie-ins to the mobile OS, do not. This factor and others have led to loss of share for competitors with few exceptions."

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Latest comments (14)

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
That's remarkable, it's going to be interesting to see how Windows are going to cope with the tough competition. Have to say, really rather happy with my Samsung Galaxy S3. : )
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development5 years ago
It's a shame the mass of users don't spend money in the shop. Our latest game is in the top 50 on both platforms atm, but iOS sales are outstripping Android by 10:1.

I don't know if this is the ridiculously easy pirating situation, more thrifty players or what, but it's a fact that's hard to argue with. Monetising on this platform is going to remain a challenge regardless of increasing volume, and if not met will continue to see the play store relatively empty compared to iOS.
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I don't see how market share comparisons of Android vs. iOS make much sense. Sure, they are both mobile operating systems, but iOS is a closed system. Any new iOS activation means a new iPhone (for simplicities sake). Any new Android activation can mean anything from a Samsung to a Motorola to a million other brands/phones.

An iOS smartphone is a thing. An Android smartphone is pretty much everything else. What's relevant about comparing the two?

Edit: To clarify, iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S3 vs. DROID 4 (or something, I'm not that knowledgable when it comes to all the different types of phones) would be a useful and fair comparison.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Laurens Bruins on 3rd November 2012 1:45am

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Show all comments (14)
Oliver Bulloss Producer, Happylatte5 years ago
Monetization rates/user on each platform would be a good chart to look at. Also, total value of handsets shipped I suspect would show them to be closer, as there are many very cheap Android devices out there.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 5 years ago

Apple and Google make money in different ways. Google needs android to be able put their ads in your hands. Apple just wants you to buy their stuff.
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Jason Pullara Podcaster 5 years ago
@paul maybe the rest of the market thinks your mobile games suck - or the vast majority of the market doesn't buy a phone to game on ;)
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Laurens, it's very similar to how the desktop computer market is looked at.

Windows (which can be Dell, HP, Acer, etc...) versus Apple (Mac only).
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The regular Android sales don't help- almost all of my purchases happen during those sales which means another 10 aaa games for just a couple of dollars. It's so much content I don't visit the store for another 3 to 6 months
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development5 years ago
>> @paul maybe the rest of the market thinks your mobile games suck - or the vast majority of the market doesn't buy a phone to game on ;)

Most games only get a teeny tiny percentage of the mass market on any platform. Even if our game does suck, that doesn't explain why 10x more iOS people buy it than Android.
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Jace Cisnero Games/Level Designers 5 years ago
I've heard from owners of Android devices time after time that they aren't interested in playing games on their phone. They're also not willing to spend money on the games they probably wouldn't play. Android draws a different crowd than iOS. It's a crowd that isn't willing to pay for software. On more than a few occasions I've heard Galaxy users brag about the size of their screen but they couldn't show me a single decent game on it because they hadn't bought any. (Disclaimer: my anecdotal statements are probably not entirely useful in themselves though I assume others will have or will soon witness/notice similar situations.)
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Paul There are plenty of possible difference, but the big one is that Android gamers get a lot more free stuff and thus are much less likely to pay (they're used to ad-supported games and don't usually care to drop a few dollars for a paid version). As for your comments about the Android market emptying of games, there are already enough good ones on there to keep anyone entertained for a lifetime. As great as Great Big War Game is (and I'm one of the purchasers and enjoy it very much on my heavily modded Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nexus 7) no one would miss it or really most games if they weren't on the Android market.

You also have to understand that there are a huge chunk of people on both platforms that don't make any money because of the sheer ridiculous volume of games. Less than 30% of mobile developers are making over $50K a year, which obviously isn't enough to run a company on. It's just not going to support many people except the elite few (like your own very fortunate company).
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
Non smartphones are on the way out. So currently the number of smartphones made each month is ramping up very sharply. For the developing world this means a lot of the population are buying sub $50 Chinese Android phones. The current 1.3 million new Android activations per day will increase till there are well over 6,000 million smartphones in use. Then there will be the replacement market.
However a lot of these customers are buying these devices as phones and as internet connections first. Running apps such as navigation probably comes next, with games somewhat down the list. It doesn't surprise me if currently only 50% of these devices are used for game playing.
Windows phone has the potential to grab market share. It is the nicest phone OS to use. But they are currently building a whole ecosystem from near zero.
The meteoric rise in smartphone use will be matched with a huge surge in tablet ownership. Nice 7 inch tablets like Nexus and Kindle Fire will soon be under 100. And the cheap Chinese ones will be cheaper than their phones.
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Owned Android phones for around 3 years now- and lifetime I would have spent less on purchases than a single 3ds purchase. The winner in all this is google as people learn and use their services which are accessible though every Android device.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development5 years ago
@Nicholas, you're right about the nature of dev's existence, there's a great thread about it on touch arcade atm where we're trying to fix all ills. It actually stayed civil too. :) (And thx for your custom btw)
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