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Canalys: Android rules global smartphone market with 69% share, iOS rises to 22%

It’s been a long time since we’ve last had doubts about the dominating platform of the global smartphone market, with Android ruling quite comfortably across the world.
February 8, 2013

It’s been a long time since we’ve last had doubts about the dominating platform of the global smartphone market, with Android ruling quite comfortably across the world. Still, it’s always interesting to see what’s coming of the leading margin over iOS and the rest of the competition, mostly because that increases month after month and year after year.

And even when it doesn’t, like in the final fiscal quarter of 2012, we still get thrills at how far behind Android everyone else is. But first things first and let’s give credit where credit is due – Apple’s enjoyed a pretty awesome end of last year.

According to the latest report from Canalys, a leading provider of market analysis for the high-tech industry, iOS has boosted its worldwide market share from around 15% to 22.1%. That’s impressive, no question about it, and we’re not afraid to admit it.

Then again, we can’t help but regard iPhone shipments in the last three months of 2012 as only drops in the ocean. And you know who owns the ocean. That’s right, Android, with a crushing 69.2% market share in Q4.

Android vs iOS

Granted, that’s down from 75% in the previous fiscal quarter, but we have to look at the context. Apple’s iPhone 5 was fresh out in October 2012, while most of last year’s Android hits, including the Samsung Galaxy S3, were starting to get old. It’s therefore only natural to see iOS rise and Android dip and it’s nothing to worry about.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s a number to chew on. 51%. That was Android’s market share in Q4 2011. So, if you ask me, an 18% boost year-on-year should warrant some sort of a celebration instead of being reason for concern.

Translated in millions of smartphones shipped, those Q4 numbers for Android and Apple look even farther apart. Our favorite mobile OS powered almost 150 million gadgets sold worldwide, while iOS had just 47.8 mil. Meanwhile, BlackBerry accounted for 7.6 million (3.5% market share), while Microsoft and Nokia were mere blips on the radar, with 5.1 and 3.2 million respectively (or 2.4 and 1.5% shares).


In other news, Samsung continues to dominate the vendor charts, with 62.9 million smartphones sold in Q4 2012, or 29% of the total market. That’s a 78% (!!!) boost, which allowed Sammy to widen the gap between first and second place.

The silver was of course captured by Apple, while the last spot on the podium went to Huawei. With 11.5 million smartphones shipped and a 5.3% share, the Chinese very narrowly beat their local competitors, ZTE (10.1 million or 4.7%) and Lenovo (9.5 million or 4.4%).

Oddly, despite smartphones winning the fight against feature devices in both the US and EU5, Canalys estimates that across the 50+ countries tracked by the latest report smartphones represented “almost” 50% of all phones shipped in Q4. In other words, “dumb” phones continue to rule the world of mobile, mostly due to their still high popularity in poor countries and among elderly people.

Other thoughts on these numbers? Surprised by anything? Should we be worried about Android’s quarterly drop or celebrate the massive yearly boost?