By Jessica Oaks
Figures recently released in International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker show Android capturing an astounding 79.3 percent market share in global smartphone shipments. Phone manufacturers shipped 187.4 million Android-powered phones, including new phones introduced in 2013 like the Moto X, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One and Sony Experia Z1.
Android smartphone shipments have grown exponentially since Q2 2012 — 73.5 percent, to be exact. Compare these numbers to one-time market leader BlackBerry, who this year saw an 11.7 percent drop in sales in the same period of time as Android’s numbers shot up. BlackBerry currently holds only 2.9 percent of the smartphone market share.
Android easily trounced Apple, which according to IDC’s quarterly report shipped 31.2 million units. Apple captured 13.2 percent of overall market share (down from 16.6 percent in the year-earlier period). Apple actually showed a 20 percent improvement over their shipment numbers last time this year, but they lost share because the smartphone market grew quickly.
Windows Phone shipped 8.7 million handsets, taking 3.7 percent share of the global market, and their growth mirrored that of Android’s. Shipments climbed 77.6 percent year over year.
What is giving Android the edge? The most widely recognized Android advantages are its variety, price point and operating system.
A dizzying amount of devices are powered by Android.
South Korean tech giant Samsung consistently rolls out Android products at an increasingly quick pace, and the Samsung Galaxy 4 is perhaps the most valuable Android-powered player. As of late, LG, Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE are also contributing significantly to Android’s worldwide domination. These vendors, all of which reported double digit shipment volumes in the millions, accounted for 62.5 percent of all Android smartphone shipments last quarter.
Vendors are also working hard to develop a strong local presence within smaller, niche markets in developing countries, IDC noted in its report.
In addition to simply being available across a large variety of smartphones, Android takes it one step further and offers users and hardware manufacturers a generous level of customization. The option to customize the devices makes Android extremely popular amongst technology enthusiasts.
Android supports an incredible range of products at an assortment of prices. In stark contrast to Apple’s offerings, which retail at a much higher price point, Android can suit a variety of budgets and lifestyles.
A great example is the Nexus 4, which is now being sold in many countries at a significantly reduced price. Gigaom reported in late August that U.S. consumers can expect to pay as little as $199 (8GB model) for the intelligently designed, sleek smartphone (The only trade-off is the model doesn’t run on the 4G network).
Superior Operating System
In terms of operating systems, Android is setting the pace, with Apple (and other competitors) struggling to catch up. For awhile, Android smartphones have offered a user interface and features that are more elegant and intuitive than Apple’s OS. Two great examples are Android’s Control Center and multitasking features, which Apple has essentially copied and repackaged for its newest OS iterations. Heavy.com compared iOS 7 to Android 5 Key Lime Pie and gave Android the win, based on its “ingenuity and inventiveness.”
According to some projections recently published by Forbes, the future will continue to shine bright for Android. The company is expected to enjoy 75.3 percent share of the market by the end of 2013, followed by Apple at 16.9 percent, Windows Phone at 3.9 percent and Blackberry with an anticipated 2.7 percent.
Ramon Llamas, a research manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone team, is confident that “Android and iOS will remain the clear number one and two platforms, respectively, throughout our forecast.”
Author Bio: Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.