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Android- and iOS-Powered Smartphones Expand Their Share of the Market in the First Quarter, According to IDC

Smartphones powered by the Android and iOS mobile operating systems accounted for more than eight out of ten smartphones shipped in the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the mobile operating systems held shares of 59.0% and 23.0% respectively of the 152.3 million smartphones shipped in 1Q12. During the first quarter of 2011, the two operating systems held a combined share of 54.4%. The share gains mean that Android and iOS have successfully distanced themselves from previous market leaders Symbian and BlackBerry, as well as Linux and Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile.

"The popularity of Android and iOS stems from a combination of factors that the competition has struggled to keep up with," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program. "Neither Android nor iOS were the first to market with some of these features, but the way they made the smartphone experience intuitive and seamless has quickly earned a massive following."

"In order for operating system challengers to gain share, their creators and hardware partners need to secure developer loyalty," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker program. "This is true because developer intentions or enthusiasm for a particular operating system is typically a leading indicator of hardware sales success."

Operating System Highlights

Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems, accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android's success, accounting for 45.4% of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.

iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S following the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone's popularity brings additional operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.

Symbian posted the largest year-over-year decline, a result driven by Nokia's transition to Windows Phone. But even as Symbian volumes have decreased, there continues to be demand for the OS from the most ardent of users. In addition, Nokia continues to support Symbian, as evidenced by the PureView initiative on the Nokia 808. Still, as Nokia emphasizes Windows Phone, IDC expects further declines for Symbian for the rest of this year.

BlackBerry continued on its downward trajectory as demand for older BlackBerry devices decreased and the market awaits the official release of BB 10 smartphones later this year. In addition, many companies now permit users to bring their own smartphones, allowing competitor operating systems to take away from BlackBerry's market share. Although RIM has not officially released BB 10, initial glimpses of the platform have shown improvement.

Linux maintained its small presence in the worldwide smartphone market, thanks in large part to Samsung's continued emphasis on bada. By the end of the quarter, Samsung accounted for 81.6% of all Linux-powered smartphones, a 3.6% share gain versus the prior-year period. Other vendors, meanwhile, have been experimenting with Android to drive volume. Still, Linux's fortunes are closely tied to Samsung's strategy, which already encompasses Android, Windows Phone, and later this year, Tizen.

Windows Mobile/Windows Phone has yet to make significant inroads in the worldwide smartphone market, but 2012 should be considered a ramp-up year for Nokia and Microsoft to boost volumes. Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system.

Top Six Smartphone Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, 2012 Q1 (Units in Millions)

Mobile Operating
System

 

1Q12 Unit
Shipments

 

1Q12
Market
Share

 

1Q11 Unit
Shipments

 

1Q11
Market
Share

 

Year-over-
Year
Change

Android 89.9 59.0% 36.7 36.1% 145.0%
iOS 35.1 23.0% 18.6 18.3% 88.7%
Symbian 10.4 6.8% 26.4 26.0% -60.6%
BlackBerry OS 9.7 6.4% 13.8 13.6% -29.7%
Linux 3.5 2.3% 3.2 3.1% 9.4%

Windows Phone
7/Windows Mobile

3.3 2.2% 2.6 2.6% 26.9%
Other 0.4 0.3% 0.3 0.3% 33.3%
 
Total 152.3 100.0% 101.6 100.0% 49.9%
 

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, May 24, 2012

Notes: Smartphone OS shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors. Unbranded phones, also referred to as "White Phones", are included.

In addition to the table above, a graphic showing the relative market shares of the top 6 smartphone operating systems over the previous five quarters is available at IDC.com. The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

For more information about IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or [email protected].

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.

All product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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