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By 10 August 2012 | Categories: news

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After analysing the second quarter performance of the global PC market, analytics firm  International Data Corporation (IDC) now turns its attention to the smartphone market.

According to the latest data from the IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker service, the number of smartphone users who enlisted within Google’s Android army reached new levels during Q2 2012. Android managed to obtain a staggering 68.1% share of the smartphone OS market during the quarter, and together with Apple’s iOS powered a whopping 85% of all smartphones that shipped within Q2 2012.

At the other end of the smartphone operating system (OS) spectrum, RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Nokia’s former smartphone platform of choice, Symbian, snapped up just 4.8% and 4.4% stakes respectively.

Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s mobile phone technology and trends program, stated that Android continues to fire on all cylinders, with the mobile phone market seeing the release of numerous Android flagship models from Google’s OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners. In addition, various budget device have also been released, covering the needs of users looking for more affordable smartphones.

The dynamic duo of the smartphone world: Android and iOS

According the IDC, Android’s success in the market can be traced directly to Samsung, which accounted for 44% of all Android smartphones shipped during Q2 2012. The Korean tech giant’s Android smartphone shipments totals were more than the next seven Android vendors’ volumes combined. Samsung’s bada smartphone shipments declined on a year-on-year basis, however, with the firm’s smartphone sales becoming increasingly Android-centric.

The IDC also noted the increasing relevance of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), with the release of various ICS-powered devices as well as updates to ICS becoming available during the last quarter.

Even though demand for Apple’s flagship model, the iPhone 4S, is subsiding on the back of fierce media speculation around the features and design of the Cupertino-based firm’s next iPhone, Apple still managed to post double-digit growth (27.5%).

iOS remains the solid number two platform of choice globally behind Android, and the IDC stated that the number of iPhone shipments exceeds the total amount of smartphone shipments for devices operating on platforms other than iOS and Android.

Table: IDC

BlackBerry OS and Windows Phone OS

The IDC revealed that RIM’s share of the smartphone market has dipped to levels not seen since Q1 2009. According to the IDC, RIM’s decision to delay the release of its new BlackBerry 10-running smartphones until 2013 means that the Canadian smartphone and tablet maker will  remain vulnerable to the competition.

Symbian’s smartphone market share decreased by almost 63%, amounting to the OS’ sharpest year-on-year drop ever according to the IDC. This sharp decline in Symbian shipments kicked off with Nokia’s decision last year to adopt Windows Phone OS as its primary smartphone platform, with the Espoo-based company producing only one Symbian-powered handset in the Nokia 808 PureView. The decline has also been exacerbated due to lower sales in key economically developing markets the likes of China, Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa.

Redmond’s mobile platform eyes 3rd place

Benefitting from the decline of BlackBerry OS and Symbian was Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. The Redmond-based software giant’s smartphone platform is closing the gap between itself and BlackBerry OS in its bid to land a mobile OS podium spot and don the ‘alternative platform to iOS and Android’ sash.

The IDC stated that the share gains achieved by Windows Phone OS is mostly as a result of Nokia, which managed to double its Lumia shipment figures sequentially for its last three fiscal quarters. Microsoft needs to generate additional sales momentum via its Windows Phone 8 OS devices that will be introduced later this year, if the company’s mobile platform is to stand a chance of closing the shipment gap between itself, iOS and Android the IDC asserted.

“The mobile OS market is now unquestionably a two-horse race due to the dominance of Android and iOS,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker. “With much of the world’s mobile phone user base still operating feature phones, the smartphone OS market share battle is far from over. There is still room for some mobile OS competitors to gain share, although such efforts will become increasingly difficult as smartphone penetration increases.”

In related news, StatCounter recently released its mobile browser stats showing that the Android browser is king of the mobile net surfing jungle as it is utilised by 23.16% of users that access the web via their smartphones and other mobile devices.

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