iOS holds steady behind Android platform market share in Q1 2012

IDC released their quarterly report on worldwide smartphone market share by operating system today, and the chart looks more or less as you'd expect: Android has kept ballooning (59% market share), while iOS maintained a respectable second place (23%), while Symbian (6.8%) and BlackBerry (6.4%) continued their downward spirals. Windows Phone growth saw decent 26.9% growth since last year, but that still only amounts to 2.2% market share. All in all, 152.3 million smartphones were shipped in Q1 2012, which is 49.9% more than the same quarter in 2011.

With these trends continuing, it won't be long before BlackBerry and Symbian barely even show up on the radar and the smartphone game becomes a two-horse race - some would argue it already is. Between Apple and Google's operating systems, 80% of the world's smartphones are accounted for. I'm really curious to see if Windows Phone can manage to claw enough mindshare to become a viable third option, but it seems more likely that it will be a bit player just like RIM. It's interesting to see that even after a year of Nokia announcing its retirement Symbian it's still commanding the market share that it is. Despite the nosedive, BlackBerry hasn't managed to squeak up over Symbian market share, and at the going rate, they probably won't be able to swing it next quarter either. IDC actually had some advice for those lower on the food chain.

In order for operating system challengers to gain share, their creators and hardware partners need to secure developer loyalty. This is true because developer intentions or enthusiasm for a particular operating system is typically a leading indicator of hardware sales success.

That's true enough, but not many developers are willing to invest in platforms that don't have the hardware sales unless the manufacturers are paying them off. What comes first: manufacturers making phones people want to buy, or developers that make phones into things people want to buy? It seems like in the case of iPhone, it's the latter; out of the box it does pretty much everything any other smartphone can (admittedly with a great deal of polish) but it's the App Store that really gets buyers invested in iOS. That said, Android's app ecosystem isn't exactly healthy when you consider piracy and fragmentation, but the hardware manufacturers are able to address a much wider variety of tastes and needs. Should competitors be picking up Android's approach or that of iOS in order to snag third place?

Source: IDC

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

14 Comments
  • You didn't mention if iOS lost or gained market share?
  • All but Symbian and BBOS gained. Android's and iOS' year-over-year change was 145% and 88.7% respectively. http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23503312
  • @ benandarchie
    You can mouse over the graphs and see that iOS maintained 23.0% over the two quarters
  • In addition to the question about which should come first, good hardware or good apps, I think part of the equation must consider unique apps.
    Right now it seems Android and iOS are the ones to get first dibs on apps. My guess is this is due to them being the top two OS choices. The other platforms seem to get apps as an afterthought. "OK, we've covered iOS and Android, lets port our app to the other guys to increase our reach."
    So my guess is RIM, Microsoft and the others need to find a way to get developers to "express themselves first" on their platforms rather than just getting ports.
  • Yeah, I mean I really didn't mind Blackberry OS all that much, on better hardware I think it would have served me fine. But the lack of apps kept it from any consideration.
    Likewise, I really like Windows Phone. But I needed a particular app for work email/calandar and Windows Phone didn't have it. So it was never an option. Even if it were an option, my carrier only carried one model and I didn't like it.
    Apple, to an extent, also has that issue. By only offering a single model, no matter how good it is, it won't satisfy everybody. I would expect them to offer more options at some point. Not dozens like Android, but perhaps a 4", 5", 7", and 9.7", maybe even unifying the iPhone and iPad platforms. There are markets at each of those sizes that are too large to ignore forever. At least I would think so.
  • "But the lack of apps kept it from any consideration."
    Which is exactly why I dumped my BB and went iOS. No apps was a major, major problem for me with my BB. After a while, BBM wasn't enough to keep me grounded with BB when iOS and Android offer so much more.
  • If you had been paying attention, you might have noticed that there are three different iPhone models now. 3GS (from 2009), 4 (from 2010), and 4S (from 2011.)
    And after the 2012 iPhone is released, there will be four models. The 3GS will be sold in emerging nations as an ultra-low-end model.
  • There is a difference between multiple versions of the same product and multiple products in the same category. iPhone 2010 vs iPhone 2011 is not the same as HTC EVO vs Samsun Nexus S, for example. I get the feeling "pete" was referring to the latter.
  • Won't be a surprise if RIM stands low until BB10 launch. BB7 hasn't been very successful and people start to believe they'd better wait for BB10 before changing a BB6 device. In the meantime, the markets grows. Just maths.
  • Re: "... it's the App Store that really gets buyers invested in iOS. That said, Android's app ecosystem isn't exactly healthy when you consider piracy and fragmentation..."
    And the App Store is just one facet of the Apple ecosystem. iCloud will add value to (and spur sales of) all of Apple's hardware devices in the next decade. Exactly the way the iTunes ecosystem added value to (and spurred sales of) iPod and Mac in the previous decade.
    Few Android users have many 3rd party apps. And those that do have downloaded free apps. Less lock-in. This will make it easier for Samsung to switch to Tizen. It's actually truly open, it's truly standards-based, and it's being backed by Intel, the Linux Foundation and yes, Samsung.
  • These stories are completely ridiculous. so you're saying that an OS that is installed on about 3000 devices holds a marketshare lead on an OS that is installed on a few devices? GET OUT!
  • um ya... they are talking about OS's not a particular phone model... did you read the story at all??? guessing not based on your comment
  • So if you are using iOS here to just refer to the iPhone, how do we know when you are referring to iOS on the iPad or all of iOS devices?
  • Look at that screen on the Galaxy Nexus. You can almost fit the iphone into the screen alone.