Android shoots past iPhone OS in market share

Android shoots past iPhone OS in market share

Summary: Over the last year, Google's mobile OS has seen its share of the smartphone market almost quadruple, taking it to twice the share of Apple's iOS, according to figures from analyst firm Gartner


Android's share of the smartphone market has almost quadrupled over the last year, and now stands at more than double that of Apple's iOS, according to Gartner.

Android in space

Android's market share has rocketed past that of Apple's iOS in the last year, according to a report by Gartner. Photo credit: Google

On Thursday, the analyst firm issued its handset market statistics for the first quarter of 2011. According to its figures, 36.3 million Android phones were sold in the quarter, up from 5.2 million the previous year. This rise took Android's smartphone market share from 9.6 percent to 36 percent.

Apple's iPhone operating system saw sales roughly double from 8.4 million to 16.9 million over the same period, but its market share rose more modestly, from 15.3 percent to 16.8 percent. This discrepancy in increases can be explained by the fact that overall smartphone sales almost doubled, going from 54.5 million units sold in the first quarter of 2010 to 100.8 million in the first quarter of 2011.

Outgoing Symbian

Nokia's soon-to-retire Symbian OS saw sales go up from 24.1 million to 27.6 million over the year, but its market share went drastically down from 44.2 percent to 27.4 percent. Gartner principal research analyst Roberta Cozza said in a statement the decline would "precipitate a competitors' rush to capture Symbian's market share in the mid-tier".

Symbian is being retired due to Nokia's tie-in with Microsoft over the Windows Phone platform. According to Gartner's figures, Windows Phone 7 has not been an unadulterated success. Its introduction in 2010 as the successor to the aged Windows Mobile platform saw sales of smartphones using a Microsoft OS fall stay flat at around 3.7 million, with market share falling from 6.8 percent to 3.6 percent.

"Windows Phone saw only modest sales that reached 1.6 million units in the first quarter of 2011, as devices launched at the end of 2010 failed to grow in consumer preference and [operators] continued to focus on Android," the report stated. "In the long term, Nokia's support will accelerate Windows Phone's momentum."

With Android, Symbian and iOS in the top three spots and Microsoft in the fifth, the fourth place in the top five was taken by Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry OS. BlackBerry OS saw its market share fall over the year from 19.7 percent to 12.9 percent, albeit on sales that rose from 10.8 million to 13 million units.

Gartner's figures for the handset market as a whole show smartphones to be taking an ever-increasing share. Overall, 427 million mobile communication devices were sold in the first quarter, a 19-percent increase on the previous year.

"Smartphones accounted for 23.6 per cent of overall sales in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 85 per cent year-on-year," Cozza said. "This share could have been even higher, but manufacturers announced a number of high-profile devices during the first quarter of 2011 that would not ship until the second quarter of 2011. We believe some consumers delayed their purchases to wait for these models."

Handset market

Nokia still dominates the overall handset market, commanding a 25.1-percent market share in the first quarter with 107.6 million sales. This is slightly down from the same period the previous year, when sales were 110.1 million and Nokia's handset market share was 30.6 percent.

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Second-place Samsung had its strongest first quarter yet, with sales of 68.8 million handsets. This represented a rise on its 64.9 million unit sales the previous year, but a slight fall in market share from 18 percent to 16.1 percent. LG was in third place with sales of 24 million and a market share of 5.6 percent, both figures representing a year-on-year decline.

Apple was in fourth place, having boosted sales from 8.3 million to 16.9 million, and market share from 2.3 percent to 3.9 percent. "Considering the higher-than-average price of the iPhone, this is a remarkable result and highlights the impact that a strong aspirational brand can have on a product," Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi commented in the statement.

Rounding out the top five was RIM, with a flat three-percent market share but sales up from 10.8 million to 13 million.

Gartner's report added that while the shift to smartphones is accelerating in mature markets, "smartphones overall moved down market in the first quarter of 2011". It noted that manufacturers such as HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE have announced a broader portfolio of mostly Android-based mid-tier devices.

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Topics: Mobility, Smartphones

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Pretty soon only the apple fanboys will be the only ones buying phones from the walled garden. As time goes by and people realize the advantages of not having to have Steve choose what apps they can install and how they can use their phones they will buy an android phone. When it comes to features and hardware specs, android phones are years ahead of any iPhone 4.
  • iPhone sucks, yeah!
  • The thing that surprises me is how iOS is competing with Android at all, given that it is only available on a couple of devices from one manufacturer. One of the main reasons for this success is most people actually prefer to have a walled garden to protect them from themselves. As I see it while the technically literate hate the imposition of these restrictions most people have absolutely no clue, and don't want to have, so they love having apps screened for them and itunes to buy their music from. Android is now on a lot of cheaper low end devices that are flooding the market so its no surprise its outselling iOS which is only available on three devices iPhone, iPad and AppleTv which are premium devices. Looking at like for like sales the iPhone still outsells all other high end smart phones even though its year old tech now similarly with iPad. My guess is its brand and ecosystem that sells these devices now rather than spec so the walled garden does have its uses, just not for the small percentage of us that understand the technology.
  • leogoldberg:
    I love this Apple bashing from Android fanboys. "Apple's iPhone operating system saw sales roughly double from 8.4 million to 16.9 million ". Based on 100% annual unit growth it's obvious nearly no-one will be buying iPhones soon .

    Apple are a single manufacturer with 16% market share and *57%* of the profit in the smartphone sector. I don't think they're in trouble.
  • Apple and Androids are alwys at loggerheads on who is the best.....personally i prefer Apple, but yes Androids always hold a upper hand in the OS....
  • @b33k34
    Yes it is very easy to gain profits on a product that:
    a) you manufacture
    b) you 'license' os
    c) you sell
    All the while you are pretty much screwing the end user in that your only interface to the phone from a computer (mac or something better) hijacks everything in your device (iWhatever) - thus completely controlling the end user in everything they do - while charging this user higher than average fees for applications that should either be free or included.

    Now when you are talking about gaining market share, which, unless I am wrong and you know I am not, this article is about; Android has a lead. That is what is under discussion.

    Now we as consumers have a choice of the products we buy and the brands we support. When I buy something, anything a lot runs through my head before making the purchase; no matter the price. One, what does the company do? Two, how does this product help/hurt me? Three, and most important, how effin cool is it?! Apple is mainly concerned with their bottom line, and their shareholders' walletts. The same app that costs $3 on iTunes is free or $1 on Market with the chance to return it if your are unsatisfied, or re-download if you lose you damage your device. That is what I saw when choosing my next device.

    And for those who whine about the unjust comparison between iPhone and Android being that iPhone is just one device and Android is a plethora, Apple has always been one device. It wasn't until they painted their computers neon colors that they turned a profit, following the theft of another company's technology to suppliment the rest. Thus proving that people don't buy with their brains, rather with what the commercials they see on American Idol tell then to buy.

    And for those who say I am a true Apple hater, I am surrounded by every type of technology you can think of:
    5 iMacs
    9 Windows boxes
    3 Android Phones 4G
    4 iPhone 4 (version not communication technology)
    3 Android Tabs (2 on 2.2 one on 2.3 - thank you China)
    3 iPads - will not connect to airport extreme - Apple Genius' clueless
    4 macbook pros (3 won't connect to airport extreme) Apple Genius' clueless

    So if you want to have freedom, and have to use that thing that sits behind your eyes a little maybe you should look at that phone with the little green robot and don't be the one to take the next bite of the poison apple - with a market share that low and a profit margin that high - that is just what they want you to do - take a bite my pretty...............