Can Android, Apple smartphone OS dominance last?

Can Android, Apple smartphone OS dominance last?

Summary: IDC says that Android and Apple's iOS are more than 91 percent of the smartphone market now. Can Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 make any dent?


Android and Apple's iOS mobile operating systems account for more than 91 percent of the smartphone market according to IDC, but there's an open question about whether that domination will continue. Why? BlackBerry and Microsoft will vie for the No. 3 spot in market share.

IDC's stats echo what most tech watchers already know: Android and iOS are a duopoly. Here's a look at the standings:


The big question here is whether Android and iOS dominance are due to an open field. Can Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 do anything to grab some share. IDC noted in a statement:

The two horse race between Android and iOS has collectively accounted for more than 50% share of the smartphone OS market over the past two years. At the same time both BlackBerry and Microsoft have been working on competing platforms that have recently launched and are poised for competition. Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 in 4Q12, and BlackBerry more recently released BB10 in January, marking the first time two new platforms have been introduced to the smartphone space in the past several years.

What are the chances BlackBerry and Microsoft can garner any kind of momentum?

IDC noted that Nokia has 76 percent of Windows Phone market share shipments. The problem: Microsoft needs more than Nokia to carry the day. Most vendors have Windows Phone devices and Android ones with an emphasis on the latter. Nevertheless, Windows Phone shipments were up 150 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

On the BlackBerry front, the company unveiled its Z10 and BlackBerry 10 platform but needs to convince its base to stay and trade up to the new OS. BlackBerry also has to recruit new users.

The bottom line here is that Microsoft and BlackBerry only have to get a little traction to make a dent in the Android-iOS duopoly.

Topics: Tech Industry, Android, Apple, iOS, Mobility, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Windows phone market share will ramp up quickly

    The only thing slowing it down is the supply of the phones rather than the demand.
    • We shall see

      I have yet to encounter a real live Windows phone in the hands of an actual user. How quickly we start seeing substantial numbers of them is anyone's guess.
      John L. Ries
      • I have one.

        An HTC 8x. Great phone and I like the OS. However I have given consideration to returning to Android as the application eco system is still in its infancy (relatively speaking). For example Pandora is still not available. The promised turn-by-turn navigation is still missing. And I wonder if some of the smaller applications I use will ever make it to the platform.

        Given this I'd be surprised if there is room for more than two major platforms in the phone market. If I use iOS or Android I can almost be assured an application will be available. For Windows and BB OS? Not so much. I want to see more than two players but I believe developers will not want to write for four different platforms.
        • Nokia Drive is now available on all Windows 8 Phones

          This might address your turn-by-turn navigation requirements....
          • Not the point.

            The point is Microsoft is supposed to be adding turn-by-turn to their mapping application. They may be working on it but for the last three months it has been missing.
          • Not the point

            Nokia Drive is automatically started from Maps when you look for directions. Not sure what the gripe is. Turn by turn directions are available and works extremely well.
          • Nokia Drive

            Yes, the integration of Nokia Drive on my HTC 8x is quite good. The actual turn by turn directions and visual display on it are excellent.
          • That IS the point

            MS isn't adding turn by turn. Nokia is. I'm not sure where you heard that was coming to Bing maps, but it isn't. Now that Nokia runs the mapping system anyway. In fact, if you cache a map, say Texas for example, in the default Map application then Drive+ also uses that same cache. MS let Nokia take over that part of the phone, which is why it's not available for all WP8 devices.
        • Jun pin pandora to start, works great for me

          You dont need dopey apps for everything like the toy phones.

          I have a nokia 920 so they have all the nav and music apps I could ever want.

          I got mine the first day out, few days later the CIO bought one.
          • Again not the point.

            Pandora is supposed to be coming to the platform. And I've heard Windows Phone users will receive a free one year subscription. However it has yet to materialize with no ETA on when it will come.
          • You keep arguing against yourself,

            when you admit that, MS has indicated that, YOUR apps will be coming, but you keep insisting that, because they're not there yet, MS isn't meeting YOUR needs. Like anything else, building up to a point where everyone's expectations takes time, MS is in the same position.

            So, how long do you think it took for Android or iOS to get to the point where ALL of your expectations were met? Chances are that, Pandora was not even one of your expectations until it became an app which you NEEDED to have after you got it for the first time.

            When all of the platforms offer most of what people need currently, then, waiting for the others that might be missing, but coming, shouldn't be determining factor for leaving a platform. Patience is a virtue, and unwarranted impatience can lead people towards making mistakes.
          • I agree that patience is a virtue

            But I do find it funny that if it was a matter of waiting on something to come to the iPhone you wouldn't have any patience and would be bashing Apple for not having it already.
        • If we get a real competitve market...

          ...then look for cross-platform toolkits to become important development tools. Writing OS-specific code makes it difficult to support more than one platform (which is what OS vendors usually want).
          John L. Ries
          • But Microsoft encourages cross platform also unlike others you mentioned

            Ram U
          • MS encourages MS-specific programming...

            ...and has since at least the early 1990s. Visual Studio encourages the use of the Win32 and .NET APIs (the latter encumbered by MS-held patents and not in wide use elsewhere for that reason), not cross-platform development. Apple does it too; so does Google (the purpose of the Dalvik engine is to allow Android apps to run on different hardware architectures, not different OS'). Cross-platform development is in the interest of developers and consumers, but not of commercial OS developers, unless they're in a minority position and looking to expand their markets.
            John L. Ries
          • "Not in wide use" is more of a hopeful phrase than a real one

            There's all kinds of C# in Gnome. Also a few popular Mac programs that are GTK# based (Mono.)
          • actually, it does run on multiple OS platforms

            A version of Dalvic is available for Windows...
          • On PC they do

            They've always been the dominant platform on PCs, so of course they didn't have to work to make other platforms' software run on their.

            But in mobile they are the underdog, sharing less than 10% market share with Blackberry. If they can convince developers do write a WP8 version as well as their Android and iOS versions that will help them gain momentum in the mobile race.

            That is the course of action I would take if I were at Microsoft, but I'm not Ballmer and that guy has ways of doing the wrong thing.
          • Re: But Microsoft encourages cross platform also unlike others you mentione

            If Microsoft buys Appcelerator, it will be to shut out down. That is the most common fate of small, innovative companies bought by big, complacent ones.
          • You don't understand

            They do that for a good reason. Using the example of when a company like Apple buys a company like LaLa they are getting rid of shoddy services by closing them down, making room for better services from Apple. But Apple wont release a product unless its perfect, so that can take some time and you have a void. But Apple has to shut it down because there is a risk of people being turned off to the whole idea because of shoddy products like LaLa, so they won’t try the perfected Apple solution when it’s released.
            They are planning for the future.
            I Am Galactus