Android, iOS control 96.3 percent of global smartphone market: IDC

That's up slightly from a combined total of 95.6 percent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Android and iOS have long been regarded as the top two mobile platforms worldwide, but the latest numbers from the IDC are even more disheartening for would-be competitors.

Google and Apple's respective mobile operating systems together accounted for approximately 96.3 percent all smartphone shipments worldwide by the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the market research firm on Tuesday.

That's up slightly from a combined total of 95.6 percent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013.

Individually, the Android ecosystem continues to dominate with 81.5 percent of the market, up from 78.7 percent the same time last year.

Despite the releases of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, iOS slid from 15.1 percent at the end of 2013 to 14.8 percent by the end of 2014.

Ramon Llamas, a research manager with IDC's mobile phone team, suggested in the report, "Now that Apple has entered the phablet market, there are few new opportunities for the company to address."

On the other hand, Llamas observed Samsung -- the undisputed leader in the Android space -- experienced flat growth in 2014, forcing the Android ecosystem overall "to rely more heavily on smaller vendors to drive volumes higher."

Of those smaller vendors, most of the ones highlighted in the IDC report hailed from Asia, including Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Lenovo, which picked up Motorola Mobility assets from Google in a multi-billion dollar deal at the beginning of 2014.

As for the rest of the smartphone market, IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau reflected that the race for third place behind Android and iOS resembled "skirmishes" more than an actual battle.

However, Chau hinted at brewing battles on the fringes -- namely involving low-cost smartphones in emerging markets.

"With Microsoft bringing ever-cheaper Lumia into play and Tizen finally getting launched to India early this year, there is still a hunger to chip away at Android's dominance," Chau wrote.

Microsoft's Windows Phone experienced the smallest year-over-year increase at just 4.2 percent, while BlackBerry posted the only year-over-year decline among the top four operating systems, falling -69.8 percent from 2013.

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