In August, I covered a Canalys report which indicated that Android accounts for almost 50% market share of worldwide smartphone shipments. In September, industry watcher Nielsen confirmed Android’s supremacy in the volume game and reported that 43% of American smartphone subscribers use Android-based devices and as many as 56% of users who reported buying a new smartphone in the past three months said they got an Android device.
These staggering stats are backed by new research from Gartner which indicates that Android-based devices accounted for a whopping 52.5% of all smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2011.
Interestingly, Gartner attributes Android’s dominance to “a weaker competitive environment, and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems”. Last month, Apple disappointed with the iPhone 4S and several analysts were quick to predict that no iPhone 5 means advantage Android. With the holiday season around the corner, I’d expect Android to further dominate the volume game this year.
Overall, the smartphone market grew 42% year over year to 115 million smartphones sold in the third quarter despite several customers delaying purchases to wait for Apple”s latest iPhone and other models. More than 60 million Android phones were sold worldwide between July and September, comprising for more than half (52.5%) of the total new phone market. HTC and Samsung surpassed Apple to emerge as top smartphone vendors by volume. Though Apple’s share grew by almost 4 million units to 17.3 million iPhones, its market share dipped to 15%, down from 16.6% a year ago.
There’s no doubt that the lack of iPhone 5 is hurting Apple. A lot of customers opted for Android devices over the summer even as Apple refused to divulge the launch date for the new iPhone. Though Apple sold 4 million iPhone 4S devices on its launch weekend, it would be interesting to see if it can slow down Android’s momentum throughout the holiday season. Gartner predicts that Apple will bounce back following the last month’s release of the iPhone 4S. We’ll see.
As for other players, there were no major surprises. Symbian accounted for a decent share of smartphone sales with 19.5 million Symbian devices sold, thereby 16.9% of the overall smartphone market – a significant drop from its 36.3% market share a year ago. RIM continued its dwindling fortunes as its share went down from 15.4% to 11.0%. Microsoft went down from 2.7% to 1.5%, however that’s likely to change as the Windows Phone platform begins to find its feet this quarter.
Geographically, China and Russia witnessed strong smartphone growth, thereby increasing overall volumes in the quarter, but demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets such as Western Europe and the U.S.