Android, Windows Phone grow in smartphone share, while iPhone drops

Lack of large-screen phablet hurts Apple share, IDC says

Android grew to 81% of all smartphones shipped globally in the third quarter, while Apple's iPhones slipped to 12.9% compared to 14.4% a year ago, according to IDC.

The latest data from IDC, released Tuesday, also notes that Windows Phone grew to 3.6% market share, an increase from 2% a year ago.

Part of Apple's decline in iPhone share can be attributed to not having a large-display smartphone to sell, while nearly all Android manufacturers have a phablet on sale that has a display larger than 5 inches, IDC said. Android's third-quarter market share of 81% was up from 74.9% a year ago.

Even Nokia, which made up 93.2% of all Windows Phone-powered smartphones shipped in the third quarter, is introducing two new Lumia phones with 6-in. displays. The Lumia 1520 will be sold by AT&T starting Nov. 22, and the Lumia 1320 will be sold outside the U.S. early next year.

Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone
Running on phones like the Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone, the Windows Phone OS is picking up market share.

Phablets, with screens of 5 inches to 7-inches, made up 21% of the smartphone market in the third quarter, IDC said, up from just 3% a year ago.

"We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple's inability to grow share in the third quarter," said Ryan Reith, an IDC analyst, in a statement.

"It would help for Apple to have a larger phone, since they are popular in some hot markets where Apple wants to be, including North America, Europe and China," said Ramon Llamas, another IDC analyst, in an interview. "When you put all things together, there's an opportunity that Apple's not in right now and that other vendors are offering, like Samsung and now Nokia."

Llamas said he's heard the many rumors that the next iPhone, coming in another year, will have either a 4.7-in. or 5.7-in. display. Apples's latest phones, the iPhone 5S and 5C, have 4-in. displays.

IDC also described the 156% increase in Windows Phone in the third quarter as "amazing" even though Windows Phone still makes up a small portion of the overall smartphone market. What's so impressive is that 3.7 million Windows Phone units shipped in the third quarter of 2012, but that figured jumped to 9.5 million smartphones in the third quarter this year.

Earlier this year, IDC said that Windows Phone would pass the 10% market share threshold by 2017. Whether that happens, however, will come down to how Microsoft addresses the future of Windows Phone and updates of the OS beyond the current Windows Phone 8.

Candidates for the job of Microsoft CEO reportedly include former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who might put a greater emphasis on Windows Phone over other products such as the Bing search engine or the Xbox. Microsoft is in the process of purchasing Nokia.

"There's a lot in flux with Windows Phone and getting a new CEO at Microsoft," Llamas said. "If Elop's picked, Windows Phone will be near and dear to his strategy, but if it's somebody else not tied to Nokia, then that person may have a different agenda."

Even so, Llamas said Windows Phone performance is impressive, while still a small part of the global market. "You can't deny what Windows Phone has done in recent years and especially with Nokia, which is really doing incredibly," Llamas added.

"Windows Phone is the clear number three platform worldwide," Llamas emphasized. "Part of the reason is their efforts and the decrease in BlackBerry, but Windows Phone is a legitimate third-place platform coming from sustained growth over 2012 and a broader and deeper portfolio recently than in years past."

IDC also noted that low prices have helped both Android and Windows Phone, with both platforms having a selection of devices that are priced low enough to be affordable to the mass market. "It is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward," Llamas said.

Average selling prices for smartphones dropped by 12.5% in the third quarter, reaching an average unlocked price of $317. Phablets averaged $443.

IDC said there were 261.1 million smartphones shipped in the recent quarter, up nearly 40% from the 186.7 million shipped in the third quarter of 2012.

BlackBerry still held fourth place, despite a 41.6% decline, from 7.7 million smartphones shipped in third quarter 2012 to 4.5 million shipped in the third quarter this year.

In the top two spots, Android shipments reached 211.6 million, up 51.3% over the 139.9 million of a year ago; Apple iPhones reached 33.8 million, up 25.6% over the 26.9 million shipped a year ago.

This article, Android, Windows Phone grow in smartphone share, while iPhone drops, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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