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Aug 21 2014

Mobile Phone Market: En route to the Duopoly

With 300+ million units sold, the ever-booming mobile phone market reached yet another all-time high during the second quarter of 2014, according to International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker®.

Whether that's happy news and for whom remains to be seen – it certainly was for Google and Apple, whose Android and iOS operating systems collectively power 96.4% of those devices. End users, however, may soon start to ask themselves if their move away from Microsoft has taken them to another lock-in.

Altogether, IDC found that smartphone vendors and telecom carriers sold a total of 301.3 million units in Q2/2014, up 25.3% from the 240.5 million marketed between April and June last year. 255.3 million of these devices were equipped with recent versions of Android, while iOS runs on 35.2 million of the new shipments. All other mobile operating systems combined reached a devastating quota of 10.8 million in total, and there's no relief in sight. The situation is particularly bad for Microsoft – the company was once again relegated to niche player status despite the big development and marketing efforts that backed Windows Phone 8 and 8.1.

The fact that Google and Apple have effectively established a duopoly becomes even more evident when you look at how market shares have developed year over year. In Q2/2013, Google and its OEM partners shipped 191.5 million Android phones, accounting for 79.6% of all smartphones and feature phones delivered. This year, they raised shipment numbers by one third, now claiming 84.7% – in other words, Android now runs on eight out of ten 'mobes' and it looks like it could soon conquer the ninth. Apple sold 4 million more phones this spring than during the same period last year, which makes for a respectable 12.7% YoY shipment growth. Its market share, however, went from 13 to 11.7% – not a steep decline by any standard, but hurtful nonetheless when compared to the unbroken Android boom. Still Android and iOS were the only mobile OS's to realize gains – all others lost both in total sales and market share. Again, this is especially annoying for Microsoft, who went from 8.2 to 7.4 million units shipped, thus losing roughly one tenth of its sales and nearly one third of its admittedly near-irrelevant market share (2.5. vs. 3.4%).

According to IDC, one important reason for Android's overwhelming success is that a considerable lot of Google OEMs have focused on emerging markets and selling 'cheap' phones whose price tags don't cross the magic line of 200 dollars or euros. In Q2/2014, nearly 60 percent of all Android shipments worldwide belonged to that segment, and the recently introduced Android One reference design offers a chance to break the 100 dollar/euro barrier.

For more details, please see the IDC press release and read Don Reisinger's report at


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