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27 May 12 Android, Apple top smartphone market – in that order

Two San Jose area companies are at the top of the smartphone industry. Mountain View-based Google and Cupertino-based Apple are number 1 and 2, respectively, in their shares of the smartphone market, based on operating system. The proof comes from a report from the research firm IDC on smartphone sales worldwide in the first quarter of 2012.

According to a May 24 report from IDC, 59 percent of the smartphones shipped in the first three months of this year were powered by Google’s Android operating system, up from just 36.1 percent in the first quarter of 2011. The market share boost was driven by a 145 percent increase in unit shipments to nearly 90 million this year. Apple, whose operating system is called iOS, followed with market share of 23 percent, from 18.3 percent in the year ago quarter, driven by an 88.7 percent jump in sales to 35.1 million units this first quarter.

As I’ve noted before, Android is growing faster than Apple because its OS is offered on a wide variety of smartphone brands, primarily, HTC, Motorola and Samsung, which has helped those brands thrive in sales tracked by IDC based on brand. The iOS operating system, on the other hand, only runs on iPhones.


Everyone else’s smartphone OS shares are in single digits: Symbian OS, used on Nokia smartphones, a 6.8 percent share in the first quarter; BlackBerry OS from the beleaguered RIM, 6.4 percent; the open source Linux OS, 2.3 percent; and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile, 2.2 percent.

And in the dynamic smartphone industry, of course, things are changing fast. Nokia has discontinued the Symbian OS and decided to use the Windows Phone 7 OS going forward. Windows Mobile was the predecessor to WP7 and while it surprises me that phones with Windows Mobile on them are still being sold, I guess there are some pockets of the world where they are still available.

But obviously, the smartphone business is thriving; the IDC report says smartphone sales jumped by close to 50 percent in the first quarter to 152.3 million units, from 101.6 million in the year ago quarter.

With better processors, a wide variety of apps to download from each OS company’s app stores and faster carrier networks available, people can get more out of their smartphones, including faster loading Web pages, dedicated social media apps, taking and sharing of photos, improved video streaming quality and other features, smartphones have become a must-have gadget for more and more people.

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