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Android and iOS dominate global smartphone shipments: IDC

The two dominant operating systems reached a new high in Q2 as Symbian and BlackBerry continue to slide

The growing dominance of Google‘s Android and Apple‘s iOS smartphone operating systems has been confirmed by research firm IDC Corp., which reported smartphones running one of these systems accounted for 85 per cent of all global smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2012, a new high for the pair.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android led the way with 68.2 per cent of Q2 shipments, up 106.5 per cent over the same quarter a year ago. Apple’s iOS was next with 16.9 per cent of shipments in the quarter, up 27.5 per cent over the year ago.

“Android continues to fire on all cylinders,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program, in a statement. “The market was entreated to several flagship models from Android’s handset partners, prices were well within reach to meet multiple budgetary needs, and the user experience from both Google and its handset partners boosted Android smartphones’ utility far beyond simple telephony.”

It was a tougher quarter for two formerly dominant smartphone pioneers, BlackBerry and Symbian, as both saw their shipment share fall under five per cent. BlackBerry had just 4.8 per cent of shipments, down sharply from the 11.5 it managed one year ago, while Symbian dropped to 4.4 per cent from 16.9 per cent.

“The mobile OS market is now unquestionably a two-horse race due to the dominance of Android and iOS,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “With much of the world’s mobile phone user base still operating feature phones, the smartphone OS market share battle is far from over. There is still room for some mobile OS competitors to gain share, although such efforts will become increasingly difficult as smartphone penetration increases.”

IDC credits Android’s success to Samsung, which shipped 44 per cent of all Android smartphones in Q2, seven times more than its nearest Android competitor. Apple’s growth was seen cooling as its latest iPhone has been available since October and rumours swirl about the next model. BlackBerry is seen as vulnerable with the delay in the release of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones into 2013, while Symbian’s decline is also due in part to Nokia’s decision to embrace Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS.

Speaking of which, at the lower end of the shipments scale for Q2, Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile accounted for 3.5 per cent of shipments, up from 2.3 per cent, good enough for 5.4 million units. IDC notes Microsoft is closing the gap with BlackBerry, thanks mainly to Nokia and its Lumia/Windows Phone shipments. It will need to generate additional momentum from Windows Phone 8 devices later this fall to narrow the share gap further.