Google’s Android operating system reached a new milestone during the third quarter of 2013 (3Q13), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. With a total base of 211.6 million smartphone units shipped during the quarter, Android accounted for 81.0% of all smartphone shipments, marking the first time that Android has topped 80% unit share. Despite high saturation rates in a number of mature markets, the overall smartphone space grew 39.9% year-over-year in the third quarter.

Also reaching a milestone was Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which grew 156.0% year over year. Volumes started from a small base of 3.7 million units a year ago and overall market share is still less than five percent. “Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team, in a statement.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, the Android and Windows Phone assemblers are very successful at attracting the customers that Apple does not want.

Smartphone average selling prices (ASPs) have continued to decline as the appetite for more affordable devices grows. ASPs were down -12.5% in 3Q13, accounting for an average price of $317. At the same time, the market has seen a large influx of large-screen smartphones (5-7” screens), also known as phablets. Large-screen devices generally come with a higher selling price than smaller screen devices, due to the need for more powerful and expensive components. Phablet ASPs in 3Q13 were notably higher than the market average at $443. However, the 3Q13 ASP was down -22.8% from the $573 phablet ASP in 3Q12.

MacDailyNews Take: The race to the bottom is a race which Apple smartly refuses to run. Ask Dell who wins.

“Almost all successful Android vendors have added one or more 5-7-inch phablets to their product portfolios,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “And Nokia’s recent announcement of the Lumia 1320 and 1520 put them in the category as well. In 3Q13, phablet shipments accounted for 21% of the smartphone market, 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.”

Operating System Highlights

Google’s Android pushed past 80% market share for the first time in 3Q13, a testament to its broad and deep list of vendors, including four of the top five vendors worldwide. While Android, as a whole, moved forward, the vast majority of its vendors still struggle to find meaningful market share. Samsung accounted for 39.9% of all Android shipments for the quarter, while the rest of the vendors either saw single-digit market share or, in the case of the majority of vendors, market share of less than 1%.

Apple’s iOS, despite seeing its total volumes increase and reaching new record third quarter volumes, saw its market share decline during 3Q13, most likely due to soft demand in the weeks leading up to the launch of new iPhones. Still, if the 9 million units sold during the last week of September is any indication of future adoption, iOS stands to reap another record quarter in terms of volumes, market share, and year-over-year growth.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone posted the largest year-over-year growth worldwide of any of the leading operating systems, a result primarily driven by the support of Nokia. By itself, Nokia accounted for 93.2% of all the Windows Phone-powered smartphones shipped during the quarter, marking a new milestone in the company’s short history on the Microsoft platform. Participation from other vendors, meanwhile, still seemed a mixed bag with more vendors participating from a year ago, but volumes still far behind Nokia’s own.

Beleaguered BlackBerry recorded the largest year-over-year decline among the leading operating systems during 3Q13. Underpinning its results was softer demand for its new BB10 operating system and continued demand for its older BB7 within emerging markets. Now with a new CEO in place and an infusion of $1 billion, what remains to be seen is how and when the beleaguered operating system will be able to change course in the face of mounting pressure from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

Top Four Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2013 (Units in Millions)
IDC: Top Four Operating Systems, Shipments, and Market Share, Q3 2013 (Units in Millions)
Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, November 12, 2013
Note: Data are preliminary and subject to change. Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.

Source: International Data Corporation

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