Is Google losing control of the Android ecosystem?

ABI Research reports that Android once again dominated the Q4 2013 shipment numbers for smartphone operating systems with 77% market share of over 280 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2013. Nearly one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013, Android accounting for 78% across the year.

Android’s dominance is not quite as rosy as it seems though, with most of the growth coming from forked Android operating systems (137% year-on-year), mainly in China, India, and adjacent markets. Forked Android or Android Open Source Project (AOSP) accounted for 25% market share with 71 million unit shipments, as opposed to certified Android’s share of 52%, of a total of 77% market share.

“The growth of AOSP is significant for Android’s owner Google, because AOSP does not offer Google’s services (due to their unavailability in China), impacting Google’s ability to monetize the Android ecosystem,” comments Nick Spencer, senior practice director, mobile devices, in a statement.

ABI Research: Q4 2013 Smartphone OS
Source: ABI Research

Apple’s iOS took back some market share sequentially on the back of the iPhone 5s launch, moving from 15% in Q3 2013 to 18% in Q4, but down year-on-year from 23% in Q4 2012 as emerging markets accounted for most of the growth. “Apple continues to avoid a low cost smartphone product to target these markets, focusing instead on its traditional premium segment, where growth is harder to achieve due to fast approaching market saturation,” adds Spencer.

Elsewhere, Microsoft’s Windows Phone saw growth of 19% sequentially and 104% year on year, but still only 4% market share in both Q4 2013 and Q3 2013. The soon-to-be formally acquired Nokia accounted for nearly 90% of Windows Phone shipments in Q4 2013.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Smartphones & Mobile Handsets Research Service.

Source: ABI Research


  1. I’ve been hearing stories about Google losing control of Android for almost 2 years now. Rumor had it that they would let go of the open sourced Android and concentrate on a Chrome OS, but with the sale of Motorola Mobility in order for Google “…to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem” ” who knows what they are up to.

    1. One interpretation is that they sold Motorola at a loss because of a looming showdown with the largest vendor of Android hardware – Samsung. Even though Google supposedly had mechanisms in place to keep from favoring Motorola, Samsung was nervous about the relationship. This is another example of how an “open” OS that can be run everyone’s hardware, a supposed advantage of the strategy, just results in mediocrity.

  2. Rest assured that Google’s tenacles are as firmly wrapped into its customers — um prey’s — private lives for maximum data mining. NSA only wishes it was so insidious as Google has become. Let us hope that Apple doesn’t follow suit. Reading the fine print of the iCloud user agreement, however, does not inspire much hope that Apple isn’t also datamining & location-tracking just as much.

    1. Except that Google’s entire business model is dependent on that data to sell to advertisers; Apple sells hardware to end-users. Don’t assume the motivations are the same based on a EULA. Follow the money.

  3. Like Google ever cared about Android, they used it as a pawn to block the dominance of Apple. That’s it, end of story. No one cares what Google does, do they get bashed for losing $10B on Motorola, nope. Google only wanted to stop the Apple advance and they have been very successful so far.

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