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Windows Phone Inches Up in Share, BlackBerry Dives and Android Soars

While most people I know have iPhones and some have smartphones based on Android, Google's platform is clearly taking over the global market. Gartner and IDC released their annual smartphone reports and both showed that Android and iOS extended their dominance in the past year.

That may not be a revelation but the numbers show Android has an overwhelming lead over all platforms with 794 million devices shipped. Android phones now account for 79 percent of the market compared with 69 percent last year, according to IDC's report (Gartner's numbers were similar). I find that somewhat alarming given how often I hear Android is inherently more susceptible to malware and security risks than the other platforms.

Runner-up iOS is the only other major player but despite the fact Apple shipped 153 million iPhones, its share has dropped from 19 percent to 15 percent. Between the two, they account for 84 percent of the smartphone market.

While Microsoft continues to struggle to make a dent in the market it has solidified its third-place position with 33 million Windows Phones shipped. That's nearly double the amount last year. Windows Phone now has a 3.3 percent share of the market, up from 2.4 percent last year. Nokia shipped 89 percent of Windows Phones, which was "a testament to its expanding portfolio that addressed entry level all the way up to large-screen smartphones," wrote IDC analyst Ryan Reith. "What remains to be seen in 2014 is how Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's smart devices will propel volumes higher."

No surprise is that BlackBerry's precipitous fall continued. The smartphone maker shipped 40 percent fewer devices last year (19 million) and its share dropped from 4.5 percent to 1.9 percent.  As Reith noted, it was the only major player to see its share fall. And indeed it fell sharply. "With new leadership, management, and a tighter focus on the enterprise market, BlackBerry may in a better position, but still finds itself having to evangelize the new platform to its user base," Reith noted. I think that was a kind but optimistic assessment for BlackBerry.

The question remains, can Microsoft find a way to make it a real three-horse race with Windows Phone? Given recent reports that even Nokia is considering an Android phone it certainly casts doubt that even Microsoft's new devices unit can take on the Android juggernaut. Or maybe it's just hedging its bets.

Either way, Windows Phone and BlackBerry never come up in conversations I have with anyone developing an app and when I bring them up, the response is typically a deafening silence. I sometimes wonder if some people realize they exist. I still don't think it's game over for Microsoft's smartphones and preferences can change with the wind. But for Windows Phone and BlackBerry, this year and next will be critical if they're going to change this two-horse race.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/13/2014 at 12:52 PM


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