Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems inched closer to total dominance of the worldwide smartphone market in 2014, as alternative smartphone operating systems failed to take significant market share from the duo.
Latest research from IDC shows that Android and iOS accounted for 96.3 per cent of all smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the full calendar year, up slightly from 95.6 per cent in Q4 2013 and 93.8 per cent in 2013 as a whole.
"Instead of a battle for the third ecosystem after Android and iOS, 2014 instead yielded skirmishes, with Windows Phone edging out BlackBerry, Firefox, Sailfish and the rest, but without any of these platforms making the kind of gains needed to challenge the top two," said Melissa Chau, senior research manager at IDC.
In terms of year-over-year shipment growth, IDC reported that Android outpaced the overall smartphone market for 2014 as a whole (32 per cent vs 27.7 per cent, respectively), while iOS beat the market in the fourth quarter of last year (46.1 per cent vs 29.2 per cent, respectively).
"Many of the same drivers were in play for Android and iOS to tighten their grip on the market," said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC. "A combination of strong end-user demand, refreshed product portfolios, and the availability of low-cost devices--particularly for Android--drove volumes higher."
Chau pointed out that other smartphone OS vendors are not giving up the chase, however, and are particularly targeting growth segments such as the low-end markets.
"With Microsoft bringing ever-cheaper Lumia into play and Tizen finally getting launched to India early this year, there is still a hunger to chip away at Android's dominance," she said.
Llamas said it remains to be seen how iOS and Android will fare in 2015.
"Now that Apple has entered the phablet market, there are few new opportunities for the company to address. Meanwhile, Samsung experienced flat growth in 2014, forcing Android to rely more heavily on smaller vendors to drive volumes higher," he commented.
IDC also noted that Android exceeded 1 billion units last year with Samsung shipping more volume than the next five vendors combined. iOS saw its market share for 2014 decline slightly even as volumes reached a new record, and grew at nearly the same pace as the overall smartphone market.
Windows Phone had the smallest year-over-year increase among the leading operating systems of just 4.2 per cent, well below the overall market. Meanwhile BlackBerry registered the only year-over-year decline among the leading operating systems, falling 69.8 per cent from 2013 levels.
- see this IDC release
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