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Android Hits 73% of Global Smartphone Market 601

Posted by timothy
from the skynet-at-low-altitude dept.
eldavojohn writes "Gartner's released a report on worldwide numbers of 2012 3Q phone sales and the staggering results posted from Android have caused people like IW's Eric Zeman to call for sanity. Keep in mind these are worldwide numbers, which might be less surprising when you realize that the biggest growth market of them all is China, which is more than 90% Android. It's time to face the facts and realize that Android now owns 73% of the worldwide smartphone market. While developers bicker over which platform is best for development and earnings, the people of the world may be making the choice based on just how inexpensive an Android smartphone can be. This same time last year, Gartner reported Android at 52.5% of market share and it now sits at 72.4% market share with over 122 million units sold worldwide."
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Android Hits 73% of Global Smartphone Market

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:27PM (#41993779)

    iPhone vs Android flamewar in 3, 2, ...

    • by dywolf (2673597) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:48PM (#41994915)

      I think it's pretty damn cool.

      I mean, that the mainstream avg person sees linux as the OS for nerdy, contrarian, anti-establishment type peoples (ie, Linux) and it now become itself mainstream in that it basically runs the cell phone world (yes i know linux servers have runt he net for years...but thats not mainstream)

      And then it gets even cooler when you consider that iOS, still with the same familiar looks Apple has long been known for, is derived from Unix (via OSX).

      Flamewar? Bah. Just a bit of sibling rivalry as they curb stomp Windows into oblivion in the largest/quickest growing platform market.

      • by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:34PM (#41995395)

        ...which tells us that GUI usability is all that matters. OK, together with app availability, but whenever the latter is in balance for two competitors, GUI usability stands out as the only thing that matters.
        Desktop Linux should learn from Android. What Android got right:
        - Nice app names, mostly.
        - Excellent, easy to use GUI.
        - No Command line shit required to do stuff.
        - Great fonts
        - Easy customization.

        • by styrotech (136124)

          ...which tells us that GUI usability is all that matters. ...which tells us that GUI usability is all that matters. OK, together with app availability, but whenever the latter is in balance for two competitors, GUI usability stands out as the only thing that matters.
          Desktop Linux should learn from Android. What Android got right:
          - Nice app names, mostly.
          - Excellent, easy to use GUI.
          - No Command line shit required to do stuff.
          - Great fonts
          - Easy customization.

          You're just thinking Androids success is down to

        • by morcego (260031) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:41PM (#41996165)

          - Excellent, easy to use GUI.
          - No Command line shit required to do stuff.

          - Easy customization.

          Actually, you got your assumptions wrong. Android has GREAT command line support. You can do pretty much anything, including send SMS and initiate phone calls using the command line. It is one of the things I love about it: I can do whatever the hell I want.

          Also, regarding customization, that is only true in theory. Phone manufacturers (I'm looking at you, Motorola) go out of their way to stop people from customizing. So, unless you are hacking the hell out of your phone, customization is very limited.

          The fact there are so many different GUIs out there, with any manufacturer using a different one - or even multiple ones - also doesn't fit your model.

          The reason Android is taking such a huge chunk of global market is mostly commercial. It is easy for manufacturers to use, and relatively cheap. There are great apps out there, and it is well supported by developing houses. It has a very usable interface (GUI). It is not exactly easy but, as far as smartphones go, nothing is really easy - we are just so used to it we don't even notice.

          Lets face it, Android was in the right place at the right time, and (most specially) with the right mentality. iOS is apple only, and you are SOL if you are someone else. Windows mobile was a piece of crap, the phone would lock down all the time, and you had to go anything through Microsoft. Either you had to do your own development (like Nokia did), or you were out of the market. Along come Google with Android. In the beginning, not such a great solution, but a much better option.

          Me ? I'm just happy for it. I own 2 Android phone, my wife has one, my daughter another ... Heck, even my father has one.

    • by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:03PM (#41995679)

      Actually, no, Apple's market share rose too. The real loser was nokia again.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:30PM (#41993809) Homepage

    The # of phones shipped is very impressive. We are now in a smart-phone market where there is just iOS and Android: everyone else is in the noise.

    But the # of phones is orthoginal to which a developer would want to target. How many purchases per phone are made on Android vs iOS? Whats the competition? How easy is the development model? How homogenious is the installed base?

    All these question are the ones the developers are actually asking, and market share really doesn't come into play very much.

    • by danomac (1032160) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:37PM (#41993917)

      Eventually the market will be overwhelmed (if not already) by the number of Android phones. At some point the developers will stop and realize there's a whole lot of people in the other ecosystem.

      Now hopefully they actually write an app that uses Android properly instead of some stupid iOS port - I've seen so many that are hard to use on Android because of this.

      The big thing is that Android is going on cheaper phones - we just got a plain phone here at work with a keyboard for texting, it came with Android and it was a whopping $150 to buy outright. It's no wonder the shipments/sales have taken off.

      Not everyone needs a $600 smartphone, and it's an oversight on Apple's part.

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:47PM (#41994049)
        It might turn out to be like computers. Apple does not have a large marketshare of computers compared to Dell or HP; however, they are highly profitable even though they have lower sales.
      • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:53PM (#41994143)

        Not everyone needs a $600 smartphone, and it's an oversight on Apple's part.

        Not an oversight. They chose to give up on that 47%. They will never buy Apple stuff anyway.

        • by danomac (1032160) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:03PM (#41994279)

          The problem is artificially confining yourself to (what could wind up being) only 5-10% of the marketplace doesn't seem to be wise for the long run. Look at Apple's history.

          They'll have to come out with a new iPhone every three months to keep their profits up.

          • by tftp (111690) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:12PM (#41994445) Homepage

            Apple cannot compete among the cheapest phones. They can't make one, and the sales won't bring enough profit to even bother. Apple traditionally focuses on the high margin, luxury market. Their 25% of smartphone market give them 10x more profit than the other 75% brings to HTC and Samsung (who sell barely above cost.)

          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:31PM (#41994709) Homepage
            Actually, Apple only started to do well once they started to cater to the top 5-10%. They spent a lot of years trying to chase after MS and the PC vendors and only later realized that there's no money to be made there. They are a very profitable company for the markets they serve. They only want to make good, high quality products. Is there something wrong with that?
        • by rsborg (111459) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:28PM (#41995319) Homepage

          Not everyone needs a $600 smartphone, and it's an oversight on Apple's part.

          Not an oversight. They chose to give up on that 47%. They will never buy Apple stuff anyway.

          Don't confuse policy/politics with business. In politics, you need to get 50% of your "market" or you lose. Plus you only get to play every 2/3/4/5 years (depending on your "market").

          Not so in business, even targeting a solid 15-20% of the market that's high-margin is often considered a solid plan. e.g.: BMW they clearly don't compete with Toyota or GM for marketshare, yet have a thriving, highly profitable business and a stellar brand. Same with Apple in desktop computing.

        • Not an oversight. They chose to give up on that 47%. They will never buy Apple stuff anyway.

          ... and that's exactly the thinking that lost Apple the PC market back in the day. You'd think "once bitten, twice shy" ... but no, not with Apple. Massive profit margins can work fine when you're leading at the forefront of technology; they don't work so well when you've got nothing to offer over your competitors. (And they work especially badly when your competitors are ahead of you -- i.e. the 7" tablet space).

          Note that I'm not saying Apple is doing badly now ... but you can't just be thinking of now,

      • At some point the developers will stop and realize there's a whole lot of people in the other ecosystem.

        We already know there are more people that have Android devices.

        How many buy apps though? How many even have Android devices where it is practical to have apps?

        I am technically one of the "Android Users". I have a cheap Android phone I bought for international use when I was there for an extended period (which ended up being a debacle because it turns out devices are actually usually carrier locked TO A

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by danomac (1032160) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:31PM (#41993833)

    But BB10 is going to change everything!

  • As a developer, my first mobile product will be for Android and I'll do iOS second. My next upgrade will be from iOS to Android as I see lots of other following suit. Apple has been very accurate in shooting themselves in the foot recently with the iOS6 changes (like the new app store and the introduced artificial slowing down of the phone to make you upgrade) and a couple of minor gaffes like the maps, and at the same time charging premium for it.

    I am aware of the markets right now on the Apple app store
    • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:51PM (#41994109)

      ...introduced artificial slowing down of the phone to make you upgrade...

      Have a source for that one? It's news to me and I'll hold off on upgrading to iOS 6 on my iPhone 4 if that is indeed the case.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:13PM (#41994457)

      my first mobile product will be for Android and I'll do iOS second.

      We do both platforms but tailor the development and release cycle to the region. Releases or updates pertaining to the international market always get the Android version first. If it's mainly a US based application, we do the iOS platform first. Reason being, we want a large user base latching onto new releases and updates so we can get more accurate bug reports/fixes. There always tends to be a large amount of useless "static" in the feedback forms however the Android feedback generally tends to be more useful to the developers.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:38PM (#41994799)

      I've been writing mobile apps for about three years now and a lot depends on your target market. If you are creating a paid apps and a small shop then you want to go iOS first. The first two apps I did had a free version with ads and a paid version with no ads and additional features (basically version 2.0). I had more downloads on Android of the free version by about 2.5 to 1 vs iOS. But iOS made up 90% of my paid revenue. While Android provided 70% of the ad revenue at first it suddenly leveled off and began to decline. I ignored it until one app got a bad review saying the software had malware and then found 3 more knock off apps all of which were spelled similar to mine and of suspect origin. Now these were niche apps with a few thousand paid downloads each on iOS. I originally built the apps to serve some need I was looking for and thought it might be worth $.99 to others. They were enough that it was a profitable hobby/moonlighting gig. Nothing that sold a million copies or anything like that.

      Ironically I did release a couple of those apps for Amazon Kindle Fire, which is technically android, and made more money from the Kindle this year than I ever did generic android on the Google Marketplace. The app I'm working on today I'm going to release for iOS and the Kindle. I'm probably going to ignore Google Marketplace for now for my moonlighting apps.

      And that's a problem I've found with Android and the same problem I had with linux about 10 - 15 years ago as in there are many different "flavors" of android. I use that term a little more loosely than with linux, but there are minor inconstancies from the different manufactures mostly having to do with hardware vs. the location of library files that made linux such a PITA back then. I know there will be fan boys screaming, "But if you design your app right it will run on anything." at which point I figure these people have never dealt with clients who are marketing departments. On the paid app development side of the house we offer this thing called Quality Assurance as part of the contract. I know people can laugh about it as much as they want to, but it's there and some clients are looking for pixel perfect (don't worry we charge them for it). First year we tried to keep up with android and lost our shirt buying hardware for testing. Now it's "Will work on stock android for latest nexus phone & tablet".

      That's generally why when my shop charges for development it's $X for all iOS devices, $X * ($X*.15) for Kindle, and $X+($X*.75) for android, and then we charge anywhere from $1000 - $3500 per additional android device for QA.

      But the biggest annoyance I had with android on the personal projects was the fact of having to maintain different build branches for different Android versions vs 1 build branch for iOS no matter what iDevice(s) the end product would be shipping for. That's started to change now, but at one time if you "supported Android" that meant making sure it worked on 1.5, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 3.0 as all were in the wild. I know that's far less today as Android's release schedule has grown a little more sane than the every six months with a new release that was going on a couple years ago.

    • Apple is no where near as rigid as they used to be for app releases. Previously I was rejected for having a blue phone number that utilized click-to-call on an iPhone. On an iPod it was still blue - however it wouldn't dial. Apple deemed it as a poor user experience. I had to change the phone number to a different color on the iPod.

      Now anything gets through. The 'rigid criteria' are almost non-existent. It is basically a malware scan and make sure you aren't using private APIs.

      I urge you don't
  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:35PM (#41993889)

    3Q 2012 would have been when iOS was at it's lowest due to people waiting for the iPhone 5. You'll likely seem there temporarily be a large change in the numbers Q4, with them settling down to something in between Q1.

    This happens once a year every year. The alternative would be believing that Apple suddenly lost half their share in one year, which also doesn't seem likely.

    • by Quakeulf (2650167)
      *its
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      No, the reality is that growth in non-first world markets of android devices is huge. They lost this share not by losing customers but that the total smartphone market is growing far faster than apple device sales.

      • No, the reality is that growth in non-first world markets of android devices is huge. They lost this share not by losing customers but that the total smartphone market is growing far faster than apple device sales.

        Ok, but even TFA agrees with me.

        "With the launch of iPhone 5, Gartner analysts expect iOS share will grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012 because users held on to their replacements in many markets ahead of the iPhone 5 wider roll out."

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          It will grow strongly, but they will not be able to gain back a majority or anything near it.

          I don't think apple cares anyway. They want to be seen as a premium brand, and that means not selling the most units.

    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:59PM (#41994227) Homepage

      Apple didn't lose half their share. The market's absolute size increased, with Android being the main player in that growth, thus Apple's part of the pie shrank even if in absolute numbers it didn't.

      Also, if I'm not mistaken those are market share statistics and not sales statistics. Market share won't be quite as affected by the pre-upgrade slump, because an important proportion of iPhone 5 buyers are iPhone owners.

  • free stuffs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:36PM (#41993903) Homepage Journal

    Not surprising that free software is so popular. Especially when it's the greedy manufacturers doing the shopping ;)

    Not only is the software free, but the maintenance and upgrades are being handled for them too. Unless you have a big company pushing you to install their OS on it (MS) this is probably going to be your best choice.

    Looking back at the considerable difficulty that MS has getting Windows to run smoothly on a wide variety of hardware, it's impressive to see just how well Android manages to support such a large variety of kit. Kudos to them for that.

    • Exactly. Look how long it has taken the Linux crowd to release something that will work well with all those video cards and wifi cards. Writing an OS for a PC is tough stuff. For a phone I suspect it's much easier. But having said that the power of these mobile OS's continues to amaze me. Android is orders of magnitude better now than just a few years ago.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Android is orders of magnitude better now than just a few years ago.

        The nice thing about Android is that I can expect every new release to be better than the last, unlike Ubuntu and Windows.

        The bad thing about Android is that there are so many things they can still improve.

  • remember PC/Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by genericmk (2767843) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:45PM (#41994005)
    This is a total re-play of the IBM/Apple race for PC market. Google is the IBM in this scenario. Next logical prediction would be Apple is going into crisis in a few years and looks for a new Steve Jobs to come up with something new entirely for which another competitor will play the IBM card.
  • by the computer guy nex (916959) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @02:50PM (#41994081)
    iOS apps make me more than my Android apps. One primary reason is iOS users actually use their devices far more than Android users.

    http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=9&qpcustomb=1 [netmarketshare.com]

    Fact is most Android phones are the low-price, low-margin variety that are used almost exclusively for texting.
    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:12PM (#41994443)

      Interesting numbers. Statcounter [statcounter.com], however, seems to disagree with them considerably, showing Android leading by a significant margin. Not sure what to make of that exactly, but it's pretty clear that "Fact is most Android phones are the low-price, low-margin variety that are used almost exclusively for texting" probably isn't completely true.

      • by Solandri (704621)
        The source of his numbers (NetMarketshare) deviates significantly from the two other main sources of these types of stats. You can see the same effect in desktop browser market share [wikipedia.org], where NetMarketshare still shows IE having a huge lead while the other two show all three browsers (IE, Chrome, FF) closer to evenly split.

        Statcounter doesn't correct for unique visitors (which is makes no difference in the context of this debate), but draws from a data pool approximately 3 orders of magnitude larger than
    • by Lussarn (105276)

      Even if the stats you show are true, you can clearly see where it is heading. Give it 6 months and you will have to find another source which puts Apple on top. The thermonuclear war isn't going so well and if they don't pull something really fresh out of their pants Apple will lose this battle, fact is it might already be too late.

  • iOS First (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vell0cet (1055494) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:01PM (#41994255)
    As a developer, I have to say that I develop for iOS first. There are many reasons for this (I actually like Android better for personal use).

    The fragmentation of the Android platform is ridiculous. Not only do you have to worry about processors, screen ratio, resolution and anything else hardware related... you also have to worry about fragmentation of the operating system. Some people might have gingerbread and haven't upgraded to ice cream sandwich yet. And perhaps their phone can't handle the newest version. On top of that users may not have enough technical knowledge to fix it.

    This results in consumers blaming your product. It doesn't work on their phone, this app sucks, the company sucks, etc.

    However, releasing on iOS... you only have to worry about a couple of configurations of phone (you can even stipulate that your app only works on 3GS or 4 and above or whatever) and a few different screen ratios/resolutions. It's even okay to force the user to upgrade to the latest version of iOS. Which is simple to do.

    This results in people (hopefully) enjoying your app and getting your company and products a fan base. Then when you port it to Android... if the app doesn't work on their phone and they do a search they'll find good reviews, testimonials, etc and blame their phone instead of the developer.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:02PM (#41994273) Homepage

    ...Windows on the smartphone.

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