Apparently, there were many more iPhones and Android handsets under the Christmas tree in 2012, which isn’t a holiday gift for the other smartphone platforms. On Thursday, ComScore released its smartphone subscriber share numbers for the U.S. and in the last quarter of the year, iOS and Android phones continued to rise over the prior quarter. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it got a lump of coal.
I’m not surprised by the growth in iOS and Android devices; combined these two accounted for 89.7 percent of U.S. smartphones used in the quarter, per ComScore’s research. What is surprising, not to mention disappointing, is Microsoft’s decline from the prior three-month period. BlackBerry’s share fell also, but that was to be expected: The company’s new BlackBerry 10 devices are only just now becoming available.
Although it didn’t have a full quarter to work with — Windows Phone 8 devices launched in early November — Microsoft actually introduced the new operating system in the last quarter of 2012 and Nokia, arguably Microsoft’s most important smartphone partner, debuted a line of new Lumia phones during the same period.
I subscribe to the “smartphone race is a marathon, not a sprint” theory, but when the gun goes off, you need to jump from the starting line. That didn’t appear to happen last quarter; at least not in the U.S.
For its part, Nokia said it moved 4.4 million Lumia handsets in the final quarter of 2012. I don’t doubt that figure. However, even with competitive pricing that puts a Lumia in your pocket for less than the cost of an iPhone 5 or comparable Android device, the percent of Lumia’s sold is surely a small bit of that 4.4 million sales figure. With fewer Windows Phone models from HTC, Samsung and others, this may be a case of “as Nokia goes in the U.S. smartphone market, so too does Microsoft.”