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In smartphones, same old story: Apple and Android win

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Smartphones were up 74 percent in the second quarter of 2010, accounting for a full quarter of overall mobile sales, versus just 17 percent last year, according to Research firm Gartner. Meanwhile, overall mobile device sales increased by 16.5 percent year over year. The companies benefiting most from the increased drive toward smartphones? Apple(s aapl) and Google.(s goog)

Android and iOS combined represented a total of just under 62 percent of all worldwide smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2011, doubling the combined market share percentage of the Google and Apple smartphone platforms during the same period last year. Android and iOS were the only two major platforms that saw significant growth year over year, too. Nokia’s Symbian (s nok) plummeted from 40.9 to 22.1 percent of global smartphone sales, while Research In Motion’s BlackBerry (s rimm) platform also stumbled from 18.7 to 11.7 percent. Microsoft (s msft) didn’t fare well, either, falling from 4.9 to just 1.6 percent.

But taking a closer look at the combined Android and iOS 62 percent market share reveals that Google’s mobile OS, not Apple’s, is doing most of the heavy lifting. Android was the biggest gainer overall by a significant margin, growing from 17.2 to 43.4 percent of smartphone sales, while iOS showed more modest growth, going from 14.1 to 18.2 percent.

Still, Apple did more than double its total number of units shipped, from 8.7 million iPhones sold in the second quarter of 2010 to 19.6 million during the same time frame in 2011, even without a new hardware release. Apple also managed to climb to fourth overall in global mobile-device sales during the quarter, compared with a sixth-place ranking last year. Samsung, arguably Apple’s biggest competition in terms of hardware manufacturers, actually lost ground, falling 1.5 percentage points in worldwide handset sales year over year.

According to former Nokia executive and industry watcher Tomi Ahonen, who weighed in on the Gartner numbers on Thursday by combining them with sales data reported by major mobile manufacturers and other research firms like IDC, Apple is also on top of the heap when it comes to smartphone manufacturers, with 19 percent of market share for the second quarter of 2011. Ahonen also ranks iOS second in terms of overall operating system share, with 19 percent, edging out Nokia’s 16 percent. But even by Ahonen’s cumulative estimates, Android still has a dominant lead, with 41 percent of mobile OS share.

It’s easy to see this data point as yet another example of Android’s growing triumph over Apple in the smartphone battle, but that’s much too simplistic a view. Apple is still showing significant growth in worldwide smartphone sales, and it accounts for an increasing part of the device manufacturer picture. Android’s scattershot approach definitely has won it a presence in more markets at prices more affordable to a range of buyers, but Apple is still dominating the revenue picture. Also, some are beginning to think that Android might be poised to suffer a painful, drawn-out death by a thousand cuts from patent licensing issues, and Google’s recent decision to speak out against patent law seems to back that up.

Android may be doing most of the work when it comes to buoying the good ship smartphone, but Apple still seems to be plotting the course. As long as the growth of iOS stays positive and Apple keeps selling more and more hardware, the iPhone has nothing to fear from Android’s successes, in the same way the Mac line has nothing to fear from the PC industry it continues to be dwarfed by but also outpace.

16 Responses to “In smartphones, same old story: Apple and Android win”

  1. John Harrington, Jr.

    As you mention, RIM’s BlackBerry platform sales stumbled from 18.7 to 11.7 percent of the total smartphone market. View this webinar recording to find out how the app-enabled smartphone revolution will impact the BlackBerry workflows enterprise IT has grown accustomed to:

  2. D.Dugan

    The most astounding thing here is the collapse of Microsoft’s position in the mobile space.

    Blackberry, like Symbian, is are old OSes losing marketshare. But Windows Phone was supposed to be a new OS. The figures show Windows Phone was dead on arrival.

  3. Interesting headline choice given this category is not extremely new but the companies leading the charge were not the expected incumbents several years ago. This disruption is not a ‘same old story.’

  4. eldernorm

    I recently read that Apple is pulling 70% of the profit in the world wide smart phone market. most of the companies are losing money with 2 or 3 having to share that remaining 30% profit.

    So if phone makers sell more phones but go out of business cause they are not making a profit….. does that make them a better company?

    Just curious.

    • eldernorm

      Totally right… Er just what Android model and by what company is it that is so outselling the iPhone? Is that model still available and can you upgrade your OS or do you need to buy a new phone to get new features???

      Just asking. en

      • I am not convinced that the number of handsets sold is a good measure of how “successful” Android is when considering how mass penetration synergizes with Google’s business models. My sense is that Google most benefits from volume so I would argue that Android is ‘doing very well’ when compared to iOS.

        I would also argue that, for the general population of Android users, having to purchase a new phone to access newer iterations of the OS does not negatively affect their perception of the OS when compared to its competitors. I would say that most people feel that it is normal that hardware upgrades and software upgrades come at the same time.

        There are, of course, always power users who constantly flash new roms that create exceptions but these are the minority.

      • You’re on the wrong article. The article about smartphone manufacturers was 2 weeks ago. This is about smartphone platforms which is more realistic to consumer experience.

    • eldernorm

      Katie, Interesting comment. Er, where is the Android company that is outselling Apple located? What is their company profit?

      I have no problem with people buying what ever phone they like the best… but this continuing comparison between Apple and Android is just so weird.
      Just a thought,

    • VW outsells BMW…is BMW doomed to become legacy? You’re a bizarre woman. Your comments read more like an attempt to proselytize than actually make a point. “You may be an iPhone lover but it’s time to at least look towards other possible options.” creepy.