iphone 6Global market shares for Android and iOS smartphones edged even higher in both 4Q and all of 2014, moving Google and Apple closer to complete market domination, according to new market research from IDC. Taken together, Android and iOS smartphones accounted for 96.3 percent of global smartphone shipments in 4Q 2014, up from 95.6 percent in 4Q 2013 and 93.8 percent for all of 2013, according to the latest IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Android shipments rose 32 percent year-over-year in calendar year 2014, faster than the growth rate for the smartphone market overall, which increased 27.7 percent. Coming in at 46.1 percent, 4Q14 growth in iOS shipments outpaced the market average of 29.2 percent.

Reaching a major milestone, over 1 billion Android smartphones were shipped in 2014. That, IDC notes is “a significant milestone in itself but also because total Android volumes in 2014 bested total smartphone volumes in 2013,” IDC stated in a news release.

Among smartphone manufacturers, Samsung continued to dominate as well. Samsung shipped more smartphones in 2014 than the next five largest vendors combined, IDC says.

Samsung’s smartphone shipment volume for 2014 was essentially flat year-over-year, however. It was growth in shipments from Asian manufacturers, such as Huawei, Lenovo (including Motorola), LG Electronics, Xiaomi and ZTE that drove growth in Android shipments last year, IDC notes.

2014 market share for iOS actually slipped in 2014 even though shipment volumes reached a new record high and increased at nearly the same rate as the smartphone market overall. “Much of this was due to the strong demand for Apple’s new and larger iPhones and the reception they had within key markets,” IDC comments. “What remains to be seen is how Apple will sustain demand going forward, as larger screens were among the last gaps in its product portfolio.”

Android, iOS Market Share
There’s little real challenge to Android and iOS’ market dominance at this point, although other smartphone OS market players continued to introduce new models and launch new initiatives. 2014 shipments of Windows Phone smartphones, for instance, posted the smallest year-over-year increase among leading smartphone OS vendors at just 4.2 percent.

“Having finalized its acquisition of Nokia in the spring of 2014, Microsoft relied primarily on a long list of entry-level Lumia devices to maintain its position in the market, and relied on partners HTC and Samsung to provide cover on the high-end of the market.” Shipments of Windows Phone smartphones may improve on 2014’s performance with the launch of Windows 10, however, IDC elaborated.

Blackberry’s fortunes plummeted in 2014, although the company managed to stage something of a turnaround. BlackBerry posted the only decline in smartphone shipments among leading smartphone OS vendors, with 2014 shipments falling 69.8 percent. Having introduced “multiple enhancements to its platform and new device additions with BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic…CEO John Chen anticipates 10 million units will be shipped in 2015, returning the company to profitability and marking a 72 percent increase over the 5.8 million units shipped in 2014,” IDC notes.

Commenting on the latest smartphone OS growth figures, IDC Mobile Phone team Research Manager Ramon Llamas said: “Many of the same drivers were in play for Android and iOS to tighten their grip on the market. A combination of strong end-user demand, refreshed product portfolios, and the availability of low-cost devices – particularly for Android – drove volumes higher.

Whether or not Apple and Google can maintain such dominance remains to be seen, he added. “What will bear close observation is how the two operating systems fare in 2015 and beyond,” Llamas continued. “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.”