smartphone researchIt’s no surprise to anyone following smartphones and telecom that Apple and Google are dominating the worldwide smartphone market, but 95.7%, 93.8%? Those are the respective shares of Android and iOS smartphone shipments combined during 4Q and all 2013, respectively, according to new market research from IDC.

iOS and Android’s combined share of 4Q global smartphone shipments represents a 4.5% year-over-year increase from 91.2% in 4Q 2012, and a 6.1% increase from 87.7% for all of 2012.

“Clearly, there was strong end-user demand for both Android and iOS products during the quarter and the year,” IDC Mobile Phone team research manager Ramon Llamas was quoted in a press release. “What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand.

“Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most. Despite these differences, both platforms found a warm reception to their respective user experiences and selection of mobile applications.”

A period of rapid, double-digit percentage growth in smartphone adoption only has a few years left to run, according to IDC, highlighting a shift in consumer purchases away from more expensive flagship handsets toward lower priced ones.

“In 2013 we saw the sub-$200 smartphone market grow to 42.6% of global volume, or 430 million units,” IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director Ryan Reith elaborated. “While the market moves downstream to cheaper products it makes sense for Samsung and others to continue their marketing investments geared toward high-end products.

“These efforts build crucial brand perception while having less expensive alternatives that closely relate to these top products helps to close the deal. Samsung has done exactly this with the ‘Galaxy’ line. The family name is associated with Samsung’s high-end products, yet there are ‘Galaxy’ variants offered by Samsung at much lower price points than the Note 3 and S4. This has been an important factor in how Samsung has sustained its market lead.”

Turning to smartphone operating system highlights of 2013, Android was the “clear leader” from start to finish, with Samsung delivering a commanding 39.5% market share of overall shipments. A growing list of vendors is following Samsung’s lead, including Huawei, LG, Lenovo, Coolpad and Sony. If Lenovo succeeds in its bid to buy Motorola Mobility it would jump ahead of Huawei, the number 2 Android vendor, IDC points out.

Apple’s iOS posted the lowest growth for both 4Q (6.7%) and the entire year (12.9%). Criticized for not introducing a cheaper iPhone, IDC anticipates Apple releasing a large-screen version in 2014, though it won’t abandon the smaller 4” version altogether.

Windows Phone registered the biggest percentage gain in smartphone shipment market share, both for 4Q (46.7%) and 2013 as a whole (90.9%). No surprise, Nokia was far and away the biggest shipper of Windows Phone handsets, accounting for 89.3% of the global total. IDC analysts are keeping their eyes peeled for signs of Windows Phone shipment volumes this year in light of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s smart devices.

2013 proved a dismal year for BlackBerry, the only smartphone vendor to experience a decline in shipments, which fell 77% in 4Q and 40.9% for the year.

“Moreover, its legacy BB7 outpaced BB10 towards the end of the year, definitely not the results that the company had hoped for when it released BB10 in January,” IDC commented in a press release. “With new leadership, management, and a tighter focus on the enterprise market, BlackBerry may be in a better position, but still finds itself having to evangelize the new platform to its user base.”

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