Android Market Share Surged to 69 Percent in 2012

By | Feb 21, 2013

Few doubted that 2012 would be Android's year given how rapidly Android market share has risen in the last few years. Statistics provided in the latest IDC study confirmed Android's dominance in the smartphone space where its worldwide market share went from 49.2 percent in 2011 to 68.8 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Apple held its ground with 18.8 percent and BlackBerry locked up a distant third spot with 4.5 percent of market share.

This mobile trend has significance for midsize firms entrenched in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture. Both Android and iOS have extended their dominance in the market significantly, suggesting that even as new phone operating systems (OS), such as Windows, come into the market, they are still far behind the two most dominant forces. For the foreseeable future, iOS and Android device support will continue to receive the most attention from midsize IT because extended support to a wider range of platforms comes with issues surrounding security, cost, and fragmentation.

Sheer Dominance

Apple shipped 135.9 million iPhones in 2012 with a year over year change of 29.2 percent. Even stronger was Android's penetration with 497.1 million shipments and a year over year change of 88 percent. Together, Android and iOS account for 91 percent of the global market as reported by CNET.

Windows Phone and BlackBerry didn't have new device releases in the fourth quarter. January releases from BlackBerry and Windows Phone have been profitable for the two companies, but we'll have to wait for the first quarter's end to study the impact.

BlackBerry and Windows-based phones are in for an uphill battle, but history shows that consumers are open to change and 2013 could see more competition from newcomers.

Numbers Don't Lie?

The mobile device space is overwhelmingly a consumer market, and, with the consumerization of IT, midsize IT managers are faced with the challenge of supporting multiple platforms within their network. Cost constraints and complexity means that many will tackle this challenge by devising BYOD policies mostly around strengths and weaknesses of iOS and Android platforms only. While tightening security and saving costs, such moves will come at the expense of mobile platform diversity and innovation for the midsize firm.

With new data on Android market share, it is clear that the Google-based platform continues to dominate. However, various research studies suggest that the total number of smartphones matters far less than the proportion of active users.

Despite shipping only one-third the numbers of Android devices in the market, Apple's iOS still leads in terms of usage patterns. Numbers don't lie, but hard data never tells the whole story either. Therefore, IT managers will also strategically be looking at movements in usage patterns when devising BYOD policies or strategies to reach mobile customers.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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