It’s looking like a harder world out there for Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone: according to the latest data from research firm Strategy Analytics, Android and iOS ran on 92 percent of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012.
“The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs,” suggested Strategy Analytics’ Jan. 28 blog posting on the matter.
Various smartphone manufacturers shipped 700.1 million smartphones in 2012, 217 million of them in the fourth quarter. That’s a sizable jump over 2011, when 490.5 million units shipped. “Samsung and Apple together accounted for half of all smartphones shipped worldwide in 2012,” Linda Sui, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, wrote in a Jan. 24 research note. “Large marketing budgets, extensive distribution channels and attractive product portfolios have enabled Samsung and Apple to tighten their grip on the smartphone industry.”
That’s bad news for other smartphone platforms out there, including Research In Motion’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8. For quite some time, tech pundits and analysts have assumed that Android and iOS will continue to dominate the smartphone market, leaving Blackberry and Windows Phone to fight for that number-three slot. However, there was also the implicit assumption that the third-place player would have more of the pie to itself—two years ago, for example, iOS and Android commanded a little more than half of the total market, leaving a significant chunk of potential revenue for other players.
If Strategy Analytics’ data is correct, that’s no longer the case. Research In Motion is prepping to launch BlackBerry 10 this week, having bet its future on the revamped operating system and its attendant line of smartphones. Microsoft has devoted considerable resources to Windows Phone 8, which it hopes will become a suitable alternative to the operating systems pushed by Apple and Google. For both platforms, the path to success—not to mention more than a mere sliver of the market—may lie in persuading Android and iOS users to switch.