Days after BlackBerry announced it would consider selling itself off to the highest bidder, new data from research firm Gartner suggests that the iconic smartphone brand has been overtaken for the first time by Microsoft’s Windows Phone—although both mobile platforms lag well behind Google Android and Apple’s iOS.
According to Gartner, BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market stood at 2.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, down from 5.2 percent in the same quarter last year; Windows Phone, meanwhile, managed to claw its total market-share to 3.3 percent, up from 2.6 percent last year.
Google Android’s market-share stood at 79 percent in the second quarter of 2013, up from 64.2 percent a year ago, while Apple iOS seized 14.2 percent of the market, down from 18.8 percent in the second quarter of 2012.
Windows Phone can attribute much of its growth to Nokia, which dumped its homegrown operating systems (such as Symbian) in favor of Microsoft’s smartphone software. Sales of Nokia’s Lumia phones grew 112.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, driven in large part by the release of devices at multiple price points. No other manufacturer has embraced Windows Phone in quite the same way, which hints at the challenge for Microsoft from this point forward—if it wants to expand its smartphone market-share into the double digits, it’ll need to convince other manufacturers that its software is a viable option in an overcrowded arena.
Meanwhile, the bell could be tolling for BlackBerry. Once a dominant force in mobile devices, BlackBerry has watched its market-share steadily erode over several quarters. First iOS and Google Android seized the consumer markets; now, thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, more iPhones and Android devices are finding their way into cubicle farms and corporate boardrooms, wrecking BlackBerry’s stronghold among business users in the process.
BlackBerry bet heavily that its BlackBerry 10 operating system, coupled with a new generation of high-quality devices, would be enough to reverse that downward trend. But those devices failed to become blockbuster hits, and BlackBerry’s Board of Directors announced the founding of a Special Committee to explore so-called “strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale,” which apparently includes “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.”
But for the phone industry as a whole, things couldn’t be better. Gartner reported that global mobile phone sales in the second quarter topped 435 million units, an increase of 3.6 percent from the same quarter in 2012; smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of that amount, the first time in Gartner’s monitoring that sales of the next-generation devices surpassed those of feature phones. Samsung led in worldwide smartphone sales, followed by Apple, LG Electronics, Lenovo, and ZTE.