With smartphones increasingly dominating markets around the world last year, Android also increased its share, accounting for 69.5 percent of all sales in 12 key markets, compared with 23.7 percent for Apple's iOS, according to a new report. In 2012, Apple's iOS still controlled the majority of the market in some key areas like the United States but last year, that changed.
During 2013 Google's Android OS grew in popularity and began to control a larger portion of the global smartphone industry, according to the report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
The growth of Android in the smartphone industry has been a theme for years and is not expected to change. The increase in popularity of Windows Phone in 2013 was something quite different. The growth in Windows Phone seen during most of the year faded at year's end, the Kantar report said, suggesting the market will continue to be controlled by iOS and Android in 2014.
The Race for China
China, with its population of 1.35 billion, is the world's largest concentration of consumers, and much of its wealth has been untapped by foreign companies like Samsung and Apple. In the West, there is a tendency to assume the same companies that are popular in North America and Europe are popular around the world, but especially for China, that has not been the case.
Android may be the most popular OS in China, with a 78.6 percent share, but local companies dominate much of the Chinese market. Xiaomi, a brand virtually unknown outside of Asia, overtook both Apple and Samsung in December. By selling its high-end phones without any significant profit margins, Xiaomi has been able to offer better devices to budget-minded consumers.
"In December, Xiaomi overtook both Apple and Samsung to become the top-selling smartphone in China -- a remarkable achievement for a brand that started in 2010 and sells its device almost exclusively online," said Kantar Insights Director Dominic Sunnebo. "The combination of high-spec devices, low prices and an ability to create unprecedented buzz through online and social platforms has proved an irresistible proposition for the Chinese.
Coming from Behind
Despite a flatline in growth at the end of 2013, Windows Phone saw a massive increase in market share overall last year. In some areas, Windows became such a popular smartphone operating system that it was within a few percentage points of iOS. This was the case in Spain, where iOS has a 6.7 percent market share, compared with Windows' 5.6 percent.
We asked Avi Greengart, research director with Current Analysis, for his opinion on whether or not Apple should be worried about the growth of Android and Windows Phone in certain key markets. Although it is true that each OS's market share is changing, Greengart believes Apple still has a lot of room to grow, including with customers in China.
"The growth of Android and Windows Phone has not hurt Apple on that front, and Apple's addressable market of high-value customers is still growing with late adopters in Western markets and early adopters in China," he said.