In the smartphone wars, there can be only two - iOS and Android. While alternatives like Windows Phone and Firefox OS are making some decent headway in emerging markets, Apple's and Google's mobile operating systems still rule the roost.
In its latest report, IDC found that smartphone shipments passed the 1 billion mark for the first time in 2013. That feat was accomplished thanks to the combined might of Android and iOS as the former shipped 793.6 million units last year while the latter shipped 153.4 million units.
As for the competition, Windows Phone saw a 90 percent increase in shipments compared to 2012. In 2013, Windows Phone shipments reached 33.4 million compared to last year's 17.5 million. On the other hand, BlackBerry continued its slide into irrelevancy with 19.2 million units shipped in 2013 compared to 2012's 32.5 million units - a 40.9 percent decrease.
"Clearly, there was strong end-user demand for both Android and iOS products during the quarter and the year," says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team. "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."
In its look at the fourth quarter, IDC found that Android device shipments had increased by 40 percent to 226.1 million units compared to Q4 2012's 161.1 million units. iOS saw much less growth during Q4 with 51 million units shipped compared to last year's 47.8 million units.
In quarter four, Windows Phone saw some success with 8.8 million units shipped - a 46.7 percent increase over Q4 2012's shipments of 6 million units. BlackBerry didn't fare so well with only 1.7 million units shipped in Q4 - a 77 percent decrease compared to Q4 2012.
So, what does the future hold for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry? According to IDC's crystal ball, Android and iOS will still dominate. Windows Phone coupled with Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia will lead to more Windows Phones being shipped. As for BlackBerry, it's cautiously optimistic if the company can better appeal to an enterprise market.
Among all of these platforms, it sees Android, and more specifically Samsung, as the big winner in 2014 though.
"In 2013 we saw the sub-$200 smartphone market grow to 42.6% of global volume, or 430 million units," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "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."
So it would seem that Samsung and Apple have the right idea. They should continue to release premium smartphones alongside entry-level phones that look like those premium smartphones so even the poor masses can look like they're carrying around the latest tech in their pocket.
Image via Samsung