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Why the Smartphone Growth Outlook Belongs to Android

As the worldwide marketplace absorbed more low-cost smartphones for mobile internet access, a new era gained momentum in the Global Networked Economy. The worldwide smartphone market reached a new milestone in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), moving past the 300 million unit mark for the first time in its history.

According to the latest study by International Data Corporation (IDC), vendors shipped a total of 301.3 million smartphones worldwide in 2Q14, that's up by 25.3 percent from the 240.5 million units shipped in the second quarter of 2013.

The dominant smartphone operating systems (OS), Google Android and Apple iOS, saw their combined market share swell to 96.4 percent for the quarter, leaving little space for competitors.

Android was the primary driver with its vendor partners shipping a total of 255.3 million Android-based smartphones in 2Q14 -- that's up by an impressive 33.3 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, iOS saw its market share decline despite posting 12.7 percent year-over-year shipment growth. While Android and iOS both realized gains from a year ago, the rest of the market recorded losses.


"With many of its OEM partners focusing on the sub-$200 segments, Android has been reaping huge gains within emerging markets," says Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC.

During the second quarter, 58.6 percent of all Android smartphone shipments worldwide cost less than $200 off contract, making them very attractive compared to other devices.

With the recent introduction of Android One, in which Google offers reference designs below $100 to Android OEMs, the proportion of sub-$200 volumes will climb even higher.

Meanwhile, Windows Phone has been around since 2010 but has yet to break the 5 percent share mark, while the backing of the world's largest smartphone player, Samsung, has not boosted Tizen into the spotlight.

IDC says that the biggest stumbling block is around getting enough partnerships in play -- not just phone manufacturers but also app developers, many of which are smaller outfits looking to minimize software development efforts by sticking to the two big smartphone OS ecosystems.

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