Android grabs half of the smartphone market

The numbers are in (sales rather than shipments this time) and it looks as if the Android charge is still in full flow as Google's mobile OS reached a market share of more than 50 per cent in the last quarter of 2011.

With 75.9 million Android devices flying off the shelf in October, November and December that meant a share of 50.9 per cent, with iOS coming in second with 23.8 per cent (35.4 million). Symbian, despite being on its last legs, came in third with an 11.7 per cent share (17.4 million) and BlackBerry fourth (8.8 per cent, 13.1 million).

There will be concern over in Redmond that Microsoft's Windows Phone platform was behind even Samsung's Bada for Q4, with a tiny 1.9 per cent market share. However, with Nokia's Lumia range invigorating the platform, that share will surely rise in the next few months.

Nokia was the clear winner for smartphones sold during the whole of 2011, with a market share of almost 24 per cent following more than 422 million sales, although this was almost 40 million down from 2010. Samsung came next with 313.9 million sales (17.7 per cent) and Apple third with 89.2 million iPhones sold during the year.

Research in Motion will be concerned that its yearly sales were less than both LG and ZTE and Sony Ericsson wouldn't be too impressed to be behind the likes of Motorola and Huawei. HTC has slipped to seventh place.

After Apple, ZTE and Huawei were the fastest-growing vendors in the fourth quarter of 2011. "These vendors expanded their market reach and kept on improving the user experience of their Android devices," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Gartner's report states that Apple’s impressive fourth-quarter share (an increase of 121.4 per cent year on year) is likely to decline over the next two quarters, as "the upgrade cycle to the iPhone 4S slows". The iPhone 4S landed in October, remember, going against the traditional summer iPhone launch cycle.

With the sixth-generation iPhone set to land in 2012, along with a new flagship from Samsung and plenty more Windows Phone action from Nokia it will be fascinating to see how the mobile market develops. And don't write off HTC just yet - it is making all the right noises about making a high-profile comeback.



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