Google's mobile operating system has grown into the little 'bot that could -- and did.
While Apple iOS remains a formidable and profitable juggernaut in the mobile arena, Google's Android OS leads the pack. A new report from analyst firm Canalys revealed that Android commanded 59.5 percent of the smart mobile device market during the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13).
Healthy iPhone and iPad shipments helped Apple capture 19.3 percent of the market. Microsoft owes its dominance of the PC market for its 18.1 share, noted Canalys. The firm lumps notebook PCs into the smart mobile device category, along with smartphones and tablets.
All told, the market grew 37.4 percent on a year-over-year basis to hit 308.7 million units. The cause, in part, was the blistering rate of tablet adoption.
Compared to the same year-ago period, the tablet segment shot up 106.1 percent to reach 41.9 million slates. Apple's iPad leads this race with 46.4 percent of the market, but Android tablets are hot on its tail.
"Spearheaded by Google and Amazon, the commoditization of the tablet market has happened far quicker than that of the wider PC market," Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling noted in a statement.
To operate under these market conditions, think ecosystem, not device, warned Coulling. "Profit margins are being squeezed and vendors without a low cost structure will find it hard to compete. A solid range of must-have accessories and a software and services strategy are vital as vendors will increasingly need to make revenue around their devices," he added.
Over 216.3 million smartphones shipped during Q1. With 75.6 percent share of the market, Android was far and away the mobile OS to beat. Samsung, on the continuing strength of is Galaxy S-series handsets, raised its shipments by 64.3 percent and claimed 32 percent of the market.
Notebook PC shipments fell to 50.5 million units, a 13.1 percent drop compared to the first quarter of 2012. The findings mirror those of a recent report from IDC. According to the market research group, the entire PC market (desktops and portables) declined by 13.9 percent to settle on 76.3 million units during 1Q13.
The culprit: Windows 8.
"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," declared IDC program vice president Bob O'Donnell.
It's a wake-up call for the Wintel alliance, argues Canalys research analyst Pin-Chen Tang.
"While there are macroeconomic factors that contribute to this ongoing trend, the impact of tablets must not be understated. The combination of ARM-based chipsets and Android has taken computing devices to new, lower price points. If Microsoft and Intel are serious about capitalizing on this exploding market, both will need to ensure that their OEMs can remain competitive on price," remarked Tang.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.