Mobile device vendors shipped 301.3 million smartphones worldwide during the second quarter (Q2) of 2014, a new record according to market research firm IDC.
Shipments shot up 25.3 percent, from 240.5 million units a year ago. A major driver: the growing popularity of inexpensive smartphones that run Google's Android mobile operating system (OS).
"With many of its OEM partners focusing on the sub-$200 segments, Android has been reaping huge gains within emerging markets," commented IDC research manager Ramon Llamas in a statement. Well over half (58.6 percent) of the Android smartphones shipped in Q2 slid under the $200 mark off contract, he added.
And the imminent arrival of devices based on Google's new reference platform may push the market further away from premium Android phones. "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," said Llamas.
Android dominated the last quarter with an 84.7 percent share of the market. The mobile OS powered 255.3 million of the units shipped, a 33.3 percent gain over the same period last year.
Second-place Apple shipped 35.2 million iPhones, a 12.7 percent increase, for 11.7 percent of the smartphone market. Nonetheless, the Cupertino, Calif.-based shed a 1.3 percent share of market compared to Q2 2013.
Together, Android and Apple's iOS commanded a whopping 96.4 percent of the smartphone market in Q2. Other smartphone operating systems face an uphill climb, particularly Windows Phone, according to Melissa Chau, senior research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
Describing the market as "an incredible upward slog for other OS players – Windows Phone has been around since 2010 but has yet to break the 5 percent share mark" despite the backing of smartphone behemoth Samsung, she said in a statement.
Third-place Microsoft's efforts to popularize its Windows Phone OS are clearly encountering resistance from both smartphone vendors and app makers. "The biggest stumbling block is around getting enough partnerships in play – not just phone manufacturers but also developers, many of which are smaller outfits looking to minimize development efforts by sticking to the two big ecosystems," added Chau.
Windows Phone's market share slipped to 2.5 percent on 7.4 million units during Q2, down from 3.4 percent and 8.2 million units a year ago. Despite the drop, things are looking up, said IDC.
The firm reported a "slight improvement" over the first quarter of 2014. Additionally, the list Microsoft OEM partners is expected to bulk up "during the second half of 2014 when numerous vendors within key emerging markets come on board, including BLU, Micromax, Prestigio, Yezz, and others," stated IDC.
Embattled BlackBerry continues to hemorrhage market share. The company shipped 1.5 million smartphones in Q2, compared to 6.7 million last year. It now holds a sliver of the market at 0.5 percent.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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