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Android was the mobile operating system of choice during the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13).
New market data released by Gartner shows that Google's Android shipped on over 156.1 million smartphones sold to end users during 1Q13. The OS accounted for 74.4 percent of the global market for smartphones.
With such a commanding lead, Android's position as the top smartphone operating system is practically unassailable, according to Gartner principal research analyst Anshul Gupta. And don't look to the next generation of mobile operating systems to knock Android off its perch anytime soon.
"There are two clear leaders in the OS market and Android's dominance in the OS market is unshakable. With new OSs coming to market such as Tizen, Firefox and Jolla we expect some market share to be eroded but not enough to question Android's volume leadership," said Gupta in a statement.
As for the other leader, Apple's iOS, it shipped on 38.3 million iPhones sold during the quarter, enough to earn the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker 18.2 percent of the market and the number two spot among the top smartphone makers. Chinese buyers contributed 7 million to that total due, in large part, to the popularity of the lower-cost iPhone 4.
Gupta warns that until the iPhone 5's successor hits store shelves, Apple may have a tough road ahead. "Apple is faced with the challenge of being increasingly dependent on the replacement market as its addressable market is capped," asserted Gupta.
"The next two quarters will also be challenging, as there are no new products are expected to be coming before the third quarter of 2013," he added.
BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion, edged out Microsoft in the mobile OS race with 6.2 million units and 3 percent of the market compared to 5.9 million devices and a 2.9 percent share. While Nokia sold 5.1 million Windows Phones, "Nokia is yet to see high growth in the smartphone segment," stated Gartner. As a smartphone maker, Nokia fell to the number 10 spot in 1Q13 from number 8 the year prior, informed the analyst group.
All told, smartphone sales totaled 210 million units globally, a hefty 42.9 percent increase from the same year-ago period. Gartner also noted that during 1Q13 there were "nearly 50 percent more Android smartphones in the market than a year ago."
Samsung was the number one smartphone maker with sales of 64.7 million units and 30.8 percent of the market, a 3.2 percent improvement on a year-over-year basis. Gupta believes that its successful Galaxy S line of Android-based handsets will help the Korean electronics giant's maintain its momentum. "We expect the new Galaxy S4 to be very popular despite being more of an evolution than a truly revolutionary device compared to the S3," he stated.
Rounding out the top five smartphone manufacturers were LG, Huawei and ZTE.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.