Apple might have put its best foot forward with the iPhone 5, but on a global basis it appears to have had minimal impact. At least, that’s what the Q4 numbers released by Gartner say. Android experienced an enormous jump in Q4 sales from 2011 to 2012, nearly doubling up. While Apple did see a gross sales increase year-over-year, they also saw a nearly three-point drop in their worldwide market share. It might seem alarming when put in those terms, but really it’s just a feather in the cap of Android’s achievements in the last year.
In the fourth quarter of 2012 Apple sold 43,457 units, up 8,000 from its Q4 2011 total. That is to say, on a gross scale people seemingly bought more of the iPhone 5 than the iPhone 4S. But Android experienced a much larger jump in that timeframe, going from 77,000 in Q4 2011 to 144,720 in Q4 2012. The increase in Android sales year-over-year accounts for more than the overall smartphone growth in that period. That is to say, Android not only grew enormously, but also ate into sales of many competitors — Apple included.
As expected, Samsung tops the charts for Android manufacturers. While they have plenty of non-smartphones that obviously don’t run Android, 53.5 percent of their overall sales for the year came from smartphones. And it’s difficult to see that changing any time soon. From the Gartner report:
Samsung’s resources and ability to build a broad market reach is an advantage that no other competitor can easily match. However, the competition will intensify in 2013 as players such as Sony and Nokia improve. “With Samsung commanding over 42.5 percent of the Android market globally, and the next vendor at just 6 percent share, the Android brand is being overshadowed by Samsung’s brand with the Galaxy name nearly a synonym for Android phones in consumers’ mind share,” said Mr. Gupta.
The big losers in all this are the usual suspects, Nokie and BlackBerry. Nokia saw its market share drop nearly five points in 2012, while BlackBerry dropped nearly a full point (though from a much smaller starting point). Samsung increased its market share by more than four points, while Apple jumped up two and a half points. Other 2012 losers include LG, Motorola, and HTC. Huawei and ZTE, despite taking heat from the US government, both increased their market shares in 2012, by a total of 1.1 points.
What the numbers show, more than anything, is that 2013 will be a crucial year for destructing the emerging Apple-Samsung oligopoly. A number of well-established Android manufacturers saw declines in market share in 2012, leaving Samsung with an even larger share. Can one of those manufacturers — perhaps Google’s own Motorola — change that picture in 2013? Or will the Galaxy S IV fortify and expand Samsung’s dominance?