GOOGLE'S DESSERT-THEMED mobile operating system (OS) Android powered a third of all mobile phones shipped globally in the fourth quarter of 2012, analyst outfit Canalys has reported.
In its final mobile phone shipment estimates report for 2012, which tracks over 50 countries around the world, Canalys reported that a total of 438.1 million phones were sold, with only 11 percent of those being Apple iPhones.
Only 50 percent of the total number of phone shipments in quarter four 2012 were smartphones. Nevertheless, this reflected growth in smartphone shipments of 37 percent year-on-year.
Of the 216.5 million smartphones sold, Canalys said that 69 percent of these were powered by the Android OS, a drop of five percent year-on-year.
Apple's share of smartphone shipments grew from 15 percent to 22 percent during the quarter, a result that Canalys said was attributable to the success of the iPhone 5. Blackberry and Windows Phone shares remained unchanged at four percent and two percent, respectively.
Canalys reported a "very strong" quarter from Samsung, which saw a 78 percent growth in phone shipments year-on-year, while the Chinese vendor Huawei took third place for the first time in Q4 and ZTE fourth, both with less than five percent market share each.
Sony fell out of the top five completely, replaced by Lenovo, which became the fastest-growing smartphone vendor during the quarter, growing 216 percent year-on-year and shifting 9.5 million units to take fifth place.
"When we look at the whole of 2012, Nokia remained the number three smart phone vendor, shipping 35 million units, but Apple in second place shipped 101 million more handsets," said Canalys principal analyst Pete Cunningham. "First-placed Samsung shipped 74 million more than Apple, the gaps are colossal."
However, Cunningham added that there is still a big opportunity as smartphone penetration increases around the world.
"Vendors left in the wake of the top vendors must at the very least improve their portfolios, time-to-market and marketing, as well as communicate their differentiators," he said. "Microsoft, Blackberry and other new OS entrants, such as Mozilla, must make the OS switch as simple as possible and drive and localise their respective app and content ecosystems." µ