Apple vs Android (image 001)

Just days after rival research firm Gartner released quarterly sales for iOS and Android, rival IDC today announced similar numbers for shipments of smartphones. Combined, iOS and Android maintained their stranglehold on the smartphone market, accounting for more than an astounding 92 percent of shipments during the first quarter of 2013.

In a surprising move, shipments of the Windows Phone smartphone operating system surpassed the BlackBerry OS, putting Microsoft in third place behind Android and iOS. I bet you didn’t see that one coming…

As you can see, IDC’s figures are close to Gartner’s sales numbers released earlier this week. For what it’s worth, IDC counts shipments into the channel rather than units sold.

Android had 75 percent of smartphone shipments during the first three months of 2013, a sharp increase from 59.1 percent a year ago. Apple’s iOS, by comparison, fell from 23 percent in the year-ago quarter to 17.3 percent of smartphones shipped in Q1 2013.

The figure excludes tablets where Apple’s iPad continues to dominate.

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IDC noted that while “demand remains strong worldwide, the iOS experience has remained largely the same since the first iPhone debuted in 2007.” The comment echoes Gartner, which opined Apple is “increasingly dependent on the replacement market.”

Apple fans count on that well-worn iOS interface receiving an overhaul when iOS 7 is released, the first directed by Apple design guru Jony Ive. The company said it will preview iOS 7 alongside OS X 10.9 at the upcoming summer developers conference due in less than a month.

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Although IDC figures suggest the smartphone market is dominated by Apple and Google, IDC believes there is more to the picture.

“A closer examination of the other platforms reveals turnaround and demand for alternatives,” said Ramon Llamas, a manager for the research firm. Of particular note: Microsoft’s Windows Phone pushing BlackBerry out of the third spot in smartphone OS share.

According to IDC, Windows Phone had a 3.2 percent share, slipping past BlackBerry OS which posted a 2.9 percent share. Windows Phone shipped seven million units in Q1 2013 versus just three million smartphones for the same period in 2012.

BlackBerry 10 preview (screenshot 002)BlackBerry 10 preview (screenshot 003)
If you want, you can preview BlackBerry 10 on your iPhone.

BlackBerry OS dropped by 35.1 percent, shipping 6.3 million handsets versus 9.7 million units in the first quarter of 2012. IDC notes that BlackBerry ”shipped more than a million units running on its new BB10 platform” during the quarter.

“Windows Phone claiming the third spot is a first and helps validate the direction taken by Microsoft and key partner Nokia,” said Kevin Restivo, IDC senior analyst.

Indeed, Nokia was responsible for 79 percent of all Windows Phone shipments during the first quarter. Here’s Nokia’s new aluminum-clad Lumia 925.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iCu9JrWhww

Unsettling, however, is the relatively low shipment numbers of Windows Phone, causing IDC to question whether the Microsoft platform is really viewed as an alternative to either smartphone leaders.

“Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alternative to Android or iOS,” the analyst adds.

On a final note, if you’re wondering what Apple really means when it says it has “sold” a product, GigaOM has you covered.