11/2/2012 1:32 PM EDT
Four years after Android-powered devices hit the streets, Google-backed OS found in three of every four smartphones shipped in Q3. SAN FRANCISCO—Google Inc.'s Android operating systems was found on three of every four smartphones shipped in the third quarter, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).
Four years since the first Android-powered smartphones hit store shelves, Android has risen rapidly to become far-and-away the dominant OS in smartphones. Apple Inc.'s iOS, which runs the company's line of iPhones, was a distant second in the third quarter with 15 percent market share, according to IDC.
According to IDC, the number of Android-powered smartphones in the third quarter reached 136 million units, up 92 percent from the third quarter of 2011. Android's market share increased from 58 percent in the third quarter of 2011, IDC said.
"Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008," said Ramon Llamas, research manager for mobile phones at IDC, in a statement. "In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition."
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Llamas said the combination of smartphone vendors, mobile operators and end-users who have embraced Android continues to drive shipment volumes higher. "Even today, more vendors are introducing their first Android-powered smartphones to market," he said.
Overall, about 181 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter, IDC said. Androids 92 percent year-over-year growth was nearly double the overall market growth rate of 47 percent, IDC said.
Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said the declining share of operating systems aside from iOS since Android's introduction is no coincidence.
"The smartphone operating system isn't an isolated product, it's a crucial part of a larger technology ecosystem," Restivo said. "Google has a thriving, multi-faceted product portfolio. Many of its competitors, with weaker tie-ins to the mobile OS, do not."
Will Android thrived and iOS' market share held steady in the third quarter, competing operating systems like BlackBerry OS, Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Phone continued to struggle, IDC said.
BlackBerry's market share continued to sink, falling to just over 4 percent by the end of the quarter, IDC said.
Windows Phone marked its second anniversary with a total of just 3.6 million units shipped worldwide, fewer than the total number of Symbian units shipped, IDC said. Even with the backing of multiple smartphone market leaders, Windows Phone has yet to make a significant dent into Android's and iOS's collective market share, the firm said. But that could change in the fourth quarter, when multiple Windows Phone 8 smartphones will reach the market, IDC said.
Symbian posted the largest year-on-year decline of the leading operating systems. Nokia remains the largest vendor still supporting Symbian, along with Japanese vendors Fujitsu, Sharp, and Sony, IDC said. Each of these vendors is in the midst of transitioning to other operating systems and IDC believes that they will cease shipping Symbian-powered smartphones in 2013, the firm said. At the same time, the installed base of Symbian users will continue well after the last Symbian smartphone ships, IDC said.