Devices running Google's Android operating system accounted for 81% of all smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2013, according to a study released today by IDC.
Of the more than 261 million units shipped, just under 140 million were Android phones, the report said. Samsung was far and away the most dominant vendor among Android makers, accounting for about 40% of the total, while competitors were restricted to single digits.
Still, author Ramon Llamas downplayed concerns that Samsung's dominance could have negative effects on the Android ecosystem as a whole.
"As strong as Samsung has been, it still needs smaller vendors for a comparison point both from a feature set perspective and a price point perspective. Depending on who these smaller vendors are, these also help Samsung maintain an aspirational position in the market, leading to sales and market share," he told Network World.
Android's numbers are record-setting, say Llamas and co-author Ryan Reith, but the operating system wasn't the fastest-growing in the quarter. That title went to Windows Phone, which saw its sales numbers grow by 156% on a year-over-year basis to 3.6% of the total. BlackBerry's slide into obscurity continued, having sold 4.5 million devices during the quarter, or less than half of Windows Phone's 9.5 million.
In spite of Windows Phone's strong showing, however, Llamas says there's nothing to suggest that it's going to overtake Android or iOS anytime soon.
"Triple digit growth is difficult to sustain, even starting from a smaller base," he says. "The good news is that Windows Phone is making continued progress from where it was a year ago, and that's what we need to see."
"We see Windows Phone having about 10% market share by the end of 2017 while Android and iOS will still be very far out," Llamas added.
Apple's iPhones saw their market share shrink slightly, dropping to just under 13% of the total, or roughly 27 million devices. The fact that 9 million of those sold in a single week at the end of September, however when the iPhone 5S and 5C were released suggests that Apple's fourth quarter figures could be considerably more robust.
Apple sales were high despite some indicators trending against its premium-priced devices: Average sale price declined in the third quarter, according to the researchers, reaching $317 a 12.5% drop from the previous quarter.
Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.