Android and iOS inched closer to total domination of the worldwide smartphone market in both the fourth quarter (4Q14) and the calendar year 2014 (CY14).
According to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of all smartphone shipments, up slightly from 95.6% in 4Q13 and from 93.8% in CY13.
In terms of year-over-year shipment growth, Android outpaced the overall smartphone market for CY14 (32.0% vs 27.7%, respectively) while iOS beat the market in 4Q14 (46.1% vs 29.2%, respectively).
"Many of the same drivers were in play for Android and iOS to tighten their grip on the market," says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager - Mobile Phones, IDC.
"A combination of strong end-user demand, refreshed product portfolios, and the availability of low-cost devices – particularly for Android – drove volumes higher.”
What will bear close observation, according to Llamas, is how the two operating systems fare in 2015 and beyond.
“Now that Apple has entered the phablet market, there are few new opportunities for the company to address,” he adds.
“Meanwhile, Samsung experienced flat growth in 2014, forcing Android to rely more heavily on smaller vendors to drive volumes higher."
Instead of a battle for the third ecosystem after Android and iOS, 2014 instead yielded skirmishes, with Windows Phone edging out BlackBerry, Firefox, Sailfish and the rest.
“Yet this without any of these platforms making the kind of gains needed to challenge the top two," adds Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager, IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
"This isn't to say that vendors aren't making moves, especially for the growth segments – the low-end markets.”
“With Microsoft bringing ever-cheaper Lumia into play and Tizen finally getting launched to India early this year, there is still a hunger to chip away at Android's dominance."
Smartphone OS highlights…
Android pushed past the one billion unit mark in 2014, a significant milestone by itself but also because total Android volumes in 2014 bested total smartphone volumes in 2013.
Meanwhile, Samsung retained the leadership position by a wide margin, shipping more volume than the next five vendors combined.