Grand Central Terminal by Asa Aarons
Two heavyweights — International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner — just released quarterly statistics on smartphone shipments and market share.

The consensus: Android is running away with market share, now accounting for four out of five mobile phones sold worldwide. But Apple continues to rake in most of the money and Nokia is moving up in the rankings. What could change in 2014?

Android Army Continues to Grow

IDC's figures for the third quarter show the smartphone market grew 39.9 percent over the same quarter last year. Android now accounts for a staggering 81 percent of all smartphone shipments. With so many makes, models and price points, that's not much of a shock. Apple takes 12.9 percent, low by comparison but still a hefty chunk for a single company with a very limited product range.

IDC also noted that Windows Phone is back on the charge, largely because of Nokia's Lumia smartphones. Shipments climbed 156 percent year-over-year and now approach 10 million units a quarter.

Gartner, a rival research firm, show Samsung leads Apple in quarterly shipments. Samsung shipped 80 million smartphones in the past quarter. That represents about half of all Android devices, based on IDC estimates (even though the two firms likely relied on different sources). Apple placed second, shipping 30.3 million, a little lower than the IDC estimate, With Lenovo up to third.

Gartner reports LG and Huawei are fourth and fifth, respectively, and a cluster of other players including Sony bring up the rear with market share of 3 percent to 5 percent.

idc mobile shipments

Figure (c) IDC November 2013

While it seems most people already take smartphones for granted, much of the world is still using feature or basic models. Gartner reports sales of smartphones represent 54.9 percent of combined sales, up from 39.8 percent last year. The gap is expected to increase as the price of low-cost smartphones and common feature phones continues to narrow.

Learning Opportunities

Apple Sparkles, BlackBerry Stumbles

Smartphone Market Share

Apple may not have the highest market share but it seems to be making the most money from the millions of mobile devices sold worldwide. IDC credits Apple's higher average selling prices compared to its rivals.

Since the iPhone 5C arrived, Apple's average sale price has dipped a bit. But by catering to the high end, it maintains impressive gross margins: between 36.5 percent and 37.5 percent, according to its last earnings report. Add in the reported $48 Apple makes from the average iOS user per year from iTunes, app purchases and so on, and you can see why it takes so much of the market's profits. Samsung is Apple's chief rival.

BlackBerry's death spiral continues in the latest reports, suggesting the US Government is preparing to move away from the devices as the primary means of communication for federal employees.

As everyone ponders the outlook for 2014, it seems innovations like curved phones and haptic screens — which enable users to feel clicks, vibrations and other tactile input — could drive upgrade sales in the near future.

(Title image by Asa Aarons /all rights reserved.)