Apple and Android are taking over.
Pushing aside once-dominant mobile phone makers Nokia Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd., Google Inc.'s Android and Apple Inc. devices now account for 62% of smartphones sold worldwide, nearly doubling the 32% share the two had at this time last year, according to a report from research firm Gartner Inc.
The recent quarter also marked the first time that smartphones outsold previous-generation "feature phones" in North America, said Hugues de la Vergne, the Gartner analyst who prepared the report.
In North America, the Apple-Android combination accounted for 83.5% of smartphone sales.
Android devices alone now account for 43.4% of the smartphones sold globally each quarter, showing the Google-powered operating system has gone from a minor player to a market force in a relatively short time. That is partly because of a growing number of phone manufacturers that are offering lower-cost Android phones, often in the $100 range.
In the first quarter of last year, Android smartphones made up less than 10% of smartphone sales, increasing to 17% the next quarter. A year later — the end of the second quarter of 2011 — Android phones accounted for 43.4% of unit sales.
As for Apple, nearly 1 in 5 smartphones (18.2%) sold around the world are now iPhones. Unlike Google, which is responsible for the basic architecture of its Android operating system but does not manufacture phones, Apple builds its own phones and profits directly every time an iPhone is sold. With more than 20 million sold last quarter, iPhone sales have propelled Apple to record profits. The company is now neck and neck with Exxon Mobil Corp. as the world's largest firm by market value.
Although Finnish phone-maker Nokia remains in second place, the company's share of the smartphone market has dropped steeply, to 22% in the recent quarter from 41% a year earlier.
Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, also dropped further behind, falling from 18.7% of phones sold to 11.7%. And despite several attempts to promote its line of smartphones, Microsoft Corp. has had trouble getting traction, slipping to 1.6% of smartphones sold from 4.9% a year earlier.