With a total base of 211.6 million smartphone units shipped during the quarter, Google's Android operating system accounted for 81.0% of all smartphone shipments, marking the first time that Android topped 80% in its short history.
Despite high saturation rates in a number of mature markets, the overall smartphone space grew 39.9% year-over-year in the third quarter, according to data released by IDC.
Also reaching a milestone was Microsoft's Windows Phone, which grew a 156.0% year over year. Granted, volumes started from a small base of 3.7 million units a year ago and overall market share is still less than five percent. But Microsoft's efforts, with Nokia's support behind it, helped drive the platform into multiple tiers and price points.
"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward."
Smartphone average selling prices (ASPs) have continued to decline as the appetite for more affordable devices grows. ASPs were down -12.5% in 3Q13, accounting for an average price of $317. At the same time, the market has seen a large influx of large-screen smartphones (5-7" screens). Phablet ASPs in 3Q13 were notably higher than the market average at $443. However, the 3Q13 ASP was down -22.8% from the $573 phablet ASP in 3Q12.
"Almost all successful Android vendors have added one or more 5-7-inch phablets to their product portfolios," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "And Nokia's recent announcement of the Lumia 1320 and 1520 put them in the category as well. In 3Q13, phablet shipments accounted for 21% of the smartphone market, up from just 3% a year ago. We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple's inability to grow share in the third quarter."
Android pushed past 80% market share for the first time in 3Q13. Samsung accounted for 39.9% of all Android shipments for the quarter, while the rest of the vendors either saw single-digit market share or, in the case of the majority of vendors, market share of less than 1%.
iOS, despite seeing its total volumes increase and reaching new record third quarter volumes, saw its market share decline during 3Q13, most likely due to soft demand in the weeks leading up to the launch of iOS 7 smartphones. Still, if the 9 million units sold during the last week of September is any indication of future adoption, iOS stands to reap another record quarter in terms of volumes, market share, and year-over-year growth.
Windows Phone posted the largest year-over-year growth worldwide of any of the leading operating systems, a result primarily driven by the support of Nokia. By itself, Nokia accounted for 93.2% of all the Windows Phone-powered smartphones shipped during the quarter. Participation from other vendors, meanwhile, still seemed a mixed bag with more vendors participating from a year ago, but volumes still far behind Nokia's own.
BlackBerry recorded the largest year-over-year decline among the leading operating systems during 3Q13. Underpinning its results was softer demand for its new BB10 operating system and continued demand for its older BB7 within emerging markets. Now with a new CEO in place and an infusion of $1 billion, what remains to be seen is how and when the beleaguered operating system will be able to change course in the face of mounting pressure from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.