Android's Creaming Apple

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Androids have taken over the planet.

There's more proof that Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) mobile operating system continues to demolish the competition.

IT research firm Gartner published its latest global wireless sales metrics for the third quarter.

We still live in a world where smartphone owners are in the minority. A whopping 74% of the handsets sold in this country are for more conventional feature phones. However, the trend is undeniable. Smartphone sales to end users exploded 42% over the past year.

Gartner provides a little more color by breaking down market share performance by smartphone operating system. Google's the global top dog, but where does that leave Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIM  ) , Samsung's Bada, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , and the Symbian platform being championed by Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) ?

Let's see how all six mobile operating systems are holding up, stacking them up against last year's market share.


Q3 Handsets

Q3 2011 Share

Q3 2012 Share

Android 60.5 million 52.5% 25.3%
Symbian 19.5 million 16.9% 36.3%
iOS 17.3 million 15% 16.6%
RIM 12.7 million 11% 15.4%
Bada 2.5 million 2.2% 1.1%
Microsoft 1.7 million 1.5% 2.7%

Source: Gartner.

There are a few things here that may seem shocking, largely that Apple's iPhone is actually losing market share.

It's at this point where we should stamp a huge asterisk there. The iPhone 4S didn't hit the market until mid-October, and knowledgeable smartphone shoppers knew that it was best to wait during the three months ending in September.

However, this can't take away from Google's amazing success with Android. Mobile devices have nearly tripled as market share more than doubled. Everyone else -- short of Samsung's Bada as a fringe player -- saw its market share decline over the past year. Bada's even outselling Microsoft, though I'm too lazy to drum up a Bada Bing joke here.

The good news is that this is a growing pie, so a decline in market share isn't fatal. However, this does explain why Microsoft has been so desperate to promote its new mobile operating system -- and why Nokia was more than happy to embrace it at the right price.

Android's looking pretty unbeatable right now, but in this fast-moving space there is no such thing as a safe and insurmountable lead. Just ask Symbian.

If you want to see how the iPhone disrupts the industry, follow the relevant companies by adding Google and Apple to My Watchlist.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 1:26 PM, PhulishMortal wrote:

    Interesting numbers!

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 1:36 PM, CCharing wrote:

    Do you mean 2010 Q3 instead of 2012 Q3?

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 1:50 PM, s3e3 wrote:

    so what you are saying is that more hardware manufacturers are adopting android correct? This is the same as PC vs MAC no different.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 2:53 PM, CraigNotGreg wrote:

    Given the facts that 1) Apple's iPhone revenue increases every quarter and 2) Google makes no direct revenue from Android, can the author (or anyone else) explain why these smartphone OS market share numbers matter? I'm actually asking the question seriously.

    Do people really believe that developers are going to abandon the iOS platform? Note that these numbers don't include market share for tablets or MP3 players, devices that also run iOS.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 2:56 PM, 1984macman wrote:

    Two choices:

    (1) This is a propaganda piece.

    (2) The author is delusional.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 3:15 PM, PostScience wrote:

    Google allows commodity handset makers to put Android on their phones for free. Is it any wonder they have a high market share?

    In the future, I wouldn't be surprised to see a 90% market share for Android, as we are flooded with cheap, low-quality Android devices.

    As an investor, I don't care. Apple will still account for the vast majority of smart-phone PROFITS.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 3:20 PM, Homecooken wrote:

    Owning a Droid X for over a year now and the putting up with the constant freezing up on the phone when my upgrade is due it's an Iphone for me. My son has

    already switched over.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 3:34 PM, jdmeck wrote:

    I would hope so considering it's 1 versus many. Jobs may have wanted to destroy Android but that's not realistic. And I'm fine with that because I don't want Apple to become a phone company.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 4:47 PM, jawood2005 wrote:

    Wait, so the iOS market share went down and someone wrote an article about it?

    Good thing the Apple Fan Club got here in time...

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 5:56 PM, CraigNotGreg wrote:


    Don't worry, Rick has you covered. If you look at his previous publishings, any article that mentions Apple is negative and any article that mentions Google is positive. I'm guessing he gets more clicks by adopting that strategy.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 6:17 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Microsoft should offer free advertising on Bing!

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 9:48 PM, thewhoopimen wrote:

    Funny... i just read another article Forbes stating the exact opposite of Rick's (this author's) assertion.

    With 54% of the total operating profit of the whole smart phone market, Apple is hardly being "clobbered" by the myriad of Android manufacturers scrounging for that 20-30% pie.

    This article paints a ridiculous picture by placing emphasis on a meaningless metric for gauging the performance of smart phone manufacturers. The smartphone market is a market driven by price and barely about platform.

    Hey you know what? Why not just advise Apple to sell the iphone for $20 each so they can have 80-90% of the total "share".

    Apple generates more operating profit then ALL of the Android manufacturers COMBINED. That's news.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 12:35 AM, AdamChew wrote:

    So true and malwares on the android also creaming Apple.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 2:21 AM, zato3 wrote:

    Three cheers for Google who give away American software creativity to Asian competitors so that they can put American and Canadian hardware manufacturers out of business.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 2:57 AM, jbelkin wrote:

    Yep, any fool can afford a low end OS ... nice riffraff users & owners.

    "Android sees a 472% increase in malware since July"

    Congrats to Android on being the WIN XP of mobile OSes without MS's margins or profits. Bwahahaha

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 10:41 AM, ybsofoolish wrote:

    I think both sides need to cool down and really look at what is going on here. Google is trading service for income. They are using the Android OS to gather data that makes selling Ad sense ads more profitable and protecting Adsense from being locked out by Apple. They are giving away the software to protect their own turf. Apple on the other hand is locking in it's users for the long term cash flow. It is much harder than "nah nah I am right you are wrong" to really see who is winning here. The jury on the patent battle is still out. Google has created a hugh ecosystem with plenty of money to defend itself. Apple is currently bringing in more direct cash than Google and still growing its market and cash flow. Apple is always manufacturing contrained on its supply. Google is not. Will Apple continue to produce the best in class device? Clearly neither side is going to back down here (it is the biggest market ever created by Capitalism so you can see why they are fighting so hard). I think we are not even in the back stretch of this horse race. Will consumers ever care that they are giving away their privacy? Will Android or Apple be able to avoid a growing malware problem? I even understand why so many companies are willing to make no earnings for the effort to get into this market. Apple really has been so far ahead that they have been cutting income from multiple industries. I would lose money just to keep Apple from getting more control if I was an Asian manufacturer. Do you really think that just market share growth determines the ultimate winner here? Are Apples other assets (pc business, iPad, the cash stock pile, and a tradition of innovation and discipline) at all helpful in defending against Google and it's allies?

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