Apple and Google Continue to Take Over Together

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and Google's  (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) joint domination of the global smartphone market continues. According to the most recent figures out of Strategy Analytics, iOS and Android combined have extended their cumulative lead, leaving less and less for rivals to split among themselves.

We're talking about 92.1% of all smartphones sold in the fourth quarter running on either Apple's or Google's operating system platform, with the pair gobbling up 87.8% for the full year.

Smartphone Operating System Platform

Q4 2012 Market Share

Full-Year 2012 Market Share

Android

70.1%

68.4%

iOS

22%

19.4%

Others

7.9%

12.2%

Android & iOS combined

92.1%

87.8%

Source: Strategy Analytics.

Comparing the figures to Q4 2011, Apple's share didn't waver very much from the 23.6% a year prior. On the other hand, Android skyrocketed from 51.3% to 70.1%, largely at the expense of other platforms like Microsoft Windows Phone and Research In Motion BlackBerry.

Since Apple absolutely crushed the competition on its home turf -- comprising 74% of activations in the fourth quarter between the two largest wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon -- these market share figures again point to international markets where the competition is gaining ground. Samsung's smartphone shipments are also predominantly in low-end emerging markets.

It's also important to remember that while Android is by far the dominant smartphone platform, a lot of those devices don't even benefit Google. Since Android is open source, OEMs are able to do whatever they like with it, even if that's heavily modifying it, or forking it, for their own purposes. This is exactly what Amazon.com did with Android on the tablet front, much to Google's chagrin, and is happening even more in China.

Chinese OEMs are forking Android and pointing the platform away from Google's services, many of which aren't even available in China due to the Great Firewall. They frequently will send user search queries to Baidu, which serves up roughly 80% of Android searches.

This two-horse race has gotten even tighter.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

 


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