The latest Q1 2013 smartphone shipment numbers just came out from IDC, and they show that Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone OS has officially taken the No. 3 smartphone OS spot away from BlackBerry (NYSE:BB). On face value, it may seem that investors can declare the BlackBerry the loser this past quarter, but investors shouldn't be so quick to declare a winner.
The fight for No. 3
According to IDC, Windows Phone OS saw the most year-over-year growth this past quarter compared to any other OS, doubling its share from a year ago. Windows couldn't have done this without its partner in crime, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which released the operating system into markets it hadn't been in before and is responsible for 79% of all Windows Phone shipments.
Both Nokia and Microsoft should be very happy with the gains. Making headway against Apple's iOS and Android is no small feat. The two operating systems accounted for a staggering 92.3% of the market in Q1 2013. As Microsoft continues its push into mobile relevance, the company should be pleased that consumers consider its Windows platform a viable option for their mobile experience.
But despite the good news for Nokia and Microsoft, BlackBerry has some numbers investors should be excited about as well. The company shipped more than 1 million units of its new BB10 OS in the Q1 2013 -- the first quarter it is was available. Investors can't overlook that the company experienced a 35% decline in shipment volumes from a year ago, but they need to keep in mind that the company made a significant pivot away from its older devices and operating system during this time. The more than 1 million shipments of BlackBerry's new OS should be a glimmer of hope that the company could make the OS into a viable mobile option for consumers.
The real fight
Although BlackBerry and Windows Phone have been battling for No. 3, the real focus for the two operating systems should be on how to gain more market share from iOS and Android, and not just from each other. It's an uphill battle to be sure, and with a likely refresh of iOS coming this summer or early fall, the two have a lot of work ahead of them.
Samsung continues to dominate the Android market (big surprise!) and with much of its proprietary systems running on Android, the company offers an Android experience that is unmatched by its competitors. Android won't easily be upended; it accounted for 75% of all smartphone OS shipments this past quarter. BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Nokia must focus on tackling the green giant. Apple can't be left out of this either, as its shipments grew, but its market share dropped about 6% year over year.