The latest IDC report on smartphone market share is alarming for Apple

Earlier this week I noticed that Apple was able to wrest back some market share from Google in the mobile platform race. CNet showed Apple’s iOS platform going from only 21.5% market share a year ago to 35.7% in the 12-week period through Sep 30. By contrast, Android’s share in the mobile market had slipped from 66.4% to 57.5%. Yes, Android had taken the overall lead as I have been predicting they would. But this is a two-horse race, or so the data suggested.

However, when I saw the latest IDC data, I realised that Apple is in big trouble.

The Android smartphone operating system was found on three out of every four smartphones shipped during the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, total Android smartphone shipments worldwide reached 136.0 million units, accounting for 75.0% of the 181.1 million smartphones shipped in 3Q12. The 91.5% year-over-year growth was nearly double the overall market growth rate of 46.4%.

“Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Mobile Phonesat IDC. “In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition. In addition, the combination of smartphone vendors, mobile operators, and end-users who have embraced Android has driven shipment volumes higher. Even today, more vendors are introducing their first Android-powered smartphones to market.”

This is disastrous for Apple. And as I wrote this, an e-mail from Apple popped into my box proclaiming: “iPad mini is here.” I always get these messages from Apple when there’s a new product launch since I am an Apple customer. But given the tepid response to the mini, the email has taken on a different meaning for me. It is clear to me that the momentum has shifted away from Apple. The company needs to find the next big market to sell into because their core markets are looking saturated and increasingly dominated by Android.

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