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It is no secret that iOS and Android devices are the leaders on the smartphone market, with outputs that greatly outweigh the other players. The latest data published on Monday shows that their lead has edged, having taken over 92.1% of smartphone shipments in the last three months of last year.

92.1% for Android and iPhone leaves just 7.9% for other operating systems, such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry. According to Scott Bicheno, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, the company responsible for gathering these figures, the smartphone market has indeed become polarized between two massive players:

“The worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs.”

The data also finds that while Apple has grown its iPhone sales 29% over the last year, its market share has registered a slight decline, hitting 22% in the last quarter of last year, from 24% the year before. This greatly contrasts with Android, whose market share has gone up from 51% last year to 70% at the end of 2012, nearly doubling its units shipped, from 80.6 million in 2011 to 152.1 million in the last quarter of 2012.

According to Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, Android will have to hold on to its lead in 2013, not only competing against Apple’s devices, but also keeping an eye on some emerging smartphone competitors, such as Windows Phone (and the compelling new Nokia Lumia devices) and RIM with possible new BlackBerry devices coming down the pipeline:

“Android’s challenge for 2013 will be to defend its leadership, not only against Apple, but also against an emerging wave of hungry challengers that includes Microsoft, Blackberry, Firefox and Tizen.”

Apple’s challenge to maintain its market share is greater, given the fact that it makes its own devices instead of simply licensing its operating system to other hardware makers. Android’s growth has largely been fuelled by the fragmentation in the smartphone market, which has seen a number of devices hit shelves all over the world, having not much in common other than their operating system.

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It is likely that Android will hold on to its lead and Apple will remain a reliable second player.

(via AppleInsider)

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