With Google's Android and Apple's iOS maintaining dominating positions among mobile platforms worldwide, the race has been on for the third position. On Wednesday, industry research firm Gartner released a report showing that Microsoft Phone 8 has now taken the third position for the first time, moving past BlackBerry.
The Gartner report confirms an IDC report's similar finding last week. According to Gartner, Microsoft Phone 8 now has a 3.3 percent market share, as of the second quarter, compared with a 2.6 percent market share in the same quarter last year. By comparison, BlackBerry has dropped from 5.2 percent last year to 2.7 percent in the most recently completed quarter.
BlackBerry's position is increasingly tenuous. Earlier this week, the Canadian smartphone maker announced that it had formed a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives," which included joint ventures or even selling the company.
Importance of App Developers
The Gartner report also found that smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter, which is the first time smartphone sales have exceeded those for feature phones. The highest growth rates for smartphone sales are in Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Android and iOS remain far in the lead in Gartner's lineup. Android's overwhelming 79 percent market share is up by 15 points from the same time last year, while iOS' 14.2 percent is down from last year's 18.8.
Samsung's Bada mobile OS takes a distant fifth place with 0.4 percent, a major drop from 2.7 percent year-over-year, and the quickly-fading Symbian is barely registering at 0.3 percent, a precipitous drop from 5.9 percent a year ago.
Anshul Gupta, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement accompanying the report that, "while Microsoft has managed to increase share and volume in the quarter," it should continue to grow interest from application developers in order to "help grow its appeal among users."
Importance of Nokia
Ramon Llamas, a research analyst with IDC Mobility, told us that IDC is in "violent agreement" with Gartner over Windows Phone's new third-place position.
He pointed out that the "key driver" in Microsoft's attaining third place is Nokia, whose Windows phones accounted for slightly more than 80 percent of the platform's sales in second quarter. This new positioning of Windows Phone, he said, is "testament to what happens when a vendor picks up the flag for a platform," whether it's Nokia for Windows Phone or Samsung for Android.
IDC's report last week also noted that Apple's decline in the second quarter "aligns with the cyclicality of iPhone," because, without a new product launch since the iPhone 5 nearly a year ago, "Apple's market share was vulnerable to product launches from the competition." The report said it expected Apple to rebound and re-capture market share this year because of a new iPhone and a new version of iOS expected later in 2013.