Gartner: Android fuels 75% of Q1 smartphone sales, iPhone loses ground

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Close to 75 percent of all smartphones purchased during the first quarter of 2013 run Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system, Gartner reports.

Android powers 74.4 percent of all smartphones sold worldwide between January 1 and March 31, up from 56.9 percent during the first quarter of 2012. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS ranks a distant second at 18.2 percent, down from 22.5 percent in the year-ago period. "Android's dominance in the OS market is unshakable," said Gartner Principal Research Analyst Anshul Gupta. "With new OSs coming to market such as Tizen, Firefox and Jolla, we expect some market share to be eroded but not enough to question Android's volume leadership."

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) represented just 3 percent of smartphone sales during the first quarter of 2013, plummeting from 6.8 percent a year ago. The company began rolling out the BlackBerry Z10--the first smartphone running its overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system--in late January and did not offer the device for sale in the key U.S. market until late March.

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone grew from 1.9 percent smartphone sales share in the first quarter of 2012 to 2.9 percent in the most recent quarter. Samsung Electronics' Bada slipped from 2.6 percent to 0.7 percent, and Symbian plummeted from 8.5 percent to 0.6 percent.

In all, consumers purchased more than 210 million smartphones during the first quarter of 2013, corresponding to 49.3 percent of all mobile phone sales worldwide. Samsung sold 64.7 million smartphones last quarter, translating to a 30.8 percent market share, increasing from 27.6 percent a year ago: "We expect [Samsung's] new Galaxy S4 to be very popular despite being more of an evolution than a truly revolutionary device compared to the S3," Gupta said.

Apple is next at 18.2 percent, with first-quarter sales reaching 38.3 million, up from 33.1 million in the year-ago period. Gartner credits the Chinese market for sales of close to 7 million iPhone units, fueled by iPhone 4 pricing discounts. "Apple is faced with the challenge of being increasingly dependent on the replacement market as its addressable market is capped," Gupta said. "The next two quarters will also be challenging, as there are no new products [that] are expected to be coming before the third quarter of 2013."

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