Google's Android operating system currently powers 59% of smartphones, tablets and notebooks, as industry analysts say Apple's iPhone needs a "refresh."
Research group Canalys released new findings this week, showing Android to dominate the smart mobile shipping market, while claiming Apple’s strength in the smart phone and tablet PC markets accounts for its 19.3% share.
Microsoft followed in third with an 18.1% share, which Canalys says reflects its relative strength in the PC market but continued challenger status in the smart phone space.
Total smart mobile device (notebook, tablet and smart phone) shipments during the first quarter hit 308.7 million units, according to estimates, representing year-on-year growth of 37.4%.
And of the three, the tablet market continues to grow the fastest.
Worldwide, tablet shipments grew 106.1% year-on-year to 41.9 million units, and though Apple continues to lead in the tablet space with a 46.4% share, it lost share to its Android-based rivals for the third consecutive quarter.
"Spearheaded by Google and Amazon, the commoditization of the tablet market has happened far quicker than that of the wider PC market," says Tim Coulling, senior analyst, Canalys.
"Profit margins are being squeezed and vendors without a low cost structure will find it hard to compete.
"A solid range of must-have accessories and a software and services strategy are vital as vendors will increasingly need to make revenue around their devices."
Smart phone shipments came in at just over 216.3 million for the quarter, maintaining the strong growth (47.9% this quarter) that the market saw throughout 2012.
Android handsets accounted for 75.6% of total smart phone shipments, and Samsung dominated once again, growing its volume by 64.3% year-on-year, which helped its market share exceed 32%.
In contrast, Apple saw modest annual growth (6.7%) in its smart phone shipments – the lowest level since the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007.
"Despite its slowing growth, Apple still shipped over 37 million iPhones," says Pete Cunningham, principal analyst, Canalys.
"But HTC and Samsung have raised the bar with their latest handsets and Apple needs to respond with its next iPhone.
"The iPhone user interface is now six years old and badly in need of a refresh.
"Hardware-wise, the biggest dilemma that Apple faces is what it does with the size of the display on the next iPhone.
"It cannot afford to ignore the trend for larger displays in premium smart phones.
"We expect an increase on the iPhone 5’s 4" display but are not anticipating a “Phablet”-style iPhone."
Huawei, LG and ZTE completed the top five smart phone vendors, all with less than 5% market share each.
Once again, Huawei and ZTE benefited from their strength in their home market, with 84% and 71% of their shipments respectively in mainland China.
LG’s appearance among the leading vendors comes thanks to an overdue increased focus on its smart phone business at the expense of its feature phone business.
Notebook PC shipments also totalled 50.5 million units, once again contracting during the quarter, by 13.1% compared with the same period in 2012.
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