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Android approaches 80% smartphone share as Apple's iPhone grows old

Blackberry shipments hit historic low point

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Apple's lack of revisions to its iPhone product line has cost it market share and Android now has 79.3 per cent of the worldwide market, according to the latest shipment data from IDC, with over 187 million Android handsets shipped in the second quarter of 2013.

"The iOS decline in the second quarter aligns with the cyclicality of iPhone," Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, said in a statement.

"Without a new product launch since the debut of the iPhone 5 nearly a year ago, Apple's market share was vulnerable to product launches from the competition. But with a new iPhone and revamped iOS coming out later this year, Apple is well-positioned to re-capture market share."

A lot depends on the reception any new handset and iOS 7 will get among consumers. Judging by the adulation even the most uninspiring of iPhones gets, this shouldn’t be a problem, but the company will need to avoid another Maps fiasco.

Apple's shipments were up 20 per cent on the year but couldn’t match Android's growth. The figures also showed a surprisingly good quarter for Microsoft's mobile operating system. Windows Phone 8 shipments grew 77.6 per cent, faster than any other platform, although it still has just 3.7 per cent of the total market and shipments don’t necessarily equal sales.

BlackBerry had a terrible quarter, shipping 6.8 million units of its very new product line and seeing its share slip under 3 per cent, compared to 3.7 per cent for Windows Phone 8. That's a new low for the company in the years IDC has been tracking the market, the report states.

As usual, Linux phones managed to scrape a percentage point of market share, but IDC notes that the rollout of Linux-based handsets running Firefox OS, Ubuntu, and Tizen over the next year should give a boost to the sector's fortunes.

As for handset manufacturers, Lenovo showed the strongest growth, with shipments up over 132 per cent on strong domestic Chinese demand. But Lenovo is facing increasing competition in the home market and wants to break into the more profitable US and European sectors, and a buy-out of BlackBerry "could possibly make sense," according to Lenovo's CEO Yang Yuanqing.

While BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins hasn't explicitly ruled out a deal to sell the company, it's clear he wants to make Blackberry a success in its own right. Also, the way US regulators are acting at the moment, the sale of the government's favorite smartphone to the Chinese might well be frowned upon.

But based on IDC's latest figures, Heins is running out of time and market share and the shareholders will only wait so long before seeking out a buyer. The next year is going to be critical for the company's future and Heins will need to pull off a resurrection to rival Lazarus if Blackberry is to regain past glories. ®

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