Android after 4 years
It's easy to get lost in the brazillion graphs, estimates, and reports that hit the web every month; the smartphone market is very hot so there a lot of reports of this kind. Some measure installed base, others sales (usually in the last quarter); many focus on a single market (the US), or even a single carrier; and my favorite ones are those produced by that ad network that operates North of Edimburg, or South of Jakarta or something like that. Bloggers very often ignore the limitations, nuances and details that characterize such data, and jump to whatever conclusion best suits their minds.
So, XYZ OS accounted for 37.195% of 3G banner ad impressions in Cambodia last week. Which means it's dead, or dying, or crushing the competition. I decided to look for the global data and
waste the afternoon put an end to this bullshit.
Whatever the sales of smartphones by Bharti Airtel in Tamil Nadu may be, they are included in global estimates. This is why global data is meaningful. There are three sources that consistently publish such estimates: IDC, Canalys and Gartner. The first two say they measure shipments (to retail), while Gartner says it measures sales (to consumers). I emphasize the verb say because obviously measuring these things is difficult.
There may be missing data, mistakes or biases in any of the three analyst houses, so I gathered all of their numbers back to Q42008 and made an average. Why back to that quarter? Because it's when Android launched, and it's been almost 4 years. In fact, as you see I divided the market into Android and Others. The ongoing quarter is Android's 16th, although data is only available up to the 15th quarter. I also decided to look at shipments/sales rather than market share, because they're better at visualizing what is actually happening.
As far as I know, the numbers have never been compiled this way: with three different sources, in units, and going back to 2008.
You may think this is biased. Perhaps I should have factored in the shipments of iPhone, and Blackberry, and Symbian, and Sidekick, and Brew OS, and separated Android (with Google) from Android (China). Well, I don't feel like doing that. First of all it would be ton of work (for free), and second I'm not interested in doing so. I'm an Android user and I just wanted to make an assessment of the impact it's had on the smartphone market during its first 4 years. I think this is the best way to visualize it.
You may argue that Android's 4th anniversary happens to coincide with a bad moment for competitors: WP8 and the iPhone 5 launch in September/October. So what? I don't decide when they launch. Of course, Android has flaws and may fall behind competitors; the same chart one or two years from now may tell a completely different story.
But I think that's the point of the chart: markets change very fast. Personally, I'm not in the prediction business. I just wanted to report on things that have already happened. Please, if you're going to debate who is going to win because of what, keep the discussion civilized. Let me state again that I just wanted to report on the past and organize the cacophony of data that inundates the smartphone market.
I'll make a second post in this thread, with a few caveats and observations. For now, if anybody knows how to insert tables in a post, I'd be very grateful. If it's not possible, then you may ask for the original data (it's in an Excel file). It can also help if you want to expand upon this analysis. If you want to check the numbers by yourself, then Canalys and Gartner publish them as press releases in their websites; IDC does so only partially, but a lot of blogs report on what they say. There were times when I had to infer data because the source didn't explicitly state it, so again, if you have any question about how I did it, just tell me.
Any comment you may make is welcome.