Gartner: In 2016, Android and iPhone Killed Off All Smartphone Competition

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile, iOS, Android with 55 Comments

Gartner: In 2016, Android and iPhone Killed Off All Smartphone Competition

While I generally like to wait for IDC to chime in as well, Gartner paints an incredible picture of why Microsoft abandoned the smartphone market: Android and iOS now account basically 100 percent of all new smartphone sales.

Of course, most of that was really Android.

“Google’s Android extended its lead by capturing 82 percent of the total market in the fourth quarter of 2016,” a new Gartner report on smartphone market share notes. “In 2016 overall, Android also grew its market share by 3.2 percentage points to reach an 84.8 percent share, and was the only OS to grow market share year on year.”

Looking at Gartner’s numbers, Android accounted for just under 82 percent of all smartphone sales in the final quarter of 2016. Apple’s iPhone was just under 18 percent. Statistically, that is the entire smartphone market, though Windows phone stumbled to .3 percent (yes, point three) of all smartphones sold in the quarter. So, hooray for number three.

The report curiously does not provide full year numbers, though those are easily found by digging up past Gartner reports. I won’t do that, however, until IDC weighs in, as I don’t use numbers from a single analyst firm to determine market share.

But the Gartner report is still of interest on its own. It notes that Samsung retained its lead over Apple in total smartphone sales for calendar year 2016, and by a wide margin: Samsung sold 306 million smartphones in 2016, good for 20.5 percent of the market, while Apple sold 216.6 million iPhones.

If you look at just the fourth quarter, however, Apple slipped past Samsung for the top spot with 77 million iPhones sold. In that quarter, Samsung sold 76.8 million smartphones. So basically a tie, according to Gartner.

More soon.


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Comments (55)

55 responses to “Gartner: In 2016, Android and iPhone Killed Off All Smartphone Competition”

  1. 1792

    Microsoft's strategy has been successful then. Reduce the cost of it's mobile division by removing it's mobile division. 

    The list of mis-steps on Windowsphone is huge. Hardly worth a recap. However it does have profound implications for it's other strategies. If Cortana is going to be everywhere it needs to replace Google Now on Android. If Microsoft mapping is going to be successful on mobile it needs to be as good as Google Maps. If Groove is going to be a real service and be relevant on mobile it needs to be as good as Spotify on Android devices and a "family plan" is long overdue.

    Microsoft is no longer relevant on first party mobile devices. It needs to get on with competing on Android. 

    As for "Surface Phone". Even if such a thing exists in prototype then dominating 0.3% is hardly worth the effort given the lack of effort in the last 24 months after spending $7.2 billion!

    Windowsphone has been the longest suicide in history. It's time for Microsoft to put down this wounded animal and re-focus on the platform that won.

  2. 5161

    Anyone out there still think the Note 7 fiasco will sink Samsung? Anyone? Didn't think so. It was hilarious to think that in the first place, really. 

    • 5184

      In reply to beckerrt:

      I expect it briefly slowed sales for Samsung--they may have actually had even better performance--but it won't have a long-term impact unless they have a series of issues like that. 

      I had a flight recently where they were explicitly calling out Samsung Note 7 owners at the gate.  You could hear people talking about it and saying they were glad they didn't have that phone.  I think that will extend to other Samsung phones briefly as your typical consumer doesn't really know the difference in models.  But the collective memory of the issue will fade quickly as long as Samsung doesn't have any other problems over the next year.

  3. 7260


    I would disagree with the title of this article.  Android and Apple did not kill off all smartphone competition, there was nothing to kill off.  There was no competition to kill of because Microsoft had exited the market.  We can argue why, but in 2016 Android and Apple fought to divide the smartphone market.

    I agree with some of the other commenters regarding the number (seemingly infinite) mis-steps by Microsoft.  We will see, but I suspect Microsoft will find re-entering the mobile market now significantly more difficult after its exit.  Not only are it's hard core fans upset, but again Microsoft knifed its developer base.  Not to mention its second rate basic ecosystem (maps, Cortana, music, photos, etc.) And it has to start afresh, basically at ground zero against two very, very well entrenched competitors. One could argue that maintaining a presence in the market, even at 3% in the US (over 10% market share in several European markets) would provide a better launching point for it's next effort than what it has now. 

    Any takers that Microsoft will see the futility of their position and decide not to take another go?

    Mark from CO

  4. 10799

    It sure looks bleak for Windows 10 Mobile.  I think that Microsoft will continue to develop and evolve Windows 10 Mobile.  I imagine that it's a relatively marginal investment at this point; the hard work of CREATING the platform is done.  I am not an optimist, but I do believe that this market is a marathon and not a sprint.  Mobile devices will be around for many years to come and, hopefully, there's room for a 3rd platform. 

    I do wonder if Microsoft regrets not pursuing the support of Android apps.  I'm not sure if that would have turned things around, but that may have kept them alive.

  5. johnh3

    I suppose this was expected. No more Microsoft Lumias. And the other OEM.s show not same support. The smartphone market are now a two horse race between android and iOS.

  6. jboman32768

    Paul always claims to he a realist - So logically you would think that with Samsung being the most popular phone brand on Earth, that Paul would review one occasionally. He didn't review the S7, be interesting to see if he similarly dodges the S8 when it comes out.

  7. adamjarvis

    Microsoft need to be careful. The missed patch cycle for Windows 10 has much bigger implications going forward than Microsoft might think.

    Give users any reason to doubt Windows is stable and secure, like a missed patch cycle, people start to highlight the real bugs in the Software and start looking for problems to blame when things go wrong.

    You can argue Windows 10 Mobile failed for lack of ecosystem, but it was also buggy / bricked inconsistent releases of Windows 10 Mobile, "just too experimental" in which key core features just didn't work/failed to work as stated, like seamless updating.

    Microsoft might have just put the doubt in people's minds regarding the stability of Windows 10 this month, they might just decide Windows 10 1607 AU is a good point to jump off this constant update conveyor belt, if Windows 10 Creators Edition starts to look like a "bloat monster" that won't run on existing office desktop integrated graphics Intel architechure.

    This constant upgrade cycle is starting to make users feel brow beaten, constant patching.

    The sound foundations/structure Companies look for to build their business is starting to feel more like quick sand, after an Earthquake.

  8. EnterMegatron99

    I left wm10 in Q4/16 for Apple, which I don't like btw, but I've done android as well. Thought I'd see what all the fuss was about. Likely moving back to Android as my iPhone is an unstable mess. Their UI needs help!

    I finally jumped off the burning was overdue.

  9. lordbaal1

    Microsoft did not abandon the smartphone market. They still put out insider releases.

    They don't have to release a new phone every 6 months or every year. They can just update the software.

  10. YouWereWarned

    Testing "improved" commenting...

  11. skane2600

    Most of the comments just disappeared. What happened?

    • YouWereWarned

      In reply to skane2600:

      ...they were making space for me, so here goes:

      As I contemplate getting the flakey touch screen replaced on my Lumia 1520, and swear constantly at the rogue spell-checker in the 640's mail client that apparently can't be disabled, I nevertheless REFUSE to buy an Android-based phone because of the Flash-like level of insecurity. NEVER. I use my phone for things where security is absolutely essential. And I make Google get their data the hard way.

      So that leaves the iPhone. And although I have a nephew who works at Apple (15% discount to employees--cheap bastards blew their money on the iDonut), I refuse to enter that voluntary wallet-rape club.

      So I mark time with WinPhone and try to enjoy the features that are good. If a Surface phone, or better yet, something with an updated name the kiDz will enjoy, is finally released, YOU WILL WANT IT. And that is because it will be unique, and powerful, and hopefully fat enough to hold a gigantic battery. I have big pockets.

  12. dcdevito

    But Apple has 91% of the profits, so it's all meaningless in my eyes. Only Samsung can turn a consistent Android profit, not even Google has proven to do it (yet).

    • 1377

      In reply to :

      What does Google make from the Google Play store? I'm not sure Google cares about making money directly from Android handsets.

    • Narg

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I personally dislike the stupidity of articles touting Android's sales.  It's so far off it's not even funny.  Why?  Because from what I can tell, far too many of those androids are barely smartphone, usually dumbed down super cheap phones that really can't do much at all.  Their sale is basically null in the smartphone world.  Now, take the higher end Android, to make it easy any Android priced in the same range of any Apple, which currently range from $400 to almost $1000, and you'll find that Android and Apple are basically 50% to 50% of the market.

  13. 2611

    And Paul's old phone giveaway accounted for 50% of window phone activity. /s

    At least there are 2 healthy platforms.  Windows was too dominant in its heyday.  Android and iOS are both strong enough to be competitive.

  14. 5639

    so that .3% is just setting up for the most epic comeback story ...right?


  15. 4267

    So Android is over 80 percent of unit sales, but Apple is over 100 percent of the profits.

  16. 5530

    "what competition?" as Android and iOS users would put it.

  17. rkpatrick

    I finally accepted the fate of WinPhone with my last Lumia (the 950). It's been such a lackluster product for me (extremely frustrating in quite a few ways...I'm convinced they went cheap on the storage controller, for instance, due to the lag on this model).  It felt like MS either stopped testing the thing or just stopped using it themselves. Some of my issues with smartphones aren't MS-based, though...I hate the expectation that I'm available to somebody at any given time of day, and I hate that we're getting notifications for every event. Browsing is constantly zooming in (sometimes inadvertently clicking links), the keyboard is a mistyping adventure due to being so small with no key separation. Just not a good platform for how I communicate and consume media.

    I'm going back to a flip phone + tablet combo after this.