Android and iOS claim whopping 99.6% of market in Q4

Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS utterly dominated the smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to fresh data from Gartner, as Windows and BlackBerry continued to fade to black.

Android-powered phones claimed 81.7% of the market, up from 80.7% during the same period a year prior, Gartner said. Apple’s operating system ran on 17.9% of new smartphones sold during the quarter, up a tick from 17.7% the previous year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s mobile operating system saw its share of the market dwindle to 0.3%, down from 1.1% the previous year. BlackBerry’s shares fell below 0.1%. All other operating systems accounted for 0.1% of sales.

“The entry of Google’s Pixel phone has made the premium Android smartphone offering more competitive, while the re-entry of HMD (Nokia) in the basic (mid-tier) smartphone category is set to further increase the competition in emerging markets,” said Anshul Gupta, a research director at Gartner, in a press release.

Android’s dominance in emerging markets is particularly noteworthy because several operating systems have targeted those regions but failed to capitalize on them. Microsoft, for instance, hoped to gain traction in Africa two years ago with Windows Phones that cost $100 or less, and Mozilla aimed its Firefox OS at emerging markets before ultimately abandoning the platform in late 2015.

The worldwide smartphone market saw 7% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter, Gartner said, and Chinese vendors Huawei, Oppo and BBK saw their combined market share increase 7.3% year-over-year. Apple was the top vendor during the quarter with a market share of 17.9%, barely edging out Samsung’s 17.8% share.

"Samsung's smartphone sales started to drop in the third quarter of 2016, and the decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 slowed down sales of its smartphone portfolio in the fourth quarter," added Mr. Gupta. "The withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 left a gap in its large-screen phone range."