iPhone and Android Smartphone Duopoly Reaches Peak With Estimated 99.9% Market Share Last Year

A record 99.9 percent of smartphones sold worldwide last year were based on either Android or iOS, as all competing platforms have effectively been squeezed out, according to data shared today by research firm Gartner.


Android remains more widely adopted than iOS by a significant margin, with a roughly 86-14 percent split between the respective operating systems last year. Android's dominance is unsurprising given the software is installed on dozens of different smartphone models offered at a range of price points, whereas the iPhone primarily caters to the high-end market.

iOS and Android have been the leading mobile operating systems for many years now, but the duopoly became so dominant last year that Gartner doesn't even break out BlackBerry and Windows Phone individually anymore. Together, the platforms accounted for less than 0.1 percent market share in 2017.


For perspective, Gartner estimates that of the just over 1.5 billion smartphones sold worldwide last year, handsets running BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, and all other platforms made up only 1.5 million of the total.

The writing has long been on the wall for BlackBerry and Windows Phone, which have been ceding market share to Apple and Google for the better part of the last decade. But with Android and iOS finally reaching 99.9 percent market share, it looks like the platforms will be officially dead soon enough.

In the meantime, BlackBerry recently announced it will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 operating system for at least two more years, but it encourages customers to upgrade to its Android-based smartphones manufactured by TCL. BlackBerry World and other legacy services will shut down by the end of 2019.

Back in October, Microsoft likewise announced that it will continue to support Windows 10 Mobile with security updates and bug fixes, but it will no longer develop new features or release any new Windows Phones.

The fall of BlackBerry in particular is remarkable given it was the pioneer of the smartphone industry. Its devices actually continued to grow in popularity for around two years after the iPhone launched in June 2007, at the expense of then-leading Nokia, with a peak market share of around 20 percent in 2009.

It only took a few years until the surging popularity of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones led iOS and Android to leapfrog BlackBerry and Nokia, and based on today's data, the duopoly is now firmly entrenched.


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NYPD Rolls Out iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Handsets to Manhattan Officers, Replacing Windows Phones

The New York Police Department is making good on a promise made last year to dole out iPhone handsets to its officers, replacing around 36,000 Windows Phones as part of a new hardware upgrade strategy, reports the New York Daily News.

The NYPD has been rolling out hundreds of the phones since Christmas to Manhattan cops, who can choose between iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. The platform switch comes at no cost to the police department because the handsets are filed as upgrades under the agency's contract with AT&T.

Image via New York Daily News

"We've been giving out about 600 phones a day," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information and Technology Jessica Tisch. "We're seeing a lot of excitement."

Police in the Bronx and Staten Island have already received their new phones, with officers in the Queens and Brooklyn boroughs next in line to make the switch to iOS.

Armed with Apple's smartphones, the NYPD has seen its response times to critical crimes in progress drop by 14 percent, according to Tisch. The iPhones also allow cops to get videos and surveillance pictures of wanted suspects within minutes of a crime.
"I truly feel like it's the ultimate tool to have as a patrol cop," said Police Officer Christopher Clampitt. "We get to the location a lot quicker," he said. "By the time the dispatcher puts out the job (on the radio) we're already there."
Before the rollout, NYPD's smartphones of choice were Nokia's Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL, released in October 2014 and March 2015 respectively. The discontinued devices run Windows Phone 8.1, which Microsoft ended support for in July 2017 to focus on its newer Windows 10 Mobile platform and cloud-based services.

In October 2014, New York City officials announced plans to roll out handheld devices to every NYPD officer for the first time ever, along with tablets for every patrol car. The $160 million initiative was part of a plan to bring the department into the 21st century.

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Microsoft Admits Windows Phone is Basically Dead

Microsoft has publicly admitted for the first time that its Windows Phone is dead. In a series of tweets, Windows 10 chief Joe Belfiore said that the company is no longer developing new features or hardware for Windows 10 Mobile, with only bug fixes and security updates to come for existing users.

Belfiore explained that his team had tried "very hard" to incentivize app developers by paying them and writing apps for them, but the low volume of users meant it was no longer worth the investment in Windows Phone.

Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Phone back in July, but the software giant never owned up to the fact that the move was essentially the final nail in the coffin for its flagship mobile platform. Today's news that the Windows 10 Mobile hardware is no longer a focus for the company now puts that beyond doubt, and makes the possibility of a long-rumored Surface-branded phone seem further away than ever.


Windows Phone was released in 2010 and quickly became the world's third most popular mobile operating system, but the platform couldn't compete with iOS and Android, which accounted for a combined 99.6 percent market share earlier this year.

In another sign of the times, the New York Police Department recently confirmed it will begin transitioning from Windows Phones to iPhones for its 36,000 police officers in the fall.

In Belfiore's series of tweets, the corporate VP also revealed that he had switched away from Windows Phone to a rival mobile operating system, but didn't say which one.


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