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Apple and Google domination: what chances do rivals really stand?

Apple and Google domination: what chances do rivals really stand?

The quarterly ritual of smartphone user stats hasn’t thrown up any surprises for a long time.

So it’s perhaps entirely predictable that the latest numbers, this time from comScore and covering the US market, make for grim reading if you make an operating system that isn’t iOS and Android.

Combined, Apple and Google’s operating systems have cornered north of 90 per cent of the smartphone market across the pond.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this presents something of a challenge to the likes of BlackBerry and Microsoft, let alone new entrants such as Firefox OS.

Google remains top dog on 52.3 per cent, Apple second with 37.8 per cent, with BlackBerry in third on just 5.9 per cent and Microsoft still further back with a mere 3.1 per cent.

blackberry z10

These numbers reflect the installed base, rather than current shipments, which means there’s every chance BlackBerry's numbers will be up next time around thanks to the release of the Z10.

Likewise, Microsoft could see a boost from the launch of Nokia’s new budget Lumias. But the question is, can these devices really make a dent in what is now a firmly established duopoly?

Microsoft spends billions marketing Windows Phone and BlackBerry hasn’t been shy about bigging-up its new OS and handsets since their launch in January.

But for all that, Android remains dominant as it’s free for OEMs and works across a variety of price points.

The iPhone, well, is the iPhone. It may not be top dog any more, but it still has cachet in spades.

android toy 1

Perhaps the one chink of light here is the fact that the direction of Android is being powerfully steered by Samsung.

If the Korean giant, the world’s biggest seller of mobile phones, pushes its Tizen OS harder in the next couple of years and decides in the future to strike out alone, could Google be harmed?

It’s an unlikely proposition, but one where Samsung maintains total control over its devices, something which will doubtless appeal to its execs and investors. Nokia, meanwhile, could bring Microsoft plenty of joy in emerging markets with its Lumia 520.

It’s a great device and offers a colourful alternative to budget Android phones. But if Apple’s budget iPhone lands soon, expect it to struggle to get itself seen.

Similarly, BlackBerry 10 needs a strong summer, especially in the States where it’s yet to launch, if the Canadian company is ever to get back to where it was just a few years back. In short, it feels like those lagging behind are fighting for scraps.

It’s a shame, as it stymies creativity across the board to have such major players well behind in the race for supremacy.

When the next set of comScore figures hit, don’t be surprised to see Apple and Google tighten their grip on the smartphone world.

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