Even before its newest slate of mobile devices hit the market, Google’s Android operating system was winning the smartphone war. IDC says Android had a 75% market share in the third quarter, versus just 15% for iOS and 10% for all others (Windows Phone had just 2% of the market.)
Google has propagated Android by working with a wide range of device manufacturers including Samsung, LG, HTC and ZTE. Now the company is committing a major marketing budget to its own brand, Nexus, but the smartphones and tablets are still made by Google’s partners. The new Nexus 4 smartphone is made by LG and the Nexus 10 tablet is made by Samsung. Google has brought manufacturing expertise in-house with its purchase of Motorola Mobility, but the company is expected to continue partnering with a wide range of device makers. Google makes money by selling ads, not by selling devices, and widespread adoption of the Android operating system is an important way for Google to drive page views.
IDC says total shipments of Android phones were up 91.5% in the third quarter, while the overall smartphone market grew 46.4%. The firm says a total of 181 million smartphones were shipped during the quarter.
Andriod’s market dominance could face a challenge during the fourth quarter from Apple’s iPhone 5 and Microsoft’s Windows 8 phones. Google hopes its unlocked Nexus 4 will be a serious contender, particularly for price sensitive smartphone buyers who prefer a prepaid phone.