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Game over: Apple and Google have won the mobile market

Windows Phone or BlackBerry can't challenge mobile leaders, says leading analyst

Apple and Google have “inched closer to total domination” of the worldwide smartphone market, according to the latest figures from analyst firm IDC. Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of all smartphones shipped in 2014, giving the pair a stranglehold on the market. 

The next closest contender, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, saw its market share fall from 3.3% in 2013 to 2.7% in 2014, even though it flooded the market with cheap Lumia handsets. And despite a major revamp of its smartphones, BlackBerry continued to slump from a 1.9% market share in 2013 to only 0.4% in 2014. 

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IDC is now referring to the smartphone market as a two-horse race, with nobody else capable of challenging the runaway leaders. “Instead of a battle for the third ecosystem after Android and iOS, 2014 instead yielded skirmishes, with Windows Phone edging out BlackBerry, Firefox, Sailfish and the rest, but without any of these platforms making the kind of gains needed to challenge the top two,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

The latest figures will be particularly devastating for Microsoft, which spent £4.6 billion on Nokia’s handset division to boost its fortunes in the smartphone market. Yet, despite offering handsets such as the Lumia 530 for less than £100 SIM-free, it seems Microsoft is making little headway. The company’s mobile shipments increased by only 4.2% between 2013 and 2014, whereas the overall market grew by 27.7%. 

Having finalised its acquisition of Nokia in the spring of 2014, Microsoft relied primarily on a long list of entry-level Lumia devices to maintain its position in the market, and relied on its partners HTC and Samsung to provide cover on the high-end of the market,” says IDC. 

Microsoft is midway through another major revamp of its mobile operating system, with Windows 10 now running across phones, tablets and PCs. That’s now looking like the last roll of the dice for Microsoft, which has little to show for the billions it has spent trying to break the iOS and Android duopoly. 

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