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Smartphone Growth Slowing; Apple Growth Slowing Faster

Boston – Apple’s global iPhone shipments grew only 12.9 percent in 2013, underperforming the smartphone market’s 41.4 percent growth rate and reducing Apple’s 2013 share to 15.5 percent from 2012’s 19.4 percent, Strategy Analytics found.

The research and consulting company also found growth in global smartphone shipment fell slightly from 43 percent in 2012 to 41 percent in 2013 because of high penetration in some major markets, including the U.S.

Nonetheless, global smartphone shipments hit a record 990 million units in 2013, with Android share growing to 78.9 percent from 2012’s 68.8 percent. Android’s 62.2 percent shipment growth to 781.2 million units, however, marked the lowest growth rate in Android’s history, Strategy Analytics said.

“We expect Android’s growth to slow further in 2014 due to market saturation, and rivals like Microsoft or Firefox will be ready to pounce on any signs of a major slowdown for Android this year,” said executive director Neil Mawston.

For its part, Apple is getting squeezed from above by Android and below by the Windows Phone OS, which “is now firmly established as the smartphone industry’s third major ecosystem, shipping 35.7 million units worldwide to capture 4 percent market share in 2013,” said senior analyst Linda Sui. In 2013, Windows Phone shipments rose 90 percent for the full year to 35.7 million units and by 59 percent in the fourth quarter to 9.4 million.

Despite rising Windows sales, “the Windows Phone platform is still struggling to gain traction in the low-tier and premium-tier smartphone categories, and they remain serious weaknesses that Microsoft will need to address in 2014,” Sui said.

Analysts have attributed Apple’s falling smartphone share and slower smartphone-growth rates to the emergence of low-priced Android smartphones and smartphones incorporating larger screens than Apple’s models.

Apple’s global fourth-quarter smartphone shipments rose only 6.7 percent to 51 million in the fourth quarter while Android OS shipments rose 49.3 percent to 227.7 million.