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Washington (AFP) Jan 28, 2013
Android and Apple smartphones captured a whopping 92 percent of global sales in the fourth quarter, giving the two systems an effective duopoly, a research firm said Monday.
Strategy Analytics said global smartphone shipments grew 38 percent annually to reach 217 million units in the fourth quarter, to bring annual sales to 700 million.
Android, the free operating system developed by Google, grabbed 70 percent of the market in the final three months of the year, while Apple's iOS used on its iPhone held 22 percent.
The news bodes ill for rivals like BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which is launching its new platform this year, and Microsoft, which is pushing its Windows Phone system.
"Android is clearly the undisputed volume leader of the smartphone industry at the present time," said Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston.
"Android's challenge for 2013 will be to defend its leadership, not only against Apple, but also against an emerging wave of hungry challengers that includes Microsoft, Blackberry, Firefox and Tizen."
The survey noted that global shipment growth slowed from 64 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2012, as regions such as North America and Western Europe matured.
Scott Bicheno, analyst at Strategy Analytics, said the latest trends showed "the worldwide smartphone industry has effectively become a duopoly as consumer demand has polarized around mass-market Android models and premium Apple designs."
Apple updates software for iPhone, iPad
The iOS 6.1 version, which updates the one released last year, includes Apple's own maps program which drew scorn from users because of numerous glitches, and which Apple has pledged to fix.
The new software allows 36 iPhone carriers and 23 iPad carriers around the world to provide access to the faster LTE networks offered in many locations.
Apple's marketing chief Philip Schiller said iOS 6 "is the world's most advanced mobile operating system, and with nearly 300 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices on iOS 6 in just five months, it may be the most popular new version of an OS in history."
The update includes support for Apple's voice assistant Siri in more languages, an Apple statement said.
The statement noted that it will include maps "with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and Flyover view." Other features including Facebook and Passbook, Apple's system for storing tickets, coupons and other financial data.
The new iOS 6.1 is available as a free software update.
Apple shares rose 2.2 percent Monday to $449.55, but remain down some 35 percent from last year's record highs amid concerns about slowing growth for the US tech giant.
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