Android's Dominance Overshadows Windows Phone Platform's Phenomenal Growth Rate

Microsoft can take pause for a moment and celebrate the fact that its Windows Phone platform experienced an impressive 156 percent year-on-year growth rate in the global smartphone market, according to data released by International Data Corporation (IDC). It did it by shipping 9.5 million Windows Phone devices in the third quarter of 2013 compared to 3.7 million in the same period a year ago. Unfortunately for Microsoft, that only translates into a 3.6 percent share of a market that's dominated by Android.

There's just no stopping Android. Rather than show any signs of slowing down or plateauing, Android went and topped an 80 percent penetration rate for the first time ever, increasing its share of the global smartphone market from 74.9 percent a year ago to 81 percent currently. That means a little over 8 out of 10 smartphones around the world are running Android.

IDC Graph
Source: IDC

While competing with Android might be a lofty goal at this early stage, Windows Phone has already surpassed BlackBerry for the third sport and is now giving iOS a run for its money. Apple's share of the smartphone market took a step backwards in Q3 to land at 12.9 percent, representative of a 1.5 percent drop. A year ago, there was a 12.4 percent gap between iOS and Windows Phone; now it's 9.3 percent.

"Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward."

Samsung Windows Phone

There's a caveat. Apple launched its iPhone 5S and 5C devices at the tail end of the third quarter. Some of the share Apple lost to Microsoft will likely be gained back by the fourth quarter, but even so, it's pretty impressive that we're talking about the two in the same sentence at this point, which speaks volumes about the Windows Phone platform.