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Tale of Gartner's Smartphone OS Rankings

Fri Mar 13, 2009 - 4:35 PM EDT - By Annie Latham


You can bend numbers to tell whatever story you want. Case in point, this week industry analyst firm, Gartner, released its numbers for global smartphone sales by operating system (OS) for the full year of 2008 and Q4.

  • The Symbian OS is a runaway winner with right around 50% share of market for Q4 and the year. However, their 2008 numbers were 6% lower than 2007.
  • Research in Motion (RIM) is a distant second with a market share of 16.6 percent annual/19.5 percent for Q4.
  • Windows Mobile ranks third with 11.8 per cent annual/12.4 percent for Q4.
  • For the year, Mac OS X and Linux are running neck and neck at 8 percent. The iPhone (Mac OS X) has a two percent edge over Linux for Q4.
  • We're #6! Bringing up the rear is Palm with 1.8 percent for the year and a mere .9 percent for Q4. What's more notable is the growth rate. Year over year, Palm grew 42.2 percent which ranks them third behind Mac OS X's 245 percent growth and RIM¬ís 96.7 percent.

No doubt this can be viewed that Palm has bottomed out and can only get better. However, the "glass half empty" folks can easily interpret these numbers as a death knell.

Thomas Ricker at Engadget Mobile, a "half full" sort of guy, remarked, "With any luck, Palm could turn this table upside down in 2009 with a successful global launch of WebOS."

Making a Smarter Smartphone

Joe Wilcox of Apple Watch offered his take on the numbers:

"...iPhone is doing surprisingly well for device and operating system market share. Here's a strange twist: iPhone's success is a major reason for Windows Mobile's fourth-quarter sales gains. For years, Microsoft, RIM and Palm pushed smartphones with limited success. It was iPhone that got the category really going, whether or not Apple was a major beneficiary of sales. Nearly all major handset manufacturers set out to create a smarter smartphone than Apple's handset."

He has a point. Roberta Cozza, Gartner's research director said, "In 2009, mobile platforms will be a major battleground as the associated user experience and role of the ecosystem grow in importance."

The ecosystem refers to developers and each platform's related app store. With webOS entering the fray, it should be an interesting year indeed!


Note: The chart is care of eWeek's Apple Watch blog.

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