Cape Town - Google's Android mobile operating system will power one billion phones in 2014, a new survey has found.
According to research by industry tracker Gartner, Android increased its share in 2013 by 12% over 2012, but that translates into the OS powering more than 758 million smartphones, or 78% of the global market.
Apple's iOS that powers the iPhone saw a declining share, from 19.1% in 2012 to 15.6% last year. This is despite Apple selling a record number of iPhones.
Rising star OS Windows Phone from Microsoft has consolidated its third place position, pulling away from BlackBerry with 3.2% over 2.5% in 2012.
This is good news for Nokia as the company, now owned by Microsoft, looks to expand in developing markets.
The BlackBerry OS continues to decline, falling from 5% in 2012 to just 1.9% last year, Gartner found.
The company said that Android will approach the one billion mark in 2014, making it the most successful mobile OS ever.
Gartner though, warned that the days of high-priced high margin smartphone sales were numbered as more consumers were turning to lower priced devices that has similar functionality to the premium segment.
"Sales of high-end smartphones will slow as increasing sales of low- and mid-price smartphones in high-growth emerging markets will shift the product mix to lower-end devices. This will lead to a decline in average selling price and a slowdown in revenue growth," Gartner said.
This should be good news for manufactures like Huawei, ZTE and Hisense. Unlike the premium manufacturers, these players produce smartphones targeted at price conscious consumers mainly in developing markets.
In particular, Hisense has released its U970 in SA. It has a 12.7cm display, powered by a 1.2GHz quad core processor and runs Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). The dual SIM device sells for R2 999, less than half the price of the Samsung Galaxy S4, for example.
The survey also shows that smartphones have overtaken feature phones for the first time, grabbing 53.6% of all mobiles sold, though Gartner warned that consumers are no longer prepared to pay high prices for mobile devices.
"While the top three mobile manufacturers are dominating the global mobile phone market, their share collectively fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 and yearly as Chinese and regional brands continue to raise their share," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.
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