Android had another explosive quarter in December. The latest numbers from research firm Canalys revealed that Google’s (GOOG) operating system powered a third of all mobile phones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012. Worldwide shipments of mobile phones remained flat at 438.1 million units, however smartphone shipments increased 37% to 216.5 million units. Android accounted for 34% of all mobile phone shipments and 69% of smartphone shipments in the quarter, while iOS smartphones accounted for 11% of all mobile phones and 22% of all smartphones.
While Samsung (005930) had another strong quarter, growing 78% year-over-year, Chinese vendors such as Huawei (002502), ZTE (0763), and Lenovo (LNGVY) all grew by triple-digit percentages. Samsung shipped 62.9 million smartphones in Q4 for a 29% share of the market, ahead of Apple’s (AAPL) 47.8 million units and 22.1% market share. Rounding out the top five were Huawei with shipments of 11.5 million units, ZTE at 10.1 million, and Lenovo with 9.5 million units.
Despite already being the largest mobile market in the world, China saw significant growth and accounted for 73% of all shipments in Q4 compared to 40% in 2011. Smartphone shipments in China increased by 113% to 64.7 million units, however Apple’s struggles remained and it continued to lose market share to Samsung and other manufacturers.
“China is a massive growth prospect, but Apple is not making the market share impact there that it is in other markets,” said Nicole Peng, Canalys’ China research director. “The lack of a device on the China Mobile network is a big drawback, combined with high price points. Addressing these issues with the combination of a TD-SCDMA device and a cheaper model would open the flood-gates.”