Android Took 79% Global Share Of Smartphones In 2013 — But Grew At Its Lowest Rate Yet, Says Analyst


2013 has been dubbed the year of Android by Strategy Analytics, which has just put out its smartphone OS shipment figures for the year. This follows a mobile device-maker centric report it put out yesterday.

Google’s Android platform accounted for 79% of global smartphone OS shipments in the year, according to the latest Strategy Analytics estimates. It reckons a record 781.2 million smartphones shipped globally running Google’s mobile OS, out of a total of 990 million smartphones.

(Another analyst, IDC, put out its own smartphone market figures yesterday – in which it had global smartphone shipments just pushing past the billion mark in 2013. Either way, plus or minus 10M, it’s a whole lot of smartphones.)

Despite Android breaking its record for shipments last year, the platform is not quite the powerhouse engine of growth it has been, with some slowing down evident in the data.

Strategy Analytics notes that 2013 saw Google’s mobile platform grow at its lowest rate yet — which it pegs at 62%. It’s also expecting further slowing down for the platform this year.

“We expect Android’s growth to slow further in 2014 due to market saturation, and rivals like Microsoft or Firefox will be ready to pounce on any signs of a major slowdown for Android this year,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director, in a statement.

Fierce competition in the smartphone space has taken its toll on a range of mobile device and platform makers, over the years (from Palm to Nokia to BlackBerry, to name a few). And, returning to Android, after such a long run of growth, it was inevitable the road for further platform expansion on smartphones would start to narrow.

Slowing growth on the Android platform may go some way towards explaining one of Google’s current projects aimed at raising the standard of lower cost Androids via its Motorola device making division — and the likes of the Moto G handset: a relatively cheaply priced device that has a feature set that punches above its price-tag, and is clearly aiming to outshine the budget Windows Phone competition.

It also explains Google seeking to push Android into other areas — like cars — and indeed, expanding its wider business in new directions via various acquisitions (such as Internet of Things company Nest; robotics company Boston Dynamics; and AI builder DeepMind, to name a few recent purchases).

Still, returning to the smartphone market, Android remains head and shoulders above the competition — and Google remains the mobile kingpin by reach.

Apple’s iOS shipped 153.4 million devices in 2013 — taking a 16% marketshare. This is a sizeable drop on the 19% marketshare Strategy Analytics recorded for iOS back in 2012 (although it’s worth noting that the number of smartphones being shipped globally has increased, year-on-year, so a platform maker can still grow units shipped yet shrink in overall marketshare — as is the case with Apple).

Strategy Analytics said iOS grew a “sluggish” 13% annually during 2013 — although it also notes Cupertino saw “record volumes”. The iPhone 5c not performing as well as expected is cited as one reason for what it characterises as “sharply slowing” growth on Apple’s platform.

As for third place, the analyst says Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is now “firmly established” as the smartphone industry’s bronze-coloured third major ecosystem.

The Windows Phone platform shipped 35.7 million units worldwide in 2013 – giving it a 4% marketshare last year. (NB: Out of those 35.7 million Windows Phones, 30 million were Nokia Lumia devices – underlining exactly why Microsoft is buying Nokia’s mobile making division: Nokia’s phone business is the Windows Phone business).

Despite establishing Windows Phone at the back of the smartphone platform leadership pack, Microsoft still has its work cut out to keep building momentum, says the analyst.

“The Windows Phone platform is still struggling to gain traction in the low-tier and premium-tier smartphone categories and they remain serious weaknesses that Microsoft will need to address in 2014,” noted Linda Sui, Senior Analyst, in a statement.  

As for the rest — aka BlackBerry OS, Firefox OS, and the even littler guys such as Jolla with its Sailfish OS — last year these platforms collectively accounted for just 2% marketshare globally, and just 19.8 million units shipped.

Still, that’s well within touching distance of the industry’s third placed ecosystem, Windows Phone. So there’s plenty to play for when it comes to taking home the bronze. Microsoft’s new CEO better make sure to keep looking over his or her shoulder — as well as pushing to close the gap with iOS.

Strategy Analytics

TechCrunch » Android

The Parce Idea Is A Smart Wall Plug That Can Control Your Appliances From Afar


Another day, another smart home device. Today we introduce the Parce Idea, a clever, compact wall plug that allows you to monitor your energy usage and control lights and appliances from your smartphone. Each plug costs $ 69 and they connect to your Wi-Fi network and then Parce’s cloud system to show you energy usage, allow you to plan shutdown times, and manage your total electricity usage in the home.

This is obviously not a new idea – WeMo by Belkin is a surprisingly robust system – but the key here are the analytics. As we discussed at CES 2014 this year, we are entering the era of the quantified home. Devices like CubeSensors and Alima add some amazing capabilities to our traditionally dumb spaces while security devices like Canary and energy controllers like Nest keep us safe and warm.

High design and low cost is making relay-powered systems like the Parce easier and easier to make and, although they’re still way below their goal, it’s interesting to see them trying to crack a space that many utilities companies would love to control.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Nest Team Will Become Google’s Core Hardware Group


Google today sold Motorola to Lenovo for $ 2.91 billion. While many speculated that Google would release phones after it bought Motorola in 2011, it didn’t happen — Motorola remained a partner like other Android OEMs. Recently, Google acquired Nest, and TechCrunch has learned that Google has big plans for the team behind the connected device company.

Google will keep the Nest group intact inside the company. The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now.

While Nest first became popular with its thermostats, Google didn’t buy the company for these devices. First and foremost, the company wanted to snatch the great product team.

Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell used to work for Apple on the iPod and was a founding member of the iPhone development team. Many people working in hardware consider him one of the best executives that understand both hardware and software — he is comfortable working at the intersection of the two.

Moreover, Fadell managed to attract great Apple engineers when he started working on Nest. They wanted to follow Fadell’s plans and were good engineers. And that’s exactly what Google was looking for when it acquired Nest.

When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start.

Google will keep Motorola’s patents, and it seems pretty clear now that Google only wanted that from the get-go.

Acquiring Nest and selling Motorola now make more sense when you put these two things side by side. Something was missing with Motorola. With Nest, Google finally has the right team and mindset to create and produce gadgets.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Dell’s $129 Dongle Puts Android On Any Screen With HDMI Input


Dell continues making bets on Android in its computing lineup with a new $ 129 device that brings Google’s mobile OS to any TV or display with HDMI input. The new stick runs Android Jelly Bean, also supports MHL connections (mobile high-def) and offers Bluetooth and mini USB for mouse, keyboard and other device connectivity.

In addition to onboard connectivity for Bluetooth, the new Dell Wyse Cloud Connect also offers 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi and the standard Google Play store for Android software. It’s an enterprise and business focused device, however, and also has Dell’s Wyse PocketCloud software preloaded to help it act as a virtual terminal for remote computers.


This is, in effect, supposed to be the long-vaunted and sought-after thin client PC you can carry with you in your pocket that still manages to provide access to all your files, software and communications back home. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t also provide entertainment options to business travellers, since it’s capable of full HD output and should be able to easily run Netflix’s Android app.

That “multi-core” Cortext-A9 ARM SoC might not be the most muscular mobile processor in the world, but Dell does specifically tout its HD and 3D graphics abilities in its specs sheet. It has 8GB of onboard storage, and 1GB of RAM, plus a micro SD slot that supports up to 72GB of additional space.


Based solely on surface impressions, you could do far worse in a pocket computer for those gruelling weeks on the road if you’re a frequent business traveler. It’s interesting to see Dell move in this direction, effectively taking a page out of the playbook of devices like the Ouya and the Gamestick but cutting out all the nonsense and painting it with a business brush.

Weirdly, more than anything else over the past half decade at least, this makes me want a Dell computer. Go figure.

TechCrunch » Android

Cheap Laser-Sintering Printers Are Coming Thanks To The Expiration Of A Key Patent


Today is a big day for 3D printing: Patent #US5597589 is set to expire and will open up the possibility for makers to use laser sintering — shooting a laser at a layer of nylon powder — in cheaper devices, essentially opening the technology to the small maker.

The patent is fairly clear on what sintering is. It describes an “apparatus for selectively sintering a layer of powder to produce a part made from a plurality of sintered layers and the apparatus includes a computer controlling a laser to direct the laser energy onto the powder to produce a sintered mass.” This means anything that shoots a laser at powder could run afoul of this patent much as Form Labs bumped up against 3D Systems’ stereolithography patent.

Most larger “professional-quality” printers use laser sintering and you can create homogenous, solid-looking objects with stable structures using the technique.

Does this mean we’ll have sintering printers in our homes next year? Possibly, but given the materials needed and the components involved I could see prices going down but not dropping until there is mass acceptance of 3D printing. FDM printers that deposit layers of plastic is still the cheapest method, but sintered parts are almost seamless, creating a cohesive whole that is very useful in prototyping and engineering. In short, however, it’s a great day for makers.

via 3Dprint

TechCrunch » Gadgets