Overall smartphone share of the global handsets market is slowing as mobile phone (or feature phone) sales show some resilience through local brands in emerging markets. While ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, finds major Chinese vendors are continuing to witness solid volume growth, the market region could be on the cusp of a change as Google Android regains momentum and fights back against AOSP (Android Open Source Project) devices. ABI Research estimates that AOSPs’ share of the global smartphone market fell to 14% by end of 2015, while Android improved to a commanding 67%.
“Huawei, Xiaomi, and ZTE, all showed notable volume growth in the fourth quarter and continue to do so,” says David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research. “As most Android OS devices in China are not yet allowed to carry Google’s services, notably Play, many smartphones act much like AOSP devices. This situation may change in the near future, as either Google’s services become accepted in China or Google’s Android One standard grows to be a viable market contender. This is likely to spread to other Asian markets, which may mean the plight of AOSP.”
ABI Research considers AOSP devices to be modified versions of Android open source on which vendors can build their own user interfaces, app stores, and key applications. While a number of key brands, such as Xiaomi and Amazon, and other smaller Asian vendors have embraced the AOSP platform, the device category faces mounting competition as Google’s Android One continues to target both emerging markets and low-cost smartphone manufacturers.
In the months ahead, ABI Research expects some AOSP vendors to migrate toward Android OS/Android One and leverage on the wider ecosystem as their shipments grow. The AOSP platform may be further stymied by mobile operators who remain reticent to carry AOSP devices, notably in the U.S., which will reduce their acceptance and success in certain markets.
“While we anticipate that Google will continue to have a strong hold on the Android platform in some developing markets, particularly Latin America, the dynamic beyond these could change very quickly,” concludes McQueen. “If Android One does not perform as well as expected over the coming months, AOSP will remain a force within many emerging markets, despite Google’s best efforts to entice vendors away from it.”
These findings are part of ABI Research’s Smartphone & Handset Tracker Service, which includes research reports, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.
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