The BlackBerry operating system is officially giving up the ghost. It’s been on life support for years, but it seems we should start lining up for the funeral procession, according to the latest data on smartphone sales during the holiday shopping quarter. The company is certainly putting all of its eggs in one basket (software) now.
BlackBerry falls to zero
Research firm Gartner reported this week that during the fourth quarter, BlackBerry sold less than 208,000 devices running on its own operating system. In fact, the OS held just a small fraction of a percent of the market for smartphones during the quarter at 0.0481%. However, the company continues to assure customers that it will keep supporting its operating system and that the OS isn’t dead.
The Android operating system held by far the largest chunk of the market at nearly 82%, while Apple’s iOS held about an 18% share of the market. There were 352.7 million Android-based devices and 77 million iPhones sold during the fourth quarter. Microsoft sold about 1.09 million Windows Phones during the quarter, which was good enough for a measly 0.3% share of the market.
Android rules the roost
The reason Android dominates the market by far is because Google allows manufacturers to make devices running on the operating system without having to pay licensing fees. This enables smartphone manufacturers that focus on the low end of the market to sell devices cheap because they only have to pay for components and assembly and not the software.
Apple, on the other hand, keeps iOS locked down and doesn’t let other manufacturers make iOS-based devices. It likes to control the entire experience and thus doesn’t allow any other companies to make devices. Apple also likes to control the price of its devices because it doesn’t want consumers to be able to purchase one without forking over big bucks. This might cheapen its image, after all.
The BlackBerry smartphone brand lives on… for now
Instead of putting the entire BlackBerry smartphone brand out of its misery, the company licensed it to TCL and other manufacturers around the world. It started making Android-based devices once management realized that the BlackBerry operating system would not survive. Even that didn’t work out very well, however, as the Passport and Priv failed to garner massive sales.
So now TCL and other manufacturers have the rights to make BlackBerry-branded devices. The DTEK50 and DTEK60 were not included in Gartner’s market share estimate because they run on Android and not BB10, so it’s unclear just how well those handsets are selling. The only thing that’s clear here is that they aren’t doing very well, as Apple and Samsung have a stranglehold on the smartphone market.