If you’re curious what people are e-reading on, the latest Gartner smartphone sales report is out with some interesting conclusions.

First of all, for all that the number of people on the latest version of Android might be dwindling, it seems the number of smartphone users on Android in general is growing. The percentage of smartphone sales by the Android operating system is 84.1% for 1Q16, up from 78.8% for for 1Q15. iOS phone share fell from 17.9% to 14.8%.

But the real loser is Windows phone sales. Windows phones fell from 8.2 million in 1Q15 to 2.4 million in 1Q16—a drop from 2.5% of the smartphone market to 0.7%. 2.4 million would be a decent quantity of phones if you piled them all up together, but compared to the 293.7 million Android moved, or even the 51.6 million iPhones, it’s a drop in the bucket. The most you can really say for Windows is that at least it’s not Blackberry, who only has 0.2% of the market. Blackberry moved 659,900 phones —not even a whole million, and only about half the phones it moved in 1Q15.

The death of Windows phones has been expected for a while, but it finally seems to be materializing—driven at least in part by the lack of new Lumia handsets to compete with newer phones of other platforms. Small wonder that Microsoft put them on buy-one-get-one sale for a while. That sale no longer seems to be on, but if sales continue to decline, and Microsoft doesn’t refresh the line with something else, expect them to go on fire sale again soon enough—just as Amazon’s failed Fire Phone did. If you can get one cheaply enough and are looking for a pocket-sized e-reader, it just might be the way to go—not only does it have apps for all the major e-reader stores, it also offers the excellent Freda reader for DRM-free titles.

From the sales-by-manufacturer section of the Gartner report, it seems that Samsung and Apple are the two big phone sales winners again, with 23.2% and 14.8% of total phone sales respectively. The other three companies to make the chart—Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi—are all in the single-digit sales figures (8.6%, 4.6%, 4.3%). This seems a bit odd, because the “Others” category makes up 44.8% of total smartphone sales, which is more than Samsung and Apple put together. How many other smartphone brands weren’t broken out?

Assuming that each of the brands that makes up “Other” amounts to less than Xiaomi’s 4.3% of total sales individually, this might say a lot about just why Android is so fragmented. The vast majority of those phones are going to be Android, and there could be dozens of different OEMs bundled into that 44.8%. Each one would have a different process for bundling its variation of the OS and software onto its phone.

Apple has a much more streamlined process for putting its OS on its phones—but fewer than one in six smartphone users has an iPhone in his pocket. It seems pretty clear that, no matter how messy Android’s upgrade process is, it seems to be better-suited to getting lots of people to use it. For that matter, it’s an interesting mirror of the state of things on the desktop, where the more-open Windows OS has the lion’s share of installations and the regimented OS X is in the minority. But Apple has more than enough users not to have to worry about whether it’s in the majority of devices used overall—it doesn’t have any direct competitors if you want the iOS or OS X experience.

In any case, perhaps the greatest thing from our perspective is that, no matter what OS the device in your pocket runs, the odds are pretty good that it has sufficient apps available to read any e-book you buy. Whether Android, iOS, or Windows, you can buy an e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo and be confident in your ability to keep right on reading it. That’s the biggest advantage these devices have over e-ink readers tied to but a single vendor.

(Found via The Verge.)


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