April 29, 2013 at 3:28 PM ET
A report Monday shows Google's Android mobile operating system on top over almost the entire world. While it faces stiff competition from iOS and Windows Phone, the numbers show there's more than enough room for it to continue growing.
Tracking firm Kantar examined the sales from nine countries and found that on average, 64.2 percent of smartphone sales were Android devices during the first three months of 2013. But sales look very different in the several regions they surveyed.
In Mexico and Brazil, for instance, a low level of smartphone uptake means many people are still using phones running Nokia's Symbian OS or using a BlackBerry. Yet as an IDC report in February pointed out, it's smartphone-rich areas like the U.S. and Australia that have the biggest effect on the global market: Alternative platforms are making a stand in some areas, but about 90 percent of smartphones sold last year were either Android or iOS.
Microsoft's Windows Phone platform saw small but significant growth in most regions. This may be because of the company's partnership with Nokia, which has resulted in a number of fairly popular budget handsets aimed at first-time smartphone buyers.
Feature phones used to be the only ones a budget-minded consumer could get for free with a plan, but now many carriers offer both Android and Windows Phone devices for no money down — and as people switch over to smartphones in areas like China and South America, they often go with the cheapest option.
The first quarter of 2013 was significant for the mobile market in that smartphones out-shipped feature phones for the first time ever. It's a significant milestone, but it also shows that there's still quite a lot of the race left to run.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.