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Smartphone shipments hit the 1B mark for the first time

With nearly 80 percent of the world market, Google's Android dominated 2013. Meanwhile, Apple's iOS lost market share and Microsoft's Windows Phone gained.

Josh Miller/CNET

For the first time ever, more than 1 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2013. This is mostly thanks to Android.

New data from research firm IDC shows that Android stayed strong throughout the year reaching a total of 793.6 million shipments -- this gave it 78.6 percent market share. While Apple's iOS held a steady second place with 153.4 million shipments and 15.2 percent market share. Together the two operating systems accounted for 95.7 percent of all smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, and 93.8 percent for the full year.

"Clearly, there was strong end-user demand for both Android and iOS products during the quarter and the year," IDC Mobile Phone team research manager Ramon Llamas said in a statement. "What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand. Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple's iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most."

Research firm Gartner, meanwhile, put its 2013 tally for total smartphone unit sales worldwide at a little less than a billion -- 968.8 million, to be more precise. It projects that in 2014, Android alone will approach the billion mark.

Looking at IDC's numbers from 2013, one can see that Android's market share grew by 9.6 percent from 2012, and Apple's share fell by 3.5 percent. Windows Phone market share grew by about 1 percent, but its actual shipments nearly doubled from 17.5 million to 33.4 million. BlackBerry continued its downward slide, losing 2.6 percent market share and nearly cutting its shipments in half.

Samsung won out for those Android vendors that did well in 2013. According to IDC, the South Korean company commanded 39.5 percent of Android shipments last year. Other vendors that did well were Huawei, LG, and Lenovo. As for Windows Phone, Nokia was the top vendor with 89.3 percent market share.

IDC predicted in November that the smartphone market would reach 1 billion in 2013. The research firm notes that it's good companies are focusing on flagship devices like the iPhone 5S, Galaxy Note 3, and the HTC One, but consumers are now also looking for lower price points.

"In 2013 we saw the sub-$200 smartphone market grow to 42.6 percent of global volume, or 430 million units," IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker program director Ryan Reith said. "While the market moves downstream to cheaper products it makes sense for Samsung and others to continue their marketing investments geared toward high-end products. These efforts build crucial brand perception while having less expensive alternatives that closely relate to these top products helps to close the deal."

IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker

Update Feb. 13 at 7:26 am. PT: Added Gartner's smartphone tally for 2013.