There's no doubt Android is and will continue to be the dominant operating system in the mobile world, but its growth is definitely shrinking. That's what market intelligence firm IDC shows in a new report, IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, that forecasts sales and market shares for the next four years.

In 2015, Android will dominate 79.4% of the market, growing 8.5% year-on-year; it pales in comparison with the 23% growth forecasted for rival iOS, as the iPhone takes 16.4% of the global market. 

So Android is slowing down while iOS accelerates.

Why? According to the report, overall growth will be around 11.3% in 2015, less than half the 27.6% increase registered in 2014. Shipments will reach 1,447 billion units this year, mainly driven by Android-based phones, which will account for 1,149 billion, or 79.4%. Apple is, of course, the runner-up, expected to sell 237 million iPhones. Microsoft comes third, with 46,8 million units, and the category "Others" makes up for 14,2 million, or 1% of the market.

Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's tracker, explains in a statement that the market is being affected by the slowdown of two segments, which were responsible for the fantastic growth in recent years.

"Smartphone shipments in China actually declined year over year in the first quarter of 2015, showing that the largest market in the world has reached a level of maturity where rapid growth will be harder to achieve," he elaborates. As this happens, it drags down Android because that's the region where volumes have soared in recent years - it accounted for 36% of total volume last year. On the other hand, Chinese manufacturers that are now shifting their focus to external markets (like Xiaomi) "will face a number of challenges, including competition from 'local' brands," Reith warns.

The report clarifies that something similar happened to Apple in 2012, when it started to grow below the market; however, the situation has changed with the iPhone 6 and should continue to be positive for the brand. "There's no question that a large chunk of Apple's installed base is still using older models," Reith notes, making it an addressable market for the company.

So how was the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so successful?

IDC stresses that a "sizeable portion" of Android users switched to iOS when those larger models were launched. "This is an opportunity Apple is no question focusing on, Reith assures. Nevertheless, most Android phones are still much cheaper than iPhones and Apple will have a hard time making an impression on many markets because of that.

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