Google Android controls 81 percent of the smartphone market, according to new data from research firm IDC, putting it well ahead of all other competitors in the space. "Android and Windows Phone continued to make significant strides in the third quarter. Despite their differences in market share, they both have one important factor behind their success: price," Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. "Both platforms have a selection of devices available at prices low enough to be affordable to the mass market, and it is the mass market that is driving the entire market forward." That commentary seems like a dig—however intentional—at Apple, which has refused to make a cheap iPhone despite pressure from Wall Street investors (who want Apple to flood the market with cut-rate iOS devices, which they think will boost revenue) and competition from Android manufacturers (who are busy flooding the market with cheap Android devices). “We’re not in the junk business,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg earlier this year. Even the plastic-bodied iPhone 5C, ostensibly Apple’s “midrange” smartphone, sells for an unsubsidized price of $550—pretty steep, particularly in the developing world. Apple has also declined to join in the “phablet” phenomenon, in which manufacturers produce devices with super-sized screens. "Almost all successful Android vendors have added one or more 5-7-inch phablets to their product portfolios," Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, wrote in a statement. "In 3Q13, phablet shipments accounted for 21 percent of the smartphone market, up from just 3 percent a year ago. We believe the absence of a large-screen device may have contributed to Apple's inability to grow share in the third quarter." Despite its supposed “failure” to embrace cheap and giant smartphones, however, Apple’s shipment volume (in IDC’s estimation) actually grew from 26.9 million units in the third quarter of 2012 to 33.8 million in the same quarter this year. That’s well ahead of every competitor except for Android, although Windows Phone has enjoyed significant growth over the past twelve months. IDC estimates Apple’s current hold on the smartphone market at 12.9 percent, ahead of Windows Phone at 3.6 percent, BlackBerry at 1.7 percent, and undefined “others” at 9.6 percent. In other words, Apple might be losing out to Google when it comes to smartphone market-share—but that doesn’t seem to be hurting its actual sales.   Image: IDC