It's no secret that the two biggest players in the smartphone world are Samsung and Apple.
Samsung releases multiple Android smartphones on what seems like a weekly basis, and the company also builds smartphones running Windows Phone which certainly increases its market share by supporting two mobile platforms.
Apple on the other hand believes it is better to create the operating system and hardware to provide users with a more cohesive user experience.
Nokia and BlackBerry are the two most significant players battling for the third spot and they are taking different approaches to get there.
Nokia is by far Windows Phone's biggest success, its Lumia smartphones are among the most popular Windows Phones on the market and easily trump sales of rival Windows Phone licensees like Samsung, and HTC. Instead of Nokia releasing a Lumia with the same Windows Phone experience that rivals release, it has gotten the approval from Microsoft to customize Windows Phone with some of Nokia's own software. Since Nokia can add more Nokia-specific features to Windows Phone than other licensees, it essentially puts it in a spot where it can differentiate itself enough to be the best choice in purchasing a Windows Phone. Nokia has essentially become the face of Windows Phone.
BlackBerry was once the market leader in the smartphone world, but soon was overthrown by the popularity of Apple's iPhone and the growth of Android. BlackBerry had to re-invent itself and it did with BlackBerry 10, the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10. Like Apple, it also believes that when a company controls the operating system and hardware it can provide users with an overall better user experience.
BlackBerry and Apple don't have to rely on another company to build its operating system like Samsung and Nokia's reliance on Google and Microsoft. That could ultimately end up being the difference between third and fourth place.
It's still too early to tell what smartphone company will take the coveted third spot, but the good news for consumers is that smartphone makers will feel more pressure to come up with more innovative features to set themselves apart and that will only benefit us.