Google Android was the only mobile operating system (OS) that saw "unwavering" month-on-month growth in Southeast Asia over the past 12 months, as sales volume grew over 1,000 percent year-on-year over third-quarter last year.
According to a GfK Asia report released Thursday, Android surged from third position in first-quarter 2011 to lead as the top OS in the third quarter, overtaking Nokia's Symbian and Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry.
The research company tracked sales of handsets across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, and determined that handsets running on Google's open source OS grew over the last two quarters to reach nearly 40 percent of total market share.
Android, BlackBerry and Symbian emerged as the top three OSes in the region, with total market share accounting for nearly 90 percent.
Benedict Hong, GfK Asia's regional account director for telecommunications, said in the report that the sale of Android phones had been "consistently healthy" and was the only OS to see "unwavering month-on-month growth" over the past 12 months. Compared to the same quarter last year, sales of Android handsets grew "exponentially by over 1,000 percent", he added.
According to Hong, handsets powered by Android grew from just over 50 models a year ago to about 170 models in the last quarter. "With the ongoing engagement and partnership model between Google and major manufacturers, we can expect more innovative Android smartphones to swamp the marketplace; at least, until there is another major breakthrough that can shake the dynamics of the smartphone OS industry," he added.
The smartphone market in Southeast Asia saw 4.7 million units sold in the third quarter of 2011, representing a value of US$1.5 billion, GfK said. Compared to second-quarter 2011, the report added that volume unit of smartphones grew 9 percent while value increased 6 percent. In a yearly comparison of the same quarter, smartphone sales grew 120 percent while value grew at 109 percent.
While Android is now the region's top OS, there are still two markets in which rival OSes still rule. Hong pointed to Indonesia, which he described as this region's biggest smartphone market, where RIM's BlackBerry OS maintained its "substantial margin" for at least the last five consecutive quarters while rivals "struggle to make inroads".
Similarly in Vietnam, Nokia's Symbian remained the top smartphone OS, he said.
A separate report from IDC in March predicted that Android would overtake Symbian to be the top smartphone OS platform within the year as more brands showcased Android-based devices at lower price points.
According to another report released late-October by research firm In-Stat, Android already cornered the global low-cost smartphone market but more competition was expected as other OS vendors continued to eye the market.