While BlackBerry's grip on the enterprise is under threat, says Gartner...
Google's Android platform will be challenging the current number one mobile OS - Symbian - for the top spot by 2014, analyst house Gartner is predicting.
Both mobile OSes are open source but the newer Android platform is accelerating its growth, while the Nokia-backed Symbian continues to shed marketshare.
Global mobile OS marketshare will consolidate on a "few key players" in the coming years - Android, Symbian, Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry OS, according to Gartner. However the analyst house also reckons BlackBerry's grip on the enterprise will be threatened by the 'consumer creep' of its shinier US rivals.
Gartner predicts Symbian's share of the worldwide mobile OS market will decline from almost half (46.9 per cent) in 2009 to less than a third (30.2 per cent) by 2014, while Android will leap from just 3.9 per cent in 2009 to close to a third (29.6 per cent) by 2014. The analyst houses reckons Android will also take the number one mobile OS spot in the US this year - a market where Symbian devices have traditionally struggled.
Android's anticipated rise to the worldwide number two spot snapping at Symbian's heels is now predicted to happen almost two years sooner than a previous Gartner forecast, noted principal research analyst Roberta Cozza.
"Already the progress that Android has done from the end of last year has been exceptional so that already by the end of this year we are going to see a massive achievement from their end," Cozza told silicon.com. "Definitely we can expect that going to 2014, in a few years' time, they could even challenge [Symbian's global] number one position."
Cozza puts Android's recent growth spurt down to both the number of hardware-makers that have adopted the platform and produced attractive, high-spec devices, such as Samsung's Galaxy S handset, along with the underlying strength of Google's software ecosystem.
"This acceleration is due to the fact that you have a lot of vendors that have offered Android with devices that have really top technology in it," she noted, adding: "The ecosystem is very strong, with Google services and the application market."
By contrast, Nokia's portfolio is "very weak at the very high end at the moment", noted Cozza, while its Ovi Store is not competitive against the might of Apple's iTunes App Store - with its more than 250,000 apps - or even the smaller but fast growing Android Market.
Nokia's high end strategy is also effectively on hold, while MeeGo and the Symbian 4 OS continue to be developed, noted Cozza. "We'll see what the new appointments [at Nokia] will be in the new team because I guess the new CEO will have to build new management below him," she added.
Android's growth over the next three years will be driven by cheaper Android-based devices coming to market - broadening the OS' user-base, according to Cozza - with LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson all expected to launch a raft of new budget Androids over the coming months. The platform's fortunes will also be boosted by uptake in the Asian market, with low-cost Android devices coming from the likes of Huawei and ZTE.
"Android today is very much focused on the high end of the smartphone market but from next year we can expect to see more lower-priced Androids coming into the market from different vendors," Cozza noted.
"Symbian is open source too but it's mainly Nokia," she added. "The Android open source platform is a platform that's going to be driven by many vendors."
However, Android's rapid growth is not without its own challenges - specifically version fragmentation, which is a hurdle for developers seeking to produce apps...