Android to reign in platform wars

Google's Android mobile operating system will overtake Nokia's Symbian to become most used platform among global smartphone users by end-2011, new report shows.
Written by Jason Ng, Contributor on

Google's Android mobile operating system (OS) looks set to overtake Nokia's Symbian OS and become the world's most popular smartphone platform by end-2011, according to Gartner.

Released Friday, the research company's report showed global smartphone sales to spike this year to reach 468 million units, and this figure represents a 57.7 percent increase from last year.

Of the 468 million units, Android-powered devices will constitute 38.5 percent and overtake Nokia's Symbian OS, which is expected to tumble to 19.2 percent. Comparatively, Symbian held pole position last year with 37.6 percent of the mobile market with Android coming in second at 22.7 percent, the report stated.

Additionally, Android's popularity will continue to soar and eventually help consolidate its dominance as it takes 49 percent market share by end-2012, Gartner forecasted.

Apple's iOS, meanwhile, will stake out second position this year with 19.4 percent of the market and is expected to remain in that position through to 2014. "This reflects our underlying assumption that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy," it noted.

The evolving mobile landscape is expected to alter in 2015, though.

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is expected to grow in popularity, partly because of Redmond's maturing partnership with Nokia, and corner 19.5 percent of the market. This will supersede iOS's 17.2 percent share and move the OS into second place. Android will retain its supremacy with 48.8 percent of smartphone users favoring the platform, the report indicated.

Android's popularity with consumers could be attributed to its competitive pricing. Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, said: "As vendors delivering Android-based devices continue to fight for market share, price will decrease to further benefit consumers."

She also said that while its position at the high-end of the mobile market will "remain strong", its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term is in the mid-to-low-cost smartphones, particularly in the emerging markets.

IDC had foreshadowed Gartner's findings in March when it predicted that Android is likely to overtake Symbian in Asia-Pacific--long a stronghold for Nokia--this year. The research organization attributed the ceding of its regional leadership position to its decision to adopt Redmond's Windows Phone 7 OS for its handsets.

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