If there was any doubt that 2010 would be the year of Android, Google's mobile phone operating system, lets put those doubts to rest. Not only is the company gearing up for a major announcement later today - largely expected to be details about the company's own mobile phone, called Nexus One - but it also seems to be headed for a brighter future, according to results of a ChangeWave Research study.
For being a relatively newcomer, Android certainly has made a name for itself - expanding its way into the lineups of several device manufacturers and wireless carriers. Sure, the OS is only being used by 4 percent of all smartphone owners, but that's a 3-point jump since September. What's noteworthy, though, is the number of respondents who said they're planning on going Android in the next 90 days - about 21 percent, which represents a 15 percent jump.
Of course, those numbers pale in comparison to that of the iPhone, which remains the number one choice for consumers shopping by a smartphone. Sure, consumers still want an iPhone - but, like me, they can be swayed. In September of last year, 32 percent said the iPhone was the No. 1 choice. Last month, that number dropped to 28 percent. RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, held steady, with 18 percent - up from 17 percent in September - preferring a Blackberry. Both Palm and Windows Mobile dipped by three points.
What does all of this say? Well, for starters, it says that Android hit the scene like gangbusters and is showing no signs of easing up. Second, it says that Apple needs to stay innovative and fresh - and do something about that AT&T exclusivity deal already - if it wants to keep the iPhone as the Number One choice for smartphones. Third, it says that both Palm and RIM need to step up their games - RIM as an OS innovator and Palm as a partner with more carriers.
Finally, it says to Microsoft that, in fact, a new mobile OS can hit the scene and make a splash in a year. An upgrade for Windows Mobile is so far out in the future that I've sort of lost track - and interest - already.
The growth of smartphones is very real. Smartphone ownership is up to 42 percent, up 3 points since September. That said, another 12.8 percent have plans to join the smartphone crowd in the next 90 days. And while the Blackberry still dominates the market (39 percent) and Apple is coming up in a close second place (31 percent), all eyes are pointed to Android to make the biggest splash this year.
I'm been testing a Motorola Droid for a couple of months now and really like it - aside from that bulky sliding keyboard - but I am really excited about the HTC Eris, as well. And, of course, the Google Phone expected to be unveiled later today will be sure to grab some attention, as well. So far, Android has done a good job of chipping away at my iPhone envy.