Smartphone OSes marching onto millions of tablets

Google's Android and Chrome to overtake Apple iOS by 2015, says Ovum...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

Google's Android and Chrome to overtake Apple iOS by 2015, says Ovum...

Lightweight operating systems are on the march, thanks to the rise of tablet PCs such as Apple's iPad, which are powered by the same operating systems (OSes) as high-end smartphones.

Shipments of mobile internet devices based on 'lite' OSes - like Apple's iOS and Google's Android - rather than full-fat Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows are set to swell from 14.2 million at the end of 2010 to 150 million per year in 2015, analyst house Ovum is predicting. This surge represents a compound annual growth rate of 60 per cent.

As well as tablets, portable devices running 'lite' OSes in Ovum's forecast include clamshell and convertible form factors but exclude smartphones.

"This huge growth in shipments will be dominated by tablet-style technologies such as the iPad and will mainly be driven by consumers buying devices to complement their smartphones. This will either be as a 'third device' where there is a high penetration of PCs, or the primary computing device where there is low penetration," said Tony Cripps, Ovum principal analyst, in a statement.

Despite this trend towards larger form factor mobile devices, Cripps said demand for smartphones will not be dramatically eroded by tablets and mobile internet devices - owing to the greater usability of smartphones for most consumers. "This is especially pertinent given their obvious similarity in hardware and software technology," he added.

Ovum predicts Google's mobile OSes - the Android platform as well as its forthcoming Chrome OS - are likely to dominate the market, pushing Apple's iOS, the current frontrunner, into second place. According to the analyst, Apple had 90 per cent of the market in 2010 but Ovum expects its share to drop to around a third, or 35 per cent, by 2015, with Google inching ahead on 36 per cent.

Cripps said other mobile software platforms - such as RIM's BlackBerry Tablet OS and HP's web OS - will only account for 29 per cent of the market between them by 2015 as they struggle to attract the best app developers. "The dominant software platforms, Apple and Google, will attract the most attention from the cream of the developers. As a result, they will have the best, most talked-about applications and content and, when all is said and done, this is what people will consider when making a purchasing decision," he added.

According to Ovum, North America and Western Europe will experience the greatest penetration of tablets and other mobile internet devices by 2015, with 23 per cent and 19 per cent of global shipments, respectively.

But Asia Pacific will account for the largest regional slice of shipments, owing to the size of the potential addressable market and relatively low penetration of PCs - accounting for 35 per cent of all such device shipments in 2015.

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