Android Is Now Leading Smartphone Platform

Android Is Now Leading Smartphone Platform

Android Is Now Leading Smartphone Platform

Analysts report smartphone market growth of 89 per cent year-on-year in Q4 2010. iPhone share dwarfed by Android.

Analyst reports have suggested the smartphone market grew 89 per cent year-on-year in Q4 2010, with Google’s open source Android becoming the leading platform. Technology analyst Canalys has released international smartphone market data which reveals that shipments of Android-based smart phones reached 33.3 million worldwide during the same period, just ahead of Nokia’s Symbian platform which achieved 31 million.

Though dwarfed by the mobile market at large, the adoption of smartphones is accelerating at a faster rate of growth, helped in no small part by the success of Android and Apple’s iPhone. While Apple’s device, which launched just three and a half years ago, ended the last quarter with a 16 per cent share of the smartphone market (16.2 million units shipped during Q4) equating to an 85.9 per cent growth over last year, Android handset shipments during the same period gave the platform a 32.9 per cent share and an eye-opening 615.1 per cent growth over.

It’s worth noting that these figures cover only the iPhone, and not Apple’s iOS platform as a whole, giving Android’s much-customised, fragmented multi-device platform a key advantage in any consideration of the smartphone market.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has actually shrunk its share despite the launch of its Windows Phone 7 platform in October last year, while WP7 devices faced strong competition from the company’s own legacy platform, Windows Mobile. Microsoft’s total smartphone market share fell from 7.2 per cent at the end of 2009 to 3.1 per cent for the same quarter last year (shipments during the same periods dropping from 3.9 million to 3.1 million), a loss of 20.3 per cent.

“2010 has been a fantastic year for the smart phone market. After a difficult 2009, the speed with which the market has recovered has required real commitment and innovation from vendors and they have risen to the challenge,” said Canalys VP and principal analyst Chris Jones. “But vendors cannot afford to be complacent. 2011 is set to be a highly competitive year with vendors looking to use new technology, such as dual-core processors, NFC and 3D displays, to differentiate their products and maintain value.”

Canalys wasn’t the only analyst to publish estimates on the smartphone industry’s growth, NPD also releasing an overview based on US consumer purchases of mobile phones in Q4 2010. According the group, the top five best-selling handsets in the region for the same period was made up entirely of smartphones, the first time that this has happened. Apple’s iPhone 4 topped the list, followed by the Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, iPhone 3GS and Droid 2. The three non-Apple devices in this rundown are all powered by Android.

"With its mid-quarter launch Windows Phone 7 entered the epicenter of competition between iOS and Android at AT&T, said executive director of industry analysis for NPD, Ross Rubin. "Both competitors offer mature feature sets and large app libraries. Microsoft has made the case for Windows Phone 7’s differentiation and improved integration. Now, the company must close the feature gap, offer more exclusive capabilities, work with partners to deliver hardware with better differentiation, and leverage its extensive experience in driving developer communities to increase its app offerings."

Developers who found success on iOS and the App Store are starting to migrate to Google’s platform, favouring its open source nature, and Sony also recently announced PlayStation Suite, its Android-based portal for PlayStation titles.