Android shakes up mobile
April 07, 2011
Google's Android is getting into its stride and everyone else is suffering
Android operating system now looks set on complete market domination.
The search engine giant's mobile operating system has taken a couple of
years to get into its stride but it is now ready to take on all comers,
and the likes of RIM, Nokia and Apple could be hard-pressed to keep up.
In a new note released this week IT analyst heavyweight Gartner came out with a prediction that not only would Android gain market share
in the coming year but it would also command nearly half of the global
smartphone market by the end of 2012. The research house said that it
predicted worldwide smartphone sales to reach 468 million units in
2011, a hefty 57.7% increase over 2010. By the end of this year Android
would be the dominant player in the smartphone operating system market,
Gartner said. By the end of 2012 it expects Android to account for 49%
of all smartphone OS sales.
In comparison, Gartner expects Symbian to drop right down to just 5%
market share by the end of 2012, RIM down to 12% and Apple's iOS to
climb slightly to 19%. Microsoft's mobile operating systems are
predicted to reach just 11% by the end of 2012.
Gartner is not alone in its bullish predictions for Android.
ComScore also recently released its smartphone data for the US, saying
that between November 2010 and February 2011 Android-based shipments
climbed 7% to around 33% overall market share. The big loser according
to ComScore, was RIM which lost a full 5% in the three-month period,
while Apple remained largely steady. All told, Apple's share of the US
market stands at around 25%, RIM slightly higher at 29% and Android at
The bottom line
It's not just the predicted market shares that provide insight into
what is a rapidly changing mobile market. A look at some of the
financial numbers also shows the change. One of the most interesting is
the rapid and seemingly unstoppable rise of HTC. This week the
Taiwan-based mobile maker did what most would never have predicted just
a short while ago: it surpassed both RIM and Nokia in market capitalisation. On paper, the once barely-known mobile maker is now worth 30 times more on market than it was five years ago.
Not only has HTC passed RIM in market value but it has also eclipsed
the now-flailing Nokia - once the superpower of mobile phones. At
current market prices HTC is valued at US$33.9 billion, Nokia at
US$32.8 billion and RIM at US$28.5 billion.
Not all happy
Although Android now looks certain to claim mobile's top smartphone
spot there are one or two bumps along the road. One of these is the
growing chorus from users and developers that there is too much
fragmentation in the Android market. Moving rapidly, as Google has, has
meant that different mobile phones often use different versions of the
Android software, forcing developers to pick the version they develop
for. Likewise, individual handset makers have typically customised the
Android interface for each of their products.
Fragmentation is often cited by Android rivals such as Apple as a major failing. Now a new study tries to put some numbers to those claims.
In a study of 250 working Android developers the study reported that
86% of the developers thought fragmentation was an issue for them.
These concerns ranged from being a mild irritant to being a significant
problem in their lives. Only 14% of the developers in the study felt
that fragmentation was not an issue at all.
Concerns around fragmentation may make little difference to
Android's continued upward rise, especially as Google appears to be
considering steps to reduce variations in Android products released
into the market.