A new report by technology business analyst Gartner (via Register Hardware
) foresees widespread proliferation and growing popularity of Google's smartphone operating system, Android. Currently the sixth most popular OS for smartphones, Android could reach second-place in just three years.
In the first quarter of this year, Android held about 1.6% market share to its name. Gartner estimates that number could multiply many times over until the last quarter of 2012, when Android will have penetrated to 14.5% of the market.
The iPhone, which always has its fair share of media attention, should see its market penetration expand slightly from 10.8% to 13.7%. Why the seemingly most talked-about smartphone would see itself beaten by Google's system, which was (and still is) an underdog at the beginning of the year, Gartner explains by the sheer transparency of Android and the ability for anybody to pick it up. Gartner VP Ken Dulaney believes Android is set to be the next smartphone star, because “unlike Apple, [Google licenses] their OS to multiple OEMs."
Apple is, in essence, competing against every other phone manufacturer that can choose to use Android on their devices.
Despite what happens to Android and the iPhone in the next few years, Gartner says Symbian will remain at its number one spot for the most widely used smartphone OS. It will have to lose some of its dominance, however, to make room for expansion by the new contenders. Gartner predicts a drop from 49.3% market share in Q1 2009 to 39% by Q4 2012.
Blackberry OS is in second place behind Symbian, but may dip under iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile by 2012, bringing it to fifth place. Windows Mobile will sustain its fourth-place position.