Android hits No. 2 spot for mobile OSes in 2010

Gartner predicts Google's mobile OS will surpass rivals RIM and Apple two years earlier than expected

The Android will edge out Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iOS for all of 2010 to become the second best-selling mobile OS globally behind Nokia's Symbian, according to market research firm Gartner.

Gartner today also predicted that by 2014, Android will be neck-and-neck even with the Symbian OS, which is used in Nokia mobile phones.

[ Find out which mobile OS comes out on top in a head-to-head review of Google's Android 2.2 and Apple's iOS 4. | Stay ahead of advances in mobile technology with InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

Android's move to second place by the end of this year is almost two years sooner than Gartner predicted just a year ago.

While Android has made quick advances in market share, Gartner said there will be a handful of major mobile OS players for a few years longer. They will include Symbian, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone 7, because of strong support from wireless carriers and application developers, Gartner said. Also, the major OSes will build strong brand awareness with consumer and enterprise customers.

Analysts at research firm IDC reached a similar conclusion earlier this month, saying the market for smartphones will comfortably support those five OS players over the next five years.

Still, IDC said Android has been the "wild card" in the smartphone race, especially with is inclusion in devices from HTC and Motorola that hit the market in 2009 and early 2010. Phones from Dell, Kyocera, LG Electronics, and Samsung added Android as well.

Windows Phone 7 devices have not even shipped, but are expected to put that OS in fifth place through 2014, both Gartner and IDC said. But Windows Phone 7 will drop to sixth place behind MeeGo, a Linux project combining Intel and Nokia software, in 2014, Gartner added.

Gartner said open source platforms such as Android will dominate more than 60 percent of the market for smartphones by 2014, while the single-source Apple iOS and BlackBerry will grow at a rate below the market average until then.

Gartner's forecast for all of 2010 calls for Symbian to sell nearly 108 million mobile devices, including smartphones, reaching to 264 million in 2014. That would put Symbian at 40 percent of the market this year, dropping to 30 percent in 2014.

Android is expected to sell more than 47.4 million devices this year, or a 17.7 percent share, a number expected to explode to 260 million in 2014, with a 29.6 percent share, Gartner said.

The BlackBerry OS will be in third place just behind Android in 2010 with 46.9 million devices sold, or a 17.5 percent share. In 2014, the BlackBerry will grow to nearly 103 million devices sold, with 11.7 percent share.

Apple's iOS will finish fourth in 2010, with 41.4 million devices sold, and 15.4 percent share. It will grow to 130 million devices sold in 2014, or a nearly 15 percent market share.

Windows Phone 7 is expected to be in fifth place in 2010, with 12.6 million units sold and a 4.7 percent share, growing to 34.4 million sold in 2014, with a 3.9 percent share.

The overall market for mobile OSes in 2010 will be 268 million devices sold, growing to 875 million in 2014.

Gartner's numbers include only smartphones and mobile phones, not tablets and netbooks running iOS, Android, or other OSes.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile OSes in Computerworld's Mobile OSes Topic Center.

This story, "Android hits No. 2 spot for mobile OSes in 2010" was originally published by Computerworld.

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