The trickle of Android-based smartphones seen this year is expected to turn into an avalanche in 2010, according to market research company CCS Insight, which forecasts that more than 50 devices will ship next year.
This year saw the launch of about 10 devices, according to Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. "There are so many companies that have committed to delivering devices ... so to get to 50 isn't that difficult," said Wood.
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Plans already announced by vendors show that Android is gaining momentum. Acer will ship five or six Android-based handsets in the first half of 2010, an executive said on Thursday.
Sony Ericsson will start shipping the Xperia X10, the company's first Android-based smartphone, during the first quarter. It won't be the company's only device based on Google's operating system to be shipped in 2010, according to a spokeswoman, who declined to go into detail.
Also, HTC is launching five phones during the first half of 2010, according to a recent report, and CCS Insight expects Motorola to launch at least 10 unique products.
Motorola has been one of Android's most vocal supporters, and CCS Insight wouldn't be surprised if Google acquires Motorola's Mobile Devices division to get its own hardware.
Unfortunately a large number of Android-based devices doesn't mean that there will be a lot of different-looking phones, according to Wood.
Besides more phones, the cost of Android-based smartphones will fall to "silly prices," according to Wood, who expects prices to drop to below €100 ($150) without operator subsidies in the first half of the year.
However, Google will have to clarify how submissions to the operating system are made, because today that process lacks a certain degree of transparency, according to Wood. More transparency from Google about how Android is controlled and developed would help licensees feel comfortable with getting more and more committed to the platform, he said.
Google took issue with Wood's assessment of its transparency with Android. "Anyone who is interested in exploring and contributing to Android can use the Android Open Source Project resources, now available at source.android.com," a Google spokesman said. "Anyone can download the entire source, contribute patches, report bugs, view submitted code, join the mailing lists, ask questions, and use the tools available at the web site."