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Android Draws Its Bow on Apple

By Kimberly Hill
Aug 6, 2010 9:17 AM PT

By the year 2012, there will be more smartphones running the Android OS than Apple's iOS. That's according to iSuppli, which projects that 75 million Android-based smartphones will be in use two years from now.

Android Draws Its Bow on Apple

Android will have a 19.4 percent share of the global market for smartphones, says iSuppli, while Apple's iOS will claim 15.9 percent.

For a platform that will be just 5 years old in 2012, that's a considerable growth rate, and an enormous jump up from a 2.7 percent market share in 2009. By 2014, Android will own 22.8 percent of the smartphone market, iSuppli predicts.

Earlier this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said at a conference that Android-based smartphones were being activiated at the rate of 200,000 per day -- up from about 65,000 per day in the first quarter of this year.

However one views the statistics, it appears Android is gaining ground fast on the darling of the smartphone world, the iPhone.

Consensus on Growth

iSuppli certainly isn't the only research firm that sees phenomenal growth for Android. Strategy Analytics also predicts that Android handsets will overtake iOS ones by 2012, Alex Spektor, analyst with the firm, told LinuxInsider.

However, "Symbian will continue to dominate through at least 2015 thanks to Nokia's massive scale," he noted. That is, while Android's growth is indeed continuing to mount, Apple's iOS and Android will continue to jockey for places two and three -- or three and four -- not one and two.

Interestingly, the leaders in the smartphone market suffer from perception problems. Though preferred by businesses, RIM has been struggling to hold onto its market position, with one recently launched BlackBerry considered a flop and its latest version drawing more yawns than cheers.

Nor has Nokia's reputation benefited from its massive install base.

"Units have not translated into smartphone leadership for Nokia," observed Carl Howe, director with the Yankee Group.

Simple unit volumes don't tell the story of the smartphone market, he told LinuxInsider.

Apples and Oranges

Smartphone operating systems such those offered on Apple, BlackBerry, and Nokia smartphones are manufacturer-specific platforms. Android is not. Thus, apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult, noted Howe.

As for Schmidt's activation data, "a single phone can be activated more than once, so we shouldn't be interpreting those numbers as sales," he observed. That is, the Google figure of 200,000 phones per day should be taken as the highest-possible number.

Most important is the fact that Apple and RIM are single companies that can be evaluated on metrics like profitability, customer service, and customer satisfaction, said Howe -- always issues for the makers of mobile devices and the carriers that supply their service.

Metrics like these -- and in addition, revenue share -- "suddenly become unmeasurable" when looking at Android's place in the smartphone picture, he noted, since "it is a set of software that powers many phones from multiple manufacturers."

Better comparisons could be made among phones from particular manufacturers, suggested Howe -- for example, the iPhone, the BlackBerry, and Motorola Droid phones. "Otherwise, we're comparing real market participants against a pseudo-consortium of companies who share software and little else."

As a counterpoint to iSuppli's prediction, Howe offered that of the Yankee Group: "Android will be the third major platform in smartphones, but at present, we do not see its smartphone installed base overtaking the other two leaders within the next five years."


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