Gartner: Android & Symbian Tops in Smartphones by 2014

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Google’s Android platform will have passed both Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platforms to be the #2 smartphone platform by the end of 2010, according to new projections released by research firm Gartner. According to those projections, Android will continue its rise through 2014, when it will be all but tied with Nokia’s Symbian platform for the top spot. iOS will have moved past BlackBerry by then to be #3.

“Gartner expects manufacturers such as Samsung to launch many new budget Android devices in 2H10 that will drive Android into mass market segments,” the company said in a statement. “Other players, such as Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola, will follow a similar strategy. This trend should help Android become the top OS in North America by the end of 2010.”

Nokia has long been the world’s top handset maker, and it was one of the first company’s to offer a smartphone OS, Symbian. In 2009, Symbian owned 46.9% of the market, while BlackBerry was #2 with 19.9% of the market. Apple’s iPhone OS (now iOS) was swiftly growing, and had risen to the #2 spot with a 14.4% share, leaving newcomer Android a distant 5th place showing with 3.9%.

In the chart below, Gartner projects that Android will have grown to own 17.7% of the market by the end of this year propelled by wide variety of handsets offered by most of the world’s carriers. Apple’s unit sales continue to grow in Gartner’s projections, and that will be enough to push Apple past BlackBertty in 2011 for a firm hold on the #3 position.

By 2014, Nokia’s share will have shrunk to 30.2%, while Android’s 29.6% will challenge Nokia for the top spot. It will also be the first year that Apple’s share falls, even though its unit sales will have almost doubled since 2011.

Gartner Chart

Source: Gartner

“Gartner predicts that by 2014, open-source platforms will continue to dominate more than 60 percent of the market for smartphones,” the company said. “Single-source platforms, such as Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s OS, will increase in unit terms, but their growth rate will be below market average and not enough to sustain share increase. Windows Phone will be relegated to sixth place behind MeeGo in Gartner’s worldwide OS ranking by 2014.”

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Yeah but since neither actually MAKE handsets, they just make the OS, who will be making them? Will any manufacturer have a commanding lead? I give this “projection” about as much credibility as I do any political poll.


Yup, Nokia doesn’t make handsets. Great observation genius!


Android handsets may become the most popular, but a sea of bargain basement handsets based on Android that do not offer a consistent user experience or target for mobile applications does make for a thriving mobile application platform.  As carriers lock-in or lock-out various features (like Bing or Skype or Android updates) to differentiate their offerings, customers are left to muddle through the confusion every two years when their carrier contract comes up for renewal.

iOS is being carefully expanded to offer a great user experience on many fronts.  Android may win the numbers game, but it’s not even in the same race.


I believe in another column ‘twas mentioned that Apple owns the profit share- staggeringly.


Consider the following iOS user experience areas: iPod+iTunes+iTMS, gaming, iPad (multitouch tablet), WiFi only variants that come without a cellular contract and monthly phone bill, product support from 300 retail stores, consistent product upgrade path, a large 3rd party eco system of product accessories, App Store with paid apps in 60 countries, strong developer tools and base of existing developers, a unifying global brand, strong profitability to invest in future innovation.  Android isn’t even close in most of these areas.

The idea that Apple could be so far ahead of the rest of the industry that its walled garden will dominate the mobile computing landscape is frightening to a lot of people. For this reason, there is a huge pent-up demand to find a worthy alternative to Apple’s iOS products. The race here isn’t so much with Apple which is already charting its own course, but to create a worthy alternative.  In that race, Android is the early favorite but is still missing a lot of pieces.


I find it somewhat unbelievable that MS won’t have a bigger impact than that in this space, if for no other reason than if their new mobile OS is even just decent they’ll be able to buy market share by making it “better than free” for manufacturers.

Increasingly, though, market share isn’t the relevant metric.

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