Android Becomes Second Most Popular OS
The mobile industry continued to explode in the latest quarter with a 35 percent jump in global cell phone sales from the same period a year ago, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
Meanwhile, 81 million smartphones flew off the shelves, making up 19.3 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the quarter.
But it was Google's Android operating system that was the standout. Gartner reported that about 20.5 million Android devices were sold in the third quarter of 2010, accounting for 22.5 percent of the global smartphone market.
In the same quarter of 2009, fewer than 1.5 million Android phones were sold, making up about 3.5 percent of the market.
Gartner estimates Android phones accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of Verizon Wireless' smartphone trade in the third quarter of 2010. Manufacturers such as Samsung continued to launch high-end devices such as the Galaxy S. But manufacturers also launched Android devices at lower prices to target different consumer segments.
"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android, while Android volumes also grew rapidly, making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide."
Although the top three worldwide mobile device manufacturers, Nokia, Samsung and LG, retained their ranking — albeit with reduced market share — the third quarter saw Apple rise into the top five manufacturers, surpassing RIM for fourth place.
Apple performed extremely well thanks to the iPhone 4 . Apple widened its channel reach internationally, and the strong ecosystem around iTunes and the App Store continued to help Apple dominate, according to Gartner. In Western Europe, iPhone sales doubled year-on-year, making Apple the third-largest vendor, behind Nokia and Samsung, in the overall devices market.
"Smartphone OS providers have entered a period of accelerated platform evolution, stimulated by more regular product releases, new platform entrants and new device types," said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Any platform that fails to innovate quickly — either through a vibrant multiplayer ecosystem or clear vision of a single controlling entity — will lose developers, manufacturers, potential partners and, ultimately, users."
For 2010, Gartner expects overall device sales to exceed 30 percent growth from 2009. The impact of media tablets on mobile device sales will be tested in 2011, and the firm forecasts that media tablets (such as the Apple iPad) will sell 54.8 million units in 2011.
"Apple's dramatic expansion of iOS with the iPad and the continuing success of the iPod Touch are important sales achievements in their own right. But more importantly, they contribute to the strength of Apple's ecosystem and the iPhone in a way that smartphone-only manufacturers cannot compete with," Milanesi said.
"To a developer, the iPod Touch and iPhone (and, to a lesser extent, the iPad) are effectively the same device and a single market opportunity," Milanesi continued. "While Android is increasingly available on media tablets and media players like the Galaxy Player, it lags far behind iOS's multidevice presence. Apple claims it is activating around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average — that's a compelling market for any developer. And developers' applications, in turn, attract users."