Google's Android is now the second most popular mobile operating system in the world - second only to Nokia's Symbian OS, according to Gartner's third quarter report. Apple's iOS comes in third, followed by Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry OS, and Microsoft Windows Mobile.
In just a year, Android gobbled up over a quarter of the worldwide mobile OS market (25.5 percent), outclassed only by Nokia's Symbian, which has 36.6 percent of the market. iOS, now on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, has 15.7 percent of the pie, and RIM has just under 15 percent. Windows Mobile is last, with 2.8 percent (this doesn't include the newly released Windows Phone 7 sales).
This time 2009, Android was an upstart mobile OS with a huge potential representing a mere 3.5 percent of a market dominated by Nokia (44.6 percent) and RIM (20.7 percent). Apple had just over 17 percent and Windows Mobile 7.9 percent. Twelve months later, the picture is radically different. Android has overtaken Microsoft, RIM and its bitter rival iOS, with only Nokia's giant operations standing in its way.
The Android Army Fights Back
Gartner's report says that sales of Android devices were particularly dominant in North America, thanks to offerings from Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile - all rivals of AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the Apple iPhone for the last three years. Gartner estimates Android phones accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of Verizon's trade. The report mentions that Android's explosive growth was also rocketed by cheap smartphone sales, as well as various offers such as two-for-one.
Samsung sold seven million Android Galaxy S phones worldwide, and three million of those were in the U.S., making the phone a huge success. This helped Samsung's smartphone market share to reach 17.2 percent in the third quarter of 2010, again, only outclassed by Nokia (28.2 percent). Apple has only 3.2 percent of worldwide phone sales, RIM has 2.9 percent, with Motorola and HTC, two big manufacturers of Android phones, having 2.1 and 1.6 percent respectively. Gartner says Apple sold 13.5 million units in the third quarter of 2010.
The Next Battle: Tablets And Beyond
Rivals are still scrambling to put together their defenses against Apple's iPad, which has a 4 million units sold head start. In the Android gang, there is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, now on sale, and several other tablets expected from other manufacturers. But Google is yet to release a version of it Android OS optimized for tablets. Gartner forecasts that the tablet market will be huge in 2011, as almost 55 million units could be sold altogether.