Android will be fastest-growing mobile OS

Robert Clark
26 Jan 2010

Sales of Android-based phones will grow faster than any other mobile platform over the next four years, but Nokia’s Symbian OS will retain its top position, IDC has forecast.

The research firm says that by 2013 worldwide smartphone shipments will top 390 million units, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9%.

Symbian will remain no. 1 because of the strength of Nokia in markets outside the US, IDC said.

Starting from a small base of just 690,000 units in 2008, shipments of Android phones are expected to reach 68.0 million units by 2013, thanks to “a growing footprint of handset vendors” that back the platform.

Stephen Drake, vice-president mobility and telecom at IDC, said the mobile OS segment was “constantly shifting.”

“In a market that was once dominated by a handful of pioneers, such as BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile, newcomers touting open standards (Android) and intuitive design and navigation (Mac OS X and webOS) have garnered strong end-user and handset vendor interest,” he said.

"Mobile operating systems have become the key ingredient in the highly competitive mobile device market.

“Although the overall look and feel of the device will still play an important role in the buying process, the wrong choice of operating system coupled with an awkward user interface can mean the difference between success and failure," Drake said.

He believes Linux and webOS will struggle to grow market share.

Drake said that Linux-powered devices will find it difficult to compete with the Linux-based Android, but “will not disappear entirely as some vendors will continue to support it.”

Palm's webOS would grow steadily but capture only limited market share, Drake added.

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