As the world's most popular smartphone operating system

Android Topples Symbian

Kompas.com - 02/02/2011, 10:52 WIB
EditorJimmy Hitipeuw

KOMPAS.com - Google's Android operating system has dethroned Nokia's Symbian as the world leader in smartphone software. The change ends a reign that began with the birth of the industry a decade ago, according to figures released by analysts Canalys.

In total, 32.9million Android-equipped phones were sold globally during the last quarter of 2010 - roughly seven times more than during the same time period in 2009 - compared to Symbian sales of 31million.

The rapid turnaround highlights how quickly Google, which offers its software to phone makers for free, has raced to the top of the smartphone market ahead of Apple's rapid ascension.

Google and Apple have revolutionised the smartphone market, sending Nokia scrambling.

But the numbers also highlight Google's success in battling Apple, whose shipments of its popular iPhone increased to 16.2million from 8.7million in the fourth quarter of 2009, when it almost doubled Android's sales of 4.7million.

Unlike Apple or Nokia, Google does not make its own phone hardware, but instead offers its Android operating system to other phone makers who can adapt it to suit their devices.

As a result of this and being free of charge, Android has become the standard software for many phone makers. Aside from smartphones, Google also gained on Apple in tablet computers, where its market share rose to 22 per cent in the fourth quarter, while Apple's share fell to 75 per cent from 95 per cent, according to Strategy Analytics.

In fact, only Nokia, Apple and Research In Motion Ltd have so far resisted using Android software. Google has moved to take on Apple in mobile applications, an area in which the iPhone maker has prevailed.

A big part of Apple's success in selling iPhone is its ability to attract hundreds of thousands of third-party software developers to create apps for everything from weather forecasts to weight-loss. While Google has also courted third-party developers, its Android Marketplace still lags far behind Apple's in size.

Meanwhile, the Symbian system has suffered from the troubles of its owner and main user, Nokia, which now barely has a presence in the giant U.S. marketplace.

When Android arrived in the third quarter of 2008, Symbian's share of the global smartphone market was close to 50 per cent. While Google's share has increased to 33 per cent, Nokia's has fallen to less than 31 per cent.

As a result some experts said this may mean Nokia will announce plans to introduce smartphone models using Android.

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