Google's Android Edges out Nokia as Leading Smartphone Platform

By Ed Silverstein January 31, 2011

There is more good news for Google and Android. Google’s Android operating system has replaced Nokia as the top smartphone platform, according to shipment data on the fourth quarter 2010.

Canalys reports in a press release, shipments of Android-based smartphones totaled 32.9 million, while devices based on Nokia’s Symbian platform were at 31 million.

Nokia managed to keep its position as the leading global smart phone vendor, with a market share of 28 percent, the firm said.

The global smartphone market continued to see increases during the fourth quarter. Total shipments were 101.2 million devices, representing growth, between 4Q 2010 and 4Q 2009, of 89 percent. Shipments for 2010 were slightly below 300 million devices, representing a growth rate of 80 percent over 2009.

In 4Q 2010, volume of Google OS-based smartphones – which include Android, OMS and Tapas – increased by sales from vendors such as LG, Samsung, Acer and HTC. The sales volume for each of these four companies increased 4,127 percent, 1,474 percent, 709 percent and 371 percent, respectively, when comparing year-over-year amounts.

“2010 has been a fantastic year for the smartphone market. After a difficult 2009, the speed with which the market has recovered has required real commitment and innovation from vendors and they have risen to the challenge,” Canalys Vice President and Principal Analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. “2011 is set to be a highly competitive year with vendors looking to use new technology, such as dual-core processors, NFC and 3D displays, to differentiate their products and maintain value.”

By region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) remained the largest market, with shipments totaling 38.8 million and a year-on-year growth rate of 90 percent, the firm said.

Nokia continued to lead in the EMEA markets, as well as in the Asia Pacific region. But it was surpassed by RIM in Latin America, which shipped over a million more devices than Nokia in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The United States was the largest market for shipments in a single country. It had more than twice the size of the smartphone market in China. Research In Motion retook first place from Apple. HTC remained in third place.

“The U.S. landscape will shift dramatically this coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement,” Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd said in a statement. “Verizon will move its focus away from the Droid range, but the overall market impact will mean less carrier-exclusive deals, while increasing the AT&T opportunity for Android vendors, such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung.”

Android was the largest smartphone platform in the U.S. smartphone market during the fourth quarter of 2010, with shipments of 12.1 million devices. That is close to three times the number of RIM’s BlackBerry units shipped during the quarter.

Windows Phone 7 devices were introduced too late in the fourth quarter to have a significant impact, Canalys said. The firm added that Microsoft lost U.S. market share, from 8 percent in 4Q 2009 to 5 percent in 4Q 2010.

In a related matter, TechZone360 reported that Nokia saw a decline in net profit for the fourth quarter of 2010 when compared to the same three months of 2009. The cell phone maker is also facing challenges that could have an impact on current sales.

Nokia may adopt a new operating system such as Google's Android, an open-source platform, an analyst recently told the Wall Street Journal, TechZone360 reports.

Want to learn more about 4G wireless technologies? Then be sure to attend the 4GWE Conference, collocated with TMC’s ITEXPO East, taking place Feb 2-4, 2011, in Miami. The 4GWE Conference provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the wireless ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. To register, click here.


Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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