2. Android Takes Smartphone Lead
Android's rise has been meteoric. In just two years, Google's mobile platform has gone from zero to second in the world. It was already ousting long-time market leader Nokia in select countries around the world in 2010. That trend will only continue throughout 2011.
Analysts believe Nokia may cede the top spot before the end of the first half of the year. It held 36.6% of the global smartphone market at the close of 2010, but that figure is half what it was just three years ago, when Nokia owned three-quarters of the smartphone market.
Android has gobbled up much of Nokia's place in the market, and is now running on one out of every four (25.5%) smartphones worldwide. At the end of 2008, that number was essentially zero. At the same time, Apple has held onto about 16.7% of the world market, and Research In Motion (RIM) has about 14.8%.
Most of today's best and most exciting handsets run the Android platform, not Nokia's Symbian. Nokia looks to be in for a tough year unless it can field some dramatically improved smartphones before the end of the first half of 2011.
3. Majority Shift To Smartphones
By the end of 2010, 30% of all new devices sold in the United States were smartphones. That number is only going to go up. Nielsen predicts that by the end of 2011, fully 50% of all phones -- about 120 million devices -- used in the United States will be smartphones.
Nielsen believes that 66% of all phones will be either iOS or Android. That would reflect an increase from about 35 million today, to 80 million by the fourth quarter of 2011. Nielsen didn't guess at how that split would work between Android and iOS, though Android will likely take the larger percentage. The remaining 40 million smartphones in the U.S. will run BlackBerry OS, WebOS, and Windows Phone 7.
The introduction of low-cost Android devices with lower-cost monthly plans will accelerate smartphone adoption.