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Mobile // Mobile Devices
12:47 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry

Which Vendor Will Dominate The Smartphone Market?

Google's Android platform has shown astonishing growth at the expense of RIM, HP, and Microsoft's mobile platforms, but is it game over?

Android came on to the scene in 2008 with the T-Mobile G1. While for some it was a highly anticipated device, for most, it was no big deal. Android idled along for about a year until the fall of 2009 and then the turbocharger kicked in. It moved from fifth place in the U.S. market to first just over a year later.

FierceWireless put together an interesting chart that tracks the progress of Android, Palm, Microsoft, Apple, and Android from September 2009 through February 2011.

The chart starts with Palm under 10%. At that time, webOS had been out for a few months but was limited to two phones, the Pre and Pixi, both of which were only available on the Sprint network. Despite getting more carriers, including Verizon, Palm's share declined steadily and it now is below 5%.

Microsoft was in third place at the beginning of the chart with just under 20%. It actually crept up a bit to almost 20% in October 2009 around the time Windows Mobile 6.5 launched. That was the peak though. It too went nowhere but down. If you look at the October to November 2010 timeframe, you'd never know Microsoft launched the Windows Phone 7 platform, because there isn't a blip in the decreasing numbers. It now sits in the 7%-8% range.

Apple is interesting. It started near the 25% level and is still there today. While the platform is very popular and often the standard by which all other platforms are judged, it appears to have reached market saturation. It only grows in sales as the market grows.

RIM was over 40% in late 2009 and hovered there until June 2010. There it began its own decline to its current 27%-28% range.

Android though is where it is at. It grows from below 5% to about 33% over that same period.

I think it is fair to say that no one predicted this back in 2009. We've all seen the reports that Microsoft's platform is projected to take the number two slot by 2015 while Android remains on top and Apple and RIM round out the top four.

There are too many variables though to make that prediction. Android still faces several current and potential patent suits. Apple has been riding on a single form factor now for nearly four years. Rumors and logic both suggest that will change, offering at least a lower end device. Might it even launch a device with a QWERTY keyboard? RIM has an all new platform, QNX, waiting in the wings. That could make matters worse for the Blackberry platform or totally turn it around. Who knows what is going on with webOS? HP will certainly breathe new life into the platform, but it remains to be seen how much of that will be in smartphones versus tablets, printers, and other network devices.

Where do you think the market will be in a few years, or do you think predicting smartphone market share is about as likely as predicting where the Dow Jones Industrial 500 will be?

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