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Android Primed to Lead Mobile Device Market Upside

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, 302 million smartphones shipped in 2010, resulting in a resounding 71 percent growth over the 2009 shipment levels.

Android's success since its launch is expected to continue. Approximately 69 million smartphones running the Android operating system (OS) shipped last year, and ABI Research expects that by 2016 Android will have captured 45 percent of the market.

"Android, Bada and BlackBerry have a great opportunity to fill the vacuum being left by the disappearance of the Symbian OS within the next two years," says senior analyst Michael Morgan at ABI.

ABI believes that the Apple iOS, which held a 15 percent share of the market in 2010, should continue moderate but steady growth over the mid-term -- likely backed by new product introductions.

ABI Research forecasts a relatively modest 19 percent market share for iOS in 2016.

RIM, which held 16 percent of the market in 2010, is expected to lose just a little ground, and is forecast at a 14 percent share by 2016.

"RIM's slight loss of share doesn't mean falling shipments," says Vice President Kevin Burden at ABI. "RIM has found its niche, but the consumer market will grow faster than its portion of it."

Windows Phone 7 and Samsung's Bada are both aimed at low- to mid-range handsets. With 4 million units shipped in 2010 (amounting to a 1.5 percent market share), Bada has taken off very well, very fast.

According to ABI's assessment, Bada may reach 10 percent market share by 2016. Windows Phone 7, on the other hand, which shipped in two million handsets in Q4 2010, will have to find growth through its Nokia channel -- to take more than 7 percent of the market by 2016.

Burden concludes, "The overall smartphone market growth for 2010 is not really so surprising. What is more significant is the 19 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) contained in our forecasts through 2016.

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