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Why Android is Gaining Smartphone OS Market Share

The worldwide mobile smartphone market is forecast to grow 49.2 percent in 2011 as more consumer and enterprise users turn in their feature phones for smartphones with advanced features. Those devices will most likely be based upon Google Android.

According to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010.

Moreover, the global smartphone market will grow more than four times faster than the overall mobile phone market. "Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC.

Last year's high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases. The expected market growth for 2011, while still notable, will taper off somewhat from 2010.

To capture the strong consumer demand for smartphones, manufacturers have unleashed a steady stream of new models and features over the past two years. The battle for mind and market share has also resulted in stiff competition among the smartphone operating systems.

"Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number two position in 2010," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC.

For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the year they gained momentum. This year will see an acceleration, as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers -- particularly first-time smartphone users.

However, Nokia's recent announcement to shift from Symbian to Microsoft Windows Phone will likely have significant implications for the smartphone market going forward.

"Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," added Llamas.

The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. IDC expects the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC believes that Windows Phone to be number two ranked operating system worldwide behind Android.

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