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Nokia Symbian OS (and by proxy, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, which will replace it) appear the only major competitors to Android's dominance. However, Nokia has bled over half its smart phone market share away in the last year.  (Source: 360 East)

Once the hottest star, Apple has been unable to keep up with Android.  (Source: TipB)
Google has over twice the market share of Apple or RIM

Once Google Inc. (GOOG) fantasized about merely transforming its Android operating system into a legitimate competitor to Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  In a couple of years that dream was realized.  Rising meteorically, Android has become the “Windows” of the smartphone world, found on hundreds of phone models, including the most cutting edge hardware on the market.

According to a report by market research firm Gartner, Inc. (IT) in calendar Q1 2011 Google's operating system seized 36 percent of the world market, almost quadrupling the 9.6 percent market share it held a year ago.  By contrast Apple's iOS sat in third place with a mere 16.8 percent and RIM owned only 13 percent of the market.

The only major competition to Android's dominance appears to be Finland's Nokia Oyj. (NOK), whose Symbian OS picked up 27.4 percent of the market.  Nokia will be transferring that market share into the trust of Windows Phone 7 (WP7) over the next year, leaving WP7 almost certain to be the world's #2 smartphone operating system.  

WP7 maker Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) badly needs the help.  Despite having one of the most innovative interfaces on the market, it managed to seize a mere 3.6 percent of the market.

For Microsoft the path seems clear -- pick up Nokia's market share and try to replicate the success it found in the world of personal computers with its Windows operating system.  

For Apple and RIM, the answers aren't as easy.  Both players risk fading into the periphery as Apple did in the personal computer market years ago.  A major factor driving this is both firms' failure to license their operating systems to third party device makers.  Customers only have one handset -- in Apple's case -- or a handful of handsets -- in RIM's case -- to look forward to yearly, so naturally gravitate to the more diverse Android and Symbian offerings.

A major factor allowing Apple to cling to its third place position is its strong app support.  Gartner analyst Robert Cozza comments, "This is a clear advantage for the current stronger ecosystem owners Apple and Google."

But despite Apple presenting a very inviting platform to developers, it seems inevitable that developers will migrate to platforms with more users -- namely Android (and Windows Phone 7, soon).  As this happens, the company risks further minimization.

Still Apple can take comfort in the fact that it was the only major player besides Google to post share gains.  It sold 16.8 million iPhones in Q1 2011, over twice the 8.2 million it sold in Q1 2010.  

By contrast Symbian saw sales slide from 44.2 percent of the market a year ago, RIM dropped from 19.6 percent a year back, and Microsoft dropped from 6.8 percent a year prior.

In total 23.6 percent of the 427.8 million phones sold in Q1 2011 were smartphones, according to Gartner.

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RE: Transform nokia's marketshare to WP7?
By dani31 on 5/20/2011 11:01:56 AM , Rating: 3
Actually I think Nokia has better loyalty than Symbian. Think Nokia 6310i and other pre-Symbian phones. People buy Nokia because it was the synonim of the mobile phone for a couple of decades, not because of Symbian.

In that respect I think that the article has a point.

RE: Transform nokia's marketshare to WP7?
By michael2k on 5/20/2011 11:15:39 AM , Rating: 2
Then how do you explain the current drop in market share? Their current shift towards iOS and Android?

RE: Transform nokia's marketshare to WP7?
By niva on 5/20/2011 1:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
Easily explainable by the fact symbian is dead and obsolete when compared to android and IOS. On the other hand the Nokia hardware with win7phone OS may get purchased because of Nokia brand recognition.

I'm sure many people will leave Nokia though, the company has completely changed it's face. If they get half the customers they've had before it would be a huge win for Microsoft though.

By Solandri on 5/20/2011 2:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm trying to find the article but can't. About year ago there was a breakdown of phone OS sales both as a % and as raw numbers. While Android and iOS were gaining in market share, all OSes except for WinCE/WinMo actually increased in raw numbers.

So it's not necessarily that people are abandoning RIM and Nokia. It's that lots of people who never had a smartphone before are getting one, and they're predominantly choosing Android with iOS a distant second.

By Ushio01 on 5/20/2011 8:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
Er Nokia's smartphone sales are increasing it's just one company can't beat 30+ companies selling android phones.

As to Gartner's market share results.

While analyst figures are interesting there also meaningless for example compare Gartner and IDC 1st quarter 2011 figures

The discrepancy between overall worldwide phone sales from the 2 is a wopping 56 MILLION handsets. Thats 6 MILLION more than the population of South Africa or DOUBLE the population of Malaysia.

RE: Transform nokia's marketshare to WP7?
By Azethoth on 5/21/2011 2:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong, I had a Nokia until I bought a moto Razr. I had Razrs until I bought an iPhone 1. Sure there are fanboys but thats a minority. You go into the store wanting to buy something shiny you crave, or you buy something the sales person sells you on which is whatever makes them the most commission.

Just talk to people. They crave an iPhone / Android but cannot afford one. Soon as they can its bye bye nokia / rim etc.

By mcnabney on 5/21/2011 10:53:50 AM , Rating: 2
Androids are released at every price point, which might explain what you are saying. Feature-phone customers can actually afford one.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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