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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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I like to believe
By Da W on 5/20/2011 11:02:13 AM , Rating: 1
Good product should sell. Windows Phone IS a good product, only an idiot fanboy couldn't see that. It SHOULD sell better than it does now.




RE: I like to believe
By KoolAidMan1 on 5/20/2011 12:48:20 PM , Rating: 3
You're right, WP7 should absolutely sell better than it is. It is the first legit competition to the iPhone in terms of UI, smoothness, and fit & finish. Things like applications are coming right along for the platform. Android still feels second rate compared to iOS or WP7, and I reckon the only reason it is doing as well as it is is because it is on every carrier on handsets that occupy every price range. It certainly isn't for quality reasons.

People can tout "open" all they want (despite the fact that rooting is required in almost all cases since handset manufacturers and service providers are responsible for updates), but "closed" systems like iOS, WP7, and even WebOS provide superior user experiences when it comes to these handheld devices.


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