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Android smart phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S II are dominating global sales, shipping over 50 million smart phones a quarter.  (Source: Samsung)

The iPhone is still unmatched in profitability, though, and a solid #1 in global sales by manufacturer.  (Source: Reuters)
Despite legal troubles, the Android juggernaut rolls on

Android's open platform and broad selection of hardware, thanks to liberal licensing, has proved a winning formula for Google Inc. (GOOG) and its hardware partners.  Competitors like Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have been unable to keep up with the platform's wild growth.

According to [press release] market research firm Canalys, for every 2 iPhones sold, approximately five Android phones are now sold (1:2.5).  This is another milestone for Google, who only recently heard the news that it was outselling Apple two to one globally.

The study looked at 56 countries and found Android to be the top platform in 35 of them.  Its global market share is now at just under 50 percent, thanks to a 379 percent year-to-year growth in shipments.  In Q2 2011 it shipped on an estimate 51.9 million smartphones, globally. 

Google's smartphone operating system continues to soar after a quiet 2005 acquisition by Google and 2008 product launch.  Google didn't pick up much momentum until 2009, when its partners began to release bleeding edge handsets like the "Droid" from Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI).  Since then it's been unstoppable.  However, threats loom from lawsuits [1][2][3][4][5] from Apple and licensing demands [1][2] from Microsoft. 

Speaking of Apple, it posted impressive growth of its own, passing Finland's Nokia Oyj.(HEL:NOK1V), with 20.3 million units shipped.  Apple is now the clear number one in terms of global sales by a single manufacturer.

Despite falling behind Android in growth, Canalys had kind words for the highly profitable Apple.  Canalys VP and Principal Analyst Chris Jones states, "The iPhone has been a phenomenal success story for Apple and a watershed product for the market. It's an impressive success story, given that Apple has only been in the smart phone market for four years. With the next-generation iPhone anticipated in Q3, it's likely that Apple’s position will grow even stronger in the second half of the year."

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (SEO:005930) flagship Galaxy S II smartphone sold well and the company shipped 17.0 million phones in the quarter, bumping Nokia to third place in manufacturer sales.  

However, Mr. Jones had some harsh words for the company, stating, "Samsung has failed to fully capitalize on Nokia’s weakened state around the world, as the Finnish company rides out a challenging transitional period. It's the best placed vendor to grow at Nokia’s expense, taking advantage of its global scale and channel reach, but it hasn’t yet done enough to capitalize on this, particularly in emerging markets."

Fellow Android phone maker HTC Corp. (SEO:066570), however, earned praise for rising out of relative obscurity to gain a 21 percent share in the lucrative North American market.

Microsoft, unsurprisingly, didn't do very well.  It only moved 1.5 million smartphones -- about 1 percent of the market.  Mr. Jones commented, "A fresh crop of products is certainly needed," alluding to the crucial upcoming Mango update and lineup refresh, which airs in September.

Research In Motion Ltd. (TSE:RIM) struggled, gaining 11 percent in global market share, but slipping 12 percent in North American.  Mr. Jones comments that RIM needs to "continue to innovative and recapture lost momentum."  He says that the upcoming BlackBerry OS 7 product family will be a critical turning point -- for better or worse -- for the company.

In perhaps the worst insult of all, 
Hewlett-Packard, Comp.'s (HPQ) webOS, with only a fraction a percent market share, wasn't even mentioned in the report.

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Rear view mirror thinking still prevails
By Tony Swash on 8/2/2011 2:39:54 PM , Rating: -1
Market share is everything, look at Windows versus Macs, it's happening all over again.

Except it isn't.

In the 1990s when Windows took 90% of the desktop PC market share the company who made Windows made a lot of money, really a lot of money. This meant that market share and profit taking went hand in hand, if you lost market share back then you lost money. Times change. Fast forward to today where Apple takes two thirds of the entire global phone market profits, not two thirds of the smart phone market but the entire phone market. In the modern epoch you can have the biggest market share and still not make any money. Nobody seems to be making much money on Android. That doesn't seem awfully sustainable to me.

In the 1990s when Windows took 90% of the desktop PC market share that meant that developers lost interest in the Mac because they could make a lot more money developing for Windows. Times change. Fast forward to today where even though the Android app market is catching up to the iOS app market in raw app numbers developers make a lot more money from iOS apps (several times as much per capita) and so the iOS app developer community is strong (the strongest) and vibrant.

In the 1990s when Windows took 90% of the desktop PC market share which caused developers to desert the Mac the range of software available to Mac users fell behind that of Windows and some important apps remained Windows only. Times change. Fast forward to today where not only are there more apps of a higher quality available to iOS customers but given the size and ongoing growth growth of the iOS app market place there is no likelihood that iOS customers will feel left behind in terms of app availability in the foreseeable future.

One also has to factor in new phenomena with no parallels from the olds days of the desktop such as the Apple device value stack where Android has nothing like the the unbeatable iTunes media and digital contents library, ease of access and purchase and the soon to arrive iCloud services. Apple has built a global device/OS/services/content space that has already created 100+% annual growth rates and grown the company to becomes the biggest tech company on the planet. And Apple's growth is accelerating.

This all means that the an OS such as iOS does not need the sort of market dominance that Windows needed to succeed (because let's face it if Windows hadn't been the monopoly 'standard' who the fuck would have actually bought it). What is by the far the likeliest outcome is that the world of mobile devices will have several large operating system communities and the largest of these may be a fairly marginal economic space with a poorer developer, accessory maker and end user experience compared to comparative experiences in the iOS market space.

RE: Rear view mirror thinking still prevails
By gooing on 8/2/2011 8:50:49 PM , Rating: 1
The disparity in profitability has to be enormous for a developer to ignore 60% of the potential market. Most developers of the "killer-app" in reality port it to every platform in order to maximise profitability. Why wouldn't you?

Personally I see WP7 as a potential sleeper-hit, especially when Mango hits. Microsoft only need to sort out their relationship with Verizon, Samsung give up on Android (due to the legal red-tape), and Nokia start putting out some devices and the game could change, rapidly.

RE: Rear view mirror thinking still prevails
By lukarak on 8/3/2011 6:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
It is 60% potential market. However, the revenue you make is not just reverse (60% for apple) but can be almost 4:1.

By Fritzr on 8/3/2011 2:52:11 PM , Rating: 3
Result they develop for Apple, rake in Apple profits AND develop for Android (Why not it's extra income) AND develop for any other OS that has enough user base to generate an income worth grabbing.

In the software industry dominance<>exclusivity. Look at the early 1980s in the time before Microsoft had 90%+ of the userbase. The mobile phone market is a repeat of those roller coaster days of dueling operating systems. Android and Microsoft are in the best position with strong companies backing them and multiple manufacturers distributing compatible hardware.

Apple's Mac was a strong competitor in the early days of windowed operating systems, then Microsoft entered the market with a windowed OS that would run on machines manufactured by almost every manufacturer in the market ... Amiga, Atari ST and Mac suddenly became second tier choices.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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