updated 03:05 pm EDT, Mon March 9, 2009
Android and iPhone Study
Google's decision to launch an open-source mobile platform may be key to Android phone sales overtaking the iPhone's by 2012, according to estimates by Informa. Researcher Gavin Byrne predicts that phones like the T-Mobile G1 will eventually outrun Apple as a new focus on software over hardware will reportedly favor Android's open development system versus closed systems like Apple's. Other open-source platforms like LiMo and the eventual Symbian update should also benefit, Byrne says.
The analyst points to Nokia's current performance as an example of the importance of open-source software and of software. Where the company once held 65 percent of the smartphone market in 2007, that number dropped to 49 percent in 2008 as the company's share was eroded by very software-oriented devices like the iPhone or RIM's BlackBerry line. While moving Symbian to open-source may not directly hurt these two rivals, Byrne sees it as "crucial" since it gives phone makers a reason to pick Symbian over Android and regular Linux platforms and will also damage Windows Mobile.
And while just LG has added itself as a major Windows Mobile developer in 2009, phone makers like HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have all either been shipping or planning to ship Android phones the same year and either complementing their existing Windows Mobile plans or else scaling them back.
Regardless of platform, Informa expects smartphones to grow in spite of the current economic crisis and anticipates their sales growing 35.3 percent in 2009 even while the overall cellphone market contracts 10.1 percent. In 2013, about 38 percent of all phones are expected to be smartphones where they should account for just 13.5 of the market in 2009.