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Canalys: Android has overthrown Symbian as top smartphone OS

updated 08:35 am EST, Mon January 31, 2011

Canalys says Android now top smartphone platform

Researchers at Canalys suggested a historic milestone in smartphones today as it claimed Android had overtaken Symbian for the best-selling platform. Google's OS represented 32.9 percent of smartphones shipped in the fall and passed Nokia, whose slipping share brought it down from 44.4 percent to 30.6 percent. The Finnish company still led as the largest hardware maker, at 28 percent, but it could no longer assume it had the most popular software.

Most of Android's rapid rise was owed to the sheer number of manufacturers, many of which became significant Android supporters after being virtually non-existent before. Most had already been involved significantly since 2009, but Acer, HTC, LG and Samsung all saw gains ranging from at least 371 percent (for HTC) to 4,127 percent (for LG) that made them significant players. Motorola and Sony Ericsson are widely known to have saved themselves almost single-handedly by dropping Microsoft or Symbian in favor of Google for high-end hardware.

Apple lost a slight amount of market share to dip to exactly 16 percent despite nearly doubling shipments from year to year. Both RIM and Microsoft faced steep collapses; the BlackBerry dropped from 20 percent a year ago to 14.4 percent as many of its users switched to Android, while Windows Phone 7's arrival wasn't enough to stop Microsoft from losing more than half its share to hit 3.1 percent.

The US remained the main battleground, but RIM unusually regained the top spot among individual phone designers as Apple shipped fewer US iPhones. HTC kept third place and helped Android claim the overall lead.

The outlook for Android in 2011 wasn't as certain, Canalys warned. Verizon's iPhone launch meant the carrier would no longer devote all its attention to Android and could see market share shift "dramatically" in 2011, analyst Tim Shepherd said. Google would have to count on more AT&T Android devices making up for the deficit.

Nokia is still the largest cellphone manufacturer for all types, but its exit from the top smartphone OS spot represents the end of an era for Symbian. The company's platform of choice had been virtually uncontested in smartphones for most of the past decade and only began to decline once the iPhone led many Europeans to jump ship.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Eldernorm

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007


    And another hit piece

    I guess its a slow news day. Another author who does not care for facts or reality, just looking for hit numbers that flash a flag.

    I am going to have to stop reading these kinds of pieces. Worthless info, all smoke and not even any mirrors. :-(

    Just a thought,

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    It's dead, Jim...

    Symbian is kaput. Guess what? Nobody cares except Nokia.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009


    Would be interesting to see the numbers...

    If Nokia were to adopt Android for their mid to high end phones.

    Nokia does make some slick hardware. Couple that with some Google Goodness and you have a great combination.

    Unleash the Androkia!

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    Symbian has zero sales on Verizon

    Symbian has nearly zero sales on Verizon - so anyone who can read, seeing that the company that's going to take the hits - is Nokia.

    So sorry - the Verizon move by Apple has absolutely nothing to do with Android taking marketshare from Symbian.

    And that is where the huge numbers are, and why Android is sitting pretty for dramatic growth in 2011, and analysists who can't see that - are blind.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    the other growth area is downmarket.

    It's important for Apple to jump onto Verizon - to get at one of the last niche of high end buyers that they haven't tapped - because smartphone is no longer synonymous with high end.

    Sales are going downmarket - an area where Apple will not compete.

    So looking at marketshare percentages - that will drop for Apple in 2011 - there is no doubt in my mind about it.

    Apple will still maintain its HUGE lead at the high end - the problem is, the high end was once 100% of the smartphone market, and as the years pass smartphones will be ubiquitous, from high to the low end of the market.

    Apple's marketshare is going to drop below 10% - make no mistake about it, by then end of 2012.

  1. facebook_Omega

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011


    Not Bad!

    For little over a year, what can be accomplished, with a real market push and a general industry synergy! The tech world can still amaze me sometimes.

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