Samsung has eclipsed Motorola as the Android smartphone leader and may be poised to do so in tablets. Motorola and HTC may find themselves looking up to their rival before long.
Perception and market share in the market for mobile
devices can change fairly quickly unless you're Apple, which has enjoyed
rock-solid launches of the iPod music player, iPhone smartphone and iPad
For devices based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) now ubiquitous Android
mobile operating system, it's another matter.
After Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) CEO Sanjay Jha made the
strategic decision to bet the company on Android in 2008, the company
was the first big phone maker to bet big on Android
in 2009, launching the Motorola Droid smartphone. Motorola was again
of the gate with an Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablet, the Motorola Xoom,
this past February.
The inaugural Droid smartphone captured commercial and
critical success, selling millions of units and thrusting Android into the
limelight as a viable alternative to the 100 million-plus-unit-selling iPhone.
The Xoom, on the other hand, was not nearly as well
received and has sold only a few hundred thousand units compared to 20
million-plus iPads. Motorola also signaled some struggles when it delayed
the delivery of its Droid Bionic 4G smartphone on Verizon Wireless to
These gaffes have helped Samsung emerge as something of
the Android hardware standard bearer, analysts agreed.
Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin said that while
Motorola benefited hugely from the marketing investment that Verizon made in
their initial Droid launch, its products on other carriers-excepting the
Atrix on AT&T-have been lackluster sellers.
Golvin agreed that Samsung is taking the Android mantle.
"They have incredible scale, and having made the
initial investment in their internal Android software skill they are able to
apply that scale-that's apparent in their execution of customized versions of
the Galaxy devices for every carrier," Golvin told eWEEK.
Samsung's Android ascent started in 2010 when the company
sold more than 10 million Galaxy S smartphones in 2010, helped by the bright,
crisp Super Amoled screen technology.
Samsung's Galaxy S II sold
1 million units in a month in the company's home country of Korea.