Android to Pass Apple iOS by 2012: iSuppli

Google's Android operating system is expected to garner greater worldwide market share than Apple's iOS by 2012, according to a new report from iSuppli.

Apple may be the brand that all other smartphones are compared to, but such allure doesn't necessarily translate to market share. In the race for worldwide mobile OS market share, handsets running Google's Android are expected to outpace those running Apple's iOS by 2012, research firm iSuppli reported Aug. 5.

While iOS shipped on 25 million iPhones in 2009, that figure is expected to rise to 62 million phones in 2012. Android, by contrast, was on 5 million phones in 2009 and yet is expected to ship on 75 million phones in 2012. Should these forecasts become fact, the market share for iOS would rise from 2009's 13.8 percent to 15.9 percent in 2012, while Android's would bolt from just 2.7 percent to 19.4 percent.

"Android is taking the smartphone market by storm," iSuppli senior analyst Tina Teng said in a statement. "The OS started with entry-level models in 2008, but the flexibility Android offers for hardware designs and its appealing business model in terms of revenue sharing have attracted vigorous support from all nodes in the value chain, including makers of high-end smart phone models."

Teng added that popular smartphone makers such as Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Huawei, AsusTek and ZTE have all committed to producing Android-running handsets. Such broad support, she said, "will allow the Android OS's usage and market share to exceed that of its chief rival - iOS - in 2012, just five years after its introduction."

More than bragging rights, Apple and Google are each after control of a wireless market that could see global carrier revenue for wireless data services grow from 2009's $108.6 billion to $250 billion by 2014. Mobile broadband revenue from content, services and applications, reports the firm, is likely to exceed $100 billion in 2014 - which is what Google and Apple, with their varying strategies, are after.

"While Google is trying hard to capture market share in the smartphone market, Apple's strategy is aimed at making its products highly desirable but not necessarily affordable for the mass market," Jagdish Rebello, an iSuppli senior analyst, said in the statement. "Apple has been successful in doing this with its friendly User Interface (UI), its slick OS and its well developed ecosystem of apps and content providers."

The pair's fight for OS market share is just one part of a battle that extends to application numbers, application sales and advertising competition between Apple's iAd and Google's AdMob, reported iSuppli.

During the second quarter of 2010, Nokia dominated worldwide smartphone sales, followed by Motorola and Samsung. In the United States, BlackBerry-maker RIM claimed the majority market share - 32.1 percent - followed by Apple with 21.7 percent and HTC, with its considerable lineup of Android-running handsets, with 14.4 percent.

Nevertheless, the star of the quarter, said analysis firm Canalys in an Aug. 2 report, was Android, which posted quarterly growth rate of 886 percent.

In addition to the adoption of Android by a number of leading handset makers, its rise over Apple, reported iSuppli, will come thanks to its open-source design. Despite the aesthetic and technological appeal of Apple's smartphones, said the iSuppli report, "the proprietary nature of the iOS and Apple's closed system business model will limit the number of smartphones with the operating system."