Google’s Android operating system will steal Nokia’s title as top smartphone operating system in 2011, grabbing a 39. 5 percent market share for the year, according to market-researcher IDC.
Nokia’s Symbian OS will drop to second place with a 21 percent share. Research in Motion’s Blackberry platform will command a 15 percent share, followed by Apple’s iOS at 15.7 percent. Microsoft Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7 will end the year with 5.5 percent of the market.
Describing smartphone market growth in 2010 as “exceptional,” IDC analysts said smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared with the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. That’s nearly a 50 percent bump for the year, as more consumers and business users swap feature phones for smartphones.
Equipped with full HTML Web browsers and 1-GHz processors-with an upward trend toward 1-GHz dual-core processors-smartphones are essentially handheld computers.
Apple’s clever marketing and unquestioned hardware and software quality have helped ship 100 million-plus iPhones worldwide. The platform should do even better now that Verizon Wireless is selling the iPhone 4.
Meanwhile, the surge of Droid phones, Samsung’s Galaxy S line and more than 100 other Android handsets propelled Google’s platform past Apple iOS and RIM’s Blackberry platforms in 2010, according to comScore.
Android is knocking on the door of the struggling Nokia, which is placing its future bets on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform.
IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said Android will take over the No. 1 smartphone platform position this year, as carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T bolster their portfolios.
“This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users,” Llamas wrote.
Verizon Wireless’ HTC Thunderbolt promises fast processing on the carrier’s 4G LTE network, while AT&T’s Motorola Atrix 4G is another speedy phone awaiting its carrier’s 4G LTE build-out later this year.
Apple iOS and Android aren’t the only hot smartphone platforms. Llamas said Nokia’s recent announcement to shift from Symbian to Windows Phone will have significant implications for the smartphone market.
More than just halting Microsoft’s hemorrhaging Windows Mobile market share, the alliance will vault Windows Phone to become the No. 2 smartphone platform behind Android by 2015.
IDC expects Windows Phone to effectively grab a 21 percent market share at the expense of Symbian, trailing Android’s 45 percent share through the midway point of the decade.
Of course, these figures are looking far enough into the future to incite emphatic debate across the blogosphere.