Now that Verizon Wireless is selling Apple’s iPhone 4, pundits are pontificating on just what the launch will mean for Google’s Android operating system, which overtook iOS in smartphone market share in 2010.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the Verizon iPhone will score a palpable hit on Android, stealing 1 million units from the platform through March.
Munster sees Android’s share falling from the 32 percent plot (IDC numbers) it acquired through December to 28 percent or even as low as 26 percent in March.
Conversely, Apple’s iPhone share should grow from 16 percent to 20 percent as a result of the new wireless carrier channel. Munster had previously said Verizon could ship 9 million to 15 million iPhone units.
The Verizon iPhone 4 launch comes one day before another potential shift in the evolving smartphone market. Nokia is hosting its Capital Markets Day Feb. 11 in London, where Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is expected to announce a pact that will put Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 platform on Nokia handsets.
Elop has designs on stopping the hemorrhaging of Symbian market share. Though Nokia remains the leading smartphone OEM by units, Symbian has gotten a bit dusty in a market ruled by touch-screen devices such as the iPhone and several Android gadgets.
Munster is more concerned with the impact of the Verizon iPhone on Android for the near future. The analyst predicts cannibalization from within the carrier channel.
Verizon is Android’s strongest carrier, accounting for almost half of all Android subscribers in the United States and 20 percent of total Android users worldwide.
Yet Munster expects the Verizon iPhone will sell 1.5 million units through November, nabbing 1 million in unit sales from an expected 4 million to 5 million Android shipment total for the partial first quarter.
However, Munster hardly sees the iPhone on Verizon and AT&T knocking Android off of its track.
Despite Research In Motion’s BlackBerry brand, the emergence of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 and whatever Nokia has in store for that platform, Android and iPhone will emerge as the mobile platforms “that matter in mobile,” Munster said.
Specifically, he believes that by 2015 Android will command 40 percent market share, with iPhone bagging 25 percent share.