The technology press is abuzz with news of a report from Canalys that Android is now the #1 smartphone platform in the world, with its 33% share of sales edging out Symbian’s 31% and far surpassing Apple’s 16%. In the U.S, Android smartphones are now 53% of all sold.
Once again, I was expecting this, but not so soon. As volume production of cheap Android handsets in Asia drove down prices the doom of the aging and stagnant Symbian platform was sealed, but I wasn’t expecting actual market share crossover until the end of 2Q2011. Once again, Android has exceeded expectations with eye-popping growth.
The pressure on Symbian just ratcheted up another notch. It’s reported that Nokia has scheduled a “strategy announcement” for Feb 11. Investors will be demanding a bold move to counter the catastrophic erosion in Nokia’s market share – this time last year they were #1 at 44%.
The odds that Nokia will junk its floundering Maemo/MeeGo plans and bail out to Android look quite a bit stronger to me than they did yesterday. If that happens, it’s game over for every other smartphone platform; even Apple’s iOS would have trouble retaining app developers against an Android with entree to 64% of the world’s handsets, and that’s before Android’s inevitable growth in the next quarter!
It’s difficult to see what alternative to Android Nokia has now. Some analysts have touted Windows Phone 7, but that’s been doing so badly since its October launch that Microsoft refuses to utter even a ballpark sales figure. Independent estimates have it at most 2%, and the last thing Nokia needs is to tie a millstone owned by another company around its neck.
Nor is there much comfort for Apple fans in the tablet market; Barron’s reports that the iPad’s share has dropped from 96% to %75 in the last quarter under pressure from the Samsung Galaxy Tab and other Android devices. And these are relatively expensive – when Android tablets hit true volume production based on system-on-chip engines, there will be probably be a three-figure priced delta drawing customers to Android.
Google’s strategy of using open source to create a huge multivendor Android mob that swarms every competitor with sheer weight of numbers seems to be working.
UPDATE: And the most entertaining news about WP7 may be the fact that it’s being outsold by Windows Mobile. Yes, brand-new WP7 is a weak enough customer draw that it’s being outsold by an ancient pile of festering crap.
UPDATE2: 22% for Android tablets is probably false. Looks like Samsung was doing some WP7-like channel stuffing. No figures on actual sell-through yet.