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Android will lead smartphone market this year, says IDC

Mar 29, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Android will surge to a dominant 39.5 percent share of the fast-growing global smartphone market this year, then further climb slowly to a 45.4 percent share by 2015, says IDC. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will see the fastest growth as it supplants Symbian to reach a second-place 20.9 percent share by 2015, the research firm projects.

According to IDC, vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011, compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. This projected 49.2 percent growth rate is four times faster than that of the overall mobile phone market, says IDC. The growth, however, is slightly less than the 2010 rebound, driven by pent-up demand from the recessionary 2009 market, says the research group.

IDC also has good news for the Google-backed Android operating system. The iPad may be tough to dislodge from its dominant perch atop the tablet market, but the smartphone market will continue to fall to Android, says a new IDC study projecting worldwide smartphone sales through 2015.

Operating System 2011 market share 2015 market share 2011-2015 CAGR

















Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile












Worldwide smartphone OS share and growth rate (CAGR), 2011-2015
Source: IDC, Mar. 29, 2011
(Click to enlarge)

"Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number two position in 2010," stated Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. This year, Android vendors will "broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users," he continued.

Judging from the projections, which are part of the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker project, Android will see its biggest jump this year, to 39.5 percent of smartphones sold worldwide, then slowly inch up to 45.4 percent in 2015. This nonetheless represents a 23.8 percent growth rate over the four-year period, which beats the projected Apple iOS rate of 18.8 percent and RIM BlackBerry's 17.1 percent.

What's more, Android's two main rivals are expected to lose share overall, with iOS slipping to 15.3 percent, and BlackBerry dropping more substantially to 13.7 percent by 2015. 

IDC did not break the numbers down by vendor or segment, but high-end Android phones expected to draw a lot of attention this year include the 4G LTE-ready HTC Thunderbolt (pictured), as well as a number of phones based on dual-core processors, including Motorola Droid Bionic and the Samsung Galaxy S II. On the other hand, much of the growth may be spread out among a number of more modestly appointed Android phones as Google's OS continues to make gains in the low-end market where Nokia still dominates.

The fastest growing smartphone OS will be Windows Phone 7, which will grow from 5.5 percent in 2011 to a second-place 20.9 percent in 2015, projects IDC, whose numbers also include the fading Windows Mobile. In short, IDC, sees Microsoft's new mobile OS as successfully supplanting Symbian's smartphone share over the next four years as Nokia shifts over to Windows Phone 7.

"The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform," stated Llamas, who said the first Nokia Windows phones would ship in 2012. "By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be the number two operating system worldwide behind Android," he added.

Fast growing "others" likely to run Linux

Interestingly, IDC sees the "others" category as growing even faster than Android, rising at a 28 percent clip from 3.5 percent in 2011 to 4.6 percent in 2015. IDC doesn't elaborate who the players are here, but Linux will likely underscore most, if not all, of these rival operating systems.

HP's Linux-based WebOS may well be the frontrunner of the bunch. Samsung also offers its Bada OS, which adds Samsung's homegrown middleware and UI on top of a Linux kernel. So far, however, Bada sales have been eclipsed by the huge numbers for Samsung's successful Android-based Galaxy S phones.

It is still unclear whether Intel can find a new phone partner for the Linux-driven MeeGo phones now that Nokia has left it high and dry. Other entries include the recently updated, carrier-driven LiMo (Linux Mobile) spec, which will appear in several new phones this year, according to the LiMo Foundation.

Finally, rumor has it that Motorola is working on its own web-oriented mobile operating system, which if true, will almost certainly run on Linux.


More information on the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker may be found at IDC's announcement page.

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