It's Slowly Becoming An Android World, Gartner Says

operating system

Symbian, the OS synonymous with Nokia phones, saw its marketshare shrink to 40.1 percent this year, compared to 46.9 percent last year. By 2014, it will hold 30.2 percent share, according to Gartner.

Meanwhile, Google's Android OS, an open platform used by several smartphone manufacturers, saw its share increase from 3.9 percent in 2009 to 17.7 percent this year, into the No. 2 position. By 2014, it will challenge Symbian with a forecasted 29.6 percent share, according to Gartner.

Gartner's new report now forecasts Android essentially catching Symbian a full two years earlier than it did in its last mobile OS report a year ago.

Android's rapid rise is due to new devices and support by Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola among others, according to Gartner.

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In fact, Android should become the top OS in North American by the end of 2010, according to Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

"CSPs and mobile device manufacturers alike will need to revisit their platform strategies and balance the need to pursue platforms with the highest current demand against the need to maintain differentiation with unique devices," Cozza said in a statement. "CSPs will likely reduce the number of platforms they offer, to reduce their support costs and clarify their propositions to market.”

Meanwhile, Research In Motion's Blackberry OS will see its share slip from 19.9 percent last year to 17.5 percent this year and down to 11.7 percent by 2014, according to the research company.

Apple's iOS for the iPhone owned 14.4 percent last year and 15.4 percent in 2010, but it will stabilize at 14.9 percent in four years, according to Gartner.

"The worldwide mobile OS market is dominated by four players: Symbian, Android, Research In Motion and iOS," Cozza said in the statement. "Launches of updated operating systems — such as Apple iOS 4, BlackBerry OS 6, Symbian 3 and Symbian 4, and Windows Phone 7 — will help maintain strong growth in smartphones in [the second half of 2010] and 2011 and spur innovation. However, we believe that market share in the OS space will consolidate around a few key OS providers that have the most support from CSPs and developers and strong brand awareness with consumer and enterprise customers."

Despite the imminent launch of Windows Phone 7, Gartner expects Microsoft's share in the mobile phone market to continue to shrink, from 8.7 percent last year to 4.7 percent this year to 3.9 percent by 2014. By 2014, it will range sixth behind MeeGo on a global basis, according to Gartner.

All other OSes combined, including MeeGo, will increase from 4.7 percent this year to 9.6 percent in 2014.