Smartphone OS Update: Android RisesElance_Keith | Feb 14, 2011
Back in December, we wrote about how iOS pushed past Blackberry OS in U.S. marketshare, with Android not far behind and catching up. The news, which came from October data, showed iOS with a 27.9% share, slightly more than Blackberry OS, which continues its steady free fall at 27.4% and Android at a growing 23%.
Now Nielsen has been reporting that, based on end of the year data, the competition between the three leading smartphone operating systems is more fierce and competitive than ever. With regard to installed base (U.S. mobile consumers who already own smartphones) there is a virtual three-way tie between RIM’s Blackberry OS, Apple’s iOS, and Google’s Android OS.
As you can see from Nielsen’s chart above, Android has seen a meteoric rise in share the past 12 months, Blackberry OS has been steadily declining and iOS has maintained a consistent pace.
However, when analyzing the preferences of those who purchased a smartphone in the past six months, Nielsen’s data shows that Android is clearly in the lead with 43% of recent acquirers purchasing an Android device, compared to 26% for Apple iOS and 20% for Blackberry RIM.
Android's rise in the U.S. market reflects its growth worldwide, according to a recent report from Canalys (above). Shipments of Android-based smartphones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia’s Symbian platform, the longtime global leader, followed with 31.0 million worldwide. But Nokia did retain its position as the leading global smart phone vendor, with a share of 28%. The fourth quarter also saw the worldwide smart phone market continue to soar, with shipments of 101.2 million units representing yearly growth of 89%.
comScore’s most recent data (above) paints a slightly different picture than Nielsen at the top, with RIM on top and Google Android having just surpassed iOS during the last quarter. However, it is interesting to note that looking at their data beyond the top three mobile operating systems, we see the offerings by Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) and HP (who acquired Palm and webOS) with much smaller shares, trending slightly down.
That analysis isn’t particularly noteworthy, but observers should remember that Windows Phone 7 was only released in October and new features have been announced for this year, which include third-party application multitasking and an enhanced mobile browser based off Internet Explorer 9. Last week, HP threw their hat into the smartphone ring with the announcement of a new tablet and two smartphones based off the webOS system they acquired during their acquisition of Palm last year.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft and HP are able to slow down Android’s aggressive growth given how late they’ve joined the mobile OS party, but it wouldn’t be surprising for them to, at the least, reverse their negative trending, especially given their existing advantages in the business and enterprise.
What does it mean for elancers? The mobile space continues to grow by the minute, leading to more opportunities for not app development across each of the major operating systems in gaming, productivity and business, but continued demand for web designers and developers, marketers, and many other skills to take advantage of the buildup of mobile connectivity and access.