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Android Set to Become Main Mobile OS

Nokia's Symbian has dominated the market of mobile operating systems for years. However, Google's Android is on track to replace it and become the main operating system for mobile devices in 2011.

Already in the third quarter of 2010 Android accounted for 25.5% of worldwide smartphone sales, making it the No. 2 operating system and particularly dominant in North America, according to Gartner. Back in Q3 about 20.5 million of smartphones with Android were purchased worldwide (or around 227 thousands daily). Nokia's Symbian was more popular than Android in the third quarter: there were around 29.48 million of smartphones powered by Symbian sold in Q3 2010, or about 327.5 thousand daily. However, in early December Andy Rubin, a vice president of Google, said that over 300 thousand of Android phones were activated daily, which means that by the end of Q4 2010 the platform was Google was very close to Nokia's Symbian.

Of course, sales of mobile phones with Symbian are growing too (29.48 million units shipped in Q3 2010, an increase of 61% compared to 18.3 million in Q3 2009), but the market share of Symbian is dropping fast (36.6% in Q3 2010, it was 44.6% in Q3 2009). Moreover, sales of competing platforms, including Google Android and Apple iOS are growing even faster. For example, sales of Android based phones were up 14.4 times year-over-year in Q3 2010 and the market share of the OS increased from 3.5% in Q3 2009 to 25.5% in Q3 2010, according to Gartner.

The problem for Symbian is not that it is not as progressive as Android or iOS, but the fact that Nokia is struggling to deliver competitive phones on time and cannot figure out the right feature-set for various models. While Sony's overall product lineup seems to be balanced, many models lack a number of features as Nokia wants to clearly position them for certain audience. Meanwhile, Android and iOS offer similar features across a range of devices and while some functionality may be very uncomfortable to use, it is present.

Unlike iOS, Google's Android is more open and, most importantly, is available on a wide range of mobile phones that are priced differently and which come in different design. Further development of Android will not only be a threat to Symbian, but will also be a threat for iOS since the two platforms have a lot in common.

In any case, in 2011 the operating system from Google will become the No. 1 OS on the market of smartphones. This fact has a number of ramifications. For example, Samsung Electronics' (No. 1 maker of Android-based phones) will come closer to Nokia on the overall market of mobile phones in terms of unit sales and market share. Companies like HTC, ZTE and similar will increase their sales, whereas positions of LG Electronics and Motorola will likely become stronger.

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