Anyone doubting the potential of Android phones should have a look at Gartner's latest figures on worldwide cellphone usage. The report, released this morning, reveals just how popular the Google OS has become—while banging a nail into the RIM coffin, courtesy of an iPhone-shaped hammer.
Android's amazing figures—sales of handsets using the OS have jumped over sevenfold in a 12-month period—are mainly down to sales in North America—proof, if anything, that, despite it being the U.S.'s most popular smartphone, the sooner AT&T's iPhone monopoly is broken, the less it will be eclipsed by its rival. The success of Android has had repercussions on iOS's market share, with it down from 0.4 of 1% to 16.7%. Android is not the most popular smartphone OS, however. That honor is reserved for Symbian, but with figures down 8% year-on-year, its market share of 36.6% looks shaky compared to Android's 25.5%.
Top of the tree of handset manufacturers is, unsurprisingly, Nokia—although its Q3 2010 figure is down 8.5% year on year—followed by South Korean firms Samsung and LG. But it's RIM that should be the most worried, as the Canadian firm behind the original smartphone found itself surpassed by Apple. The iPhone is now available in 89 territories, on 166 networks, and today has the odd distinction of being the most popular, yet fragile, smartphone.
Overall cellphone sales were up by 35% in Q3 of this year, whilst sales of smartphones have almost doubled, by 96%, representing 19.3% of the total mobile handsets. This, however, does not mean that the dumbphone is well and truly done for yet. According to Gartner, the increase of sales in white-box products—brand-free components for computers—in areas such as South America, Asia and Russia, indicates that basic handsets are still shifting units—hence Nokia remaining at the top of the handset tree.
The research firm also did a bit of speculation as to what the tablet market would look like in 2011, predicting sales of around 54.8 million units throughout the year. Apple currently has a market share of 95%, so it will be interesting to see what the effects of the arrival of the PlayBook and Samsung's Galaxy Tab will do to the sector.