Android Invasion: the Next Phase Begins

Writing about Android can sometimes feel like writing science fiction. So forgive me for saying the following:

By JR Raphael
Wed, May 19, 2010

PC World — Writing about Android can sometimes feel like writing science fiction. So forgive me for saying the following:

The Android invasion is about to shift phases.

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Android, you see, has just broken through a few new barriers in its path to widespread adoption. The one getting all the attention today comes from a report published by the research gurus at Gartner, who found U.S. Android sales grew a whopping 707 percent over the past year. Yes, 707 percent -- or, to use the more technical term, "a really freakin' ginormous amount."

Specifically, 5.2 million Android handsets were sold in the first quarter of 2010, up from 575,000 just one year ago. 'Twas a strong season for smartphones in general -- overall sales were up by almost 50 percent from year-to-year -- but the biggest headline clearly belongs to Android.

Google's (GOOG) mobile phone platform now possesses 9.6 percent of the global smartphone market, compared to only 1.6 percent at the same time in '09. That means it's nudged Windows Mobile -- er, sorry, Windows-Mobile-but-soon-to-be-Windows-Phone-7-Series-or-maybe-just-Windows-Phone-7 -- out of the fourth place spot.

If the predictions prove true, the iPhone and BlackBerry will be the next to be overtaken.

Android Sales, Interest, and the Inevitable Shift

The trends certainly seem to support the notion of continued Android growth, and it isn't just Gartner providing the data. The latest report by the analysts at Quantcast also shows steady gains by Android. According to those number-crunching cats, while Android still "has a way to go," the "trend is becoming apparent."

And, at the risk of overloading your brain with data (mine shorted out about four minutes ago), the crew from Compete came out with its own study this week, too. Those stat-loving sons-of-guns measured consumer interest by looking at what smartphones people were researching most frequently at carriers' sites. Their analysis, entitled "Android Finally Begins to Erode iPhone's Interest Share," reaches an interesting conclusion.

"The reason Apple (AAPL) should be concerned about Android's newfound strength is because it has been in a similar situation before, in its competition against Microsoft (MSFT) for home computing," Compete's Nathan Ingraham explains. "Apple, of course, is the only manufacturer and vendor of phones running the iPhone operating system, while any manufacturer is able to run Android if it wishes. This mirrors Apple's history pitting its Macintosh operating system against Microsoft Windows."

Oh, dear -- I detect an all-out fanboy battle a-brewin'.

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