Android, iPhone fastest-growing platforms, study finds

Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s iPhone OS were the fastest-growing smart phone platforms in 2009, with sales of the iPhone OS overtaking those of Windows Mobile, research company Gartner Research Inc. said Tuesday. Symbian and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry still lead the market, it said.

Worldwide sales of smart phones running Symbian totaled 80.9 million in 2009, up from 72.9 million a year earlier. Because total smartphone sales grew faster, to 172.4 million from 139.3 million a year earlier, Symbian’s market share declined to 46.9 per cent, Gartner said. Second-place RIM’s market share rose to 19.9 percent from 16.6 per cent in 2008.

Apple’s smart phone OS took third place. Apple sold 24.9 million iPhones in 2009, compared to 11.4 million in 2008, taking its share of the market to 14.4 per cent.

Microsoft Corp.’s smart phone OS dropped to the fourth spot as its market share fell from 11.8 per cent to 8.7 per cent, and sales dropped by about 1.5 million phones. The launch of a new version, Windows Phones 7 Series, appears to make it a more competitive platform, but as phones based on the rewritten OS won’t show up until late this year, sales will continue to struggle during most of 2010, according to Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Linux — in which Gartner includes LiMo, but excludes Android — also continues to struggle in the smart phone market. Its share dropped from 7.6 per cent to 4.7 per cent in 2009.

Android was only the sixth largest smart phone platform in 2009, with a market share of 3.9 per cent. However, that looks likely to change soon. Android phone sales really started to pick up during the fourth quarter. Four million out of a total 6.8 million units were sold during the last three months of 2009. Sixty-nine per cent of those were sold in North America, driven by Verizon Wireless’s promotion of the Motorola Droid, Cozza said.

Palm’s WebOS is a newcomer on Gartner’s list in seventh place, with a 0.7 per cent market share.

While the smart phone market is booming, total worldwide mobile phone sales of 1.2 billion units were down about 1 per cent compared to 2008, according to Gartner.

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