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Android to become No. 1 mobile OS in 2011: Flurry

Handset manufacturers such as HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson have all adopted Google?s Android operating system, and sometime this year it will become the No. 1 mobile OS in the United States and worldwide, according to Flurry.

Flurry claims that it analytics service detects more than 80 percent of all Android devices, and it estimates that there are more than 60 million devices running on the Android OS. After the first two years of devices based on Google?s mobile operating system in market, Samsung?s Android-based handsets have become the new leader in non-iOS smartphones, per Flurry.

?Based on the trends we are seeing, Android will become the No. 1 OS in the U.S. and worldwide sometime in 2011,? said Peter Farago, vice president  of marketing at Flurry, San Francisco. ?But we have to remember that Android OS is running on numerous handsets across multiple carriers.

?It is the critical-mass effect that is driving the growth,? he said. ?The Android installed base is growing exponentially, showing that developing for this platform is a must for publishers during 2011.

?Android devices have evolved to a new level of maturity, with bigger, more established OEMs beginning to show significant traction, which is driving growth and innovation.?

Android growth exploding
T-Mobile USA came out with the G1 by HTC in October 2008, the first commercially available mobile device running on the Android OS.

That was the first smartphone stemming from The Open Handset Alliance, a Google-led coalition of around 80 companies that are dedicated to support open standards for mobile devices.

Mr. Farago said that the launch of increasingly more powerful Android devices over the past two years has resulted in unprecedented year-over-year growth.

From 2009 to 2010, Android adoption increased by nearly 10 times, from 5.9 million to 53 million devices, per Flurry.

The new Android landscape in 2010
In 2009, the top Android handsets were the T-Mobile G1 by HTC, myTouch 3G by HTC and Motorola Droid, per Flurry.

Mr. Farago said that HTC?s early Android development was rewarded in 2009.

However, by the end of last year, three companies split most of the market share for Android devices, with Samsung coming on very strong in the third and fourth quarters of 2010.

In addition, LG captured 7 percent of Android device activations with a boom in end-of-the-year sales.

As a new player in the consumer electronics space, HTC could not bounce back after its early dominant market share lead disappeared against mature brands like Motorola, Samsung and LG.

?The main factor in the growth of Android is the number of reputable companies investing seriously in pushing the envelope on OEM handset innovation,? Mr. Farago said. ?More companies are releasing more handsets more often.

?This is reaching real critical mass,? he said.

Samsung disruption in fourth quarter 2010
Samsung made a strong push in the second half of 2010.

In fact, the fourth quarter 2010 marked the first quarter since Android launched eight quarters ago at the end of 2008 with the T-Mobile G1 by HTC on T-Mobile that HTC did not lead the market in quarterly new Android activations, per Flurry.

Mr. Farago said that while HTC enjoyed strong first-mover advantage, coupled with additional penetration through its willingness to white-label for Google- and T-Mobile-branded Android devices, it succumbed to the brand power of Samsung led by its Galaxy S line of Android devices in the fourth quarter 2010.
Strong sales of Galaxy during 2010 holidays
Studying the holiday season in December 2010, not only does Samsung dominate the top spot with the Galaxy S, but also claims the third position with the Galaxy Tab, the best-selling Android-based tablet and only non-phone in the top ten.

Mr. Farago said that tablet success is going to be driven by the same factors that affect devices: consumer acceptance of a third device somewhere between a smartphone and laptop, that is, finding meaningful use-cases, the price and quality of the tablet offered, the amount of relevant software?that is, applications?available for the device.

Also of note is the fact that the top five does not include HTC.

However, places six through ten on the list of the top ten devices are all HTC devices: HTC EVO 4G, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible, HTC Glacier and HTC Wildfire.

?The most surprising finding is that the Samsung Galaxy series of devices is exploding, with Samsung being the only OEM to overtake a very competent HTC for the first time,? Mr. Farago said.

?Given that Samsung is among the most advanced and vertically integrated companies from handset to device to display, it is producing among the most powerful, sexy consumer-facing devices,? he said.

?Consumers are responding to the Galaxy S like they have responded to no other handset before it?in short, they appear to be very good at what they do.?

Final Take
Samsung Mobile's Kim Titus