The iPhone may have captured the hearts and minds of many tech-savvy early smartphone adopters—not to mention marketers—with its sleek design, multitouch interface and available apps. But as Android has rolled out to more and more handsets, its popularity has surged and the loyalty of its users has increased to match that of iPhone owners. And in a few years the Android installed base will do the same.
eMarketer estimates that after exploding from just 6% of the US smartphone market in 2009 to 24% in 2010, Android will continue to gain share through 2012, when 31% of all smartphone users will own a device running the Google OS. That same year Apple’s share of the market will hold steady at 30%, up only slightly from 2009.
“The open-source Android OS requires no licensing fee and allows handset manufacturers and wireless carriers considerable latitude to customize the user interface according to their desired specifications,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of a forthcoming report on mobile devices. “With a growing roster of manufacturer and carrier partners in every major market and market segment, scale for Android is coming quickly in terms of device, market share, apps and ad revenues.”
Market share figures from several research firms show just how fast that scale has come. Between 2009 and 2010, Android grabbed a significant slice of the pie, mostly at the expense of Research In Motion and other non-Apple handsets.
“Ultimately, the winner, if there is one, matters less than marketers’ ability to make the most of the growing number of smart devices to deliver rich, engaging experiences for consumers,” said Elkin.