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Android’s Market Share

First the good news: According to Gartner, Android is now the number two mobile OS worldwide, right behind Symbian and slightly ahead of Research in Motion. Gartner is also predicting that Android’s market share will continue to grow, from it’s current 17.7% share to 29.6% by the end of 2014. Although this would seem to be great news for those of us in the FOSS community, I’m not sure the seers at Gartner have considered all the facts in making their predictions.

The problem is Apple.

Right now, Apple’s iPhone OS commands 15.4% of the mobile market, a figure which Gartner analysts say will drop to 14.9% by 2014. The problem is, this prediction is probably wrong, because sales of the iPhone are certain to go through the roof once it’s available on carriers other than AT&T, something that’s bound to happen sooner rather than later.

It’s pretty much common knowledge there are many people who prefer the iPhone who’re using an Android set because of problems with AT&T’s service. There are even more people who have existing contracts with other carriers, and when renewal time comes, with the opportunity to pick-up a new subsidized phone, who knows how many will opt to drop their Droid or Blackberry in favor of an iPhone if available?

You can bet the number will be high. The public perceives, rightly or wrongly, the iPhone to be the standard bearer of smartphones, and with carrier subsidies, there won’t be enough price differential between an Apple and a top-of-the-line Android set to matter much to the consumer who’s mind is set on the iPhone.

My guess is that as soon as the iPhone quits being handcuffed to AT&T, sales of the Apple product will soar, at the expense of all other mobile platforms. This still leaves Android in better shape than other mobile OSes, however. In this case, Android becomes the commodity smartphone, offered by the carriers free, or nearly so, just for signing a contract.

Oh, one more thing: According to Gartner, Microsoft’s mobile platform will drop to a market share of 3.9% by 2014. Now that’s some real good news.

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