In the fight to be the No. 1 smart phone, Google's Android stands to surpass the iPhone's top seat in two years, according to market researcher iSuppli Corp .
"Google and Apple are engaged in a fierce battle for control of the wireless market, which represents the most lucrative growth opportunity in the technology world today. Both companies have their eyes on the huge revenue growth expected in wireless data," iSuppli said Thursday.
By 2012 Android will be used in 75 million phones, while the iPhone's iOS will be used by 62 million phones, according to a statement yesterday from from iSuppli. Last year the iPhone was used by 25 million people, while the Android was only used by 5 million phones, with a 2.7 percent share of the market. The iPhone, on the other hand, made up about 13.8 percent of the market in 2009.
“Android is taking the smart phone market by storm,” said Tina Teng, senior analyst, wireless communications, for iSuppli. “The OS started with entry level models in 2008, but the flexibility Android offers for hardware designs and its appealing business model in terms of revenue sharing have attracted vigorous support from all nodes in the value chain, including makers of high-end smart phone models. Cell phone OEMs representing all tiers of the industry have committed to support Android, including Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Huawei, AsusTek and ZTE. This broad industry support will allow the Android OS’s usage and market share to exceed that of its chief rival—iOS—in 2012, just five years after its introduction.”
Android's major advantage is that Google gave the operating system to cell phone manufacturers for free. And according to Nielson, the Android has already begun outpacing the iPhone, after it became available on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint phones.
The iPhone's iOS can only be used in Apple phones, and according to iSuppli, that will bump the iPhone to second place within two years. The proprietary nature of the iPhone also represents the two companies' different philosophies and business models.
Jagdish Rebello PhD, senior director and principal analyst at iSuppli, said Apple targets a different portion of the market.
“While Google is trying hard to capture market share in the smart phone market, Apple’s strategy is aimed at making its products highly desirable but not necessarily affordable for the mass market,” Rebello said. “Apple has been successful in doing this with its friendly User Interface (UI), its slick OS and its well developed ecosystem of apps and content providers.”