The pros weigh in: 25% of all smartphones will be Android by 2014

September 10, 2010: 11:36 AM ET

Both think Android will rise, but both are underestimating.

IDC came out with a report earlier this week saying that Android would be exploding, taking a great deal of market share away from other smartphone platforms.  By 2014, they think Android will be on a quarter of all smartphones, behind only Symbian.

Source: IDC

Gartner this morning took it one step further.  Their forecasts have Android neck and neck with Symbian in 2014.

Source: Gartner

I think they are both too conservative on Android.  Here's why:

First of all, Symbian is, in a lot of cases, barely a smartphone OS.  Both Symbian and Blackberry have big market share but barely show up on smartphone browser market share reports from both NetApplications and Quantcast.  That means people aren't using the "Smart" part of their OS.  That also means if they want to step up to a real WebKit Web browsing Smartphone, they are likely to switch to another platform.  Android is one of those options.

Second, even if you leave in the Symbian "feature phones" in the numbers, Android's recent growth isn't a fluke, and there is no reason to expect that in another product cycle (end 2012) we won't another doubling of its marketshare.   I think Android will pass Symbian by the end of 2012.

Android is just starting to go global.  Although it is everywhere in the US, it was only in 45 markets earlier this year.  Nokia/Symbian is in every market that Smartphones exist in (you could argue that they aren't actually in the US).

Popular Android 'superphones' are just entering China, the world's biggest mobile market,  with Samsung's Galaxy S line making a big splash this week.

Samsung: Keeping it classy in China

Growth in the US hasn't stopped, either.  Every month, more high end Android phones get launched in the US.  Not only has Samsung put its weight behind Android, other major players like Motorola have gone completely Android.  HTC and LG can't stop talking about Android either.

And the first  Android phone isn't yet two years old.  The T-Mobile G1 was released in October 2008.  There are still people in the US with two year plans that have never had a buying cycle while Android existed.  Even more amazing, the original Droid, the first real Android smartphone, isn't even a year old.  That means there are people on two year plans older than the Droid who won't get to make another smartphone purchase for another year.

The competition: BlackBerry's Torch is lackluster.  Nokia just hired a Microsoft VP to be its CEO.

I can't decide which is worse.  Neither player has anything impressive in their pipeline.  Even Windows Phone 7, which has sold a total of 0 devices, seems more promising than Blackberry and Nokia at this point.

iPhone?

I think the iPhone will continue to grow but high cost and Apple's (AAPL) pickiness will keep it from becoming a dominant player.

So what's stopping Android?  Manufacturers and Carriers are getting carried away with what they've been doing to poor Android.  The latest example is Verizon putting Bing on the Samsung Fascinate and not letting you use Google as the search engine on the phone.

Hopefully user backlash puts an end to that.  I'm already seeing signs of that with T-Mobile's refreshing "Stock Android" G2 coming out later this month.  hopefully that is a sign of things to come.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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