Whose lunch does Android eat?

Not so long ago no one was sure if Android would ever be relevant. It made its debut in the fall of 2007, and for the first 2 years of its existence Android had a tough time making first steps. It got its big break last November with the release of the Motorola Droid on the Verizon network.

The real Android explosion has really erupted over the past year. Even in US where iOS popularity and loyalty to it are so high. In the first 6 months of 2010 Android accounted for 30.8% of all smartphone sales in the US – up from just 4.6% in the first half of the year before. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, slipped from 21.1% in the first half of 2009 to 19.8 % in the first 6 months of 2010. In the 3rd quarter of 2010 in US Android devices accounted for a whopping 44% of smartphones purchased – an increase of 11 percentage points over 2010’s 2nd quarter. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS was up one point to 23 %. That means Android-powered smartphones outsold iPhones by almost 2 to 1.

Also Gartner research firm has projected that by the end of the year sales of Android devices will exceed those based on the BlackBerry OS and the iPhone OS, meaning that Android will trail only Symbian as the world’s most-used mobile operating system.

Above there are Android numbers compared to iOS’s. Still keep in mind that much of Android’s gains in the market is coming at the BlackBerry manufacturer’s expense rather than Apple, according to industry analysis by NPD. The HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid X, and other new high-end Android devices have been gaining momentum at carriers that traditionally have been strong RIM distributors.

And that is how, partially, analysts explained the Android boom. By pointing out the plethora of manufacturers that equip their smartphones with Google’s mobile OS, and highlighting their availability on all the major US carriers.

The interesting thing is that rumors that Apple will soon offer the iPhone to other US carriers besides AT&T pop up on a regular basis. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple would add Verizon to its US carrier stable early next year.

There is another reason offered for Android’s strong sales – there really hasn’t been any good alternative. For instance, MS’s Windows Mobile faded badly this year, and its Windows Phone 7 has yet to appear on handsets in the US.

And what’s your point of view: Will Android be able to keep its conquering pace same aggressive? What will be its place in future – both in USA and European markets?
Looking forward to see your points of view.

Also it’s interesting if the history [scenario with iOS vs. Android] will repeat itself in the emerging tablet market. If you’d like to look through some thoughts, welcome to read the next discussion called “Tablet market: extension of the Android vs. iOS battlefield”.