The success of Google's Android platform has been impressive thus far - but market watcher Gartner believes that it's on form to become the dominant smartphone operating system, predicting that it will grow to almost half the market by next year.
A report released by the firm today suggests that by the end of next year, Google's Android platform will account for 49.2 per cent of the world-wide smartphone market - up from a predicted 38.5 per cent this year.
If Gartner's predictions are accurate, that would give Google's mobile platform the overwhelming majority of the smartphone market - with its nearest competitor, Apple's iOS, languishing at a mere 18.9 per cent.
The predicted gains come as a loss to the majority of other brands, with Apple's iOS, Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS, Nokia's seemingly doomed Symbian, and 'other' mobile platforms all losing market share to Google. The only other company predicted to gain share next year is Microsoft - likely helped by its recent partnership with Nokia.
"As vendors delivering Android-based devices continue to fight for market share, price will decrease to further benefit consumers," claimed Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza in the report. "Android's position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in the mid- to low-cost smartphones, above all in emerging markets."
That's news that will come as a blow to those who believe that Nokia's Symbian platform still has a future in developing nations. Gartner's figures suggest that Symbian will fail to catch on in its intended markets, and that failure will combine with a focus on Windows Mobile in Western markets to drop its market share to a pitiful 5.2 per cent by the end of next year - and an inconsequential 0.1 per cent by 2015.
While the success of Android will be good news for Google in the smartphone market, the report suggests that it could also help the advertising giant take on the seemingly unstoppable Apple in the tablet space. "Consumers who already own an open OS communications device will be drawn to media tablets and more often than not, to media tablets that share the same OS as their smartphone," claimed Gartner's research vice president Carolina Milanese - suggesting that a growth in Android smartphones will directly lead to a growth in Android tablets.
"This allows consumers to be able to share the same experience across devices as well as apps, settings or game scores. At the same time, tablet users who don’t own a smartphone could be prompted to adopt one to be able to share the experience they have on their tablets," Milanese concluded - suggesting an 'echo-chamber' effect that could amplify sales in both markets.
With Apple's iPad 2 remaining the most sought-after tablet, Google still has a long way to go in that regard - but Android is certainly proving a sound investment for the company.