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Google Android Success In UK Contract Market Hides Another Truth

The surge in sales of Google-based Android handsets in the first three months of 2010 may well mean the end of the traditional feature phone at least in the mobile contract market.

This could bode badly for the likes of Symbian and proprietary mobile platforms which have been gradually pushed out of the higher end of the market by the iPhone, Blackberry and Android, into mainstream and now further down into the entry level.

There are a couple of reasons to explain why Android is popular in the market and why it is having an impact on the market. First the sheer amount of Android smartphones on the market; at the last count there were more than a dozen from the likes of ZTE, Dell, LG, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Acer.

More handsets means more choice and more competition, hence better value for money at any given price range and newer technologies coming to the market and trickling down to mainstream faster. The only major phone makers not to sell any Android phones are Nokia, Apple and RIM, mostly because they have their own mobile platforms to protect.

Then there's the fact that over the past two years, the pay monthly contract market is likely to have shrunken as more people choose to go SIM only or on PAYG instead because of economic circumstances with that particular market likely to be dominated by cheap phones (after all, not many of us can afford to spend £600 to get a PAYG iPhone 4).

This favours Android because it is the only platform that offers the breadth of features of a true smartphone like the iPhone combined with the ability to cover the whole of the market from entry level to top end, hence catering for a much wider audience.

The ZTE Racer for example costs £100 and is the cheapest Android handset on the market but shares some features found on more expensive phones like a 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Google Mobile Apps and Satnav capabilities.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.