According to new data released by Canalys, Android shipments in Q4 passed Nokia to put it in the top spot among smartphone operating systems. This does not mean that Android currently has the greatest smartphone market share globally or in the US. What it means is that more Android handsets were shipped in Q4 than other platforms. Many firms have predicted that Android would become the number two mobile OS after Nokia’s by 2012.
Android’s gains are likely to continue as Nokia and even RIM contemplate using the OS in some fashion. Android is becoming for smartphones what Microsoft was and is to PCs. And the threat to Microsoft from Android-powered devices is very real over the long term, especially in the developing world where the “mobile internet” is the only internet and smartphones (and soon tablets) will replace PCs in a large number of use cases.
Google’s share of mobile search is much more dominant in mobile than even on the PC. First the iPhone and then Android put Google in that position. In all but a small number of cases (e.g., Samsung Fascinate) an Android device = Google search device. Google is now making material ad revenue from mobile; previously the company announced a $1 billion “run rate” for mobile advertising.
It has been estimated that the majority of that revenue comes from search but an increasing amount of Google’s mobile revenues come from display. Given the company’s remarkable success, in a year or two Android may become the next “antitrust front” for Google.
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