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Google Phones Set To Overhaul Competitors In Four Years...

By Nick Clark

Saturday, 11 September 2010     

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Smartphones running software developed by Google could snatch the largest share of the market by 2014 from less than 4 per cent last year, according to new research.

Devices running the Google- developed Android operating system are already set to overtake BlackBerry this year, Gartner said yesterday, two years earlier than it had predicted in 2009.

The share of the smartphone market held by BlackBerry parent Research in Motion stood at a little under 20 per cent last year, with Android down at just 3.9 per cent.

Yet the analysts believe that by the end of this year BlackBerry will slip to 17.5 per cent, and will be overtaken by Android, which is set to leap to 17.7 per cent. This has followed an explosion of handset manufacturers developing devices with the Google software, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung.

Apple's iPhone last year represented 14.4 per cent of the market, which is expected to peak at 17.1 per cent in two years' time, the research predicted.

Apple updated its software to iOS4 as it released its latest generation of the device over the summer. Analysts also expect a new version of the device to emerge soon. Yet Gartner expects market share of the device to slip to 14.9 per cent in 2014.

The survey revealed that Android operating systems, along with current market leader Symbian, developed by Nokia, will make up almost 60 per cent of new smartphones sold in four years time.

While Nokia has struggled to challenge the iPhone and the Google devices in the high-end market – a significant factor in the departure of chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo yesterday – it dominates the lower end of the market.

Last year Symbian was running on 46.9 per cent of smartphones sold, yet the numbers are waning. It is expected to slip to as low as 30.2 per cent in four years.

Microsoft has also made a series of attempts to make an impact in the smartphone market, with the latest version being the Windows Phone 7. Yet, Gartner predicts that the 8.7 per cent share the US technology giant held last year will slide to 4.7 per cent this year and down to 3.9 per cent in 2014.

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Video calling is about to go mainstream

Speaking of front-facing cameras, it looks like the second half of 2010 is when video calling could go mainstream on mobile devices.

Details are still sketchy on the iPhone’s plan, but we can assume there will be some sort of video chat or video calling option. And if the iPhone 4G sells like the iPad (which has moved 2 million units in 60 days), everybody and their brother will be video calling.

The EVO 4G has been touting the inclusion of Qik’s new video calling appFring, another Android app for video calling, has already launched (in order to stake claim to being first).

It was also rumored this week that Skype will support mobile-to-mobile video calling on the EVO 4G. Skype’s PR team released this statement, which seems to welcome all handsets and mobile OSes to the party, in response to the rumor:

Skype envisions a world where video plays a larger role in the way we communicate. The next generation innovation involving video calling will not be bound to the computer. We’re seeing a proliferation of video calling shared between all kinds of connected devices. It’s on computers (today 1/3 of all calls on Skype happen via video), televisions (Skype bringing video calls to living rooms via Panasonic, Samsung & LG partnership), and it will eventually be coming to mobile devices too. We’re betting big on video, and we intend to set the bar on mobile video calling, and it’s something we’re going to do this year.

We will be bringing a direct to consumer app to the Android marketplace later this year. This application will be available for all consumers globally to download regardless of carriers. (i.e. similar to how we offer the iPhone app today)

I just hope we don’t see a Chat Roulette app pop up any time soon. Let’s keep that behind closed doors, please.

Palm’s UI lead heads to Android

A few weeks ago, I speculated that Google could benefit from acquiring Palm to dress up the Android UI. Of course, just hours after publishing my opinion, HP announced that it had snatched up Palm in a $1.2 billion deal.

This week, Google announced that it had taken my advice but decided to save its $1.2 billion. Instead of acquiring Palm, Google simply hired its lead UI designer Matias Duarte (that’s why they’re Google and I’m me, I guess). Now, maybe future flavors of Android can give HTC’s Sense some competition.

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Shawn MortonShawn Morton is the Director of Mobile, Social and Emerging Media for Nationwide. He has more than 14 years of Web product development and interactive marketing experience in startup and Fortune 100 companies. His specialties also include gadgets, mobile apps, usability, and gaming.

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