By the end of next year, Google's Android will have been sold on more than twice the number of smartphones than Apple will have sold iPhones.
According to IHS, cumulative Android phone shipments will top 1 billion next year when the OS is forecast to be installed on 451 million phones that are predicted to be sold. That number is up from a forecast 357 million this year. In comparison, the iPhone will hit 527 million this year and will not arrive at 1 billion until 2015, IHS said. Meanwhile, Android is expected to approach top 2.2 billion in 2015, with annual shipments climbing to 599 million units.
“The Androids are taking over the world of smartphones,” said Daniel Gleeson, mobile analyst for IHS. “We expect the Android operating system to become the first to reach the milestone of 1 billion shipments during its lifetime. For Google, this accomplishment highlights the success of its growth strategy for Android, which is based on providing the operating system as an open-source platform to third-party smartphone brands free of charge. Google hopes to make significant revenues from mobile advertisements and other services. Such an open-source model means that Google offers handset makers the ability to customize Android easily, and by also eliminating licensing fees, is greatly encouraging adoption among smartphone handset manufacturers.”
In contrast, we should remember that, while Google relies on quickly rising shipment numbers to be able to exploit its advertising opportunity, Apple has a more diversified revenue opportunity and makes a killing on hardware sales. Rather than comparing Google and Apple (76 percent of the market goes to these two platforms in 2012, IHS said), the much more interesting question will be what is left for Microsoft, RIM, Linux, Bada and Mozilla. A forecast until 2016 may be a bit difficult to defend until we know what effect Windows Phone 8, Firefox OS and the new Blackberry will have. It is unlikely that the smartphone world will stand still.