Android-based smartphones will become the most popular option by the end of 2011, with the Google-powered handsets accounting for 49 percent of the world market by 2012. That’s the word from one research firm, which also announced Thursday Apple’s iOS platform will remain No. 2 because the Cupertino, Calif. firm prefers margin over market share.
Although Android devices will push the average smartphone price to $300 or less, “Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy,” Gartner said. Apple’s iOS will peak in 2011 with growth in the U.S. and Western Europe. Sales to emerging markets will be limited, the researcher predicts.
“Android’s position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but itsgreatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in the mid- to low-cost smartphones, above all in emerging markets,” principal analyst Roberta Cozza said.
Cozza forecasts Android’s 2010 market share will double by 2015, increasing from 22.7 percent to 48.8 percent of the worldwide market. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS will rise from last year’s 15.7 percent to 19.4 percent in 2011, but fall to 17.2 percent in 2015.
RIM will see its worldwide smartphone share slide amid stronger competition both in the consumer and business markets, shedding nearly five percent to 11.1 percent in 2015.
Along with Android, Microsoft will be a big winner, the researcher predicts. Aided by teaming up with Nokia, the Windows Phone platform will become the third most-popular smartphone, jumping to 19.5 percent of the market, up from its 4.2 percent share in 2010.
Despite the growth of tablets, the shift may not hurt the smartphone market. Gartner believes owners of Android-based tablets will want an Android-powered smartphone. Likewise, users of Apple’s iPad will be drawn to the iPhone..