Opinion Brief

Will Google own the smartphone business?

Google's Android has surpassed Nokia's system to become the leading smartphone platform in the world. Is Android poised for worldwide domination?

Research company Canalys reported yesterday that sales of Google's Android platform surpassed Nokia's Symbian operating system, the "longtime champion" in the mobile phone world, in the final quarter of 2010. Apple's iPhone was third. Is Google's Android destined to dominate the smartphone industry, leaving Apple and all other competitors in its dust?

Google has made huge strides: Android's success in the final quarter of 2010 is a "milestone" for the smartphone system, says Devindra Hardawar at Venture Beat. It was "bound to become king eventually," thanks to it's being free and available across a range of devices. But "it's certainly a surprise to see it gain the top smartphone spot so soon.""Android topples Nokia as world’s leading smartphone platform in Q4 2010"

And is really honing in on the mobile market...: Google is planning to hire dozens of developers to create smartphone apps, says Amir Efrait in The Wall Street Journal, and "more and better" Android apps will help Google "continue to gain ground" on the iPhone, which has far more software available right now. Not only that, but Google CEO (and soon to be executive chairman) Eric Schmidt recently said that "all the company's strategic initiatives this year involve mobile devices.""Google searches for mobile-app experts"

... including a big push in tablets: Android tablets, mainly the Samsung Galaxy Tab, have also made inroads against the iPad, says John Brownlee at Cult of Mac, knocking Apple's market share from a "commanding" 95 percent to 77 percent. But, as with smartphones, "there was never any doubt that Android tablets were eventually going to outnumber iPads." Then again, Apple is "interested in being the best tablet, not the only tablet."
"As Android tablets arrives, iPad's marketshare shrinks from 95% to 77%"

But Apple is still far more profitable: "Apple continues to dominate the market when profit is measured," says Josh Ong at Apple Insider. Apple may have just 4.2 percent of the phone market, but its iPhone reportedly rakes in 51 percent of the total profits made by the top eight mobile phone companies. And, Apple profits "could continue to soar" when it adds the Verizon iPhone this month."Apple's 4% mobile market share rakes in over half the industry's profit"

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