Android Tops Leading Smartphone List -- in the World

Android the giant continues to loom large among smartphone competitors. Today research firm Canalys said the Android platform had the most shipments globally of any other platform with 32.9 million Android-based devices shipped.

But with Android spread across scores of different devices, traditional market leader Nokia maintained its position as the leading smartphone vendor with a 28 percent share, according to Canalys. While Nokia doesn't have a big smartphone presence in the U.S., the Finnish company ships more smartphones and mobile phones in general, than any other vendor globally. Android actually just barely eclipsed Nokia on platform shipments, 32.9 to 31 million, according to Canalys.

The overall smartphone market saw a sales boom in the quarter, with over 101.2 million units shipped -- 89 percent year-over-year growth. The growth rate for the year also soared to 80 percent over 2009.

Meanwhile, Canalys' analysts said that Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) recent deal with Verizon promises to further shake things up in the U.S., giving customers more choice across multiple vendors and carriers.

"The U.S. landscape will shift dramatically this coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement," Tim Shepherd, Canalys analyst, said in a statement. "Verizon will move its focus away from the Droid range, but the overall market impact will mean less carrier-exclusive deals, while increasing the AT&T opportunity for Android vendors, such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung."

In the U.S. Canalys said Android is the undisputed leader in shipments with 12.1 million units in the latest quarter, almost three times as many as RIM's BlackBerry line.

Success in the U.S. market is crucial to vendors since it remains the largest country in terms of shipments -- more than double the size of the Chinese smart phone market. Canalys said RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) recaptured first place from Apple, which the research firm attributed to two factors; first, Apple usually sees U.S. sales dip in the quarter and second it was first full quarter of availability for RIM's new BlackBerry Torch. HTC maintained third-place in the U.S. for the third consecutive quarter, helped by both Android and new Windows Phone 7 devices.

While 2010 has seen a surge in smartphone sales, Canalys analyst Chris Jones said vendors cannot afford to be complacent with so many new technologies and competitive offerings in the pipeline.

"2011 is set to be a highly competitive year with vendors looking to use new technology, such as dual-core processors, NFC and 3D displays, to differentiate their products and maintain value," said Jones, vice president and principal analyst at Canalys.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Google, Android, mobile, smartphone, Nokia