The number of phones shipped using Google's Android platform is set to grow much faster than the iPhone this year, estimates from Strategy Analytics maintain today. Devices like the T-Mobile G1 have just a small fraction of shipments today but are expected to grow 900 percent in 2009 as multiple extra smartphones launch and more carriers come onboard. Apple's device will reportedly grow second-quickest but at a much smaller 79 percent growth rate to 23.8 million iPhones per year, potentially leading to a shift in favor of Android in the near future.
"Android is now in a good position to become a top-tier player in smartphones over the next two to three years," Strategy Analytics director Neil Mawston says.
The past month has seen the expansion of Android devices, including the formal launch of the HTC Magic as well as the first official word of the Samsung i7500. Google's mobile OS is also no longer a near-exclusive for T-Mobile and is now available on Vodafone in Europe, with a Canadian release coming in less than a month. Motorola and Sony Ericsson are likewise poised to add Android phones of their own in coming months.
The research firm adds that the low cost of licensing Android and its partly open-source foundations will help give the software a better footprint as it allows for lower-priced devices and for both manufacturers and carriers to write their own interface elements. The change has let China Mobile produce its own operating system with specific requirements.
Apple has a large lead but has been helped by shipping phones since 2007. It has also been hindered by a relatively high minimum price and by a repeated refusal to allow outside control of the operating system, which has led to a stalled China deal as China Mobile continues to pressure Apple for involvement in app sales.