An aggressive estimate by iSuppli today has Android passing iOS for share by 2012. While Apple still has a comfortable total user base today, Google is accelerating quickly enough that it could claim 75 million active phones by 2012 where Apple would grow to just 62 million. That ratio could widen further in the following two years to where Android would have 22.8 percent share, at over 100 million phones, where iPhones and related devices would shrink in relative share to 15.3 percent.
Analysts at the group said they still thought the iPhone would set a standard for smartphones but that Apple's insistence on a vertical design, where it makes both the hardware and software, would limit its potential. Google has the advantage of many hardware manufacturers that can reach carriers, countries and prices where Apple isn't necessarily willing to go.
Apple has routinely insisted that it's concerned with providing the best experience and not necessarily making sacrifices in quality or control to get to that objective. Some have criticized Apple, however, for potentially repeating what they see as repeating the mistake it made in the 1980s of refusing to license its OS early on and thus giving up its potential reach.
Other analysts have disagreed and note that much of Apple's problem stems from its exclusivity in the US. Verizon is the largest individual seller of Android phones in the world. Suspicions have been raised that a Verizon iPhone could mute Android as many customers might simply be buying the Droid line out of loyalty to the carrier or the cost of jumping to AT&T.