The Android platform has finally taken the lead in smartphone market share, leaving Nokia, Apple and RIM in the dust. That's according to analytics firm Canalys, which tracked worldwide smartphone shipments throughout 2010 and just published its numbers for the fourth quarter of the year. The firm says that 32.9 million Android devices shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter 2010, compared to the previous leader (Nokia's Symbian platform) at 31.0 million.
Canalys tracked a total of 101.2 million smartphone shipments during the quarter, which represented an 89 percent growth year-on-year. Shipments for the entire year of 2010 almost reached 300 million, representing an 80 percent growth over 2009. Because of this, all platforms tracked by Canalys saw growth between 2009 and 2010—except for Microsoft, which saw a 20.3 percent decline. Google greatly benefitted from its 615.1 percent growth rate, pushing it ahead of Nokia's Symbian platform in overall shipments. That made Google's market share for the last quarter of 2010 32.9 percent, while Nokia sat at 30.6 percent. Apple came in third with a market share number of 16 percent (and a growth rate of 85.9 percent over Q4 2009), and RIM came in fourth place with a market share of 14.4 percent (growth rate of 36 percent over Q4 2009). Microsoft's share dropped from 7.2 percent to 3.1 percent year-on-year.
Canalys attributed Google's wild success to its vendors, especially LG, Samsung, Acer, and HTC. Indeed, the flood of new handsets running some version of Android has done wonders to boost the platform's numbers, though the firm warns that 2011 may be very different thanks to new devices and new agreements.
"The US landscape will shift dramatically this coming year, as a result of the Verizon-Apple agreement," Canalys Analyst Tim Shepherd said in a statement. He also said that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 showed up too late to cash in on the holiday season—hence the drop in share—but indicated that it may bounce back in 2011.
"[V]endors cannot afford to be complacent. 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," Canalys VP Chris Jones added.