Yes, you read the headline correctly: Android will overtake the iPhone by 2012. According to analysts at Informa Telecoms & Media, Apple’s lovely iPhone device is expected to fall behind Google Android within the next four years. Analysts at the company claim that Android’s open source operating system will keep production costs low and open Android up to more customers than the iPhone.
Analysts say that competition among smartphones has changed the cell phone market, and Gavin Byrne noted:
“While demand in the mid tier will fall away during 2009, sales of new smartphones will grow by over 30 per cent to 211.2 million units, driven by innovative new devices and operator subsidies designed to promote mobile data consumption….By 2013 almost four in every 10 handsets sold worldwide will be a smartphone.”
I’m no qualified market analyst, but Informa seems right about the competition between Apple and Google’s marquee mobile platforms. Android will overtake the iPhone because Android is an operating system open to use on any device and any carrier. Meanwhile, the iPhone is locked away in the AT&T dungeons in the U.S. market on one device. Android on the other hand is expected to appear on phones from Samsung, LG, HTC, etc., and delivered to a variety of carriers.
Android as open source naturally exposes the platform to a much larger consumer base that iPhone can’t hold off. Even if the iPhone is seen as the “cooler” item and has the advantage of being around longer, sheer numbers make it hard for Apple to stave off Android outpacing the iPhone in market share. There’s no app or feature good enough to remain king forever.