In the on-going battle for global dominance in the cell phone world, it seems that Google’s Android will be emerging as a big challenger over the next few years. 

Currently running on less than 2% of all smartphones, Gartner Inc. predicts it will surge to 14% of the global smartphone market by 2012 — ahead of the iPhone, as well as Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. 

By 2012, Gartner forecasts that Android will rank second in the global market behind the Symbian OS.  Symbian is used in Nokia devices that are very popular in Europe and other countries outside the United States. 

What’s driving this surge?  The primary predicted increase in popularity comes from Google Inc.’s backing of Android and the increase of cloud applications and functions.  Google will continue to increase their cloud infrastructure in the coming years. 

T-Mobile’s G-1 (the first Android release) was released to mild consumer and critical praise.  However, Google is continuing to refine their operating system and more Android-based handsets are becoming available.  Additionally, Android is much more open and easily tweaked as compared to Apple and their iPhone.  Pair Android with Google’s near-world wide services and you have a pretty convincing argument for it’s predicted increase in popularity. 

Smartphone interfaces seem to have headed off in two divergent ways: iPhone’s heavy focus on applications versus Windows Mobile’s and Symbian’s focus on tasks and communications. But Android has blended a focus on applications and tasks pretty well.

Android’s inface allows a user to perform frequently needed tasks without going back to the top of the logic tree. 

Here’s the predicted forecast for smartphone OS’s by 2012:

  • Symbian, 203 million devices sold (39% of the market)
  • Android, 76 million devices sold (14.5% of the market)
  • iPhone, 71.5 million devices sold (13.7% of the market)
  • Windows Mobile, 68.8 million devices sold (12.8% of the market)
  • BlackBerry, 62.25 million devices sold (12.5% of the market)
  • Palm’s WebOS, 11 million devices sold (2.1% of the market)

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