It sounds like the title of a science-fiction B movie, but we may be at the start of an Android revolution. One day after dashing the hopes of consumers who wanted to use Google's Android-powered Nexus One smartphone on Verizon Wireless, Google laid claim to substantial Android smartphone growth.
Beats iPhone in U.S.
The latest info comes from AdMob, the mobile advertising network which is set to be purchased by Google pending regulatory approval. According to the AdMob study, activity during March on 18,000 web sites or mobile apps showed a 32 percent growth in Android use on 34 different handsets. (Android ships on 20 models, but can be loaded onto phones that use other operating systems.) The largest share of activity came from the Motorola Droid, while only two percent of traffic came from Google's Nexus One.
The AdMob data show Android narrowly edging out Apple's iPhone for smartphone domination of the U.S. market at 46 to 39 percent, with Research In Motion's software a distant third with seven percent and Palm's webOS barely registering with three percent.
Globally, the iPhone still reigns, with 46 percent of AdMob traffic compared to Android's 25 percent share, but Nokia's Symbian OS, too small to measure on its own in the U.S. survey, took third place at 21 percent.
With that kind of momentum, could Android eventually overtake the iPhone globally as well as domestically?
"Considering the number of manufacturers backing Android, yes, they will," said Carolina Milanesi, a vice president for mobile devices research at Gartner, based in London. "We actually estimate Android to be the second-largest OS after Symbian in 2012. In Europe, Symbian plays a much bigger role, of course, because of the role Nokia plays in this market. So far, Android has not been as popular in Europe as it has been in the U.S., as the Google brand is not as strong."
Nexus One Goes To Europe
That could change since Vodafone this week began offering the Nexus One free in England with a two-year calling plan. Releases in Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands are also planned. Vodafone will sell the devices by phone and Internet as well as in stores, unlike the U.S., where Google only sells the HTC-made device in its online store.
On Monday, Google announced that a version of Nexus One compatible with Verizon's network had been scrapped on the day it was supposed to become available. The decision was apparently made by Google, with Verizon saying it was ready to do business.
Gerry Purdy of MobilTrax sees the move as a bit of muscle-flexing by Google.
"I suspect that Google thinks it should control the operators much like it may observe Apple appear to control AT&T Wireless, since most iPhones are sold outside of the AT&T stores," Purdy said. "Apple agreed to do activation and support in exchange for such 'freedom.' Thus, Google is struggling a bit to find a way to exert more power than simply be an OS player. This is only one foray into the mix. There will be others."
Posted: 2010-04-27 @ 2:26pm PT
Other Web sites already have reported that the AdMob statistics are in error and/or misinterpreted and that this story is wrong.