Global Android users more than triple in Q1 2011

Gartner survey finds dramatic increase for Android, stability for Apple and dramatic fall for Symbian

Users of Google's Android operating system have more than tripled in the past year, according to analyst firm Gartner.

In a global survey into mobile devices, the firm found Android users grew from 9.6 per cent of global smartphone share in the first quarter of 2010, to 36 per cent in Q1 2011 as it shipped more than 36 million units during the latest quarter.

Nokia's declining open source Symbian system posted a dramatic drop in market share throughout the year from 44.2 per cent to 27.4 per cent, following its retirement by the Finnish mobile giant and Nokia’s recent alliance with Microsoft to use Windows Phone 7 as its primary operating system.

According to Gartner, the partnership would likely ramp up the momentum of Windows Phone 7 which, despite its recent fanfare, led to a halving in share from Microsoft's current and legacy operating systems.

Apple’s popular iOS remained fairly stable, creeping up slightly from 15.3 per cent to 16.8 per cent, while the number of Research in Motion (RIM) smartphone users fell significantly from some 19.7 per cent to 12.9 per cent. Gartner attributed RIM's drop in share to a lack of competitiveness in graphics, performance and touch.

In total number of smartphones, however, Nokia came out on top, selling 107.6 million units in the first quarter of 2011, despite selling less units than the 110.1 million recorded during the same quarter last year. The manufacturer’s market share also declined by 5.5 per cent year on year to its lowest point since 1997.

Samsung units posted a slight increase from 64.8 million to 68.8 million with the shift to higher end smartphones resulting in an increase in average selling prices. Apple also grew, from 8.2 million to 16 .8 million, and RIM from 10.7 million to 13 million.

“This strong performance helped Apple consolidate its position as the fourth largest brand in the mobile communication market overall,” said Gartner research vice president, Carolina Milanesi, in a statement.

“Considering the higher than average price of the iPhone this is a remarkable result.”

HTC also recorded strong growth in the first quarter with 9.3 million mobile communication devices sold, aided by the supply of high-end products, as did ZTE which climbed from 6.1 million to 9.8 million. Both were closely closely followed by Motorola (down from 9.5 million to 8.7 million) and Sony Ericsson (down from 9.8 million to 7.9 million).

According to Gartner, despite the shift from feature phone to smartphones is ramping up, smartphones had moved “down-market” in Q1 2011, with HTC, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel and ZTE, all announcing a portfolio of mid-tier devices.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloeCW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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