Android to be number two mobile OS by 2013?

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Research firm IDC believes Android will be world's number two mobile operating system by 2013.

The firm also expects smartphone sales to maintain an average growth of 20 per cent year on year to reach 390 million units worldwide by that point.

IDC's predictions were made in a report entitled Worldwide Mobile OS 2009-2013 Forecast and Analysis, compiled by analyst Stephen Drake.

The report predicted a bright future for Android, claiming its growth will outstrip that of any of its rivals, with many struggling in an increasingly volatile market.

"In a market that was once dominated by a handful of pioneers, such as BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile, newcomers touting open standards (Android) and intuitive design and navigation (Mac OS X and webOS) have garnered strong end-user and handset vendor interest," the report stated.

At present, Symbian dominates the mobile OS market, largely thanks to its strong relationship with Nokia, the world's leading mobile phone maker.

Blackberry and Apple are currently second and third worldwide first and second in the US, where Symbian has little foothold with Android still in the process of getting out of the starting blocks.

But by 2013, said IDC, it will have overtaken both Apple and RIM, having experienced a 100-fold increase from 690,000 units in 2008 to 68 million or 17 per cent of the world market by 2013.

"Mobile operating systems have become the key ingredient in the highly competitive mobile device market," Drake commented in the report. "Although the overall look and feel of the device will still play an important role in the buying process, the wrong choice of operating system coupled with an awkward user interface can mean the difference between success and failure."

Android's market position has thus far been built largely through a handful of devices from Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC. But with Google's own Nexus One having raised the operating system's profile considerably with its launch at the start of the month, and the likes of Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson also developing their own Android lines, 2010 promises to see a significant spike in its market share largely at the cost of mobile stalwart Windows Mobile.

"The story isn't great for Windows Mobile," Drake confirmed. "If you look at news cycle for smartphones over the past year, where was Microsoft? They need a splash with Windows Mobile 7. And they need to produce a device with a 'wow factor,' something in the superphone range."