SAN FRANCISCO—By 2016, 45 percent of all smartphones worldwide will be running Google Inc.'s Android operating system, according to market research firm ABI Research.
About 69 million Andorid-based smartphones shipped last year, according to ABI (New York). The firm estimates that overall about 302 million smartphones shipped in 2010, up 71 percent over 2009. ABI projects that the smartphone market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent through 2016.
"Android, Bada and BlackBerry have a great opportunity to fill the vacuum being left by the disappearance of the Symbian OS within the next two years," said Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI, in a statement.
Nokia Corp., which maintains the Symbian operating system, last month announced a partnership with Microsoft Corp. that will make Windows Phone the primary operating system used in Nokia smarthphones.
Apple Inc.'s iOS, which held 15 percent of the market in 2010, should continue moderate but steady growth over the mid-term, backed by new product introductions, according to ABI. The firm forecasts 19 percent market share for iOS in 2016.
Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM), which held 16 percent of the market in 2010, is expected to lose ground and hold about 14 percent market share in 2016, according to ABI. "RIM's slight loss of share doesn't mean falling shipments," said ABI Vice President Kevin Burden. "RIM has found its niche, but the consumer market will grow faster than its portion of it."
Of the newer entrants in the smartphone OS arena, Windows Phone 7 and Samsung's Bada are both aimed at low- to mid-range handsets. According to Morgan, Bada has taken off quickly, powering 4 million units that shipped last year.
"Bada may reach 10 percent market share by 2016," Morgan said. But Windows Phone 7, which shipped in 2 million handsets in the fourth quarter of 2010, "will have to find incredible success through its Nokia channel to take more than 7 percent of the market by 2016," Morgan said.