LONDON – Smartphone shipments grew from 177 million in 2009 to 302 million in 2010, a 71 percent growth rate according to ABI Research. At the same time Nokia's handset market share has dropped from 39 percent to 33 percent, while the share held by Android-based phone makers has gone from 4 percent to 24 percent, the market analysis company said.
With the rise of Android, the number of handset OEMs with significant smartphone market share increased in 2010. But for one Nokia has decided to eschew the advantages of both Intel's MeeGo and Google's Android in favor of teaming with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile operating system.
"Motorola has pinned its entire turnaround strategy on Android. As competitors flood the Android ecosystem, Motorola wants to become known as the OEM that brings Android devices to business," said ABI senior Analyst Michael Morgan, in a statement. "Meanwhile Samsung is hoping that it can convert its feature phone customers to smartphones, on the back of both Bada and Android. And Nokia has now moved away from a purely proprietary OS strategy."
Morgan said that while OEMs choosing Android have had success it is dependent on the reach of their distribution and operator networks. For many people the Android phone offering is increasingly associated with the mobile phone service operator. "OEM-specific Android enhancements have not yet created a clear differentiation in consumers’ minds. Smartphone OEMs adopting Android as a key platform must produce meaningful innovation or risk losing significance."
While ABI says Android suppliers will continue to take market share from Nokia, my take is that Nokia's strategy of avoiding Google's Android may have some virtue. It will allow Nokia to differentiate itself from the Android pack in a way that other OEMs have so far failed to do. Of course, Nokia must differentiate itself in a positive way, and being different with Microsoft rather than being different with Intel guarantees nothing.
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