Google's android mobile phone operating system (OS) is set to pip BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to second place in the global market by the end of this year, more than 18 months earlier than expected.
Mobile handset sales increased by 13.8% in the second quarter, thanks to improving economic conditions, according to research published by the technology research analyst Gartner yesterday.
But the recovery in the market as a whole was dwarfed by a 50.5% boom in sales of smartphones.
And Android was the main beneficiary. Nokia and the Symbian OS remain overwhelmingly dominant, with respective market shares of 37% and 41%. But the Google OS was by far the fastest-growing in the second quarter, accounting for 17% of the market, compared with just 1.8% in the same quarter of last year, when the software had only recently launched.
Such stellar progress has already catapulted Android to third place in the world league, and just a single percentage point behind the BlackBerry. Google and RIM have been on a collision course ever since the launch of Android, because RIM's major growth opportunity is to expand its business-focused product into the consumer market its rival is targeting.
But the Google OS has taken off so rapidly, it is already second in the US league and is expected to outstrip RIM globally by the end of 2010, rather than by 2012, as previously forecast.