Android takes over iPhone and BlackBerry in sales

Phones: Driods have five bars of reception for smartphone consumers, as they have now surpassed iPhones and Blackberrys in sales. Photo by Emily Waller / Emily.Waller@marquette.edu

It seems Google is gaining ground in the war for control of America’s thumbs.

A recent poll released by the Nielsen Company revealed Google’s Android operating system has the biggest market share of the American smartphone industry in 2010, leapfrogging competitors Apple and BlackBerry.

According to Nielsen, Android phones controlled 32 percent of smartphone purchases from January to August of this year, compared to 26 percent for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry and 25 percent for Apple’s iPhone.

Barrett McCormick, political science department chair, said the amount of phones containing the Android operating system is a surprising trend in the cell phone industry.

“A year ago it seemed like the Apple iPhone was the unbeatable market leader and that the iPhone app market was another triumph for Apple,” McCormick said in an e-mail.

McCormick said there are two main reasons for the recent fall of Apple and rise of Google in the smartphone industry. First, he said, Apple had a policy of restrictive use of its applications market via its iTunes Store that has received a lot of negative publicity from the press.

The second reason is that the Android operating system is free of charge to the telecom companies, unlike Apple’s iPhone operating system, McCormick said.

Companies like Motorola and Samsung, which benefited from Google offering Android for free, were able to put out products competitive to the iPhone, he added.

Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed, professor of statistics and computer science, is currently developing smartphone apps such as physical activity monitors and a mood detection feature. Ahamed said Android phones are a more fruitful ground for companies developing apps.

“(App) developers can develop powerful new applications using low level functionalities (on Android phones),” Ahamed said in an e-mail.

Android users seem to have a crush on their new favorite toy.

Matt Kruse, a junior in the College of Engineering, was one of the first people to buy a Motorola Droid, a smartphone that uses an Android operating system, in Milwaukee when it was released on Nov. 7 of last year. Kruse, an Android enthusiast, waited outside the Verizon store a half hour before the store opened to ensure he would get a Droid.

“I really couldn’t ask for anymore from a phone,” Kruse said in an e-mail. “The slide-out keyboard is very functional, the touch screen is amazing, and the applications are just as good, and even in some cases better than those of the Apple market.”

McCormick, who used to have an iPhone, said he grew frustrated with Apple’s decisions to restrict his use of apps on his phone.

“This summer I switched to an EVO 4G, an Android phone, and since that time, have enjoyed wasting countless hours customizing my phone to suit my tastes,” he said.

While trends indicate the future is bright for Google’s entry into the communications industry, it still lags behind its two rivals in overall control of the smartphone market share. According to the Nielsen poll, BlackBerry is still the leader with 31 percent of all smartphones in the United States.