The iPhone was the first smartphone to truly capture the public's imagination. As a result, iOS has enjoyed a comfortable lead over Android for quite some time. But now it appears that this lead has come to an end. Electronista reports that the Gardner Group now claims that Android adoption outnumbers iPhone adoption worldwide. The Google-made OS enjoys 17.2% of the global market, while the iPhone OS languishes at a "measly" 14.2%.
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First off, let's be clear on something. This news was inevitable as soon as we saw that Android was decent OS with a solid dev team willing to learn from their mistakes. It is not feasibly possible for a single-device platform to outnumber one that ships on devices from dozens of different manufacturers.
In a way, this is a repeat of what happened to Apple back in the 80s and 90s. They began (think Apple II days) with a commanding position in the PC industry. However, the refusal of Steve Jobs (and subsequent CEOs) to allow other manufacturers to build Macs made the eventual dominance of the Windows PC inevitable.
Nokia still leads in world smartphone share, but that is not a state of affairs that can last long. They sit at 41.2% now, a far cry from the 51% lead they enjoyed a year ago. RIM is down to 18.2%, while Microsoft has plummeted to an embarrassing 5%.
The advent of Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry 6 may end up providing a shot in the arm to these two platforms. Even so, it seems increasingly clear that the near future of this market will be dictated by Google and Apple. Everyone else is just reacting at this point.