The changing of the guard in the smartphone world is upon us, at least by one company's way of thinking. The Nielsen Co. says that Android is the top operating system among smartphone buyers who bought their devices between January and August of 2010, with 32 percent. The Apple iPhone OS is second at 26 percent, barely beating out Research in Motion's 25 percent.
Nielsen said that BlackBerry (31 percent), the iPhone (28 percent) and Android (19 percent) lead the ownership lists for January through August among smartphone users without regard to when the phone was purchased. But the news that those who bought their phones most recently is the more important metric.
In a blog post reporting Nielsen's results, The New York Times raised a salient question:
The Nielsen numbers confirm those of other research outfits. They also raise anew the question of whether Apple needs to break out of its AT&T exclusivity, bringing the iPhone to Verizon Wireless. Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's chief executive, recently poured cold water on the prospect of that happening soon.
The media and consumers enjoy horse races. It's fun to watch Android and Apple battle. But the clear reality is that the smartphone world has matured and the two OSes, along with BlackBerry and others, will be big players going forward. Which vendor leads by a percentage point or two isn't the big issue.
A good number of OSes will be in the game, and they will have a cool applications. Other potential futures will see the Web as the main platform or for the proliferation of frameworks that allow an application to be used on more than one operating system. Both of these paths will cool the competition, to some extent.
It will be a far different-and refreshing -- world than the desktop, where competitors never quite caught up to Microsoft. Now, the battle will be for carriage on cellular networks-AT&T, perhaps fearing that the Apple may have a roving eye seems very chummy with Android-and what kinds of deals and partnerships are made.
As Newsweek points out, is that the meteoric rise of Android is shaking things up:
Android has also transformed Google and its longtime ally Apple into fierce rivals. Until recently, Apple seemed destined to rule the mobile Internet, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, which was introduced in 2007 and quickly began grabbing market share. But Android has enabled handset makers like Motorola and Samsung to develop credible rivals to the iPhone. This year, as those companies have gained traction, Apple's momentum has stalled.
The emergence of Android forever changes the smartphone world. The competition is a good thing-even for iPhone users, since Apple will be forced to more aggressively upgrade its products.