There is a high level of agreement between two analysts' firms, Canalys and NPD Group, on the market-share status of mobile operating systems. The consensus-to a degree that speaks either to incredibly accurate surveying or coincidence-is that the ascendancy of Android continues.
Canalys found that that Android-powered phones-those from the Open Handset Alliance-held a composite 44 percent of sales. Apple and Research in Motion were way behind, at 26.2 and 24.2 respectively. It's an interesting category: Three families of OSes represent 94 percent of the category. But, in reality, the playing field is much broader since a number of vendors use Android. Still, it will be interesting to see whether Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 will be able to wedge itself into contention.
NPD came to precisely the same conclusion about Android: It gained a 44 percent share of the U.S. market during the third quarter of the year. That, the release says, represents an increase of 11 percent over the second quarter. Apple iOS and RIM were steady: Apple went from 22 percent to 23 percent and RIM fell from 28 percent to 22 percent.
The momentum to Android is, indeed, startling. Don Resinger, writing on the Canalys and NPD results at The Digital Home, a CNET site, put it into perspective:
As popular as the iPhone has been, it's hard to see how Apple will be able to keep pace with Google. Canalys found that worldwide, Android was running on "more than 20 million units" sold during the third quarter. That figure represents a whopping 1,309 percent gain year over year, compared with the 1.4 million Android-based devices sold in the third quarter last year.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Coverity, a code analysis group, will issue a report this week that says there are serious problems in the Android kernel, according to The Financial Times. The study specifically looked at the kernel in the version of Android used in the HTC Droid Incredible. It found that some of the flaws were high risk, though the total number of 88 is less than the number found in many open source projects, the story said. The information has been shared with Google and HTC and both, the story says, are assessing what Coverity has uncovered.
Of course, there is no direct tie between the fast growth of Android and the vulnerabilities in at least one version of its kernel. But it is interesting that a report on its vulnerabilities should be released during the same week as two studies displaying its growth. The Android open source operating system has moved from the farm system to the major leagues in a few short years. Scrutiny-the kind lavished on it by Coverity, by hackers and crackers and by legitimate competitors in the marketplace-is growing as aggressively as its sales numbers.