Gartner: Android to leapfrog BlackBerry by end of 2010

Google's Android mobile operating system will surpass Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry to emerge as the world's second leading smartphone OS by the end of 2010, according to a new forecast published by research firm Gartner. Android, which controlled 3.9 percent of the global smartphone market at the close of 2009, will surge to 17.7 percent by year's end--BlackBerry, which captured 19.9 percent of the smartphone market a year ago, will slip to 17.5 percent as this year ends. Gartner credits operator marketing and vendor support for Android's rapid ascent, adding the platform will claim the No. 2 spot two years ahead of the firm's previous expectations. The firm also believes the introduction of budget-priced Android phones will galvanize the platform's mass-market appeal.

Symbian will remain the undisputed OS leader as 2011 dawns, representing 40.1 percent of the international market, down from 46.9 percent in 2009--Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS will increase from 14.4 percent in 2009 to 15.5 percent this year, while Microsoft's Windows Phone will drop from 8.7 percent a year ago to 4.7 percent. Gartner anticipates that Symbian will remain atop the OS rankings through 2014, controlling 30.2 percent of the worldwide smartphone market--just barely ahead of Android at 29.6 percent.

"The worldwide mobile OS market is dominated by four players: Symbian, Android, Research In Motion and iOS," said Gartner principal research analyst Roberta Cozza in a statement. "Launches of updated operating systems--such as Apple iOS 4, BlackBerry OS 6, Symbian 3 and Symbian 4, and Windows Phone 7--will help maintain strong growth in smartphones in 2H10 and 2011 and spur innovation. However, we believe that market share in the OS space will consolidate around a few key OS providers that have the most support from CSPs and developers and strong brand awareness with consumer and enterprise customers." Gartner adds that MeeGo, which combines of Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Maemo and Intel's Moblin, will surpass Windows Phone for fifth place by 2014, with the Microsoft OS accounting for just 3.9 percent of the global market. 

For more on the Gartner OS forecast:
- read this release

Related articles:
Nielsen: Android smartphone sales eclipse iPhone
Canalys: Android shipments grew 886 percent annually in second quarter
iPhone still dominates developer focus, but Android gaining fast
Nielsen: Android users younger than iPhone peers