Android is tracking to become the world's second largest mobile OS by market share this year, and to come within a hair's breadth of Symbian by 2014, according to Gartner.
The Google OS, which in 2009 was last among the major mobile operating systems with a 3.9% share, is expected to account for 17.7% of the smartphone market by the year end, compared to market leader Symbian’s 40.1%, RIM’s 17.5%, the 15.4% of Apple’s iOS, and Windows Phone’s 4.7%.
But by 2014, Android's share will be 29.6%, compared to Symbian's 30.2%, the research firm forecasts.
Gartner predicts 47.6 million Android devices will ship in 2010, compared to 107.6 million Symbian phones, 46.9 million from RIM and 41.5 million iOS devices.
The launch of budget Android devices from manufacturers including Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola will help nurture growth, and make the platform the biggest in North America by the end of 2010, the research firm predicted.
Principal research analyst Roberta Cozza said Android's rivals will stay competitive in the short-term.
"Launches 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,” she said.
“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.”
Android and Symbian will together have nearly 60% of the market by 2014, she said. While iOS and RIM sales will increase in unit terms, their growth will be well below market average and not enough to sustain share increase.
Windows Phone will in that time be bumped off the top five table by Nokia and Intel's MeeGo, Cozza added.