Android stumbles in Europe

While the technical and gadget press have become entangled with the hype surrounding the Android smartphone operating system (OS), users in Europe remain unconvinced and show little interest in purchasing handsets using this new OS.

According to the market research firm IDC, the market share of smartphones running Google's Android OS rose to 5.4 per cent from 4.2 per cent in July-September in Western Europe. This poor level of growth has, claims IDC, only been achieved by operators promoting Android over competitive offerings--albeit that very few smartphones support Android today.

"Consumers steer clear of Google's OS and volumes are below everyone's expectations. Consumers recognise the Google brand, but still do not understand what Android is," said IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo. "The lack of devices available didn't help to raise awareness, though this is expected to change, with more handsets from LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and other vendors hitting the market soon," he added.

Market awareness of Android was hit last month when Gameloft, one of the largest cellphone game makers, also damaged Android's reputation claiming that it and other software houses were cutting back investment in developing games and other applications for the platform.

However, Android supporters believe the IDC observations are overly harsh given that the OS is embryonic compared to other OSs. The software is barely a year from release and, in relative terms, a 1.2 per cent increase in three months could be interpreted as an achievement.

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