Canalys: RIM, Apple will lead smartphones, but Android lurks

Smartphone growth in the North American market will continue to be strong in 2010, with Research and Motion's BlackBerry and Apple iPhone leading the way, according to research firm Canalys. However, Google's Android platform is expected to boom this year.

According to the research firm, smartphone shipments in the North American market are expected to grow 38 percent to 65.1 million units this year. The growth is also accelerating--smartphone shipments grew 27 percent last year, according the firm, over 2008.

Market leaders RIM and Apple are set to ship more phones this year, but Canalys forecast they will lose some market share due to increasing competition. The firm said RIM's market share will fall from 49 percent last year to around 43 percent this year, while Apple's will fall from 23.1 percent last year to 21.3 percent this year.

However, it's Google's Android platform that will experience the most growth. Android smartphone shipments are forecast to grow to 12.3 million units this year, capturing almost 19 percent market share, up from 4.6 million units and a 9.7 percent market share last year. That puts Android's shipment growth at 169 percent. And that growth is expected to continue in the coming years: Canalys predicts 21.7 million Android smartphone shipments in 2013.

RIM could have reason to worry about Android's prolific growth. According to a recent Crowd Science survey, which surveyed 1,140 consumers, 39 percent of BlackBerry users would prefer an iPhone as their next purchase and 34 percent said they would prefer an Android phone.

Microsoft, Palm and Symbian will round out the leaders in smartphone market share this year, according to Canalys. Despite the launch of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 Series later this year, Canalys is predicting a tough year for the company in smartphones. "Windows Phone 7 Series represents a major improvement to the platform that was badly needed from Microsoft," Canalys analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. "However, the delay between announcement and expected commercial availability in the fourth quarter of 2009 will make this year a tough one. It will impact shipment volumes in the second and third quarters, as no vendor or carrier will want a warehouse full of Windows Phone 6.5 devices come the launch of 7."

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