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Android grabs quarter of smart phone market as handsets become cheaper

Google's smart phone OS continues its amazing year of success, as support from big players like Samsung, Motorola and HTC ensure one out of every four smart phones shipped worldwide is Android.

Google Android's remarkable year continues, with smart phones that run the operating system making up a quarter of the world market.

The number of Android smart phones shipped in the third quarter of 2010 grew a staggering 1,309 per cent year-on-year, from 1.4 million to more than 20 million, according to a Canalys report. It highlighted Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson's role in shipping huge numbers of Android phones, with companies like LG, Huawei and Acer also doing their bit.

"Vendors are now delivering Android devices across a broad range of price points, from high-end products such as the Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire, to aggressively priced devices such as the LG GT540 Optimus or the Huawei-built Vodafone 845, ensuring that Android devices are available and affordable to consumers on almost any budget," said Canalys senior analyst Pete Cunningham.

Even though Nokia hasn't had the best of years, it still remained the top smart-phone maker worldwide. The report said Nokia fans should remain positive, with a new range of Symbian devices and the N8 showing the Finnish firm still had some clout -- but software limitations meant the handsets had to be targeted at those with lighter wallets.

"Nokia still lacks a truly high-end product to compete against the iPhone and leading Android devices. The market is moving quickly and Nokia urgently needs to deliver an exciting and genuinely differentiated, high-end flagship MeeGo device early next year to regain its reputation as an innovative technology leader, and to retain its leadership position in the market," Cunningham added.

Cheaper Android and Symbian phones could start to affect prices, according to The Wall Street Journal. We now have better quality handsets for cheaper prices, creating more competition for high-end phones.

Many of these cheaper smart phones are available on pay as you go, and most people are more comfortable with buying an unlocked handset than signing up for expensive, long-term contracts. As a result, companies might have to start offering better deals for their more expensive phones if they want to stay in the game. And that can only be a good thing.