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Android overtakes global iPhone sales

Android has overtaken the iPhone as the third most popular OS in the world, thanks to the surge of manufacturers making Android devices. Nokia remains number one

The Android mobile platform has scored a big victory in the smart phone war, overtaking the iPhone to become the third most popular OS in the world.

In the latest research from Gartner -- which looked at global device sales in the second quarter of 2010 -- Nokia's Symbian came out as the top OS, but its market share was decreasing rapidly, and RIM's BlackBerry took second place.

These results tally with figures released by analysts last week that showed Android outselling iPhone in the US over the last six months.

Android's market share has expanded ferociously in the past year, from a minuscule 1.8 per cent share of smart phones in 2009 to a very healthy 17.2 per cent in 2010, just behind the 18.2 per cent share held by RIM's BlackBerry OS.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president for Gartner, put Android's success down to "the backing of so many device manufacturers, which are bringing more attractive devices to market at several different price points." That means "there are lots of different phones" in normal-person speak.

Luckily for us, Gartner predicted data plans would become more affordable and smart phones would soon be the dominant devices in the UK market. This would mean the cost of owning a smart phone would be lower.

As far as companies were concerned, HTC made its debut in the top 10 list of worldwide device manufacturers, with nearly 140 per cent growth from last year. Gartner put this down to the popularity of its Android devices, such as the HTC Desire and Legend, but also its aggressive marketing.

Nokia kept top spot thanks to its Symbian devices in the cheap end of the smart-phone market, but it was being battered in the high end. Gartner suggests Nokia has much work to do in order to reverse this trend, which it's hoping to achieve with the N8.

The entry of tablet devices into the market didn't seem to have much of an impact on smart-phone sales. "Crucially, as we predicted, the sudden growth in media tablets, such as the Apple iPad, did not appear to hold back smart-phone sales," says Milanesi. 

"We believe that most tablet users still feel the need for a truly pocketable, yet highly capable, device for those situations when it's inconvenient to carry a device with a larger form factor."