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Android to challenge Symbian as top smart phone OS, says analyst

Expert predictions say you'll be buying Android devices in your droves, abandoning poor old Symbian, while Windows Phone 7 will make little impact.

Android and Symbian handset sales will be neck and neck by 2014, while Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will have made very little impact, says Gartner.

The analyst has consulted its astrology charts and believes Android and Symbian phones will dominate the worldwide mobile OS market, but unlike research by IDC released last week, Gartner predicts Google's software will almost be level with Nokia's.

Its latest stab in the dark research has Android's market share at 29.6 per cent in 2014, only 0.6 per cent behind Symbian at 30.2 per cent. Android will make a significant gain in the next four years, while Symbian will continue its decline, due to a waning Mercury and Jupiter entering its ninth aspect. Or something.

Third place will go to RIM's BlackBerry, sayeth the seers. It will have a much worse time of it in the next four years than IDC believed, losing market share from 17.5 per cent to 11.7 per cent.

In fourth is Apple. Gartner's expert future-knowers are more positive about iOS than IDC was, although the forecast says it will still lose market share. From 2011 to 2012 it would increase from 15.4 per cent to 17.1 per cent, but as Android made its presence felt it would fall to 14.9 per cent in 2014.

But in common with IDC, Gartner didn't hold out much hope for the success of Windows Phone 7. Gartner consulted the bloody entrails of an elderly goat and predicted a fall in Windows Phone market share in the next four years, from 4.7 per cent to 3.9 per cent. It even predicted the Intel-Nokia partnership in mobile OS MeeGo would overtake Windows Phone 7, relegating it to sixth place.

Both IDC and Gartner have said the growth of Android will continue, but neither has been that positive about Microsoft's new smart phone OS, even though it's also multi-platform and has wide support from manufacturers.

What do you think? Will Android overtake Symbian by 2014? Can Windows Phone 7 prove the doubters wrong? Let us know.