Smartphones to grow most in emerging markets, Android will dominate

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Whatever opportunities there might still be for people wanting to exploit the feature phone market, smartphones are eventually going to win out.

Some 488-million smartphones shipped in 2011, representing a nearly 63% increase from 2010.

Sounds like a lot, but it’s less than a third of the 1.7-billion devices that tech research company Ovum reckons will be floating around by 2017. The majority of those phones, it says, will be running Android.

Ovum thinks that the biggest growth area for smartphones will be in emerging markets, particularly as mobile services improve. In developed markets meanwhile smartphones will make up nearly all phone shipments by 2017.

Google’s mobile OS ran on 44% of phones in 2011, a number expected to rise to 48% by 2017. Apple’s iOS will take second place, with around 27% of the smartphone market. Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum says that the rise of Android is largely down to signalling its appeal to leading handset manufacturers.”

“Although it will remain behind Android in terms of shipment volumes, Apple will continue to be a key player and innovator in the smartphone market over the forecast period,” says Leach.

The remaining smartphone players will all lag some way behind the dominant two OS’, with Windows Phone taking the most realistic swipe at owning third place.

According to Leach, Ovum expects “Microsoft, despite its slow start, to have established Windows Phone as a relevant smartphone platform by 2017.”

The Windows Phone platform, with the assistance of Nokia, will account for 13% of the smartphone market in 2017. Despite losing significant market share since its high point in 2009, RIM’s BlackBerry platform will still represent 10% of the market in 2017.

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