android_logo_2011.jpgThe collective Android (news, site) smartphone brigade has now surpassed iPhone in buyer desirability, but threats on the horizon include Apple's new cloud and the much-trumpeted entry of Nokia/Windows devices.

America Loves Android

Android smartphones are now more sought-after by American consumers than iPhones. That's the message from a Neilsen survey that found 31% of people planning on getting an Android, a smidge ahead of the 30% going after an iPhone.

Sure, it's not much of an advantage, considering there are dozens of Android devices and makers against one phone from one company, but it's a sign that times and trends are changing. Expect big moves in the next survey when the iPhone 5 launch will be in the cards and the Nokia/Windows alliance will be starting to make waves.

Apple's Cloud Future

Apple will also be shaking things up with the expected announcement of its own cloud-based streaming service, which could lead to cheaper devices that need less memory to store music and data. Rumors today indicate that Apple has paid a princely sum for the domain.

The iPhone maker could also be on the verge of offering free navigation, a feature that has popped into the news thanks to the discovery of a file kept on iPhones that tracks locations a user has been near stored on the phone.

Despite many conspiracy-based tabloid headlines, and ignoring the fact that other phones do similar things, the file seems to be aimed at creating a crowd-sourced navigation system that Apple can use to offer routes and information without the need for paying for a third-party service.

Enter Nokia/Windows Phones

After originally expecting devices to arrive in 2012, it looks like the shakeup at Nokia will see them arriving earlier than expected. While they may be only doing modest business at the moment, any momentum from the joint approach could well eat into Apple and Android's market share.

For sure, the only certainty is change, and with the push to 4G and better featured phones, it is safe to say that fickle consumers will be changing their minds a few more times before Christmas.

Finally, A Legal Dimension

Another factor that might play havoc with the market is Apple suing Samsung (and Samsung has rapidly filed a countersuit) over various features of each other's phones -- basically, everyone's patents are infringing on everyone else's.

If this ever goes the distance, one party or another would have to pay out a lot of cash to license the winning patents, but this is unlikely, as the patent smorgasbord would see both companies (and anyone else who wanted to enter the fray) tied up in court for years.