In the US markets, Android has fast overtaken other smartphone operating systems in terms of market share. Symbian still leads the game in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan), but analysts expect the platform to cede the top spot to Android within the year.

Android Rising

According to Nielsen (news, site), Android has the biggest smartphone OS share in the US market as of January 2011, at 29%, with Apple's iOS and RIM's Blackberry following with 27% each. Other operating systems are trailing behind, with Windows Mobile / Windows Phone at 10%, webOS at 4% and Symbian at 2%.

In APEJ, though, the figures are quite the opposite. Recent IDC figures place Nokia's Symbian platform at the top, accounting for 53.7% market share in 2010. However, IDC believes that Android is likely to overtake Symbian as the dominant platform in the region within the year.

Mature vs. Emerging Markets

APEJ is marked by differences in levels of development, with each country having its own characteristic demand. Developed economies have accounted for the rise in smartphone adoption, with increased data use. In South Korea alone, smartphone purchase has risen tenfold in 2010, with most purchases being smartphones from Apple and home-grown Samsung. Meanwhile, Nokia has been focusing on the emerging markets by bringing down the price points of Symbian phones to cater to markets in India and Vietnam.

The declining prices of Android-powered phones will mean users will have a choice between feature phones and smartphones, and are likely to upgrade to more feature-rich offerings from Android. With this, IDC predicts that Android will dominate the Asian market this year onwards.

Growing Demand for Mobility

IDC predicts that smartphone sales in APEJ will reach 137 million units in 2011, breaking the 100-million mark in the region. Meanwhile, mobile phone sales (feature phones plus smartphones) will see a 34% compound growth rate annually from 2010 through 2015, from 551 million units shipped to 942 million by the end of this period. Through this time, the mix between smartphone and feature phone will change dramatically. In 2010, only 20% of mobile phones sold were smartphones. By 2015, IDC predicts the percentage to be 60%.

Melissa Chau, IDC research manager for client devices, says that smartphones are becoming a "hot" item in the consumer and enterprise market. "In 2011, IDC expects this fire to keep burning as mobile phone vendors race to get consumers on higher-margin devices, operators look to pull up revenues on mobile data and mobile platform stakeholders battle to woo app developers."

2011 is predicted to be a booming market for mobile phones and mobile services in the Asia Pacific region, with smartphone sales exceeding 100 million units, tablets finally overtaking desktop and laptop PCs as the preferred computer purchase and cloud computing growing to a billion-dollar industry. As with previous analysis, though, the growth in smartphone use can be sustained only with an improvement in infrastructure, namely broadband capabilities. In developed APAC economies, this is already a given. However, echoing a recent APEC technical group concern, broadband infrastructure in the region will need to improve to support the growing need for connectivity, especially while on-the-go.