Commentary

'Samdroid' Coming On Strong

AndroidChart-B A new report from mobile analytics firm Flurry estimates more than 60 million devices run Google's Android operating system. The number of Android smartphones or tablets has jumped nearly tenfold in the last two years. And while HTC was the early beneficiary of Android's emerging popularity, other manufacturers, especially Samsung, have taken increasing shares of the Android market in the last year.

For that reason, Flurry draws a comparison between the dominant PC partnership of Microsoft and Intel that came to be known as "Wintel," and the budding alliance between Samsung and Android, or "Samdroid," as the firm calls it. After HTC took two-thirds of the Android market in 2009, with phones like the T-Mobile G1 and myTouch 3G, Samsung and Motorola last year pushed back, taking 27% and 24% share, respectively.

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The inroads made by those two and LG left HTC with only 32% of the Android market at the end of 2010. Aided by the release of the Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S smartphone, Samsung led manufacturers in Android activations in the fourth quarter with 10 million. The Samsung Galaxy S was the most activated Android device in December, at 2.5 million. Samsung confirmed 10 million Galaxy S phones have been sold worldwide to date.

"Studying the holiday period in December 2010, not only does Samsung dominate the top position with the Galaxy S, but also claims the third best spot with the Galaxy Tab, the best-selling Android tablet and only non-phone in the top ten," noted a Flurry blog post today. By contrast, no HTC devices made the top five.

More Android tablets are on the way. At the annual Consumer Electronics Show, kicking off today in Las Vegas, Motorola is expected to roll out a tablet that will be the first device running the Android 3.0 OS, dubbed "Honeycomb." More than 30 tablets overall are expected to be announced this week, with Android dominating the category. Powered by devices like the iPad and Galaxy Tab, Yankee Group today issued a forecast predicting tablet sales will nearly triple from $16 billion in 2010 to a whopping $46 billion in 2014.

Whether Motorola or other manufacturers can slow down the Samdroid juggernaut with gains in the tablet market should be an interesting mobile subplot to follow in 2011. Can HTC get its mojo back? Will the Windows Phone 7-powered Samsung Focus be the start of a successful "Samwin" line of devices? Because of the number of competing manufacturers and OS makers, things promise to be more fluid than the PC market after Microsoft and Intel teamed up.

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