Android set to rule over Apple and RIM operating systems

Google's Android platform is the only operating system to gain market share for mobile devices, study says.

Google's Android platform was the only operating system to gain users from May through June, a sign that Android may soon dominate the smartphone market, according to ComScore.

Despite Android's market share rising to 17 percent, it still ranks third in the United States, with Apple at number two with 24 percent. RIM is still on top with 39 percent. Other reports say that Android will likely overtake Apple by the end of the year, with more customers seeking open-source platforms rather than the single-source iOS or Blackberry operating system.

A report from ComScore found that Android usage rose 5 percent compared to the previous quarter ending in April 2010, while the nation's number-one smartphone, RIM's Blackberry, lost 1.8 percent, Apple's iOS lost 1.3 percent, Microsoft lost 2.2 percent, and Palm showed no loss or gain.

While some may find it strange that RIM and its somewhat lackluster handsets are still unequivocally top in the nation, Blackberry successfully infiltrated the financial industry and much of business in the 1990s, and has managed to hang on to a large segment of its market despite declining numbers. And in spite of being steeped in some controversy, RIM's operating system is relatively secure, part of its allure to IT departments.

Administrators can also use RIM's Enterprise Server 5 software to separate personal and business information on each BlackBerry without disturbing personal settings or apps.

Part of the reason companies stayed with BlackBerry was because of the easy of IT administration, but now companies are looking to diversify with a larger app market and possible integration with other hardware.

Android's Linux-based OS is also considered more secure than others, but it provides a lot more applications for users as well as flexibility for IT administrators, especially if companies are going to purchase tablet computers running on the same operating system.

So far, RIM seems to have little interest outside of handsets (there is a rumored RIM "BlackPad" tab, but no official statements or photos so far), although Android tablets have begun to crop up and will continue to do so in the next year.

While administrative tools make a difference in what companies buy, more decision makers are requesting the newer Android or iPhones to partake of what everyone else seems to be able to--thousands of applications and the latest technology. A BlackBerry in hand doesn't really have the same cachet as showing off the latest iPhone or newest Android phone, because it hasn't channeled much of its research or development into creating cutting-edge products or capitalizing on the newest technology.

The Android OS is solid and easy to use, which makes it attractive to companies. This means that IT managers have become resigned to working with three mobile platforms. (According to some IT managers, many executives request and often receive mobile phones on different platforms.)

However, there will come a time when IT managers will put forth a recommendation to consolidate operating systems, and it will likely not be RIM's Blackberry. Android's versatility for mobile phones and tablet computers, or even Apple's iOS, would easily be a default choice.

Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter @bhern.

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Barbara E. Hernandez

PC World (US online)
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