It's the news that everyone else in the mobile world feared: Android's development shows no signs of slowing – in fact, it will continue to grow much faster than any of its rivals for some time to come.
In just two years Android has risen from nowhere to claim a 25% share in the worldwide smartphone market, but according to analyst firm Canalys, far from slowing down, Android will grow more than twice as quickly as any of its rivals throughout 2011.
According to Canalys principal analyst Chris Jones, shipments of Android devices in the first nine months of 2010 were an incredible 10 times higher in 2010 than the year before. This despite the perceived fragmentation of Android, with several versions of the OS in active duty at the same time.
"The growth of Android has been phenomenal,” Jones said in announcing his firm's projections for the year ahead. “But so too has the number of related devices launched with different hardware and software specifications. This has led to the market perception of it as a fragmented platform, though we believe that growth will continue as the pace of Android OS upgrades slows.”
At present there are new smartphones running versions 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 of Android all being sold simultaneously. To add to the confusion, Google has just announced Android 3.0 Honeycomb for tablets, which will be followed by version 2.4 – to be named Ice Cream Sandwich – for smartphones around mid-year.
The current trend is for manufacturers to follow different timetables for just about every handset when releasing updates to a newer version of Android, often months after the version in question has actually been released.
“Fragmentation affects all OS platforms, though it is particularly visible with Android due to the fast pace of upgrades that has characterised its growth,” Jones added.