Watch out, iPhone—Android’s nipping at your heels.Researchers at Gartner (via AppleInsider) are predicting that the global market share for Google’s Android mobile OS could overtake the iPhone’s in a little over two years, with Android poised to leapfrog Apple into the No. 2 spot.

That would leave the iPhone in the No. 3 position—right where it is now, behind BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian OS, according to Gartner. The industry researchers believe that by 2012, Research in Motion (the company behind the BlackBerry) will have lost 7 percent of its market share, causing it to slip into fifth place (behind even Windows Mobile). Android, meanwhile, will get a 12.9-percent boost to become the No. 2 smartphone platform in the world, with Symbian still safe in the No. 1 spot (with a dominating, although dwindling, 39 percent of the global market).

Those are just analyst predictions, of course, and two years is an eternity in the wireless world; after all, two years ago today, we were still getting used to the first iPhone.

That said, I think the gist of Gartner’s prediction—that Android is poised to take the wireless market by storm—is spot on, and we’ve seen evidence of that in the past few months and weeks.

Google’s open-source Android platform—which boasts one of the finest touchscreen interfaces out there, iPhone included—came slow out of the gates in fall 2008 with the solid, if uninspiring T-Mobile G1. We had to wait almost a year for the next Android phone in the U.S., but we finally got one this past August with the G1’s follow-up, the HTC-made myTouch 3G (also on T-Mobile).

Soon after, what started as a trickle quickly became a flood. Sprint trotted out its first Android phone, the eye-catching, touchscreen HTC Hero, and then T-Mobile followed suit with the Motorola Cliq, its third Android handset … followed by the Samsung Behold II just a few days ago. On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless announced it would launch a pair of Android phones before the end of the year, while Sprint announced its second Android phone—the Samsung Moment—a day later. Oh, and now there’s rumors that Dell wants in on the Android action, with a new handset possible slated for iPhone carrier AT&T.

Let’s see, that’s … one, two, three, four … five new Android phones in in the past few months, with two more—and possibly even a third—due by the end of the year, from two (or maybe three) different manufacturers and three (possibly four) carriers. Some will be better than others, but consumers will have plenty of models (and carriers) from which to choose.

Of course, a bunch of new phones on the market doesn’t mean diddly unless someone buys them, and for now, Apple has a solid 10.8- versus 1.6-percent lead over Android in terms of global smartphone market share. But Apple is the only company making iPhones, while the open-source (and high-quality) Android platform is available to all manufacturers and carriers—and from what we’ve been seeing, they’re taking the ball and running with it.

via: ben patterson

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