Android lifts UK market share
Google’s Android mobile phone platform seems to be taking off in the UK, with sales of mobile phones using the software platform increasing fourfold in the past month, according to new figures from retail watcher GfK. Almost one in every five smartphones now sold in the UK is Android.
The increase in sales is due to a slew of new Android devices which have hit the market in recent months, not least the HTC Desire – which, over the past few weeks, has been added to the range of most major mobile operators and been well received by critics. Vodafone, meanwhile, started selling the HTC Legend at the start of April, adding it to a list of Android devices available in the UK which includes the HTC Hero and Xperia X10 from Sony Ericsson.
GfK, whose pronouncements about the retail industry are pored over by City analysts, said that Android handsets accounted for 12.3% of all phones sold to customers signing up for a long-term mobile phone contract in week 15 of 2010 – the week ending on April 18 – compared with just 3% of the market in week 12, the last week of March. In terms of the total market, Android’s share grew from 1.6% to 6.7% during the period.
As for smartphone devices – which GfK defines as the market for phones that can download applications from third party providers, so it includes the iPhone – they now account for 37.6% of the total mobile handset market and 63.9% of the contract market. GfK said the figure has remained relatively stable so Android is gaining market share from rival platforms, rather than merely benefitting from an overall increase in smartphone uptake. GfK refused to give details of the market share of other operating systems.
“It’s not down to one particular handset,” said a spokesman for GfK. “More and more of the major handset manufacturers are viewing Android as a useful solution and using it in their smartphones”.
More Android devices will become available in the UK over the coming weeks. Google’s Nexus One, for instance, went on sale through Vodafone’s stores and website today, a new Android phone from LG – the Optimus GT540 – is due out next month, while Samsung is due to add the Galaxy S to the current Galaxy Portal (i5700) which is already available in the UK.
Vodafone, meanwhile, will next month launch an Android phone designed for the mass-market as part of a “refresh” of its portfolio of own-branded devices. Vodafone has turned to Chinese manufacturers Huawei, ZTE and TCL as the mobile phone network looks to push smartphones into the mass market.
The company announced nine new handsets in its own-brand range on Wednesday. Alongside some basic feature phones aimed at developing countries – including one called the Vodafone 247, which has a built-in solar panel that could find its way to the UK as an “eco-phone” – Vodafone announced new smartphones including the Vodafone 845.
The 2.8in touchscreen device is the first Vodafone branded phone that uses Google’s Android operating system and has been manufactured by Huawei, which until recently was best known in the mobile phone industry as the maker of 3G mobile broadband dongles. The Vodafone 845 runs on Éclair, the latest version of the Android platform and as well as being able to access thousands of applications it come pre-loaded with the Vodafone 360 service.
Fellow Chinese dongle manufacturer ZTE, meanwhile, is responsible for another smartphone in the new Vodafone range. The 546 has a qwerty keyboard and is aimed at developing countries which have not yet installed 3G networks. ZTE also produced the 247 for Vodafone.
Another Chinese manufacturer, TCL – which has a mobile phone joint venture with Alcatel – has produced a new touchscreen device for Vodafone called the 543, which is also aimed at the mass market.
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