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Symbian Still Top Mobile Platform, Android Climbing

Some people became pretty worked up when independent market researcher firms Canalys and the NPD Group claimed that Android had surpassed Apple and Research in Motion to become the top smart phone in the U.S market. Some were merely upset because they didn’t believe that Google really passed RIM or Apple; others wondered what about Symbian?

Well, while Google may be dominating U.S. sales, internationally Symbian is indeed doing quite well. Symbian quoted the same market researchers that first broke the news of Android topping the U.S. market — Canalys — as saying that it was selling 300,000 phones per day worldwide, compared to the 200,000 that Google CEO Eric Schmidt said his company was selling during the same period.

Symbian is owned by Nokia and is heavily used by Nokia’s smartphones – such as the Nokia X6 — though some Nokia models use the company’s other proprietary OS, Maemo. Sony Ericsson is another key Symbian hardware partner.

The approach used by Symbian is similar to Google — design an open operating system and allow anyone to make hardware for it. However, unlike Google, Symbian’s owner Nokia has pushed more proprietary first-party hardware models (Google only launch one official hardware device — the Nexus One — and even that it contracted HTC to design the hardware).

In other news, iSuppli predicts that globally Android will pass the iPhone in 2012. It predicts that by 2012, 75 million Android smartphones will ship alongside 62 million iPhones. Last year, 5 million Android units shipped and 25 million iPhones were delivered. ISuppli cites Android’s numerous hardware partnership as propelling it to faster growth than Apple’s iPhone. HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Huawei, Dell, AsusTek and ZTE have all released or planned to release Android devices.

iSuppli analyst Tina Teng states, “Android is taking the smart phone market by storm. The OS started with entry level models in 2008, but the flexibility Android offers for hardware designs and its appealing business model in terms of revenue sharing have attracted vigorous support from all nodes in the value chain, including makers of high-end smart phone models.”

While Apple currently earns most of its iPhone revenue from exclusive carrier contracts — and Google doesn’t make much revenue at all from Android — iSuppli predicts that the source of revenue for both companies will shift over the next few years. Increasingly ad revenue and content (premium services and apps) will drive profits, ballooning to a $100B USD market by 2014, according to iSuppli’s research.