Google's Android operating system is gaining support in the mobile industry, with 8 million Android phones to be sold in 2009, up 10-fold from a year ago, research firm Strategy Analytics said on Monday.
With the overall handset market shrinking as economies slow globally, the mobile industry is focusing investment on more advanced smartphones and their software.
Google's Android was introduced in the United States in the second half of 2008, and now all top cell phone vendors except Nokia have said they would use Android. Android is now in a good position to become a top-tier player in smartphones over the next two to three years, said Neil Mawston, a director at Strategy Analytics.
Mawston said handset vendors and operators like T-Mobile and Vodafone are attracted to Android's relatively low-cost licensing model, its semi-open-source structure and Google's support for services.
Despite the 10-fold growth forecast for 2009, with 8 million phones sold Android would lag far behind market leader Symbian, and Research in Motion, Microsoft, or Apple.
On average, the smartphone market is expected to grow 10-20 percent this year from 152 million phones sold last year.
Roughly half of these used Symbian operating system, while RIM sold 23.5 million, Microsoft 20 million and Apple 13.7 million phones, Strategy Analytics said.
Nokia bought out other shareholders of Symbian last year and gave all its software to an independent foundation, which now develops it on an open-source basis.
Nokia uses only Symbian software in its smartphones, while Symbian is also the key platform for Sony Ericsson, which has said it will also use Windows and Android as complementary offerings.