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iPhone faces rising challenge from Android handsets: analyst

Apple's iPhone will likely dominate the high-end smartphone market in the next five years but faces strong competition from handsets using Google's Android platform, a research firm said Tuesday.

By 2015, total mobile application downloads in the Asia-Pacific are forecast to reach 5.30 billion, of which 597.15 million, or about 11 percent, will be for the iPhone, technology industry consultancy Ovum said.

Downloads of iPhone applications are estimated at 62.16 million dollars in 2010, Ovum said in an analysis released four days before the launch of the new-generation iPhone 4 in another 17 countries and cities worldwide on Friday.

The iPhone 4 is expected "to face much stiffer competition than its predecessors", Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said in a statement.

"The rise of Google Android over the last two years has been phenomenal and is allowing manufacturers to create appealing alternatives to the iPhone, critically at cheaper prices," Leach said.

Handsets using the Android operating platform are more than just clones of the iconic iPhone, he said.

"The risk to Apple is that these devices offer greater freedom with available content and may prove more appealing, if it offers the right user and developer experience, than a device with Apple-approved content only," said Leach.

"This may ultimately be what puts the brakes on unlimited iPhone growth."

From July 30, customers can purchase the iPhone 4 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

It will be available for purchase through Apple's online store.