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Google phones set to overhaul competitors in four years

Smartphones running software developed by Google could snatch the largest share of the market by 2014 from less than 4 per cent last year, according to new research.

Devices running the Google- developed Android operating system are already set to overtake BlackBerry this year, Gartner said yesterday, two years earlier than it had predicted in 2009.

The share of the smartphone market held by BlackBerry parent Research in Motion stood at a little under 20 per cent last year, with Android down at just 3.9 per cent.

Yet the analysts believe that by the end of this year BlackBerry will slip to 17.5 per cent, and will be overtaken by Android, which is set to leap to 17.7 per cent. This has followed an explosion of handset manufacturers developing devices with the Google software, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung.

Apple's iPhone last year represented 14.4 per cent of the market, which is expected to peak at 17.1 per cent in two years' time, the research predicted.

Apple updated its software to iOS4 as it released its latest generation of the device over the summer. Analysts also expect a new version of the device to emerge next year. Yet Gartner expects market share of the device to slip to 14.9 per cent in 2014.

The survey revealed that Android operating systems, along with current market leader Symbian, developed by Nokia, will make up almost 60 per cent of new smartphones sold in four years time.

While Nokia has struggled to challenge the iPhone and the Google devices in the high-end market – a significant factor in the departure of chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo yesterday – it dominates the lower end of the market.

Last year Symbian was running on 46.9 per cent of smartphones sold, yet the numbers are waning. It is expected to slip to as low as 30.2 per cent in four years.

Microsoft has also made a series of attempts to make an impact in the smartphone market, with the latest version being the Windows Phone 7. Yet, Gartner predicts that the 8.7 per cent share the US technology giant held last year will slide to 4.7 per cent this year and down to 3.9 per cent in 2014.