Google Android’s success since its launch is expected to continue, according to ABI Research.
Of the 302 million smartphones shipped in 2010 - a figure that's up 71 percent on 2009 shipment levels - 69 million smartphones running the Android operating system shipped last year. ABI expects that by 2016 Android will have captured 45 percent of the market.
“Android, Bada and BlackBerry have a great opportunity to fill the vacuum being left by the disappearance of the Symbian OS within the next two years,” noted senior analyst Michael Morgan.
Apple’s iOS, which held 15 percent of the market in 2010, should continue moderate but steady growth over the mid-term, backed by new product introductions. ABI Research forecasts 19 percent market share for iOS in 2016.
RIM, which held 16 percent of the market in 2010, is expected to lose just a little ground: 14 percent is the BlackBerry forecast for 2016.
"RIM’s slight loss of share doesn’t mean falling shipments," said ABI vice-president Kevin Burden. "RIM has found its niche, but the consumer market will grow faster than its portion of it."
Of the newer entrants in the smartphone OS arena, Windows Phone 7 and Samsung’s Bada are both aimed at low- to mid-range handsets.
In contrast, IDC predicted this week that Windows Phone will surge ahead to become the number-two smartphone operating system by 2015 behind Google Android. That forecast would push Apple's iPhone down to third position, followed by BlackBerry in fourth in 2015, the market research firm said.
"With 4 million units shipped in 2010 (amounting to a 1.5 percent market share), Bada has taken off very well, very fast," Morgan adds.
"Bada may reach 10 percent market share by 2016. Windows Phone 7, on the other hand, which shipped in two million handsets in Q4 2010, will have to find incredible success through its Nokia channel to take more than 7 percent of the market by 2016."
Burden concludes: "The overall smartphone market growth for 2010 is not really so surprising: what is more significant is the 19 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) contained in our forecasts through 2016."