Will Android Surpass the iPhone by 2012?

If market researcher Informa Telecoms & Media is correct, more people are going to be reaching for an Android-powered device than an iPhone by 2012. Considering there is only one Android device currently on the market—the G1, which launched in September—the new platform must make huge strides to achieve this widespread market penetration.

We expect to see the second Android handset called the Magic this spring. Both the G1 and the Magic are manufactured by HTC. Other Android devices have been rumored, but no other devices have been formally announced. Huawei, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, and other Open Handset Alliance manufacturers are expected to announce Android devices this year and next.

Last month, sales of the iPhone topped 1 million in the U.K. according to Telefonica Europe. T-Mobile UK, the exclusive carrier of the G1, wouldn’t disclose exactly how many of the devices had been sold, but it did say the handset accounts for 20% of its contract sales.

G1 vs iPhoneApple’s iPhone has been available a bit longer than the G1: The first iPhone arrived in the U.S. in June 2007. A 3G version of the original iPhone hit stores in July 2008, giving it a few months' head start on the Android rival.

According to Informa, Android and the iPhone’s OS X platform are cutting into Symbian’s (the best-selling smartphone OS) market share. In 2008, just under half of the smartphones sold were based on Symbian. This represents a drop of approximately 16% from the year before when Symbian enjoyed a 65% market share over competitors such as BlackBerry OS, Linux, and Windows Mobile. All is not lost for Symbian, however. Informa believes Symbian's switch to open source could help it maintain its leadership over Android, Linux, and Microsoft in the next few years.

Overall, smartphone sales are picking up. Nearly 162 million smartphones were sold last year. Informa expects smartphone penetration will reach 13.5% of new handsets sold this year. The researcher further expects 38% of all handsets sold to be smartphones by 2013.