Android explodes into the consumer consciousness

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If 2009 was the year that manufacturers and developers fully embraced Google's Android mobile operating system, then 2010 is already shaping up as the year consumers follow suit. According to new data published by research firm ChangeWave, 4 percent of smartphone owners surveyed in mid-December say they're currently using Android, up three points over September totals; more significantly, 21 percent of respondents planning to purchase a smartphone in the next 90 days say they'd prefer the device run on the Android OS--a 15 point jump in just three months. ChangeWave notes that as of September 2009, Android was tied for dead last in consumer preference among the major operating systems--now, it's in second place among future buyers, behind only the iPhone OS X at 28 percent, down 4 percentage points in the last three months. Android's rise also comes at the expense of Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Palm's webOS--6 percent of consumers say they plan to purchase a WinMo device, down from 9 percent in September, while webOS slipped from 6 percent to 3 percent quarter-over-quarter. Only Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS held relatively steady between September and December, increasing from 17 percent to 18 percent among prospective smartphone buyers.

ChangeWave forecasts that Motorola's Droid stands to benefit most from consumer demand for Android devices--in fact, 13 percent of shoppers say they plan to purchase a Motorola smartphone in the next three months, a 12-point jump over September 2009 and the handset maker's first increase in a ChangeWave consumer smartphone survey in three years. In addition, 9 percent of prospective smartphone buyers are now eyeing HTC devices, up from 5 percent in the previous survey, corresponding with the November release of the Droid Eris. Word of mouth is also working in Android's favor, with 72 percent of current Android users telling ChangeWave they're very satisfied with their smartphone, behind iPhone users at 77 percent but well ahead of BlackBerry (41 percent), Palm OS/webOS (33 percent) and Windows Mobile (25 percent).

Not all Android purchases are looming in the immediate future--it appears that a large number of consumers received Android devices over the holidays as well. Mobile application analytics provider Flurry reports Android Market app downloads increased 22 percent between November and December, with downloads to Droid units up 93 percent on Christmas Day over previous Fridays last month. In all, the Droid now accounts for 49 percent of all Android Market downloads, followed by the myTouch 3G at 18 percent, the HTC Hero at 17 percent and the G1 at 16 percent. Flurry adds that Apple's App Store download volume is still more than 13 times greater than Android Market--regardless, Android has made enormous strides over the past year, and that trend will continue in 2010. -Jason