Google's Android OS: Ready to Shake Up the Smart Phone Industry

by: ChangeWave Research

By Paul Carton

Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android mobile operating system was first introduced more than a year ago, and hardly made a ripple in the smart phone market – until now.

ChangeWave’s December 9-14 survey of 4,068 consumers shows the Android operating system roiling the smart phone market, with Motorola’s (MOT) new Droid smart phone the biggest and most immediate beneficiary.

Among respondents who currently own a smart phone, 4% say they’re using Google’s Android operating system – a 3-pt jump since our survey in September.

But more importantly, 21% of those planning to buy a smart phone in the next 90 days say they’d prefer to have the Android OS on their new phone – a monstrous 15-pt jump in just three months. (Click charts to enlarge)

To put this in context, three months ago Android OS was tied for last place in consumer preference among the major mobile operating systems. But since then it has surged into second place ahead of all competitors except the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone OS X (28%) – which remains the number one choice for operating systems, although down 4-pts from previously.

Here’s a look at the change in OS preferences among future smart phone buyers:

In contrast to the Google Android surge, the RIM (RIMM) OS (18%; up 1-pt) is holding steady and the Palm (PALM) OS/ Web OS (3%) and Windows Mobile (6%) are each down 3-pts since the September survey.

These findings have major implications for smart phone manufacturers – but it’s important to note that they are occurring at a time of robust overall growth for the industry.

An Ever Expanding Market. Forty-two percent of our respondents now report they own a smart phone – up 3-pts since September. And going forward, 12.8% say they plan on buying a smart phone in the next 90 days – the second highest percentage ever recorded in a ChangeWave survey.

Smart Phone Manufacturer Market Share

Current Share. Research In Motion (39%) continues to be the smart phone market share leader, down 1-pt since our previous survey in September. At the same time, number two Apple (31%) has edged up 1-pt since September. We note that Apple has experienced continuous market share growth every quarter since the iPhone launch two-and-a-half years ago.

Palm (6%), after holding steady in the previous survey, has slid 1-pt since September.

Future Share. Going forward, the Motorola Droid stands out as the biggest and most immediate beneficiary of the enormous wave of new demand for the Android OS.

Motorola (13%) is registering a huge 12-pt jump in terms of future buying – the first increase for Motorola in a ChangeWave consumer smart phone survey in three years.

While not nearly as dramatic, HTC also shows an uptick in planned buying (from 5% to 9%) that corresponds with the November release of their new Droid Eris model.

The strong momentum for Android can best be seen in the following chart, which summarizes the huge transformation in consumer planned buying trends since September.

Jean Crumrine co wrote-this article.

Disclosure: No Positions