Awareness for Google's Android operating system is gaining momentum in the US as 17% of consumers in the market for a smartphone say they plan to buy an Android-supported device in the next three months, compared with 20% who plan to buy an iPhone, according to a study from comScore.

"With handsets on multiple carriers, from multiple manufacturers, and numerous Android device models expected to be in the US market by January, the Android platform is rapidly shaking up the smartphone market," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice-president of mobile. "While iPhone continues to set the bar with its App Store and passionate user base, and RIM remains the leader among the business set, Android is clearly gaining momentum among developers and consumers."

Below, additional information released by comScore.

Android and iPhone Users Consume More Mobile Media

Although Android's share of the smartphone market is relatively small, it has quickly doubled in the past year to 3.5% (October to October).The impact of Android's expanding market share is more significant in light of the relatively higher levels of media consumption among its users.

Overall, users of the Apple iPhone are more likely to consume mobile media than an average smartphone user, with 94% of users doing so in September 2009. Meanwhile, 92% of Android device users, predominantly T-Mobile G1 users, engaged in mobile media activities during the same period; that's 12 percentage points higher than smartphone users on average.

Apple and Android users are equally likely to engage with news via their browser and nearly identical in their mobile application engagement.

Email is the only major activity in which iPhone users (87%) are far more likely to participate than Android users (63%).

Overall, these data suggest that Android users will behave more like iPhone users than other smartphone users.

Awareness, Intentions to Purchase Android-Supported Devices

Google's Android platform continues to gain awareness among US consumers: In November 2009, 37% of mobile users had heard of the Android, up from 22% three months earlier, due largely to the Verizon Droid advertising campaign launched in the fall.

Intent to purchase an Android-supported device is also increasing among mobile phone users. When asked in November which phone they planned to buy in the next three months, 17% of mobile users in the market for a new smartphone said they planned to purchase an Android-supported device, with 8% of those planning to purchase a Verizon Droid, compared with 20% of respondents who said they planned to purchase an iPhone during that same time period.

In contrast, just three months earlier (August 2009), only 7% indicated intent to purchase either the T-Mobile G1 or the T-Mobile MyTouch––which were the only Android-supported phones available at the time––while 21% of respondents planned to purchase an iPhone in the next three months.

Android Application Downloads Set to Surge by 2014

Overall mobile application downloads are forecast to reach five billion by 2014, an increase from an estimated 2.3 billion applications downloaded in 2009, according to a separate study from ABI Research. The growing adoption of smartphones, which increased 20% in 2009, and the proliferation of application stores are the major drivers for the growth.

The iPhone's share of the application market is forecast to contract from its 2010 level during the latter part of the forecast period, but iPhone will remain the leading platform for applications, according to ABI.

Meanwhile, Android's share of total application downloads is forecast to expand to 23% in 2014, from 11% in 2009, driven by the mass adoption of the Android OS both by vendors and by consumers from 2009 onward.

"There are now more than 14 phones that run the Android OS, and many more will launch in 2010, said ABI wireless research associate Bhavya Khanna."This, coupled with the rollout of application stores from both smartphone vendors and network operators, will see the iPhone's share of the total market shrink between 2010 and 2014."

In addition, revenue from mobile application sales are forecast to decline by 2013 as competition puts downward pressure on prices and a greater proportion of "must-have" applications begin to face competition from free or advertising-supported substitutes. That process has already begun with the launch of Google's free turn-by-turn navigation service. 

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