Android Was 2011's Open Source Story of the Year

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 30, 2011

As we bid goodbye to 2011, there are lots of stories appearing on what a game-changing year this was for Linux, but my choice for open source story of the year is Android. As we've noted before, Android is actually a very young operating system. Originally released at the very end of 2007 and gaining some mention as 2008 began, Android qualified as little more than an experiment from Google in 2008, although there was an early hardware commitment from HTC. As 2009 started to unfold, as late as March of that year, Android still had very little momentum. We wrote this story then, which pondered why Android was stalled after so much initial hype. Now, new smartphone data is out from comScore, and it shows Android creeping toward 50 percent market share in the U.S.

Take a gander at comScore's latest data on top smartphone platforms in the U.S.:

As you can see, Google commanded close to half the U.S. smartphone market as of November, and there is little doubt that it will command more than half in 2012. If you cycle the clock back to 2008, when doubts about Android's future ran rampant, its position today would seem hard to believe.

Add to that the fact that Google's Motorola Mobility acquisition will make it a big player on the hardware side of the smartphone market, and it seems likely that Android's market share will grow even more. By comparison, Google's foray into computer-based operating systems--Chrome OS--has been a small-scale experiment. Android is the company's OS success.

If you look at the market share chart above, it's also remarkable to note how far down the mountain the Symbian platform has stumbled. And, as we've noted before, that stumble was a direct result of Nokia and The Symbian Foundation failing to deliver an open source platform on time. 

Without a doubt, open source has permanently shaken up the smartphone market, from the enormous success that Android is to the dwindling prospects for the Symbian platform. As 2012 launches, Android's momentum will continue, and will likely speed up on tablets and non-phone devices.

Chart credit: comScore MobiLens.