Open source to help Android overtake iPhone by 2012

But Symbian will still lead the way, according to a report from Informa.

Google's Android mobile platform will overtake Apple's iPhone OS X within three years, Informa has predicted.

The analyst group said Android's open source nature will give it a boost over Apple's darling, but Nokia's Symbian will maintain its lead over Android as well as challengers Linux and Microsoft.

"The decision to move the Symbian platform to open source is crucial in maintaining its leadership over Android, Linux and Microsoft," said Gavin Byrne, a research analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, in a statement. This is largely because of the increasing importance of developers in the mobile industry, as the value in the market moves from handsets to software to now to applications.

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Symbian's fall in popularity from 65 per cent market share in 2007 to 49 per cent last year reflects a poor showing by Nokia's smartphone lineup as well as the platforms of its rivals.

"The smartphone segment is no longer as simple as it was a few years ago," said Byrne, noting the addition of Apple's iPhone, Palm's web OS and Google's Android in the past two years.

But while its share is slipping, the pie is growing, Byrne noted. "In 2008, there were almost 162 million smartphones sold, surpassing notebook sales for the first time."

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While Informa forecast total handset sales would slide 10.1 per cent this year, it predicted smartphone sales would increase 35.3 per cent. This year, smartphones will make up 13.5 per cent of all new handsets, but by 2013 that will increase to 38 per cent.

The second Google Android-based phone, HTC's Magic, is set to hit the UK next month.

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