Global shipments of converged mobile devices (smartphones) will surpass 390 million units, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9 per cent for the 2009-2013 forecast period, according to market intelligence firm IDC.
The firm said that newcomers boasting open standards (Android) and intuitive design and navigation (Mac OS X and webOS) have earned strong end-user and handset vendor interest.
IDC expects Symbian to retain its leadership position throughout the forecast period, primarily due to the strength of Nokia in markets outside of the US.
According to IDC, Android is expected to experience the fastest growth of any mobile operating system. The Android-powered shipments will reach 68 million units by 2013, with a CAGR of 150.4 per cent. Android will finish second to Symbian in shipments by 2013, due to growing footprint of handset vendors supporting it.
The study found that Linux and webOS shipments will struggle throughout the forecast period. Linux-powered shipments are expected to go down due to emphasis on the Android platform but will not disappear entirely as some vendors will continue to support it, while Palm's webOS, despite growing steadily, will capture limited market share due to limited deployment and availability of devices across multiple carriers.
Stephen Drake, vice president of mobility and telecom, said: "Mobile operating systems have become the key ingredient in the highly competitive mobile device market. Although the overall look and feel of the device will still play an important role in the buying process, the wrong choice of operating system coupled with an awkward user interface can mean the difference between success and failure."