IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo told Bloomberg that Android, which was nipping at the heels of Apple's iOS in the third quarter of 2010, will likely surpass both Apple and Nokia next year. In the last quarter, Nokia's Symbian represented 34 percent of smartphone sales in Western Europe, the iPhone was 24 percent, and Android was 23 percent.
"The iPhone was last year's hot device and now people are looking for something different," Jeronimo reportedly said. He added that he believes the new Samsung Galaxy S offers a similar experience to the iPhone at a lower price.
Samsung was propelled by the launch of the Galaxy S last quarter, helping it achieve 14 percent of Android-based handset shipments. HTC was the Android leader in Europe representing 39 percent, followed by Sony Ericsson with 27 percent.
Android's ascendancy in Europe follows it surpassing the iPhone in the U.S. earlier this year. Google's free operating system is available to multiple hardware makers and device manufacturers who create smartphones and tablets in a variety of form factors, while iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad, is restricted to hardware made by Apple.
But a recent survey found that Apple could stunt the growth of Android, at least in the U.S., if the iPhone were available on more carriers. A poll of recent smartphone buyers found that 34 percent of those not on AT&T, the exclusive carrier of Apple's smartphone, would have preferred to buy the iPhone.
According to Nielsen, even the launch of the iPhone 4 over the summer could not stop the market share growth of Android. Phones running Android in the U.S. are available on all four major wireless carriers, but in many countries in Europe, the iPhone is also available on multiple carriers.
While Android's total market share has grown, no single handset running Google's mobile operating system has compared to Apple's iPhone. The iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million in its first three days, and went on to ship a record 14.1 million last quarter.