Samsung ‘Galaxy' has become a more popular search term than Android for web users searching for information about Android-powered smartphones, highlighting many handset makers' fears that Samsung is becoming bigger than the other Android manufacturers and that the smartphone market is slowly becoming a two-handset, rather than an operating systems, race.
An employee shows an Apple's iPhone 4s (L) and a Samsung's Galaxy S3 (R) at a mobile phone shop in Seoul. (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
Research by analyst Benedict Evans plots the popularity of Android-related search terms over a period of years and shows that 'Galaxy' has become more popular than 'Android' as an Android-phone-related search term since November. He claims that 'Galaxy' now has greater brand awareness among consumers than the term 'Android.'
Brand awareness is one thing, sales are another, and according to data from mobile analytics firm Localytics published on Thursday, eight of the top 10 Android devices currently in use are Samsung smartphones and tablets. The Galaxy SIII accounts for 9.2 percent of the market on its own, making it the most popular Android handset, and the Galaxy SII is the second most popular, with an 8.2 percent share of the global market. In all, Samsung currently has a 47 percent share of the world Android market.
The only good news for the wider Android community in Localytics's data is tablet use, but even that is not 100% positive. "It's interesting to note that despite their overall Android dominance, Samsung does not hold the number one spot for Android tablets; that honor goes to the Amazon Kindle Fire, which accounts for 37% of all Android tablets, the vast majority being US-based," said Localytics's Daniel Ruby in a blog post. However, Amazon's tablets, though nominally Android, run a ‘forked' version of the operating system that is different from the version found on other Android tablets and therefore offers a different user experience and access to a different ecosystem of apps.
Further proof of Samsung's growing dominance comes from research released on Wednesday by Canaccord Genuity that shows that only Apple and Samsung made any profits in the smartphone market in 2012. Apple's profit share was an incredible 69 percent of the global market, while Samsung's profits were 34 percent, which when added together comes to 103 percent of total profits. This number is possible because Nokia, Sony and Motorola together made a loss or a -3 percent profit. BlackBerry and HTC are believed to have broken even over the last 12 months.
It will be interesting to see how this situation develops. Some industry experts have suggested that Google should sell the Android platform to Samsung while others believe that if the platform is to survive and continue to be open and inclusive, Google needs to follow Apple's lead and start building its own, high-end smartphones to offer consumers more choice.