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Day November 13, 2009

Stack ‘em high!

In comparing two platforms like iPhone and Android, the question of addressable market for developers must come first. Apple has the advantage of an early lead plus its iPod touch devices which add another 40% to volumes. As a result, Apple created a 57 million units base with 100% yearly growth. It’s not a stretch to assume that before the end of 2010, Apple will have 100 million units in the field with 150 million by 2011.

All told, current Android licensees offered up less than 4 million devices to developers to date. When accounting where future Android volumes will come from, the chances are that Nokia, Samsung and RIM will not deploy Android widely as they have their own platforms to protect. That leaves Motorola, Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG and the current Windows Mobile licensee base. Even assuming unprecedented growth (270% y/y–greater than iPhone ever achieved) from this less-than-stellar list of vendors, it’s hard to imagine more than 30 million Android installed base by end of 2011.

One Android device for every five iPhone OS devices does not compel ecosystem switching costs for developers. Fragmentation and low volumes coupled with a tenuous vendor story leads us to conclude that iPhone will still have the upper hand by 2011.