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Android now “king” in Southeast Asia

MANILA, Philippines–The King is dead. Long live the King. Or so it would seem in the vibrant telecommunications market in Southeast Asia—now ruled by the Google Android smart phone operating system (OS).

Results of the latest study by international market research firm GfK showed that the Android OS, which is used on the cheapest to the most expensive of mobile phones in the market today, has finally overtaken the long-time leader, the Symbian platform, in terms of sales in Southeast Asia.

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“GfK Asia’s retail tracking reveals consistently healthy sales performance of Android phones—the only smartphone OS which has been registering unwavering month-on-month growth over the last 12 months,” GfK’s regional account director for telecommunications Benedict Hong said.

“Compared to the third quarter a year ago, sales volumes of Android smartphones has grown exponentially by over 1,000 percent,” he added.

The firm described the demand for smart phones in the seven key markets in Southeast Asia, made up of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, as “insatiable,” showing no signs of slowing down.

In the third quarter of the year, about 4.7 million smart phones worth around P1.5 billion were sold in the seven countries, or about double the same period last year.

About two in every five—about 40 percent—of units sold in the area were devices running the Android OS, an open system that Google lets manufacturers use on their phones and tablet computers for free, GfK said.

Along with the Research in Motion OS, which is used in BlackBerry smart phones, and the Symbian OS usually seen on Nokia devices, they make up the three top smartphone operating systems in Southeast Asia with combined shares totalling nearly 90 percent, GfK said.

From just over 50 models of Android smartphones available in the market a year ago, the figure has swelled to almost 170 models in the last quarter,” Hong said.

“With the on-going engagement and partnership model between Google and major manufacturers, we can expect more innovative Android smartphones to swamp the marketplace; at least until there is another major breakthrough that can shake the dynamics of the smartphone OS industry,” he said.

GfK noted some outliers in the region, particularly, Indonesia and Vietnam, where the RIM OS and Symbian are still the dominant systems, respectively.

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Smart Communications, the Philippines’ largest mobile network, said the Android OS has made it easier for manufacturers to release smart phone units. With a free and popular system available to them, manufacturers are now able to focus on coming out with powerful hardware without having to worry as much on software.

Smart, a unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), has bet big on the popularity of the Android OS. It recently launched a line of Smart Net Phones, which run on Android. Its chief rival, Globe Telecom, is the exclusive distributor of the popular Apple iPhone in the Philippines.

“If Google had not come out with Android, someone would have had to invent something like it,” Isberto said, noting that competition between manufacturers, which eventually leads to better and more affordable devices, would be less vibrant without the platform.

TOPICS: Android, infotech, Smart phones, symbian
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