Is 2011 the year of Android?

Smart-phone hardware is getting cheaper, and Google's platform is the go-to software for new low-end devices.

By Kim Peterson Dec 28, 2010 2:49PM
Credit: (© Eric Risberg/AP)
Caption: Droid Incredible cell phoneSmart-phone growth is set to explode next year, and at the center of that boom could be the Android platform from Google (GOOG).

That's according to Fortune, which says half a billion smart phones could be sold worldwide next year. "Smart phones will likely blow by traditional computers next year as the way most of the world gains access to the Internet," writes Seth Weintraub.

So far, smart-phone growth has been centered around developed countries. But even in the U.S., smart phones account for only about a third of all phones, Fortune reports. 

That means there's incredibly huge potential still in the U.S. as well as in India and China, where not even 10% of the population has a smart phone. Post continues after video:
There are two main barriers to growth. The wireless networks aren't in place to support big expansion, and the phones are very expensive (unless a carrier decides to subsidize them). But the wireless infrastructure is improving and hardware is getting cheaper, Fortune reports.

A new generation of low-end smart phones will drive growth, and Google's Android platform is the go-to system.

Broadcom (BRCM) will push prices down significantly with a new Android chip set that will be the foundation of some Android phones going forward, Fortune reports. Phones made with that chip set could sell for less than $100.

Broadcom says it's working on a high-end chip set that could sell in the same price range by 2012. That could mean lower prices.

HTC, which makes some nice Android phones, says it will triple its 2010 output in 2011, Fortune reports.

"What's most interesting is that unless Apple (AAPL) has a plan to keep up, their iPhone, once one of the only usable smartphone games in town, may wind up back where most Apple products are slotted -- at the top of the market, affordable only to those willing and able to pay a premium for Steve Jobs' aesthetic sensibilities," Weintraub writes.


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