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They’ve always been arch rivals – but now the OS battle is really heating up with new forecasts indicating the days of Apple’s reign at the top of OS ladder are firmly numbered.

Android users are predicted to triple this year alone, at the expense of older Windows Mobile 6.5 OS and Nokia Symbian Smartphones, according to analysts Telsyte, who predicts price will increasingly come into play as more non-Apple options come on-stream.

Where Apple is pricy, the Android alternative arrives offering both devices and apps at a significantly lower cost, meaning price conscious consumers will be steering in their direction.

“‘Ultra low cost Android Smartphones with pre-paid billing to be the fastest growing segment in 2011,” Telsyte forecasts.

Consumers will also be less worried about features and more on third-party applications, many of which are offered free of charge on Android, compared to the same Apple’s paid-for apps.

One of the other main pluses Google’s OS has over its dominant rival is the former places far less restrictions on the user, allowing a variety of handsets and carriers to be used on its system. A litany of popular brands including HTC, Samsung and LG have all jumped on the Android bandwagon.

Apple, on the other hand is a one man show.

 “The iPhone: It’s chic, smart and cool, but is it about to lose its mojo?” asked one UK newspaper last week.

The Android platform is fast gaining respectability among the developers and is making marked improvements, say analysts and market commentators alike.

“Android has taken over from what I can see,” said industry expert, Will Sullivan.

 

The impact of the Blackberry also should not be ignored.  It’s makers Research In Motion (RIM) reported a 40 percent increase in revenue in 2009 and have issued updates to itsBlackBerry 6 OS and a slew of new products, which should create market momentum.

“By 2015 we expect this (Apple) market share to drop to 35% and Google’s market share to rise to 36%. Other software platforms, such as RIM’s Blackberry Tablet OS and HP’s webOS, will find some success but between them all they will only account for 29% of the market.,” said analyst Tony Cripps, from Ovum earlier this week.

“The dominant software platforms, Apple and Google, will attract the most attention from the cream of the developers.
“They will have the best, most talked about applications and content and, when all is said and done, this is what people will consider when making a purchasing decision.”

However, the show isn’t over for Apple just yet.

Although they might struggle to replicate their massive products victories in 2010, tech consumer appetites will still be whetted with Apple’s other batch of goodies earmarked for 2011 including the iPhone 5, TV App Store, and possibly a larger screen MacBook Air laptop.

Steve Jobs’ tech giant and the Wall Street star performer, is expected to announce record revenues of $24.5bn later today and currently holds a market value of $300 billion.  

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