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Google's Android system eats into Apple's lunch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Smartphones and tablets powered by Google's Android software are devouring the mobile gadget market, eating into Apple's turf by feeding appetites for innovation and low prices, analysts say.

The Android operating system powered nearly three out of four smartphones shipped worldwide in the recently ended quarter as the mobile platform dominated the market, according to industry trackers at IDC.

“Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008,” said IDC's mobile phones research manager Ramon Llamas.

“In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition.”

In tablets, Apple's market share has fallen to just over 50 percent from 65 percent in the second quarter as Android devices gain ground, according to IDC figures.

“Having a lot of people building a lot of things covering a lot of price points with multiple brands in multiple places makes a big difference,” said NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker.

“Variety is strength when it comes to moving units.”

Android smartphones shipments surged to 136 million, topping those in the same three-month period last year by slightly more than 90 percent, IDC reported.

Samsung's Galaxy S3 overtook Apple's iPhone 4S in the third quarter to give the South Korean firm the world's best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

“The pace of innovation in Android is faster than Apple,” said Gartner's vice president of mobile computing, Ken Dulaney. “They are just trying harder; Apple is way behind in that area.”

Android is benefiting from being an “open-source” platform that gadget makers use free of charge and improve as they deem fit, providing Google with insights along the way.

Apple tightly controls its products, from the software to the hardware and even the online shop for music, books, games or other content.

“What you get with Android is this incredible feedback loop with developers, equipment makers, customers and designers,” Dulaney said.

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In this June 27 file photo, Hugo Barra, product management director of Android, introduces Google's new mobile operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, in San Francisco. Smartphones and tablets powered by Google's Android software are devouring the mobile gadget market, eating into Apple's turf by feeding appetites for innovation and low prices, analysts say. (AFP)

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