Rise of the Robot

When Google launched its 'iPhone killer,' Android, in 2008, nobody took it very seriously. The first Android phone, the G1, was a very traditional-looking smartphone with a slide-out keyboard and limited touch capabilities. It looked like a decent competitor for Microsoft's Windows Mobile, but not for the sleek, ordinary-person-friendly iPhone.

But what a difference three years makes. After many updates to the Android software, and sleek hardware from some of the tech world's leading companies, Android is now growing like topsy. According to the research firm Gartner, 46.8 million Android smartphones were sold to end users worldwide in the second quarter of this year, giving Google's OS 43.4% of the market. That's up from a measly 10.7 million, or 17.2% ownership of the market, for the same period last year.

The loser? Well, it isn't Apple's iPhone, which still has a very respectable 18.2% of the market after selling 19.6 million units in the second quarter - a hell of a lot considering there are only two models of iPhone on sale. No, the loser seems to be poor, long-suffering Nokia. Its smartphone OS, Symbian, has dropped from 40.9% of the market last year to just 22.1% now, after just 23.9 million sales in Q2. Hopefully the Finnish phonemaker's deal with Microsoft to make Windows-powered phones will help it turn things around.

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