The nation’s number two telco Optus yesterday revealed that sales of mobile phones using Google’s upstart Android platform were already making up between a quarter and a third of its total handset sales, just two and a half years after the platform launched in Australia.
“Between a quarter and a third of our sales at the moment are of Android,” the telco’s chief executive Paul O’Sullivan told journalists in a financial results briefing yesterday. “It’s good to see that we’re getting some diversity out there in operating systems.”
Like its major rivals Telstra and Vodafone, Optus and its subsidiary brand Virgin Mobile currently offer a number of Android handsets aimed at various markets — from the high-end to the low. Like its competitors, the telco is currently selling Samsung’s popular Galaxy S II handset, but it also has exclusive access to HTC’s Incredible S, and is also selling other devices such as LG’s Optimus Black, Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc and Xperia Play.
The range of the devices available on the market has dramatically increased over the past six months, as a broad second generation of Android phones has flooded into the Australian market. HTC has launched a number of handsets locally, and most of the other major international manufacturers, with the exception of Apple, Research in Motion and Nokia have followed suit.
Optus was the first to bring the Android platform Down Under, launching HTC’s Dream handset in February 2009. However, the Android market suffered a long drought throughout the rest of that year, with Apple’s iPhone platform stealing vast swathes of market share from traditional players like Nokia and Sony Ericsson, and manufacturers working behind the scenes to integrate the new Google software into their hardware platforms.
However, the Android market took off locally in mid-2010, courtesy of the introduction of handsets such as the HTC Desire (which launched exclusively through Telstra) and the Samsung Galaxy S, which Optus enjoyed a period of exclusivity on.
O’Sullivan’s comments yesterday echo statistics released by analyst house IDC in late June, which showed that for the first time, by the end of this year, there will be more Android-based phones being sold in Australia than iPhones.
At the time, telecommunications analyst Mark Novosel noted that Android was making strong gains —holding 30 percent of Australia’s smartphone market (compared with Apple’s 40 percent), a figure up 4.7 percent on the previous quarter.
“Android remains on track to become the most popular smartphone OS in Australia this year, although Apple is doing its best to delay Android from reaching this milestone. The weakness in Symbian and slow initial growth of Windows Phone are providing a stimulus for iOS and Android, which will battle head to head for the top spot in 2011,” said Novosel.
The news also mirrors results seen earlier this year in the United States, where the Android platform finally pulled ahead of Apple in terms of total US smartphone subscribers. Yesterday, O’Sullivan also noted the new smartphones platforms were having a dramatic effect on handset sales in general. “90 percent of post-paid sales in are smartphones,” he said.
Image credit: HTC