Google’s Android OS will be the second biggest operating system in the smartphone market by 2013, IDC predicts. The research company forecasts that global smartphone sales will surpass 390 million units by that time, a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 20.9 percent between 2009 and 2013. “In a market that was once dominated by a handful of pioneers, such as BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile, newcomers touting open standards (Android) and intuitive design and navigation (Mac OS X and webOS) have garnered strong end-user and handset vendor interest,” according to the company press release.

Android will be the fastest growing of all mobile operating systems during that period, IDC predicts, reaching 68 million units by 2013, a CAGR of 150.4 percent. IDC predicts that Nokia’s Symbian operating system will remain the leader in the category, but that Linux and webOS platforms will suffer.

"Mobile operating systems have become the key ingredient in the highly competitive mobile device market. Although the overall look and feel of the device will still play an important role in the buying process, the wrong choice of operating system coupled with an awkward user interface can mean the difference between success and failure," says Stephen D. Drake, vice president, Mobility and Telecom.

In the U.S., Google’s competition is set to increase dramatically in the next 18 months, especially if the rumors of Apple allowing other providers to sell the iPhone prove true. Not that there’s really anything inhibiting iPhone adoption, but if there were it would be AT&T’s spotty service and the huge amount of negative press the carrier has gotten due to that.

By Mark Alvarez