An onslaught of slick smartphones running Google (GOOG) Android will goose adoption and send Android marketshare soaring in early 2010, said a source close to the Android team with knowledge of customer trends and sentiment for the Google-powered handsets. "The only thing holding it back is the lack of devices. And by early next year there will be dozens of Android devices online, Marketshare is going to skyrocket," said the source, who has worked directly with the Android team.

The source also contradicted reports from mobile ad networks AdMob that iPhone users actually download more apps than Android users. AdMob data is controversial because it primarily relies on ads placed in applications to gauge behavior. "From what we see, those AdMob numbers are extremely low and under represent engagement and app downloads by Android users," he said.
Analysts in the mobile devices arena agree that the Android wave is probably coming soon. "Given the velocity with which the Androids are entering the marketplace, 2010 looks quite bright for the ecosystem. There is good momentum, developer interest, and marketing dollars to introduce the devices to consumers, all of which impact the holiday season and beyond," says Chetan Sharma, a wireless sector analyst and principal of Chetan Sharma consulting..

The release yesterday of the Motorola Cliq smartphone was only the first of a number of Android devices coming out of Motorola, who appears to be betting heavily on the Google OS and Motorola's (MOT) new "Motoblur" life streaming and cross-platform contact management system running on Android phones. T-Mobile, which will have the initial U.S. exclusive on the Cliq, announced yesterday that it had invested $9 billion in upgrades to its U.S. data network in anticipation of heavy Android usage.

For its part, Apple appears unconcerned with the building hype around Android. But to my eyes, the mobile Internet sector is looking more and more like a flashback to the PC wars when Apple (AAPL) took on Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT) for early PC dominance (see this post). The clash then was between a closed, tightly controlled Apple system that prized user experience and a more open Windows systems that made it easier for software developers and others to integrate with the Windows OS. Microsoft and Intel won that round but with Mac marketshare climbing and the iPhone locking users in with tight integration into the App Store and iTunes media, things could be very different this time around.

Update: Turns out that popular music streaming service Pandora just launched its Android app today (according to TechCrunch) and it has a richer feature set than Pandora for either iPhone or the Palm Pre. Looks like the reasons for not owning an Android phone are falling away quickly.

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