Android Apps Amping Up

The red-hot smartphone sector is posed to get even hotter as competition grows with two signature releases due out in coming days — Verizon’s Droid and BlackBerry Storm2 — along with new indications that Android is making huge gains on the mobile software front.

With the BlackBerry Storm2 officially bowing tomorrow and Droid on tap to come out in early November, both on Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless network is set to generate some buzz after sitting on the sidelines during the summer smartphone showdown.

For Research In Motion, the Storm2 represents another push by the BlackBerry maker to gain ground in the consumer market — and against the Apple iPhone.

But it’s the Droid launch that has many mobile observers paying close attention. The device — widely expected to be manufactured by Motorola — will mark the first smartphone for Verizon (NYSE: VZ) that runs on Google’s open source mobile platform.

Industry watchers are also looking closely for hints on when Android 2.0 might make its debut. With Droid confirmed to include Android 2.0, dubbed Éclair, observers now speculate that we’ll see an official unwrapping of the OS update within the next two weeks, in tandem with the phone’s launch.

Lending credence to that theory is the fact that Éclair’s SDK became available earlier today.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) did not return calls by press time on the status of Android 2.0, but a video on YouTube video suggests that it’s on its way — with a very large foam Éclair now resting on the lawn of Google’s campus, next to the Android mascot and icons for the OS’s previous versions, Cupcake and Donut.

Android apps winning new fans

It’s a sweet time indeed for Android, as the OS continues to gain traction both among developers and manufacturers, according to two separate studies.

Android application creation surged 94 percent between September and October, according to Flurry, a company that provides in-app analytics for mobile developers.

The company attributed the jump to the upcoming Verizon Droid launch.

“Flurry market data shows that Android continues to gain interest from application developers, and that iPhone is no longer the only game in town. Developers who used to develop only for the iPhone are now adding Android apps to their lineup in record numbers,” Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf said in a statement.

This data echoes a study out today by Allen Nogee, an analyst at In-Stat. Nogee foresees big gains for Android in 2010 — even enabling the upstart OS to grab share away from Nokia’s Symbian, the worldwide leader in mobile phone software.

“In-Stat believes new OSes such as Android and Maemo [another open source OS backed by Nokia] will cut away at Symbian market share,” Nogee said in a statement.

“Although there are relatively few open source [operating systems] … on the market today, the open source OS momentum is difficult to ignore. After years of hype, it is easy to see that 2010 will the year of Android,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone OS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS aren’t also performing well.

“RIM OS has been gaining market share in the non-enterprise segment, speaking to the importance of clever hardware design in the segment, while iPhone sales are projected to grow from 13.7 million in 2008 to 24 million in 2009 as Apple continues to lead innovation in the market that it re-invented,” Nogee said.

He also sees shipments of smartphones with touchscreens doubling this year compared to last year, with handsets touting accelerometers growing by 250 million units by 2014. The total smartphone market in 2014 will reach 412 million units.

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