We've already reached 'peak Android,' says analyst

Expects iPhone 5 launch will lead to further decline; Android fans disagree

Android may have ruled the smartphone world for the past year, but it's due for a significant fall once the iPhone 5 comes out, according to one equity analyst.

Charlie Wolf, a senior analyst at Needham & Company, wrote in a note to investors this morning that Android's U.S. market share had dropped sequentially for the first time in more than a year in the first quarter of 2011, falling from 52.4% to 49.5% according to data from IDC. What's more, Wolf predicted that the launch of the iPhone 5 on multiple carriers this fall would further erode Android's status as market leader.

RELATED: Android will be on almost half of smartphones by 2016, ABI projects

"In our opinion this is just the beginning of Android's share loss in the U.S.," he said. "The migration of subscribers to the iPhone on Verizon network should accelerate this fall when Apple coordinates the launch of iPhone 5 on the GSM and CDMA networks. The iPhone could also launch on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks."

Needless to say, Wolf's analysis got some push-back from the Android fan community. AndroidGuys writer Scott Webster notes that the reported drop in market share was relatively small and that other reports showed Android as the chief benefactor of the declines in market share posted by Research in Motion and Nokia. Furthermore, he notes that while Android is used by several different kinds of devices with a wide variety of prices, the iPhone is still largely a high-end consumer item.

International Business Times writer Elias Samuel also notes that the wide variety of Android devices on the market will help it compete against Apple in offering more low-cost devices. He adds that Android-based devices are more likely than the iPhone to get the best new specifications, such as 1.5GHz dual-core processors and LTE connectivity, since multiple companies are competing with each other to put out better and better Android devices every year.

"Even if Apple brings out the 4G technology, it is still new in the block compared to Android-powered smartphones (like HTC ThunderBolt) which are receiving rave reviews for the technology," he says. "Moreover, Android powered smartphones come with increased RAM memory compared to the latest version of iPhone to give that added advantage in terms of speed."

Ever since its debut in the fall of 2007, Android has appeared on numerous popular smartphones for several carriers including Verizon's Motorola Droid and Sprint's HTC Evo 4G. Research released earlier this year by ABI projected that Android would be on nearly half of all smartphones in 2016, while just 19% of all smartphones would run on Apple's iOS. Research firm Canalys reported earlier this year that Android had become the best-selling smartphone OS in the world, as Android smartphone shipments reached almost 33 million worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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