Last year, Apple's iPhone finally found its foe in Android. Thanks to its open-development strategy and presence on multiple handsets and multiple carriers, Google's mobile software quadrupled its U.S. smartphone market share in 2010 and dethroned iPhone as the No. 2 operating system after Research in Motion's BlackBerry, according to ComScore. The software is on more than 67 million handsets sold around the world last year, according to Gartner.
Android (after Apple, of course, to give credit where it's due) has been an overwhelming force in making smartphones mass. Just as Android was picking up steam last year, prophetic Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker declared the next sea change in digital: More people would access the internet through mobile than desktops in just a few years.
Android can also thank No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier Verizon for catapulting the platform. Verizon's $100 million marketing push for its Droid line of Android devices in late 2009 kicked off the first major wave of sales that has continued as more carriers around the world offer Android phones.
For Google, it remains to be seen if Android is a material business, but according to Andy Rubin, the company's mobile chief, it's profitable.
Regardless, more people using Android phones means more people searching and launching apps -- and more ad impressions for Google's other bet in mobile, ad network Admob.
Mobile developers are also starting to emerge from their iPhone obsessions to create apps for Android. The Android Market now counts more than 100,000 apps and is finally gaining ground Apple's on 350,000-strong App Store. Even marketers that were once all-Apple-all-the-time when it came to apps are paying attention.
"The big thing about Android for clients is reach and that you're not just stuck to Apple," said Derek Handley, CEO-cofounder of the Hyperfactory, a Meredith-owned mobile agency. "Apple's day in the sun as a device monopolizing consumer behavior and marketer mindshare is finally over."