Tech think tank, Gartner, is predicting that Google's Android will finish the year with the second biggest market share of mobile operating systems worldwide. Nokia's Symbian will remain number one, for the time being.

What a difference a year makes. Just a year ago, newcomer Android held a mere 3.9% of the same worldwide market share trailing way behind Symbian (49%), Research in Motion (19.9%), Apple's iOS (14.4%) and even Windows Phone (8.7%).

Analysts at Gartner are forecasting that Android will finish out this year with 17.7% of global market share; albeit a distant second behind Symbian with 40.1%.  Research in Motion will hang in at third just a sliver behind Android at 17.5%.

The trend is the thing

Here's where Gartner's projections get really interesting. Fast forward to the year 2014. Gartner says Android will still be in second place (29.6%), however it will be breathing down Symbian's neck (30.2%). Research in Motion's market share will shrink to 11.7% and Apple's iOS will have peeked in 2013 at 17.1% only to tumble back down to 14.9%. As for Windows Phone, fuhgedaboudit (3.9%).

Gartner's lead author on this report, Roberta Cozza, also predicts that Android will be the number one mobile operating system in this country by year's end (again, in terms of market share).

She reasons her predictions on a number of factors, including:

- The manufacturers: Smartphone makers like Samsung, Motorola and LG (just to name a few) will likely prefer Android as their budget O/S for cheaper smartphones.

- The carriers: the Verizon's AT&T's, T-Mobile's and Sprints of the world will naturally whittle down the number of platforms they offer on their array of devices. Fewer platforms mean easier, cheaper tech support. It's time to consolidate. Competition is great. But, do we need a half a dozen plus operating systems out there?

- Big Mo: The names rising to the top right now have brand recognition, an established base of developers, customers (both in terms of consumer and enterprise) and relationships with carriers.

- Single-source platforms go to the back of the bus: Cozza predicts Apple and Blackberry will continue to grow in terms of units sold, but they will drift to third and fourth place respectively in market share. Android and Symbian's widespread availability on a multitude of devices, not to mention made by a multitude of manufacturers and available through a multitude of carriers will keep them well ahead of the pack.

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