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Android dominates global smartphone market, grows game reach

by Kristen Nicole

It looks like Android is the clear front-runner for mobile operating systems worldwide. A report from research firm Canalys shows that Android is the number one platform in 35 of the 56 countries they track, giving the Google OS a 48 percent market share on a global scale. It’s the cooperation of major handset makers that gives Android entry in Asia-Pacific regions and several emerging markets, an area the Apple iPhone is lacking. Apple takes only 19 percent of the global market share with 20.3 million iPhones shipped in the past year, though it still overtook the struggling Nokia as the world’s largest individual smartphone vendor.

Handset makers win big points for game support

Device manufacturers working with the Android OS win big, and HTC and Samsung are the leaders of this pack. Samsung has shipped a reported 17 million devices in the past year, up 421 percent from a year ago. In many ways, handset makers are in a unique position to distribute gaming content, as many newer Samsung devices, including the Galaxy Tab 10.1, are sought after by the gameing community. LG is looking to 3D graphics to give its Android devices an edge, announcing a partnership with IndieCade for glasses-free 3D games to run on the LG Thrill 4G.

Augmented reality gets another layer

And while Nokia may be having a difficult transition in today’s mobile market, other companies in Europe are showing no shortage of innovation. Layar, the Netherlands-based open augmented reality platform, has launched Layar Vision, a new extension for recognizing real world objects and displaying digital content on top of them. It’s the latest way to interact with real-world content, and augmented reality goes hand-in-hand with mobile games. Talk about three-dimensions. Layar’s announcement comes days after Qualcomm’s SDK release for iOS, driving a great deal of interest in the AR industry.

Angry Birds update, Madden NFL 12 headed to Android

Android’s growing global reach has been a boon for large and small game publishers, as more look to Google’s mobile OS for distribution and monetization. Rovio announced the next Angry Birds Seasons update during a press conference in China this week, bringing an Asian-themed episode to the wildly popular game. Dubbed “Moon Festival” for now, this next update syncs with the mid-Autumn Chinese festival, and is expected sometime in September. EA is also gearing up for an autumn release, confirming and Android version of Madden NFL 12 for some time next month. The latest version will feature improved graphics and animations, and possibly integration with EA’s new social game hub, Origin.