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Android growth in Europe, cheaper tablets, and a Facebook update

by Marty Gabel

It seems that every week there’s a survey in the U.S. discussing the ever-growing popularity of Android whether it be in smartphones sales, OS dominance or continuing growth of apps in the Android Market. Today, Comscore published a new report about Android gains in the European Union too. According to the report, Android has overtaken Apple to become the second most popular smartphone OS in Europe behind Nokia’s Symbian.

When it comes to devices itself, nearly two-thirds of Google Android devices are manufactured by Samsung and HTC. In the UK alone, HTC dominates with 50 percent of all smartphones. Sony Ericsson and LG fill out the third and fourth places, and it’s lowly Motorola that grabs just 3.6 percent of the smartphone market in the EU. Google, as we all know, recently filed to purchase Motorola for $12.5 billion, but it looks like they’ll have a lot of catching up to do if the newly-formed corporation wants to succeed in Europe. In the U.S., HTC is also the leading manufacturer, but Motorola currently sits in second place, at least according to Nielsen’s U.S. smartphone survey back in July.

A $100 Android tablet?

Yes please! That’s what Kyle Wagner is calling for over at Gizmodo, and honestly, he makes a good point. Right now, Android tablets are still a little pricey and have a hard time competing with Apple’s behemoth iPad which is still dominating the market. However, the ditching of WebOS by HP and the subsequent firesale of its TouchPad tablet device has demonstrated that people will happily pick up an alternative to the iPad, providing the price is right.

Android tablets remain a somewhat ‘luxury’ item. While their costs remain similar or comparative to a small, portable laptop, many people still aren’t going to pick them up. Keep dropping the price, however, and they become a far more viable option for many. Slowly but surely, the app market for Android tablets is picking up pace. While its got a long way to go to match the iTunes App Store in quantity, quality-wise, things are improving, and that could make all the difference. Rumors point to Amazon bringing their own tablet to market very soon -- will they be the ones to break the restrictive price barrier?

Facebook updates its app (again)

Not that we’re complaining of course. Facebook’s app on Android has been somewhat “clunky” for a while, so it’s nice to see the social networking giant is taking steps to improve it. With this latest update (1.7 to be precise) you’ll be able to choose who sees your status updates, rather like what the main website does now, and there’s finally support for Honeycomb-based tablets. There’s also the ability to tag friends in photos (how long did that take?), enhanced privacy controls and various bugfixes. Thanks for finally making the effort to improve things, Facebook. For a service that’s so perfectly suited to mobile devices, we’re just kind of surprised it took so long.