Android doubles lead; Samsung set to launch Galaxy Player

by Kristen Nicole

The world may be abuzz over Amazon’s upcoming Kindle tablet, but Android smartphones are still hot commodities in the US. Android’s market share only continues to grow, and shows no signs of slowing. There were twice as many Android phone buyers compared to iPhone buyers in the past three months, according to Nielsen’s latest report. A cool 56 percent of the consumers who bought a new smartphone picked an Android, leaving 28 percent in the iPhone camp. While iPhone new acquisition sales remained flat over the past three months, Android increased by 13 percent. BlackBerry actually lost the attention of new buyers, dropping by 50 percent to a mere 9 percent market share.

It’s not much of a surprise, given Android’s range of devices across all major carriers, while the iPhone has just the one handset, available through only two carriers in the US. And while Apple’s been able to maintain its brand, competition only continues to rise. Samsung seems to be Apple’s nemesis in the mobile space, often launching devices worthy of being called viable Apple alternatives. Samsung’s approach has landed the Korean manufacturer in some hot water these past few months, as Apple sues Samsung over patent infringement, blocking Galaxy Tab sales in several countries around the world. So there’s no telling how Apple’s legal department will feel about the new Samsung Player line, which is reportedly set to hit US stores on Oct. 16.

Samsung’s strategy: the Apple taste test

The Galaxy Player line is Android-based, and takes on the iPod Touch in particular. With a glaring 5-inch screen and a 3.2 megapixel rear camera, a VGA front camera and Wi-Fi support, the Galaxy Player offers the benefits of app and web access without the monthly phone bill. There’s a four-inch model as well. Priced at $269 and $229 respectively, both devices run Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

It will be interesting to see Samsung’s strategy around the Galaxy Player, which taps a market that’s been kind to iOS but hasn’t been explored very far beyond the iPod Touch. As connected devices grow in prominence and tablets validate the Wi-Fi only device structure, the Galaxy Player could have few hindrances in finding its market niche. Samsung’s certainly seen significant success with its handset diversity, expanding Android users’ options even while stepping on Apple’s toes.