Needham’s Wolf plots Android’s rise

March 14, 2011, 1:56 PM UTC

…and shows why Nokia had no choice but to jump from its Burning Platform to Microsoft.

In a report today(PDF), Needham’s Charlie Wolf made the case that Nokia (NOK) had no choice to jump to Microsoft(MSFT) in the wake of exploding market share gains by Google’s (GOOG) Android OS.

Stephen Elop, Nokia’s new CEO, most likely realized this quite quickly, as he spelled it out in his now famous “Burning Platform” memo to Nokia employees. With Nokia’s market share imploding in virtually every region, Mr. Elop had little choice but to abandon ship. Nokia could conceivably have pinned its future on its MeeGo operating system. But MeeGo was still in development and months, if not a year away from shipping.

You don’t have to plot the above graph very far into the future to see Nokia’s dilemma.  The problem is that the new Microsoft partnership will take some time to materialize and until it bears fruit will only accelerate the Android explosion/Symbian implosion trend.

In fact, if you look at sequential smartphone growth (below) for all four quarters of 2010, you can see that Android clearly dominated all growth in the smartphone industry, never falling below half of all industry growth in any quarter and reaching as high as 90%.

It will be interesting to see how factors like the Nokia-Microsoft partnership and Apple (AAPL) iPhones going to new carriers, and possibly becoming cheaper, affect the growth of Android.