Android overtakes Apple in Australia

Smartphones running Google's Android operating system have overtaken Apple's iOS for the first time in Australia, but it's their larger tablet cousins that have emerged as the "present of choice" this Christmas.

Research from analyst firm Telsyte found 44 per cent of the more than 10 million smartphones in use in Australia were now running Android, just creeping ahead of iOS on 43 per cent.

It is a meteoric rise for Android, which in 2010 had just six per cent of the market compared to Apple's 39 per cent.

Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi said the rise was due to the wider range of handsets running Android and successful flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III.

"Our new research shows that the lower prices, faster product cycles and carrier support has helped Android become the leading platform," said Fadaghi.

But tablets are the most popular gadget this Christmas, according to retailers, and in this market Apple is much further ahead.

However, Samsung's Galaxy and Google's Nexus tablets - both Android - are proving increasingly popular and Windows 8 tablets are also starting to hit the market.

Microsoft revealed today that it will start selling its Surface tablet in big retailers after previously only offering it as a direct online purchase in Australia.

"It's a tablet Christmas there's no doubt about that," said Ben Mcintosh, general manager of technology and entertainment at Harvey Norman. "There is no doubt in my mind that we will sell out of just about every tablet we have in stock by the end of the month."

He said the "present of choice" is tablets but sales of headphones were "just going ballistic".

McIntosh said the Surface would be available in Harvey Norman stores from this Friday, while the device will also be sold at JB Hi-Fi.

"The Surface is a very nice unit and it not being at retail has been a very challenging decision as far as I'm concerned because there's a lot of demand for them at store level and they just weren't available when people wanted to buy them," he said.

Fadaghi said consumers may have been avoiding Surface because tablets are "experiential products" and consumers couldn't play with the product in stores.

But he said the push into selling hardware products in retail stores that compete against tablets from OEM partners such as Acer and Asus may cause issues for Microsoft.

"The relationship will become strained if Microsoft's own products start selling well and overtaking the OEMs," he said.

In smartphones, Fadaghi said he expects Microsoft will "only have at best 15 per cent market share" in the next few years.

This story Android overtakes Apple in Australia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.