Android smartphone shipments are predicted to grow 900-percent in 2009, according to industry observers Strategy Analytics.  They cite increased carrier, vendor and developer support as key motivators for growth, and expect Android to become “a top-tier player in smartphones over the next two to three years.”

“The Android mobile operating system from Google gained early traction in the US in the second half of 2008 and it is gradually spreading its presence into Europe and Asia during 2009. Android is expanding from a low base and it is consequently outgrowing the iPhone OS from Apple, which we estimate will grow at a relatively lower 79% annually in 2009” Tom Kang, senior analyst, Strategy Analytics

Among its appeal is the low-cost licensing model and “semi-open-source structure”, Strategy Analytics’ director Neil Mawston claims, together with Google’s “support for cloud services.”  From Android’s first announcement, these have been key motivators; now, in the current economic climate, reducing licensing payments and software development time are even more attractive to device manufacturers and carriers alike.

Android recently scored a coup in the US, with the T-Mobile G1 – the only handset using the platform officially available in the country – took one of the top five places in the best-selling smartphones for Q1 2009.  Meanwhile the second Android device, the HTC Magic, launched in Europe in the past few weeks.