Google's Android operating system is expected to outdo its rivals worldwide, according to a recently released statement by Canalys.

Market analysis firm Canalys said Android "will grow more than twice the rate of major competitors in 2011" even though there are some challenges, particularly in the United States.

The optimism stems from Android's stellar growth last year. According to Canalys data, shipment of Android-based smartphones grew more 1,000 per cent in the first three quarters of 2010 worldwide compared to the same period the previous year.

Canalys estimates that as of third quarter 2010, Android had already claimed a 25 per cent market share worldwide with more than 20 million shipments of Android-based smartphones.

Mass market

Android was able to reach a wider market because it is based on open source, said Canalys. This allowed vendors to drive prices down and bring smartphones to the mass market.

'The growth of Android has been phenomenal, but so too has the number of related devices launched with different hardware and software specifications,' said Chris Jones, principal analyst, Canalys. "This has led to the market perception of it as a fragmented platform, though we believe growth will continue as the pace of Android OS upgrades slows."

Canalys said Android will continue to grow despite the expansion of iPhone in the US. Verizon is expected to launch the iPhone 4 next month. This widens the iPhone's availability beyond AT&T subscribers.

"With Android's momentum expected to stay strong, the installed base of Android-based smartphones and pads will rapidly increase -- good news for developers," said Daryl Chiam, senior analyst, Canalys.

Canalys defines a "pad" as a multi-purpose device, primarily with a touch-screen, for Internet browsing, Web activities and consumption of interactive media content. It is also commonly referred in the market as "tablets".

Asia Pacific

What is even more phenomenal is Android's growth in the Asia Pacific region. Chiam said the growth in the region was at 3,100 per cent for the same comparable period. This growth is due to the availability of the Google-backed OS in more hardware, such as Acer, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

But it is also due to the smaller base of shipment units, at 219,000 units, through the first three quarters of 2009 in the Asia Pacific, Chiam said.

Canalys' forecast of growth is similar to an earlier market forecast by another research firm. Ovum said in a report last September that Android handset shipments will reach 110 million worldwide by 2015.