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What is the bigger news? Android overtaking Symbian or mobile becoming the principal path to the Internet?

As the owner of a G1, I can afford a little smirk about the ascendancy of Android. But really, the bigger story from the perspective of the people at the BOP who are our prime constituency, is the Gartner prediction that this is the cross-over year for those accessing the Internet through mobiles, though of course, one has to interrogate the basis of the prediction.

Google’s operating system for cellphones has overtaken Nokia’s Symbian system as the market leader, ending the Finnish company’s long reign, a British research firm said Monday. In the three months through December, manufacturers shipped 33.3 million cellphones running Android, Google’s free, open-source cellphone operating system, up from just 4.7 million a year earlier, according to Canalys, a research firm in Reading, England. Shipments of phones running the Symbian operating system jumped 31 percent in the quarter, to 31 million, Canalys said.

Analysts said the figures represented a tectonic shift in the industry, cementing the influence of Google’s advertising-driven business on the mobile Internet. And this year, according to the research firm Gartner, more people will gain access to the Internet through mobile devices than with personal computers.

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