According to figures released today by ABI Research, Android will be on 45 percent of smartphones shipped in the year 2016, as it will take up most of the market share vacated by the soon-to-be-defunct Symbian operating system. Although Android will come to be the dominant player in the smartphone market, this doesn't mean that others will necessarily see a big cut in their own market shares.

In fact, ABI projects that Apple's iOS will see its market share rise from 16 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2016, while Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS is expected to fall slightly from 16 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2016. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and Samsung's Bada will also be players in the 2016 smartphone market, as ABI projects those two operating systems to take 10 percent and seven percent, respectively.

ABI vice-president Kevin Burden says that although RIM stands to lose a bit between now and 2016, the company will carve a comfortable niche for itself in the enterprise market, as enterprise users will still need the security provided by RIM's network operations centre.

"RIM's slight loss of share doesn't mean falling shipments," he says. "RIM has found its niche, but the consumer market will grow faster than its portion of it."

Research firm Canalys reported earlier this year that Android had become the best-selling smartphone OS in the world, as Android smartphone shipments reached almost 33 million worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010. According to Canalys' figures, this gave Android a 32.5 percent market share in the fourth quarter, just ahead of the 30.6 percent market share captured by runner-up Symbian.

Additionally, Nielsen reported earlier this year that Android has a lot of the momentum heading into 2011. Overall Nielsen said that 40.8 percent of US customers who reported buying a new smartphone over the past six months purchased Android-based phones. iPhones accounted for 26.9 percent of new devices purchased over the past six months by US customers while BlackBerry devices accounted for 19.2 percent of new devices purchased over the last six months by US customers.

Ever since its debut in the fall of 2007, Android has appeared on numerous popular smartphones for several carriers including Verizon's Motorola Droid and Sprint's HTC Evo 4G. Earlier this year, Google released a new version of Android that is designed specifically for tablet computers instead of smartphones.