San Francisco – Global smartphone sales will soar 50 per cent this year compared to 2010, with Google’s Android set to extend its lead as the world’s most popular operating system for the devices, according to a study released Tuesday by research group IDC.

The study estimated that the number of smartphones in use this year will reach roughly 450 million, some 147 million more than in 2010.

Devices running Google’s Android OS will dominate with a 39.5-per- cent market share, rising to 45.4 per cent by 2015. Apple’s iOS devices will decline slightly from 15.7 per cent this year to 15.3 per cent in 2015.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 will gain the benefits of an alliance with Nokia to jump from a market share of just 5.5 per cent this year to 20.9 per cent in 2015, making it the number two mobile OS in the world after Android, the study predicted.

Most of that gain will come at the expense of Nokia’s Symbian OS, which is predicted to go from 20.9 per cent to just 0.2 per cent in 2015. Blackberry’s share will decline from 14.9 per cent in 2011 to 13.7 per cent by mid-decade.

‘Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional,’ said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. ‘Last year’s high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases. The expected market growth for 2011, while still notable, will taper off somewhat from what we saw in 2010.’