Could a newcomer found on less than 2% of the world's newest smartphones end up becoming one of the largest players in the world? Such is the case with Android, according to Gartner, who predicts that the OS will pick up the pace dramatically over the next few years. The firm expects Android to be responsible for upwards of 14% of the smartphone market by 2012.

Gartner is basing their predictions on Google's substantial stake in Android, which will see the software becoming highly integrated with popular Google services. It's probably a fair bet to say Android and Google services will go hand in hand – how well those services translate to mobile computing is still up in the air, but the scenario seems plausible.

Google's already trying to make a name for themselves in cloud computing – though they face stiff competition from many avenues. If Android really does have tight integration with online services, becoming the number two mobile OS in just a few years is certainly possible, but we can't expect Apple to sit idle. If Android starts to rocket forward, what will Cupertino's response be?