This week, the research firm Canalys announced that Android, Google's mobile operating system, has become the most popular-selling smartphone platform in the world. According to Canalys, there were 32.9 million Android phones sold in the fourth quarter of 2010, while the Nokia platform Symbian sold only 31 million. The report notes that "Nokia did retain its position as the leading global smart phone vendor, with a share of 28%," but Android's sales still represent a major upset. Here's a look at the initial reactions:

  • Google's Meteoric Rise  "The reshuffle underscores how quickly Google, which offers its software to phone makers for free, has raced to the top of the smartphone market ahead of Apple's rapid ascension," writes Tarmo Virki at Reuters. "Google and Apple have revolutionized the smartphone market in recent years, sending Nokia scrambling."

  • People Love Free Stuff  In the estimation of Charles Arthur at The Guardian, Android's success "indicates the popularity of the free operating system with vendors, which do not have to pay a licence fee to use it on their phones."

  • Nokia Better Step It Up  Kevin O'Brien for The New York Times reports that "analysts said the figures represented a tectonic shift in the industry," and notes that "radical changes might be coming to Nokia." O'Brien quotes the analyst Neil Mawston, who says that "the surge in Android devices shows that Nokia's neglect of the U.S. market has cost it dearly." Mawston adds that "Nokia has its work cut out to stop the rot... They have to do something radical."

  • Good News for Latecomers  Jay Yarow at Business Insider points out that in 2010, "there were almost 300 million smartphones shipped, which is growth of 80% on a year over year basis. (In other words, if you're late to the game -- Microsoft -- there's some reason for hope, as the market continues to grow.)"

  • This Was Inevitable, concludes Devindra Hardawar at VentureBeat. "Android was bound to become king eventually -- it's free, scalable across all sorts of devices, and its growth has been tremendous," writes Hardawar. "But it's certainly a surprise to see it gain the top smartphone spot so soon."