Thursday, November 19, 2009

Smartphone Market: A Rugby Scrum?

The fast pace of change in the Smartphone space presents great opportunities for entrepreneurs and developers, but creates a great new risk I’ll call “choosing the wrong platform.” Anyone preparing a business plan must be prepared not only to choose which platforms (phone and OS) to develop first but must be prepared to convincingly defend these choices to investors or managers less well informed than they are.

Writing in today’s NY Times, AZADEH ENSHA says the Smartphone marketplace increasingly resembles “a rugby scrum (the Verizon Droid versus the BlackBerry Storm versus the Palm Pre versus the HTC MyTouch versus the Apple iPhone ).” Market survey numbers don’t just change dramatically year by year, but quarter to quarter. Gartner has just published Q3 figures on Smartphone sales. Some excerpts:

  • Smartphones continued to represent the fastest-growing segment of the mobile-devices market and we remain confident about the potential for Smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2009 and in 2010.
  • Nokia’s share of the worldwide Smartphone market reached an all time low in the third quarter of 2009 at 39 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2009. Research In Motion reached 20 per cent share, its highest yet.
  • Apple’s worldwide Smartphone share reached 17 per cent as iPhone sales totaled 7 million units in the third quarter of 2009. Sales in the fourth quarter should be even stronger as Apple starts selling in China, through one additional carrier in the UK, and in an additional 16 countries.
  • In the Smartphone operating system (OS) market,Android picked up momentum but with only a handful of Android devices available, its share remained modest at 3.5 per cent. Windows Mobile 6.5 only became available in October, too late to have an impact on the third quarter, so sales of Windows-based Smartphones saw another decline.
Interpretations of these results vary, but I did enjoy “How Microsoft Blew It With Windows Mobile” by Brian X. Chen in Wired:

“Microsoft Windows continues to dominate the PC market with a 90 percent market-share stronghold, but when it comes to Smartphones, Microsoft is getting beat up worse than a mustachioed villain in a Jackie Chan movie.

“Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its Smartphone market share since 2008, research firm Gartner reports. Windows Mobile had 11 percent of the global Smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, and last quarter Windows Mobile’s market share plummeted to 7.9 percent.

“Meanwhile, Apple’s global market share grew from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM saw a rise from 16 percent to 20.8 percent, according to Gartner’s figures.”

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting numbers George.

    I think this comment for Brian Chen's article says it all: "The iPhone didn't beat Microsoft in the Smartphone market, Microsoft never bothered to show up to the competition." I have used many different device operating systems, and Windows Mobile has always been painful to use. The need for a stylus, the small UI controls, instability, boring look, etc. are all part of why Windows Mobile has not taken off. A smartphone should not have the same experience as your desktop PC.

    I think that the Android OS still have a ways to go to appeal to the general consumer - it's interface is too raw and 'engineery' right now. HTC has done a great job of covering some of this up with the HTC Hero; what a great device. But going back to Brian Chen's article again, there are some concerns regarding developer support for Android apps because there are already a variety of devices and screen sizes.