Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Which mobile platform will dominate in 2011?

The reports on the growth of Android, growth of Apple and general decline of everything else have been pouring in. I've said before in this blog, it takes a brave soul to predict the future of technology, because the opposite of what you say (or something you never even thought of) is always likely to happen.

So here are some of the more interesting facts and figures that are floating around now

1) Android the Giant
Google revealed with justifiable pride at I/O 2011, that Android has reached its 100 millionth activation since launch and further than 400,000 Android devices are activated every day. If that's not enough, analysts are predicting that the Android App store will overtake the Apple store by August 2011, with an estimated 425,000 apps. Currently the Android marketplace has around 200,000 apps. Pretty impressive when you consider that it all started less than 3 years ago.

2) Apple the silent growth engine
Apple holds 5% share of the global cellphone market (yes, that's all phones not just smartphones) according to Q1 2011 market share figures released by IDC. And at this level, it seems other than Apple, all other manufacturers including Nokia and Samsung, have actually lost share. In addition to holding a significant share in the mobile phone and smartphone segments, Apple is also dominating the tablet segment with 80% plus share. 

Add to this the fact that BrandZ has just ranked Apple as the world's most valuable brand, valued at $153 billion and the future of the company in the mobile space looks very promising. 



3) Microsoft the dark horse
To add to all the hype, an analyst from Pyramid Research claims that Microsoft's WP7 will overtake Android in market share by 2013. The prediction is based on the powerful Nokia-Microsoft tie-up which will drive down handset costs across global markets and facilitate adoption, presumably also from Nokia's large existing customer base. It seems a plausible argument



4) Blackberry, the weakening force
Wall Street Journal has reported weakening investor confidence in RIM in the US, with newer launches like the Torch and PlayBook getting only a tepid public response, while the new slew of launches for 2011 will just bring the company on par with other smartphones and mobile platforms. 

As per the latest ComScore figures for the year ending Dec. 2010, RIM has lost its lead in the smartphone market to Android, and has Apple nipping at its heels. RIM holds just 27% of US market share, with a rapidly growing Android poised at 34%.

To add to RIMs woes, rumors have been circulating of a buy-out by Microsoft.



As for Apple, I think they will continue to hold value leadership (financial value and brand equity) in an increasingly price competitive and fragmented mobile phone market. While European and US markets are showing more of a trend of upgrading from dumbphones to smartphones, the bulk of growth in cellphones will continue to come from markets like India, where the iPhones's price premium will deter many customers. 

Where RIM is concerned, I think they might continue to stem the tide somewhat in the Asian markets, where the brand still enjoys a lot of equity and loyalty with customers.  It has been interesting for me in to see two trends with RIM in India - the price point of the Curve has dropped below the psychological Rs. 10,000 barrier - and the latest BB ads are targeting college youth basis a slew of features notably the BBM service. There will definitely be interest in lower priced offerings from this premium brand.

As of now, I don't see any huge threat to Android from WP7. I mean, they have to launch some phones before that happens. But I fully agree that if MS and Nokia find a formula and price point that clicks, they could rapidly add numbers and most of those would come at the expense of Android handsets.