Tag Archives: smartphone

Is this the End of the Smartphone Era?

When Nicholas Carlson wrote that the end of the smartphone era is coming, he overstated the comment I made to his post the day before. He had asked his readers whether Sailfish OS was the next big platform. I answered:

DOA. I bet the next big platform won’t look like a phone.

That sparked Nicholas’ imagination and the next day he came with his post: The end of the smartphone era is coming.

Is this the end of the Smartphone era?

Of course not. The point is not that the smartphone era is close to its end. The point is that to disrupt a market taken by iOS and Android, you’d better come with something radically different. Else you have no chance. If you are able to wow consumers into a new platform, it won’t be a phone.

The next platform will not look like a phone.

Google knows it and that’s why they lead the pack to explore what the next step will be. Google Glass is the most visible example. Watches and other wearable computer gadgets will surely spark your imagination. You could argue those things are not new, but hey the Tablet was not a new concept and it was not a reality until Apple made it happen. Glass today is not compelling enough, but if they fix a few things, I would bet it will. Maybe that’s why Microsoft reportedly issued a patent application for a similar concept.

The platform that ends the smartphone era is still unknown. For sure, it’s more likely to look like Glass that than a phone.

If you were wondering to wait until next Xmas to renew your smartphone, no need to.

How different you have to be to beat iOS and Android?

Samsung Note was a perfect example of how to make something different from the iPhone riding on the wave that people talk less and less and write, read, listen, watch or take pictures much more.

Amazon was disruptive in the business model. They sell the Kindle Fire at a loss, because they are in the content distribution business.

But Windows Phone and Blackberry. Sorry guys, so far you are just changing colors, and have no chance unless you come with something that breaks the rules again. Maybe RIM could keep exploring keyboard and variants: Many of us still complain about typing on an iPhone compared to how good it was to type on a Blackberry.

Any other new platform like Meego/Sailfish cannot just bet on being more open than Android. Android is open enough. But hey it is good for us consumers that someone keeps Google honest in not being evil.

How did disruption look in the past?

During years, Nokia kept doing telephones with a dial pad, despite you make most calls from your address books, and despite the huge growth of texting. RIM, Microsoft PDA-phones had already moved a step forward, though it was Apple who reinvented the phone.

The iPhone was a totally disrupting concept with a ‘wowing’ UI and a breakthrough decent mobile internet experience, that had nothing to do with horrendous WAP or Brew.

In short: The end of the smartphone era is not coming (soon)

You are happy with your iPhone or your Galaxy, and just wonder whether this is the end of the smartphone era. It is not.


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Handsets Two Horse Race

Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote it in many of their marketing best-sellers: “In the long run, every market becomes a  two horse race”. Jack Welch, legend ex-CEO of GE, made popular his rule of closing every business unit where GE was not number one or number two.

Mobile handsets market is not different, and in each segment expect in the long-run a one-two race. Here are my bets for the winning horses:

Business segment: Blackberry and a distant second Windows Mobile. RIM’s devices are trusted by companies to provide secure access to email, intranet, enterprise directories, sync with MS Exchange calendar and address book. Not to name a great user experience for mobile email. This segment is an opportunity for Microsoft to extend their dominant position in the desktop and email solutions for enterprises. This is Microsoft’s only chance to secure a position in the mobile handsets (read GigaOm views on Windows Mobile). RIM’s increasing arrogance could open an opportunity for Microsoft, provided they can learn to play humble.

Personal SmartPhone segment: iPhone and Android. These two platforms are in a different league (read TechCrunch comparative) due to their coolness, rich applications and engaging user experience. With new Android models coming to close the beauty gap with the iPhone, these two are going to be the choice for people that want to enjoy the web, cool apps and multimedia everywhere. Enterprises will be reluctant to buy these gadgets for employees for some years.

Mobile Phones segment: Nokia and Samsung. This is the segment of telephones with a dial-pad, a poor camera, some multimedia features and packaged in a candy bar or clam-shell form. Still, essentially telephones with a dial-pad. Low cost, emerging countries and laggards. Nokia retains leadership. Before the Chinese vendors come, Samsung could be a good candidate for a second place, before Sony Ericsson and Motorola, provided they all survived with some other Android handsets in the other two segments.

Which ones are your bets?

Who is the new Smartphone King?

Gartner published a few days ago their assessment of the Smartphone market in Q2 2008. These are the highlights by handset maker:

  • Smartphone market grew 15.7% compared to last year.
  • Nokia remains the number one vendor, but it is losing market share from 50.8% in 2007 to 47.5% in 2008.
  • RIM is the fastest growing vendor , more than doubling their market share from 8.9% to 17.4%.
  • HTC also doubled its share from 2.2% to 4.1% (cosnidering only handsets sold on HTC brand, and moved to third position.

On the Operating System:

  • Symbian lost market share from 65.6% to 57.1%.
  • RIM increased its share by 126% in line with the share of its handsets.
  • Windows Mobile market share grew 21% to reach 12% of the smartphone OS.
  • Despite Q2 was not strong for iPhone -as they cleaned the channel before the 3G iPhone launch in July- it still surpassed Palm OS in market share.

In summary, Nokia is clearly losing ground to Blackberry and Windows Mobile. After the launch of the 3G iPhone in Q3, expect to see a bigger hit in Nokia’s share in Q3. Not only the iPhone will eat market share. Microsoft’s mobile OS is powering most of the nicest touch-screen models brought by LG, HTC and Samsung to compete with Apple’s phone. This will surely hurt Nokia’s share too.

But the main surprise is the growth of RIM in Q2, even before their new Bold was available. Mobile email is showing to be the killer app, and RIM’s usability for email is superb. And do not forget RIM makes money not just from the handsets but also for the email service they host and the server licenses they sell to enterprises. That is extra cash (and margin) to boost their R&D. Something Nokia might be lacking.

To make matters worse for Nokia, a newcomer will soon make appearance in the charts: Android. With so much competition, do not be surprise if we see Nokia lose their crown even earlier than forecasted by TechCrunch.

At last Mobile Web, thanks to iPhone

In January, Google disclosed that the traffic to Google from iPhones had surpassed any other smartphone, despite iPhone accounts for only 2% of the worldwide smartphones, Nokia’s Symbian 63%, Windows Mobile 11% and RIM 10%.

Later in March, M:Metrics confirmed that 85% of iPhone users access the web from their handset, compared to 58% of smarphones, and a mere 13% of the overall market.

Want to know why iPhone users spend their time on the Web? Watch this video:

Have you tried to do the same from a Nokia N-series? even from a Windows Mobile handset? Do not try. The improvement in usability that iPhone and its Safari browser brings over other handsets is huge and really makes Mobile Web, at last, usable.

Hopefully, Android will be able to follow iPhone’s solid steps into Mobile Web.

iPhone and Google will transform Mobile phones

iPhone iGoogle
According to NYT technology article by Miguel Helf, iPhone accounts for only 2% of the worldwide smartphones. Nokia’s Symbian 63%, Windows Mobile 11% and RIM 10%. Yet, during Christmas, traffic to Google from iPhones surpassed any other smartphone.

This data clearly points out that iPhone is making mobile web access a reality, thanks to a web browser user interface superior to any other mobile device before.

Google acknowledges iPhone browser excellence and predicts it will be a boost to developers to create applications for the iPhone web layer, instead of the heavy task to do specific development for each mobile phone OS and handset model.

Google has just unveiled a new slicker interface for iPhone.

“With Google for the iPhone, users will get an improved UI optimized for the touch screen, customization of default tabs (easy access to favorite applications), faster Gmail (email automatically show up, no refreshing needed), a speedier Calendar (including a new month view), and iGoogle.”

The iGoogle gadget integration will enable developers to create widgets for the iPhone, without the need to develop on the iPhone proprietary platform.

An opportunity for Mobile Operators? or a threat to be bypassed?