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Behind the Smartphone Craze: redrawing the map of mobile platforms February 2, 2010

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Thought Android and iPhone are taking over the world? Think again. The device platforms map is more fragmented than ever, while the media hype distorts the commercial reality. […]

The Smartphone Craze
The other day I was reading some of the usual hype-induced reports on the Smartphone revolution. Wanting to put things into perspective I pulled out some old Smartphone forecasts from 2004-2005 by the likes of IDC, Informa and Ovum.

In those pre-historic days the main Smartphone contenders were Symbian and Windows. Blackberry was still an insignificant niche, and touch screen devices were still clunky stylus based UIQ phones and iPAQs. Yet surprisingly, the average Smartphone share of shipments that was forecast for 2010 was …about 30%. So even without the Apple & Google revolution fanning the flames, many analysts believed in the mass migration to Smartphones.

Reality check: by looking at the numbers for the first three quarters of 2009, it appears that last year there have shipped no more than 170-180 million devices considered to be Open OS Smartphones. Indeed Symbian, Windows, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, WebOS, LiMO and Maemo taken all together still only constitute about 15-17% of shipments. This percentage is in fact much lower than the 2009 Smartphone share predicted a few years ago by many research companies. […]

The bets are spreading
As of late 2009, the only companies who are shipping true Open OS Smartphones in mass volumes are Nokia (Symbian), RIM (Blackberry), Apple (iPhone) and HTC (Windows Mobile, now Android). This will no doubt start to change over the course of time as Android shipments start to ramp up and the rest of the platforms realize their growth potential, but it is still not an overnight revolution.

Looking forward, this thesis shows that the market will be much more diverse than the simplistic notion that everyone either wants an App Store capable iPhone or Droid, or alternatively, an ultra-low cost phone to make phone calls. There is many more commercial dynamics at play, making up a complex platform map which is driven by customer ownership.

In 2009 the number of available device software platforms effectively grew, creating more fragmentation in the industry, not less. There are clearly mid-range segments and geographical markets with varying needs, which can be addressed with various software platforms, not necessarily in the traditional view of Smartphones vs. RTOS “dumb phones”. Simply betting on one or two platforms to rule the industry is not a sensible plan.

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Read the full article at VisionMobile.comBehind the Smartphone Craze: redrawing the map of mobile platforms | VisionMobile :: blog

How Prices Compare on Different App Stores – GigaOM December 30, 2009

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With an increasing number of companies launching mobile app stores, we [GigaOM] decided it was time to compare them. We wanted to find out the average cost of a paid application on various stores.

We asked our friends at Mobclix, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup that offers mobile analytics and runs a mobile ad exchange, if they could help. They crunched some numbers and came back with some surprising findings. For example: BlackBerry paid apps are among the most expensive, followed by Microsoft, Android and the iPhone OS platform. Nokia Ovi paid apps were among the cheapest.

via How Prices Compare on Different App Stores – GigaOM.

AppleInsider | Motorola passes Apple in brand loyalty among men – study November 25, 2009

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Motorola has exceeded Apple in brand loyalty among men ages 18-and-up since the launch of its new Droid handset, but the iPhone maker has remained well ahead of competitor BlackBerry, according to one study.

According to new, daily tracking statistics from YouGov BrandIndex, Apple dropped from a peak score of 48.1 in the month of November to a score of 22 last week. That took it below Motorola, which remained relatively static from its month-long peak of 32.3, finishing last week with a score of 29.3.The study's scale ranges from -100 to 100, based on interviews conducted with 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. YouGov conducts more than 1.2 million interviews per year, selected from an online panel of more than 1.5 million unique individuals. The study has a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.The company said its survey demonstrates that Motorola has likely come out on top of the ongoing advertising dispute between Verizon and AT&T.”Motorola has seen its brand loyalty unaffected by AT&T's lawsuits against Verizon Wireless and ad war bashing,” YouGov said. “But it seems to have taken a toll on Blackberry, which has withered under all the Droid/iPhone marketing and hype.”

via AppleInsider | Motorola passes Apple in brand loyalty among men – study.

Smartphone Success Centers on Software, Not Hardware November 19, 2009

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Telecom gear vendor ZTE will step up its game in the crowded smartphone space next year with an Android-based handset, and Google is rumored to be working on its own device. But as the smartphone market continues to heat up, manufacturers are learning the hard way that the key to success in mobile phones lies in the software — not the hardware.

Handset manufacturers are increasingly being elbowed out of the way as carriers embrace developers of operating systems and the apps that run on top of them. Motorola, for instance, is an afterthought in Verizon’s big-budget campaign in support of its Droid initiative, and HTC’s brand is nowhere to be found in T-Mobile’s recent commercial pushing the MyTouch 3G. Meanwhile, Nokia continues to fare poorly in the U.S. due largely to its unwillingness to capitulate to American carriers, and smaller manufacturers like Sony Ericsson are becoming irrelevant as they lose market share.

Two phone makers are bucking the trend, though, and they’re doing it by churning out handsets based on their own operating systems. Apple’s iPhone has become an iconic device thanks largely to its intuitive user interface and knockout browser, while Research In Motion continues to gain traction — and mind share — with its BlackBerry, an enterprise-focused handset with software that stresses functionality over fun. Both Apple and RIM are backing their hardware with ad campaigns that put the manufacturer — not the carrier — in front of consumers.

HTC is fighting back with its impressive “You” television commercials, which tout the phone’s Sense user interface and promotes the device’s personalization features. That’s a strategy that will pay dividends as manufacturers become marginalized in mobile, and as software increasingly becomes a key differentiator in the minds of consumers.

via Smartphone Success Centers on Software, Not Hardware.

Samsung Bada unveiled as new iPhone, Android platform rival November 11, 2009

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Samsung, the world’s second largest phone maker globally after Nokia, has announced Bada as its own new smartphone platform which it hopes to use to gain entry into the sophisticated phone market.

Samsung’s Bada, the Korean word for “ocean,” is reportedly built on top of Linux and is expected to be released with an open SDK next month, with the first Bada phones to be introduced early next year. Unlike Symbian or Android, Samsung appears to be developing its new mobile platform and software market solely for the benefit of its own phones, much like RIM, Apple, and Palm.

Searching for a smartphone platform

The company’s current smartphone lineup is about 80% Windows Mobile and 20% Symbian. A year ago, the company released the new Windows Mobile Omnia as its flagship offering, but followed up this year with the Omnia HD using Symbian instead, a move identical to Sony Ericsson’s release of the Windows Mobile Xperia X1 followed by this year’s Symbian-based Idou.

Also like Sony Ericsson, Samsung announced plans earlier this year to back Android instead of Symbian in the future, with an announcement that 30% of its phones next year would use Android. That expansion was expected to come from reduced use of Windows Mobile, but now Samsung is indicating that it will phase out Symbian entirely, drastically reduce the use of Windows Mobile, and introduce the new Bada as its preferred smartphone operating system.

HMC investment securities analyst Greg Noh outlined Samsung’s expected smartphone mix showing Symbian completely phased out by 2011, and Samsung’s own Bada making up half of its portfolio by 2012, with the remainder being about 30% Android and 20% Windows Mobile.

Another big phone maker eyes a world outside of Android

In the general mobile phone market, Samsung has been making incremental progress toward leader Nokia with around 20% of the global phone market. It currently sells more phones than the rest of the top five makers (LG, Sony Ericsson and Motorola) combined. In smartphones however, Samsung has just recently broke into the top five vendors, well behind Nokia, RIM, Apple, and HTC with sales of just 1.4 million in the most recent quarter, the same figure as last year. With the growth in smartphones, that contributed to Samsung’s market share of advanced phones actually slipping slightly year over year.

Android advocates widely expected Samsung to warmly adopt Google’s platform, as it provides a free alternative to the Windows Mobile software the company currently uses. Instead, Samsung is following Nokia’s lead in working to maintain its own destiny independent of Google. Nokia is both sponsoring the Symbian Foundation and its own Maemo Linux distribution.

Samsung’s interest in creating and managing its own smartphone platform also reflects the interests of second place smartphone vendor RIM and its BlackBerry OS, and Apple in third place with the iPhone. Palm has followed a similar strategy with its own proprietary WebOS.

Is a smartphone vendor experienced with using third party software from Microsoft and Symbian, Samsung’s interest in developing and maintaining its own proprietary platform rather than trying to adapt Android to create differentiated phones in a competitive market is a dramatic refutal of the conventional thinking that Android will explode among vendors next year.

Instead, Samsung’s considerable resources will be devoted toward its own new platform, creating more competition and differentiation in options among smartphone platforms and reducing the energy being channeled toward licensed operating systems, with Windows Mobile being the biggest loser (with the loss of around 1.2 million of the 3.6 million Windows Mobile phones that shipped in Q3 2009), Symbian losing a significant licensee entirely, and Android facing a rival new marketplace for mobile software.

Samsung expects to release more information to developers about its SDK plans next month via its Bada website.

via AppleInsider | Samsung Bada unveiled as new iPhone, Android platform rival

Smartphone market up 4% in 3Q09 November 4, 2009

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According to a new study by Canalys, global smartphone shipments grew 3.9% year on year to 41.4 million units in the third quarter of 2009. Eighty percent of this volume was made by Nokia, RIM, Apple and HTC. The market research firm also indicated that over 80% of smartphones now ship with integrated GPS, while more than 75% have Wi-Fi built in. The proportion of smartphones with touch screen reached 45%, up from 31% one year ago.

The growth in the third quarter was slower than the 13% annual growth seen during the previous one, and held back primarily by a six percent fall in EMEA. Shipments in North America were up five percent, but the APAC region saw a remarkable 26% rise after several flat quarters, a clear consequence of the improving economic situation in that region.

Nokia retained its worldwide smartphone lead, with a share of 40% – slightly up on its year-ago position, but down almost 5% sequentially. RIM held onto second place with a largely unchanged (compared to the second quarter) share of 21%, while Apple reached a new high of 18% share in third, significantly up from the 14% it held in the previous quarter as supply of the iPhone 3GS improved in many countries. HTC retained its fourth-place position with 5% share.

Looking at the market by operating system, Symbian’s overall lead shrank as its share fell to 46%, ahead of RIM and Apple. Microsoft remained in fourth with its share dipping slightly below last quarter’s previous low point of 9%. The proportion of smartphones running Google’s Android OS climbed to almost 4%, from just under 3% in the second quarter.


Smartphone market up 4% in 3Q09

via Smartphone market up 4% in 3Q09.

Forecasting the OS future – FierceDeveloper October 20, 2009

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Apple reported its fiscal fourth quarter earnings Monday, stating it sold 7.4 million iPhones during the period, up from 6.9 million units sold in the year-ago quarter and ahead of Wall Street’s expectation of around 7 million units. Market research firm iSuppli notes that the iPhone was responsible for 12.1 percent of global smartphone shipments in the second calendar quarter of 2009, up from 10.1 percent in the first quarter, and although it hasn’t finalized its third-quarter market share figures, expectations are the iPhone continued its upward trend over the last three months. iSuppli adds that while worldwide smartphone unit shipments are set to grow by 11.6 percent in calendar year 2009 compared to 2008, iPhone shipments are set to increase by 37 percent this year.

But looking beyond 2009, research firm Gartner forecasts that by 2012, Android–which currently represents less than 2 percent of all smartphones sold–will grow to 18 percent of worldwide smartphone OS market share, accounting for 94.5 million of the expected 525 million smartphones sold three years from now. While the iPhone will generate sales of 71.5 million in 2012, its overall market share is only expected to grow to 13.6 percent between now and then–Symbian, with an anticipated 196.5 million units sold in 2012, will represent 37.4 percent of worldwide OS market share, while BlackBerry, at 73 million units sold, will edge past iPhone to account for 13.9 percent. (The big loser in Gartner’s forecast: Windows Mobile, which will generate anticipated 2012 sales of 47.7 million–just 9 percent of the global market.)

Gartner isn’t the only firm predicting the iPhone’s dominance will wane in the years ahead–according to Ovum, while the App Store is presently responsible for about 70 percent of the total application download market, its share will decline to less than 20 percent by 2014. Ovum expects the total number of application downloads (including both free and premium applications) will grow from 491 million worldwide in 2008 to 18.7 billion in 2014, a CAGR of 83 percent across the forecast period. Ovum estimates that the global market will grow by a CAGR of 153 percent between 2008 and 2011 before dropping to around 33 percent between 2011 and 2014, a decline blamed on the emergence of browser-based services and other substitutes for app downloads. Whether you agree or disagree with the Gartner and Ovum forecasts, it does seem like the smartphone market is about to enter a distinct new phase in its evolution, galvanized by a groundswell of operator and manufacturer support for Android–no one’s suggesting the last few years have been boring, but it looks like things are about to get even more interesting.

via Forecasting the OS future – FierceDeveloper.

The App Store Effect: Are iPhone Apps Headed for Oblivion? – The app store effect October 18, 2009

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A really great article about Apple’s AppStore and how business is going there could be found on the following link:

via The App Store Effect: Are iPhone Apps Headed for Oblivion? – The app store effect – Gizmodo.

A short summary  on it:

It’s uncanny. When known software gets repackaged for iPhones and iPod Touches and passes through the hallowed gates of the App Store, something happens: Almost invariably, it gets cheaper. Waaay cheaper. Good right? Well, not always.[…]

The App Store is a strange new place for developers. Veterans and newcomers engage in bareknuckle combat, driving prices down to levels people wouldn’t have imagined charging just a few years ago. Margins drop to razor-thin levels while customers expect apps to get cheaper and cheaper, but with ever increasing quality and depth.

The Problem


Most iPhone apps had no life before the App Store, and currently have no life outside it. But with those that did, you start to see a pattern. App prices could reasonably be expected to fall over time—an older game is worth less to customers than a newer game, and with other types of software, a late-stage price drop is a great way to scoop up late adopters. What’s strange, though, is how prices dramatically collapse after hitting Apple’s store.[…]

The Economy

Some of this is pure Econ 101: The store serves a massive, captive audience that’s pre-trained to spend money in iTunes. The promise of higher volume makes it easier for developers to lower prices, which they use, along with interesting features and clever marketing, to set themselves apart from the competition.[…]

It’s true that prices are falling as more and more iPhone and iPod Touch owners enter the market. But prices won’t stop falling.[…]

The Culture

Giz stories rage about app prices all the time, and in your own private way, so do most of you. Buying $1 songs and $2 TV shows has given us an expectation that apps should be cheap, no matter what their use. The glut of free apps you see filling out the app charts every day doesn’t help either. Software is worth less to us now, even though we use it more.[…]

Apple

From the outside, it appears that Apple is encouraging a race to the bottom. The top 10 lists in each App Store category—one of the only ways for an app to get any meaningful amount of iTunes visibility—are almost exclusively the territory of low-priced impulse buys, and are hard to cling onto for more than a few weeks at time. Flexer, of Duck Duck Moose, says she’s experienced it firsthand:

The ranking by volume (as opposed to revenue) on the App Store seems to drive the prices of apps down. Aside from being featured by Apple, exposure of an app is dependent on its ranking in the top lists, so developers lower prices to obtain a higher ranking.[…]

With yesterday’s announcement that Apple is allowing free apps to include in-app purchases, things just got even more tumultuous. Depending on how this is handled, the top “free” apps could all be paid apps in disguise. Either that or the paid app rankings will be dominated by free-on-a-trial-basis teasers. In either case, the rankings open themselves up for opportunistic abuse, and the highest goal for any honest, talented app developer—to just crack that list—just became more uncertain.
This is disastrous for developers, even if it’s mostly incidental, and a function of Apple trying to sell apps like they’ve been selling music for years, despite a totally different set of product types and customer needs. But Apple’s effect on pricing goes well beyond incidental. At least in some cases, Apple calls the shots.

What Happens Now

So what does the App Store Effect mean, right now? In the short term, we’ll get lower prices. This is great. But in the long term, it might not be sustainable.

The promise that sales volume will make up for the rock-bottom prices you need to charge just to be seen in your app category seems increasingly hollow, and to put it bluntly, if developers don’t have a chance in hell of recouping their fees, they’ll stop trying. And I’m not talking about 99-cent iFart app spammers here—I’m talking about big players who already make money selling software. If the navigation companies, the big game studios and the premium content providers can’t thrive in the App Store, they’ll have to leave; even playing in Apple’s sandbox threatens and undercut their (sometimes much more crucial) product lines elsewhere.

And don’t forget, Palm and Android fans, this App Store Effect sends ripples well beyond the App Store. Customers expect to see functionally identical apps priced the same way across platforms, because to us, that’s what makes sense. Can devs really afford to port an app to the webOS to sell to the tens of thousands of Pre owners, when they’re expected to tag it with iPhone prices, calculated for a base of millions? Whether by Apple’s design or totally by accident, everyone who doesn’t own an iPhone will suffer for it.

The App Store Effect illustrates a new kind of economy, and it’s not going to go away. In fact, it’s going to get worse. Developers will either adapt, die or leave. But where will they go? Until there are 50 million Android handsets and 50 million Pre offspring out there, the rest of the mobile software world is pretty much screwed.

via The App Store Effect: Are iPhone Apps Headed for Oblivion? – The app store effect – Gizmodo.

Location-Based Mobile Social Network Centrl Integrates Web App, Adds First Real-Time Location-Based Messaging System September 14, 2009

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“Location” has been one of the most frequently used buzzwords in the web industry recently, with i.e. Twitter, Facebook and Google having substantially stepped up efforts in that area in the last few months. TechCrunch has always been particularly bullish about location-based mobile social networks, with Loopt, Brightkite or, most recently, Foursquare among the big names.

But there are more location-based social networks out there, and one of them, Centrl, is now intending to further bridge the gap between mobile phone users and the web at large (a move we called for last year). The service, which has been available on the iPhone [iTunes link], Android, BlackBerry [JAD file] and Nokia since May 2008, extended its offering with a web app a few days ago. The service runs within major social networks and lets you login from your existing accounts (on Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, Friendster, Ning, Hi5, bebo, Orkut, iTimes, or Sonico) on any platform and device, which means there’s no need to register. (It’s free to use in all variations, too).

iPhone and Facebook versions (click to enlarge):
centrl_iphone_app
centrl_facebook

Centrl’s new web application basically does all what the mobile version does: broadcast your own location to your friends, help users find coupons, restaurants, bars, gas stations, general points of interest, real estate, or events near you by pulling information from Yelp, Citysearch, Wikipedia and other sites (Centrl calls these sites “layers”). The web app is completely integrated into Centrl’s social network versions and mobile phone apps.

It’s also possible for users of the web version to contribute and share content, for example by marking a certain place on a map, uploading a picture of it, adding a comment and posting a link to Twitter (mobile app users can do this, too). Centrl then automatically creates a profile page based on that information for other mobile or web app users to view and interact with.

Screenshot of the Centrl web app (click to enlarge):
centrl_web_app

Centrl’s web version also introduces location-based communication in real-time. According to CEO Murat Aktihanoglu, his service is the first to offer a “free IM on a map”-system that doesn’t rely on SMS and is completely device- and platform agnostic (as long as you’re a Centrl user). The way the messaging system works is that people accessing Centrl on a PC, for example, can see the location of people using one of the mobile apps and instantly start text-chatting with them, virtually in real-time and without fees for both sides.

Centrl has attracted 500,000 users so far. The service is based out of New York and angel-funded with $500,000.

via Location-Based Mobile Social Network Centrl Integrates Web App, Adds First Real-Time Location-Based Messaging System.

Demand for smartphone continues to explode September 1, 2009

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As expected, the global demand for smartphones rose through Q2 ‘09, with analysts predicting continued growth over the next eight quarters.

Nokia still has control of the global smartphone market, with 44.3 percent control, shipping 16.9 million units during Q2. Research In Motion (RIM) with its BlackBerry line of smartphones controls 20.9 percent of the market, with Apple trailing in third place, with 13.7 percent of the market, according to research firm Canalysis.

Apple sold 5.2 million iPhone 3GS and 3G smartphones during Q2, though now faces issues related to overheating and exploding phones.

via Demand for smartphone continues to explode CDFreaks