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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

Songbird Takes On iTunes With Improved Device Syncing December 29, 2009

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Music fans looking looking for an alternative to the iTunes/iPod ecosystem are getting a new option this week with the release of Songbird 1.4, which introduces support for CD ripping and syncing Mass Storage Class (MSC) Devices. The first feature is fairly self explanatory (and frankly I can’t believe it took this long to include), but it’s the latter that’s the most compelling: Songbird now features improved sync for a number of popular MSC devices, including the HTC Hero, Motorola Droid, Nokia N900, and the Palm Pre. The new features are available on Windows only for now, with Mac support planned for release early next year.

To be clear, Songbird has actually offered some MSC support before now, but CEO Jerrell Jimerson says that oftentimes devices don’t work as well as they should using generic support. Songbird has been working with manufacturers to try to make the syncing process as seamless as possible. They’ve inked a deal with Nokia, and are also engaged in less formal partnerships with a number of other manufacturers. […]

Jimerson says that Songbird’s core functionality, which serves as a media player for both content saved locally to your computer and music that’s streamed from the web, remains fully intact. But the company is also looking to make the product more appealing to a broader userbase. And that includes forming more partnerships.

We’ve previously heard that Songbird has a deal with Phillips to install the software in 5 million music players, which would be a big win for the company. Jimerson wouldn’t comment on that, but it seems like it would fit with Songbird’s new strategy.

Songbird’s increasing support for media sync makes it a more direct competitor to DoubleTwist, another powerful iTunes alternative that supports many devices and that also has a brilliant marketing team.

via Songbird Still Airborne, Takes On iTunes With Improved Device Syncing.

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

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.

Four different ways to sync your cellphone with the cloud / ArsTechnica October 9, 2009

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It’s no longer uncommon for a phone to be able to sync data wirelessly so that you’re never without your contacts, images, and e-mails. We took a look at four different syncing services to compare what they have to offer.

The dark days of not being able to get data off your phone are largely over—at least for most smartphone users. With the launch of Best Buy’s new mobile service this week called mIQ, there are now a handful of cloud syncing services for a plethora of different devices. The offerings may be similar, but they’re not identical, so we thought we’d look at the most prominent syncing services.

mIQ from Best Buy

mIQ is supported on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian phones from a variety of different manufacturers. What it offers is a free way to back up your entire phone online—including contacts, texts, calendars, call logs, photos, videos, and voicemails. This is, of course, very useful if your phone gets stolen or ends up in an unfortunate accident like, say, if a friend pushes you into a pool. There’s 1GB of storage space; not a ton, but not horrible either for a free service. You don’t even have to restore your data to the same phone—if you decide to get a new mIQ-compatible phone, you can do a full restore to an entirely new device.

What we like about mIQ is the website that comes with it that allows you to send and receive text messages from your phone, but on the Internet. (This is a feature we wish Apple offered through MobileMe.) Of course, this is nice to have when your phone is dead or you’re just plain lazy—your phone is in another room or packed away in your bag and you’re just not in the mood to get it out so you can confirm dinner plans with your friends.

The last, and least interesting feature (to us) about mIQ is its ability to upload images, video, and status updates to all the popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and FriendFeed. It’s not that this feature isn’t valuable, but you can do this from practically any phone already (either through third-party apps or built into the OS), so it’s just not particularly unique.

Still, you can’t argue with free, and the service officially launches on October 12 (you can sign up now if your phone is supported).

My Phone from Microsoft

Microsoft’s free My Phone service arrived with the recent launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, though it has been in beta for the better part of 2009 already. Again, My Phone can sync and back up all of your phone’s useful data, including contacts, calendars, tasks, text messages, photos, videos, music, and documents, plus whatever you have on a memory card. The free service only goes up to 200MB of space, though, which can easily be filled if you’re the type who stores lots of non-text media on your phone. Still, you can access the data online through the Web and even add, modify, or delete things without having to go through your phone.

The cool part about My Phone is that it lets you find a lost phone, similar to Find My iPhone from MobileMe, but for WinMo phones. The user must turn on the feature first, and there are two tiers: a free and Premium service. The free service can show you on an online map the last location of your phone when it synced with My Phone, while the premium service shows you the current location—assuming it’s supported by your cell carrier where you are. The strength here is actually the fact that it can show you the last location instead of just the current one. Why? Because half the time when your phone is lost (or maybe it’s just us), it’s also dead, making it impossible to find the current location. But if you have the last location, that’s the first step in figuring out where you last left it, whether it be a restaurant or lodged between your couch cushions.

Finally, just like mIQ, My Phone can automatically share photos to your favorite social networking sites, and you can restore your backed-up information to a new phone if yours is lost or you decide to upgrade.

Ovi from Nokia

Ovi is not just an app store for Nokia phones, it’s also a mobile syncing service. You can sync your calendar and contacts and access your Ovi e-mail from your phone or the Internet. And, as is becoming the norm for these services, you can also access files in the cloud from either your phone or your computer, including photos, documents, and music, and you can share those files with others.

However, the feature that we like the most is Ovi Maps, which allows you to plan a trip on the Web and then save the map or directions to Ovi, which can then sync to your phone. You can sync places, collections of places, or routes—useful for planning road trips. I like this functionality because I’m the type who plans all of my trips (yes, even to the store) online before I leave the house, and I don’t like to enter that information again on my phone when I walk out the door. Sure, Google Maps lets you send a map route to a phone via SMS, but you still have to click a link on the phone side, and even then, it may not work the way you want. Ovi Maps makes that process much more seamless, and we like it.

MobileMe from Apple

Of course, there’s MobileMe, Apple’s made-over .Mac that has been struggling to gain users for years. And there’s a good reason for that—for a hundred smackers every year, the service didn’t offer much compelling reason to subscribe until the dramatic changes that Apple made in the last year or so (and some would argue that it still doesn’t).

MobileMe now allows you to keep your contacts, calendar, and e-mail in sync across multiple devices as well as your computer. Unlike some of the other services in this article, MobileMe does not keep a full backup of all your phone’s data—that’s because Apple has chosen to keep those kinds of backups on the computer with which you sync your iPhone. This, of course, cuts down on the amount of cloud storage space you’re sucking up (as well as bandwidth), but it also means you can’t access all of that information while out and about if your phone suffers some catastrophic injury. Still, in an emergency, e-mail, contacts, and calendar might be all you need until you can make it home again and restore your phone, and since those all use a push system, they work relatively well.

Then there’s the venerable iDisk, an online storage space for whatever tickles you. iDisk can be accessed from your desktop, the Web, and through an app on the iPhone or iPod touch, allowing you to sync any manner of files and share them with others. iDisk offers a comparatively-boggling 20GB of space, though it only seems high because the other companies choose to offer much less space (that same amount of online storage space can be gotten for much cheaper than $99/year otherwise, but it’s not as seamlessly integrated into Mac OS X and the iPhone).

Once again, our favorite feature about MobileMe is Apple’s new Find My iPhone feature and the services that go along with it. Like My Phone from Microsoft, Find My iPhone allows MobileMe users to locate their phones on a map through the Web, though the limitation here is that the phone must still be alive (hope you’re disciplined about charging your batteries, or that your thief doesn’t know how to turn the thing off!)—if it’s not, then you are pretty much out of luck. Still, the feature has already proven useful to many iPhone users (even here in the Ars Orbiting HQ), allowing forgetful people everywhere rest a little easier. Additionally, you can send a message to your lost iPhone if you think someone might have it. Doing this will make an alert sound even if the phone’s sound is off, and lets you instruct the finder on how to get ahold of you. Finally, if you suspect your phone is gone for good, you can set a passcode lock remotely or even wipe the phone right from the Web.

Is MobileMe worth the $99? For iPhone users, it’s the only choice if you want the Find My iPhone feature, and we do think that’s the main reason to get it. Otherwise, if all you want is online storage that you can access from your phone, we recommend DropBox. And since your phone’s backups are already on your computer, you don’t need MobileMe, though push e-mail and calendar info sure can be nice.

Path: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/guides/2009/10/four-different-ways-to-sync-your-cellphone-with-the-cloud.ars

Nokia To Acquire UK Startup Dopplr September 23, 2009

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Nokia has been on an acquisition tear lately, albeit mostly small deals (Plum, Cellity and Bit-Side all this year). A source close to the deal says that they’ve just made one more acquisition: boutique travel social network Dopplr, headquartered in London.

The purchase price, we’ve heard, is between €10 million and €15 million ($15 million – $22 million based on current exchange rates). Dopplr cofounder and CEO Marko Ahtisaari was previously the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia.

We first covered Dopplr in 2007 when it closed on seed funding. The site has never grown to huge usage, but core users are passionate about the service, which lets them share travel plans with friends. And they’ve supposedly raised just €1.25 or so in total funding.

Dopplr was about to close a new round of funding when Nokia swooped in for the buy.

via Nokia To Acquire UK Startup Dopplr.

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

Will Legacy Smartphone Platforms Keep-up with iPhone and Android? August 25, 2009

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[BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian/S60 were designed years ago – the traditional strengths of these software platforms are rapidly becoming liabilities in the fast-paced smartphone market. Guest blogger Michael Vakulenko answers a critical question: are user interface face-lifts, application stores or even going open source enough for the legacy smartphone platforms to stand-up to the challenges posed by iPhone and Android?][…]

The unprecedented success of iPhone changed market requirements almost overnight; today smartphones are all about smooth delivery of digital content, applications and Web 2.0 services.[…]

iPhone and Android
While technically very different, iPhone and Android share many common traits.

  1. designed as true multi-purpose devices fulfilling a wide spectrum of business and personal use cases.
  2. user interface of these software platforms relies on relatively large touch-screens with gesture-based controls, designed for device personalization, easy discovery, delivery and consumption of content, application and services.
  3. Downloadable applications further extend the spectrum of possibilities with the device
  4. iPhone and Android offer software development environments allowing fast and easy creation of wide array of novel applications (from music instrument to location-based collaboration etc.)
  5. High-speed 3G networks and Wi-Fi connectivity finally brought Web applications to mobile devices with state of the art web-browser, which constantly improving support for emerging HMTL5

There is wide gap between modern and legacy smartphone platforms in all these areas, calling for radical improvements to the legacy platforms. This gap cannot be closed by just user interface face-lifts, launching application stores or even going open source.[…] (more…)

Smartphone sales up 27% August 21, 2009

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According to market research firm Gartner, worldwide mobile phone sales declined 6% to 286 million units in the second quarter.   However smartphone sales were a bright spot posting a 27% gain.  Smartphone penetration was 14%, up from 10% a year ago.  The chart below shows the change in smartphone share by manufacturer over the last year.  Although Nokia still dominates with 45% share, Apple was the big winner last year with an increase in share from 3% to 13%.

gartner column
Source: Gartner, August 2009

The pie chart below shows the smartphone data cut by operating system, with the iPhone OS now ahead of Windows Mobile.

gartner pie
Source: Gartner, August 2009

Gartner also states that Palm is in 10th place in the smartphone market and sold 205,000 Palm Pre units in Q2.  Please note that this data from Gartner is based on the number of units devices sold, a much different methodology than is used to calculate share of mobile web usage each month in our Mobile Metrics Report.

via Smartphone sales up 27% « AdMob Metrics

Analyst: Apple to Sell 80+ Million iPhones in 2012, Snag 5.7% of Total Mobile Phone Market August 18, 2009

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In an extensive research report on the smartphone industry released this morning, RBC Capital Markets reveals a “new world order” in which smartphones embracing the convergence of communication, computing, and content are becoming the “next wave” of computing. Based on this evidence, RBC sees smartphones, led by Apple, Research in Motion and Palm, taking a larger share of mobile phone sales than previously predicted, and even capturing users, revenue and market share from other markets such as the PC, TV, media player, digital camera, gaming, and navigation markets previously considered discrete market segments.

RBC sees the possibility for 4-5 smartphone “leaders”, each carving out a fairly distinct market segment on which to focus.

  • Apple as having staked out the “media-centric” segment
  • Research in Motion having grabbed the “productivity-centric” segment
  • one other maybe “PIM-centric” focused on personal organization
  • one other maybe “cloud-centric” based on data-heavy users taking advantage of web-based e-mail, social networking and other web-based services
  • “specialized” market for devices that excel in one specific area such as e-books, gaming, or navigation


Image from RBC Capital Markets
(“TAM” refers to Total Addressable Market)

via Analyst: Apple to Sell 80+ Million iPhones in 2012, Snag 5.7% of Total Mobile Phone Market – Mac Rumors.