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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

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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.

Windows Marketplace for Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1 November 17, 2009

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After last week’s news, I’m pleased to tell you that Windows Marketplace for Mobile has today reached another major milestone by adding support for Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1 devices. This is an especially proud day for Microsoft because it marks our fulfillment of the Marketplace vision that we put forth only 9 months ago at Mobile World Congress. Last week we expanded the Marketplace experience to the PC and updated the developer portal to include stronger anti-piracy protection features for developers. Today, Marketplace is delivering some great free new features that enhance and expand the Marketplace experience to even more Windows Mobile customers.

Now available for phones with Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1

Initially, Marketplace was available for the new Windows phones with Windows Mobile 6.5. Today, almost all people with phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and above with a supporting data plan can now access Marketplace. We’re delighted to bring the benefits of Marketplace to even more people, and give Windows phone developers the opportunity to reach more than 30 million devices worldwide. To get Marketplace for a Windows Mobile 6.0 or 6.1 based device, customers can simply point their phone’s browser to http://mp.windowsphone.com to start the download process; from the Web, customers can visit http://windowsphone.com/getmarketplace or simply click here. Then browse and shop a wide range of quality applications for work and play; roughly 90% of the apps in our catalogue already support Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 devices.

[…]

via Windows Marketplace for Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1 – Windows Phone Blog – The Windows Blog

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

Big Cellphone Makers Shifting to Android System October 26, 2009

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Since 1996, Microsoft has been writing operating systems for little computers to carry in your pocket. It was a lonely business until the company’s perennial rival, Apple, introduced the Web-browsing, music-playing iPhone. But now that smartphones are popular, Microsoft’s operating system, Windows Mobile, is foundering.

More cellphone makers are turning to the free Android operating system made by Microsoft’s latest nemesis, Google.

via Big Cellphone Makers Shift to Android Platform From Google – NYTimes.com

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.

Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Sync: Now with push Gmail support September 26, 2009

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Earlier this year, we launched Google Sync which allows you to synchronize your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar with your iPhone, Windows Mobile, and S60 devices. Today, we’re adding Gmail support to Google Sync for iPhone, iPod Touch and Windows Mobile devices.

Using Google Sync, you can now get your Gmail messages pushed directly to your phone. Having an over-the-air, always-on connection means that your inbox is up to date, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Sync works with your phone’s native email application so there’s no additional software needed. Only interested in syncing your Gmail, but not your Calendar? Google Sync allows you to sync just your Contacts, Calendar, or Gmail, or any combination of the three.


To try Google Sync, visit m.google.com/sync from your computer. If you’re already using Google Sync, learn how to enable Gmail sync. Since push Gmail has been a popular request on our Product Ideas page and Help Forum, we look forward to hearing your feedback, so drop us a line and let us know how it’s working or what you’d like to see next.

via Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Sync: Now with push Gmail support.

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.

AT&T Opted Out of Motorola’s Android Plan | Technology | Financial Articles & Investing News | TheStreet.com September 2, 2009

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Motorola’s one last chance has one fewer partner to help make it happen. AT&T cancelled plans to carry Google Android-powered phones later this year, says MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen, who initiated coverage on Motorola with a sell rating Thursday. Motorola hoped to convert some Microsoft Windows Mobile phones to the Android operating system, but the devices were deemed too out of date for AT&T’s tastes, according to sources close to the company and in the retail channel, says Kuittinen. AT&T declined to comment for this story, and Motorola was not immediately available for comment.With Motorola’s mobile phone business hanging on the success of new Google Android phones, the company could have used a big telco like AT&T to push its phones at some of its 70 million customers.Phone chief Sanjay Jha, the architect of Motorola’s bold Android strategy, told analysts on an earnings call last month that the company would have two Android phones available by the holidays and that it had signed on two telcos as partners.It is widely expected that Motorola will announce at a Sept. 10 conference that Deutsche Telekom’s  T-Mobile and Verizon are the two carriers, though there has been some confusion about Verizon’s role, since the company has not been asked to participate in the event.

via AT&T Opted Out of Motorola’s Android Plan | Technology | Financial Articles & Investing News | TheStreet.com

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…)