Monday, October 17, 2011

Android as the mobile windows ?

Mobile device planet is definitely shaken these days.

While Android OS market penetration rockets, 4 millions iPhone 4S has been sold in 3 days.
Behind these 2 leaders, other manufacturers are making a lot of announcements and/or promises but the time for long lasting illusions will be soon over :
- Samsung announces a new version of Bada while previous version did not outperform - apparently trying to master its own future after Motorola acquisition by Android's masters,
- Samsung and Apple engage in a patent war rarely seen at this level in Consumer Electronics, arguing about 2001- a space Odyssey,
- Sony wants to buy back Sony-Ericsson - currently loosing ground - to better leverage its strong brand and skills in high end consumer electronics,
- Blackberry faces a 3 day outage while shareholders set pressure for a split of the company,
- Microsoft sold 1.5M phones of Windows Mobile during a quarter (yes, 90 days).

Decisions will come soon but impacts of decisions taken earlier this year could be measured even sooner.
Within 2 weeks, we will get a very good indicator of the chances of Windows Mobile to survive. Nokia will then announce its new series of smartphones based on Windows Mobile. If these new phones are not striking, either through features or through prices, Microsoft can probably bury very deep any ambition on mobile and ... Nokia in the same grave. That would leave Android possibly playing the same role on mobile as the one played by Windows on PC.

During this war between each others, device manufacturers also try expand and eat a part of the cake of network operators.
On one hand, many device manufacturers have engaged in acquisition of companies active in content ecosystem playground, for example to strengthen their content and app stores.
On the other hand, Apple managed to "commoditize" the network more than ever. One of the major breakthroughs of the iPhone 4S is the simultaneous support of CDMA and GSM for the same device. If advantages are not perceived here in Europe, it means that iPhone 4S will be working on both AT&T and Verizon networks. Moreover, after a costly deal (for Sprint obviously !), Apple gives full freedom of network to consumers.
On this page, Apple now present network as a pure commodity - just comparing telco prices and packages - the price of the phone being the same on all networks. They just miss a coverage map to allow better comparison. Any concept of service - provided by network operators - is completely hidden. In US, dumb pipe is not a telco threat any more. It became a fact.

This period is definitely critical within the poker game between all these mobile smartphone vendors.
It's written as a thriller. The name of the killers are quite clear. The uncertainty resides in the name of the victims and especially the order for them to die or give up the market.

Future will say ...

Benoit Quirynen