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December 12, 2013

Why It's Either Rise or Demise For Them

Posted by Puneet Gupta (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:39 AM

iOS 7 vs Android Jelly Bean vs Windows Phone 8 vs BB10 [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJkB8PFD-eo]

Today, the Android computing platform boasts a 72 percent share of the 1.5 billion smartphones in use on Planet Earth. That's up from 55 percent one year ago. Apple's iOS comes in at an 18 percent share, holding steady from about the same share last year. It helps that Android accounts for 80 percent of the new smartphones hitting the market this quarter. So it's likely that its share of the market will only increase for the foreseeable future. The most interesting aspect of this? Blackberry, which used to command a majority of global market share up until a few years ago. It's once-sizeable lead of some 40 percent market share in 2008 eroded to just 4 percent this year.

True, Apple's iOS remains popular in the United States. But Android is the undisputed smartphone champ when you look at the global market as a whole. In the rapidly growing smartphone markets of China and India, for instance, Android is the platform of choice. Those two markets, along with other large, emerging economies, are where much of the smartphone-and-tablet story will play out in the coming decade.

The quickly evolving market for mobile platforms should serve as a lesson to all of us in the technology sector. You're only as good as your most recent product or service. That particular product or service might be an update to a long-running brand or it might be an entirely new offering. Either way, it pays to keep your enterprise focused on new entrants and how they approach a market in which you hold a comfortable lead. Blackberry continues to be the mobile platform of choice for some large corporations. What we've seen, however, is that consumers have no qualms about using one platform for work and an entirely different one in their personal lives. I would have never predicted that millions of smartphone consumers would pay for the privilege of carrying around two devices. Who welcomes that inconvenience? Apparently lots of people.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Age we've seen numerous organizations go belly up very quickly because of their complacency. There's no other word for the phenomenon. These are companies that often have superior technology, ancillary markets for servicing and spare parts, and - like Blackberry - a lock on a lucrative segment of the market (i.e., the corporate world).

To Blackberry's credit, its parent company announced that it would manufacture new phones that would increasingly run Android-based applications. A generation ago, that's what Microsoft executives referred to as riding the back of the bear (in that case, IBM). If you acknowledged the market presence of a strong competitor by suiting some products to their technology, you could position your enterprise using a "me too" technique. In time, if your products worked well and you chipped away at other parts of your competitor's business, your company would have a "just me" situation on its hands.

In some ways, Android carved out an entirely new market for itself. It outfitted phones that are affordable to many people, not just executives at multinational companies. That the company that once dominated the market through MNCs is now running Android apps is fascinating. A smaller niche with higher margins might not be the end-all.

If history is any guide, the Android franchise should keep one eye open while sleeping at night, if it sleeps at all. Despite the fact that it has won the race for smartphone dominance, it's hard to say if that race will ever be over.


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