Monday, April 11, 2011

Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM and the Phone Wars 3

In this last post of the series we will discuss WIndows Mobile 7 and Blackberrys.  Will they be able to put a dent into Apple's lead in the market place?

Lately some interesting predictions have been made for the future of Windows Mobile 7 (soon to be 8).

Windows Mobile 7 - Microsoft Strikes Back
Nokia who use to be the market leader in all categories of cell phones, has been sitting on its hands as Apple created an entirely new expectation in the public for what a "smartphone" should be.  Nokia of course, had been using an OS named Symbian.  As late as the 2nd quarter of 2010, these devices accounted for 43.5% of the smartphone market, towering above all the other platforms including Apple.  Realizing the ominous writing on the wall, Nokia signed an agreement with Microsoft.  All Nokia phones starting next year will be using Microsoft Windows 7 as its operating system and BING as its search engine.  We have to admit that this was a brilliant move on the part of Microsoft.  Here is a video describing this union.  If you cannot see the embedded video click here:

There is no question that this alignment will help both companies.  Bing is already receiving greater market share and getting praise.  Bing is an arrow aimed at the heart of the Google empire.  As late as March 2011, Bing was the only search engine that experienced growth in unique visitors in February.  In January of 2011, Bing reached 29% of the search engine business with Google at 66.45%.  This agreement can only help Microsoft and hurt Google.
via: Techcrunch (click to enlarge)

Windows Mobile 7 is indeed a dramatic improvement over their previous version of Windows Mobile. We are not a bog fan of Microsoft in general when it comes to innovation, but it must be admitted that they have understood a critical thing about people's time. Their marketing approach is brilliant and hits on something that many complain about when it comes to people's habits with phones, especially the iPhone.  If you cannot see the embedded video please click here:

Despite the brilliant commercials and innovative idea, the phone has not caught on yet.  the Nokia alliance may change this situation and raise the WIndows Mobile 7 market share from 7% to a greater share.  The most innovative idea Microsoft has come up with is the initial screen, which can control many feature.  Here is a video demonstrating some of these features.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link:

Gartner has predicted that due to this Nokia alliance WIndows Mobile will surpass Apple by 2012.  In a market that is changing so quickly, a 2012 prediction could have the same validity  as the apocalyptic visions of some about that year.  But again such a unpredictable market could produce such radical results.

RIM Blackberry Seems A Dead End Ultimately
All of what we see is bleak for RIM.  Its market share is going down steadily.  It seems that the Android platform is taking the biggest bite of sales from RIM and not from Apple.  Blackberrys of course are still highly respected for corporate and government use.  How often have we seen a man carrying two phones, one for his company which is usually a Blackberry and one for his own which is often an iPhone.  How many have told us that they wish they could use the iPhone only.  Many.

Blackberry Storm 
RIM as far as we know has no real solution.  They are a reactionary company not an innovative one.  Apart from their push technology with email, the rest of their OS is lackluster.  They came out with the Blackberry Storm as an attempt to match Apple.  This technology did not prove effective in that purpose.  They are however updating it.  Their Blackberry Torch 9800 was selling well in late 2010.  Nevertheless, we are not of the opinion that the average user looks to Blackberry for innovation.  Their tablet which is supposed to be a competitor to the iPad for corporate use, has been delayed and delayed again due to what has been called the "iPad effect."  Parts for the screen of the RIM's Playbook tablet are hard to obtain because Apple has locked up the market for the demand of production of these kinds of screens.  Even PC sales have been affected by the sales of the iPAd 2.

What does this all mean?  In our opinion, we predict that Apple will continue do dominate both the cell phone market and the tablet market for at least the next two years.  We realize of course such predictions are tricky in such a quickly changing market.  But we are not alone.  You might ask why we favor the Gartner prediction in regards to the Apple tablet market and question it when it comes to the Windows Mobile predictions.  We took two considerations in mind.  First is Apple an innovative company?  The answer is obvious.  Will Apple remain a stationery target for its competitors?  Hardly likely.  As for Android Honeycomb's 3.0 tablet OS, with Google's logical move to control it more due to its fragmentation by third parties, predictions are that this will slow down its growth of market share.  We are not the only ones that share this view.
Gartner also says that Google's decision to not open up Honeycomb, its first tablet OS, to third parties will slow the price decline and ultimately cap the market share. "The new licensing model Google has introduced with Honeycomb enables Google to drive more control, allowing only optimal tablet implementations that don’t compromise quality of experience," said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. "This might mean that prices will drop at a slower pace than what we have seen in the smartphone market."
Time will tell about all of these predictions.  We will not count anyone out of the race, even HP with their new Web OS tablet announcement.  It will not doubt be a bloody battle.   In the end, we will cast our vote with the young, which have always been the future, 22% of teens want an iPhone and 15% of them already have one.

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