Future of mobile OS

  • Posted: 05 February 2012 05:04 PM

    The down and dirty answer is, outside of iOS there isn’t much.

    Right now we have 4 major contenders: iOS, RIMM’s QNX entrant, WinMobile and Android.

    Initially, let’s look at everything except iOS.  RIMM’s strength has been in the security of its push email functionality, that made it popular with the enterprise.  Its interface was clunky (in relation to Apple’s touch interface), and has fallen out of favor.  QNX is supposed to reverse that, but without a walled garden (ala iTunes/App Store) will it be enough to do so?  Another issue facing RIMM will be the quality of its development tools.  iOS tools are very good and give total access to the OS, unlike many other manufacturer SDKs.

    WinMobiel is a very late comer to the mobile market.  Ballmer and crew completely missed the paradigm shift and are scrambling to regain momentum.  Their boldest move has been the virtual take over of Nokia.  The saving grace for WinMobile will be manufacturer unhappiness with Google and Android.  With MSFT prepared to pay as much as $200 per handset shipped, to stay relevant, we can expect to see migration from Android to WinMobile.  WinMobile’s biggest obstacle to share growth is going to be the same as RIMM’s QNX: very limited walled garden (ecosystem) and poor SDKs (something MSFT has withheld in the past to prevent developers from producing something better than MSFT competing products).

    Lastly, Android.  Google is in a real bind here.  Android is a fair copy of iOS, but has legal problems under patent law, and is a security nightmare   Google purchased Motorola as a defensive move (patent portfolio) but will have to rely on Motorola to maintain Android share, as existing Android partners look to avoid future legal problems with Apple’s patents, and security problems from malware.  Then, Google has the same problems as RIMM and WinMobile with the lack of a consistent walled garden, version control and security.

    In 2007 there were 8 major handset manufacturers (if you include Apple).  Today there are only four making a profit, with Apple and Samsung taking 91% between them (Apple has 75% by itself).  All others fighting for the remaining 9% now find themselves being pinched between Apple and Samsung on the top, and by two new, rapidly growing entrants (Huawei and ZTE) on the bottom.

    OK, lets look at iOS.  Firstly, Apple is depriving the competition of needed oxygen by soaking up the vast majority of profits, and limiting future profits with its legal attack on patent violations.  Now iOS is grabbing share as well, and nobody has the walled garden (ecosystem) to match Apple’s iTunes/App Store.  I do not include Amazon as a competitor because it has no handset, and other than an enhanced reader, neither does Amazon have a credible tablet.  Further Amazon has forked Android and denied Google any benefit from its product (Kindle) sales.

    As we go through each 2 year upgrade cycle, Apple’s iOS gains more share.  This, I think, is because of the weaknesses in Android, and the absence of credible competition from all other OSs.

    This brings us to the symbiotic strength of iPhone and iPad.  Regardless of what the market share researchers say, there is no tablet market.  There is only an iPad market.  Buyers of iPad are immediately drawn into Apple’s iOS walled garden, which makes them perfect candidates for future iPhone purchases.  The reverse is true of handset buyers that switch to iPhone.  Once within the iTunes/App Store walled garden, those users become iPad buyers vs any other competitor.

    All this if Apple does nothing further, in the next 2 - 3 years, to improve iOS or its walled garden.  With SIRI, iBook Author and Apple’s school book initiative, we have seen that this is highly unlikely.

    In conclusion I see mobile OS share lining up as follows (over the next 3 years):
    iOS easily 70+%
    WinMobile maybe 11%
    RIMM maybe 8%
    Android maybe 9% (on the strength of Huawei and ZTE growth in low cost markets).

    The implications of this share lineup is that MSFT will lose its dominance in computer OS and productivity applications (Windows and Office, those being supplanted by MacOSX, iOS and and an ever improving iWorks in the consumer space), and Google will lose its dominance in search and advertising to SIRI and Apple’s walled garden/App Store.

    I see Apple continuing to grow at current rates until its Mac (iPad deployment will displace an inordinate share of Windows laptops and consumer 2nd computers) and iPhone lines have garnered 40% share in their respective markets.  This will cause tremendous consolidation among competing manufacturers, which will lessen competitive pricing pressure from them.  A firming up of bottom end pricing will have the affect of benefitting Apple’s pricing model.

    Wow, didn’t intend this to be such a long post.  My apologies for that.

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  • Posted: 05 February 2012 06:39 PM #1

    In three years:

    Amazon Android 15%
    Google Android 15%
    Bada 10%
    Windows Mobile 10%
    iOS 50%

    Rim: toast

         
  • Posted: 05 February 2012 08:16 PM #2

    macorange - 05 February 2012 10:39 PM

    In three years:

    Amazon Android 15%
    Google Android 15%
    Bada 10%
    Windows Mobile 10%
    iOS 50%

    Rim: toast

    Less than my estimates, but @ 50% share (your estimate) Apple is shipping 600,000,000 handsets per year.  I would’t reject it.

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  • Posted: 06 February 2012 01:26 PM #3

    Having seen what they did with XBox, I would never underestimate Microsoft’s willingness to throw billions upon billions of dollars down the drink in exchange for market share.  So you can never rule out the possibility that it will be an iOS-Win8 mobile world out there after the dust settles.

    As mobile OSes become more complex, Android will find it harder and harder to keep up with the pace of refinement and fine-tuning that iOS, with its limited model range, can sustain.  If you view coding as a problem-solving exercise, the problem that Android solves is just far more complex than iOS’s problem.  Android will not disappear though, it will just be relegated to the mobile OS of choice for the third world.  They will be installed in devices built in Chinese mushroom factories (they sprout overnight) and sold at unbelievably low prices to the tech illiterati.  They’ll be fodder for Dr. Ashens and his ilk.

    RIM is already dead and they are finally starting to know about it.

    Another big loser, as ARM cements its stranglehold on mobile computing, is Intel.