Last week was a big week for mobile industry statistics, with multiple reports released. There was one common theme in all of them – Android is growing rapidly! In fact, one report pegged the year-over-year growth at 886%!!! It’s pretty obvious that Google’s mobile strategy is paying off, as not only is it dominant in the mobile search market (as I pointed out last week), but it’s also making huge gains on the OS side. What’s most interesting is that while Android is gaining market share, a report from Nielsen shows that the iPhone is still the most desirable handset out there. Personally, I’m fascinated by the Android-iPhone battle. Google is taking an “arms dealer” approach to Android by giving any handset manufacturer who wants it a platform to build a smartphone. Apple, on the other hand, is targeting the market carefully and controlling all aspects of the user experience. The result so far is that Android is winning the battle for market share, but Apple is winning the battle for mindshare and profits, at least for now. I’m interested to see if Apple can continue to rake in the profits as Android gains market share. Something tells me Apple is repeating the mistakes they made in the early days of the PC market, although people keep telling me it’s different this time. I’m not sure I buy it….
One company that is seeing declines in market share is RIM with their BlackBerry platform. BlackBerry has been the dominant smartphone in the US for what seems like forever. However, unless you are addicted to email or are a business user, BlackBerry’s hardware and overall user experience lags behind the iPhone and Android. As BlackBerry users are coming off contract, it’s obvious they are switching platforms. BlackBerry attempted to stem their losses with last week’s launch of the BlackBerry Torch 9800. While it closed the gap on features, it still does not put it on the same level as the iPhone or Android. At this point, RIM needs to stay focused on its bread and butter, the enterprise. As I pointed out in an article last week, RIM cannot serve both enterprise users and consumers with the same platform. They have a dominant position in the enterprise that they need to protect. So while the consumer market is where all the media attention is, RIM needs to stay focused on who’s paying their bills.
In the end, I see Android winning the market share game by dominating the middle and low end of the smartphone market, Apple winning the high end of the market, which is the most profitable, and RIM winning the enterprise. Left on the outside looking in are Nokia, Microsoft and HP. I’m not so sure that any of these three can carve out a piece of the market as I don’t think the smartphone is big enough, at least today, to support more than three strong companies.