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« Another Casualty in Smartphone Bloodbath! Vodafone pulls plug on 360 smartphones | Main | Smartphone Bloodbath: Report Card at Half Point of Year 2010 for all major brands »

July 30, 2010

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Chris

A very good explanation of why you report the way you do Tomi. I happen to agree with you, but I'm sure many won't. Here's hoping for plenty of civilised debate :)
It's been one hell of a ride so far this year already, I am positive there will be more major casualties to come it's just very hard to identify who they will be yet...

Yuri

This is definitely one of your best articles. I was wondering why do you ignore profits, but now you've made a very good point why.

There is one thing that you repeat often that I still disagree with though - counting the Nexus One and the Kin as bloodbath victims. I think those were wrong moves by both companies and the choice to discontinue them is only a choice of lose little to gain a lot more in the long run.

Despite Google stating that they do not plan to manufacture their own device, marketing the device of one manufacturer will antagonize the others. It felt somewhat of an arrogant move when they finally revealed the Nexus One and I am not at all surprised that they decided to kill it.

For Microsoft the Kin was an even worse mistake. Not only is their main mobile OS: a) late, b) costly compared to Symbian and Android, and c) offering less possibilities for differentiation (not as customizable as an open source OS), but on top of that with the Kin Microsoft were positioning themselves as competitors to their licensees. Killing the Kin is the only sane thing in their mobile strategy so far.

Mark

A very good article, Tomi. One question though...

Given the Apple did effectively dominate the PMP market by doing three things - effectively locking in users to their distribution mechanism, diversifying their product line up to include the Classic, Mini (briefly), Nano, Shuffle and Touch and pricing competitively - do you think they will diversify their mobile phone range in the same way and, if so, will it have the same impact?

I kid of doubt it because as you point out that was a new market to be won and the mobile phone market is a mature with some pretty heavyweight competitors but I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Carlos


Hello Tomi, excellent article, as usual.

I'd like to ask you about what do you think of the web and cloud applications.

It's possible that most of the interaction with the phone will be based on the web and the differentiation factor will be cost, camera, size...?

If this happens, as long as the browser is good enough it doesn't matter what platform you are using and there won't be a Windows effect like in PCs.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Chris, Yuri, Mark and Carlos

Thank you for the comments, I will reply to each individually as usual..

Chris - thanks. Yeah. I totally would not have guessed Google or Vodafone. Palm as obviously on the ropes. And the weirdest loss so far was Microsoft - in just 6 weeks, and not even attempting to launch in Europe where they had good networks lined up. But yes, lets see how it evolves. Its bloody out there haha

Yuri - Yeah. Google Nexus One was suffering from market rejection, not so much by end-users, but by the operators/carriers. Microsoft's Kin was a bizarre, sudden end (as many have written, there was much more internal politics involved to mess up that situation etc). I do think these are valid casualties in the bloodbath. If the market had been calm, mild, happily profitable for almost everyone, growing gradually, like it was in say 2005-2008 - then both Nexus One and Kin could have been given far more time to try to make it. This year, considering how severe the battle is - how do you think Nokia and Samsung grew market share without a top line phone? Its through hard slugging in the low cost phones, pushing marketing and promotional packages at carriers/operators and just marketing marketing marketing. That is VERY expensive. Who has been suffering? Lenovo, LG, Motorola (remember its 'profit' was from one-time payment, not profitable handset sales) etc..

So I do think its valid to call these casualties, even though - yes I see that you think they were smart business decisions to terminate those projects. I would counter, that its so expensive to develop and market a smartphone, that these two giant corporations should have known, and not done it at all. Now they have a 'stain' on their repuations for a failed phone. Yes, there may be management reasons for doing it, but the reasons do not remove the fact that the phones failed in the market - therefore were casualties.

Mark - I am 100% certain that Apple will diversify its iPhone range. It has to. And once this 'secret' leaks out to more of the mainstream press, that the iPhone is not 'conquerring the world' but is actually struggling and losing market share - that will anger US investors and Apple has to react. It will reduce iPhone 4 prices - boosting iPhone 4 market share - and launch a cheaper iPhone mode, what I call the 'iPhone Nano'. It is more expensive and time-consuming to create a new top-line superphone, than to take the existing specs of their products, and release a 'stripped down' cheaper edition. So Apple can do a Nano version of the iPhone faster than their usual product cycle. And I am pretty sure Foxconn has been offering Apple simpler Nano editions of the iPhone for years already, telling Apple they are ready to manufacture the simpler model whenever Apple gives the go-ahead...

How much will that grow the market? I think existing iPhone users won't care for a simpler Nano, they want the super iPhone ie iPhone 4. This Nano is the 'entry model' to capture new users and teach them how great the iPhone is with its iOS, App Store etc. How much more sales? Anything from 50% to 100% bigger sales, so if Apple did this by Christmas, they'd get a global handset market share growth from about 2% of all phones to 4%. In smartphones as the ratio of smartphones keeps growing faster, would be something like 20% to 25% of the market.

The best thing Apple could do is do their Q version, release a thicker iPhone with a slider/folder full QWERTY keypad. The way Apple is obsessive about the user interface, this would be the best keypad of any phone ever seen, even putting Blackberries to shame. And with that one fell swoop, they'd double their market share - because of all those youth customers who are addicted to QWERTY but cannot consider iPhone today. They have the money, they love Apple and they love cool things. An iPhone Q would be the must-have phone for all (including me haha). But I think its too much to ask haha.. The Nano model is coming for sure, probably before next June.

Carlos - very good question. Yes, the cloud will be very important into the future of smartphones, as the phone becomes the 'thin client' and ever more of the services will be provided via the cloud. Now, remember, the killer app for mobile phones is not 'computing' but 'communication'. We had pocket computers since the late 1980s and they never succeeded. But when very early simple smartphones appeared, they instantly rocketed past those PDA pocket computers and outsold them in huge numbers. Why? Communication. We like the computing, but we have to have our communications. Nokia is not computing for people, it is connecting people. So remember, the communication needs of our phones will trump the services you build onto the cloud. Our voice, SMS, MMS, camera etc will be rated ahead of doing the stuff on the cloud, but the cloud will be far more important than App store style user-installed apps, during this decade (is my view, not shared with all experts)

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Guillaume B

Like Yuri, I wouldn't count the Nexus One and the Kin as victim, but for different reasons.

The Nexus One, I'd say because I don't think Google was ever expecting to become a phone manufacturer. I think it was just meant to whip their partners into shape by providing reference hardware by which others would be judged. In almost all regards, it's just another HTC phone, except stripped of the HTC branding in order to be a "neutral" example of what Android phones should be. And it succeeded; nowadays all high-end Android phones have to at least match the Nexus One, else they are labeled as underpowered.

And the Kin, well, I don't think it was even a smartphone. It seems more like a high-end featurephone than a smartphone. No installable apps, no multitasking... Yes, it is related technologically to Windows Phone 7, but the same thing could be said of Nokia's S40 being related to Symbian/S60. It was a very odd and atypical spasm from a giant that is experiencing some leadership issues as it goes into a transitional phase.

Arild

I have been reading this blog with interest on-and-off for some time now, and I found this article illuminating in terms of discussing why market share matters (and why we should all avoid working from a sample of one, ourselves, and assume our favourite brand will "win"). However, I really feel that there is a severe distortion built into this analysis in terms of why market share matters, and I would suggest that platforms (i.e. Symbian or Bada) may matter less we think and things can shift much faster from one platform to another than is expected.

If we look at the main example used that market share matters, namely VCRs, then there is a major difference with smartphones. With VCRs the core purpose was to watch films and/or recordings off the TV. If I had a Betamax player I could never hope to play a VHS tape. So I had to "buy into" the platform long term. In other words, even if the films on these tapes were seen as "software" (not in terms of software programming, but vs the hardware of the players), it was still a physical, non-negotiable object.

When we look at what we do with a smartphone then the situation is more liquid, we have gone from hardware and physical objects to software as Zygmunt Bauman points out. On my Nokia N900 I use email, text messaging (a Tomi favourite of course), Skype and Facebook, reading ebooks, listen to MP3 files and watch films, take pictures, take notes and access the web for news etc. The hardware side is only concerned with the quality of the screen and keyboard and the camera (and even that can be rectified in software) and of course how fast the OS runs. I can use a very cheap feature phone for a lot of these functions (albeit more cumbersome sometimes). My buy-in to a platform is therefore non-existent, in the past 9 years I have owned a Nokia 9210, a Palm Treo 600 and then a 650, a Nokia N90, a Nokia E71 and now the Nokia N900, and I am next considering an Android phone. The only thing that the platforms made a difference for was the quality of my experience of using these functions: my email archive was always on a server somewhere, my MP3 collection was copied over from my desktop computer, pictured were copied from camera to desktop PC, calendars and addresses were synchronised through Google or Outlook and so on.

In other words, whereas what VCR platforms I chose mattered to me for the rest of my VCR owning days (if I switched all my old movies would not work), this is unimportant for the average smartphone user: It is all about protocols (e.g. email, SMS, web) or formats (e.g. MP3, PDF, DivX) most of which are open, except .DOC. The importance of this can be seen in one of Steve Jobs first actions when he got back to Apple in the late 1990s, he then persuaded Microsoft to continue making MS Office for the Mac. This way, the dominant format for exchanging word processing documents and spreadsheet, would be present on Mac and people could safely use them to "communicate" with other people who use MS word, which is the wast majority of office users. Likewise, the lock-in to Microsoft is no longer Windows as a platform, it is the Office Suite which is why Microsoft fought hard to get their file formats recognised as "open standards" to compete with the ODF format which threatened to give OpenOffice a entry point into offices. (Of course one lock-in that currently works well is the Blackberry's email where RIM hosts the email account for you to gain the most out of using a Blackberry, but even this has software connections from other smartphones and the Blackberry itself supports IMAP etc).

What this means is that the hardware (which is not platform linked) does not force me to follow a particular platform, I can choose anything from a small Nokia E72 with keyboard to a huge Dell Streak with touchscreen and they both give me the same facilities (yes of course there are difference in terms of how good the hardware is, but that is my choice, not a lock-in/buy-in to the platform. And sometimes there will be certain software that works better or only on some platforms, but as Tomi says, anything software wise can eventually be copied). So where does that leave us? What we have here is more "communities of people that do something" such as text each other or exchange PDF attachments or look at Tomi Ahonen's blog :-), rather than communities of people around a particular platform. And as browsers on smartphones get better and faster, we are less likely to need an App to do something, many of the apps are nothing but a thin client to an online service anyway, such as weather reports or transport information.

Now, if we for arguments sake accept that for people who do not choose their phone based on loyalty to a brand (which admittedly for some will be strong) or to "show off" then platforms become less important, not more (as Google indicates with their Chromium OS which is only concerned with getting the PC commected to the web). This then represents a commodification of the smartphone, just as laptops who were once expensive and only available in beige/grey were chosen based on speed and hardware features are now so cheap that we also chose them based on colours and slimness and other "soft" features. If so, I would suggest that our experience with the phone will be more important than the platform or hardware, and this is where Nokia (as the primary Symbian smartphone manufacturer) has some serious issues these days, and perhaps in the bloodbath story users (such as me), will punish them. Admittedly Symbian is a great OS in hardware terms, light on battery, small etc, but the experience is not smooth (recently a colleague of mine and I with some 40 years of experience between us in IT spent a good 15 minutes trying to find out where the email client on the E72 could be told to leave messages on the server... this should of course be a default on a mobile device). Added to this is the fact that a lot of Nokia phones are just too fat. Solid, yes. Well engineered, yes. But I want to carry less weight, and so do most people.

This also raises the problem of relying only on numbers when trying to predict how the bloodbath unfold. You often say that numbers don't lie (well, ask a politician about that :-) ), but they just do not tell the whole story: Recently I did some academic research on mobile music among teenagers in Oxford, UK (it was whilst researching some background material I came across this site incidentally). This was done through in-depth interviews, i.e. we had access to qualitative data rather than quantitative data. One of the interesting things (which we did not really look for) was how they all had feature/smart phones capable of playing MP3 files, but they all had standalone MP3 players as well (all except one was an iPod). They preferred these because they were easier to use. Music from smartphones was only used "in a pinch", that is if they were in the park and were bored someone might play music out loud on a phone for a while, but for parties or long term headphone listening they preferred iPods (so does my daughter who has a Nokia Xpress music phone). So the fact that Nokia music phones outsell MP3 players is not really important, the price is so low and almost all phones can play back MP3 so they are in people's pockets, but many people don't use this feature on Nokia phones. Again, this does not bode well for Nokia unless they up their software UI game, and I think a lot of negative press (even from the US) is about this fact, and quite frankly, it is well deserved. Focusing only on the quality of Symbian in engineering terms (i.e. not memory hungry, solid, etc) or discussing who invented a feature first is not winning any blood baths! The only thing that matters for people who are not obsessive geeks when selecting a phone is how well it works *for them* when purchasing it, and price. As you can see from the list of phones I have owned I am not anti-Nokia (but as a Norwegian a bit jealous perhaps :-) ), but in a commodified market the platform, I hope to have demonstrated, will probably become less and less important.

This also means that consumers can quickly switch from one platform to another without being penalised (which may make brands more important, not my area of expertise) and certainly will make the personal user experience/UI much more important.

vvaz

@Arild

Location can be misleading: in Poland majority of people is using their phones for music listening. I suppose problem lies not in ease of use of hardware platform but of ease of use of "collections". In UK for years iTMS was giving access to legal music in good prices. In Poland source of music is mostly "fair use" *wink, wink*.

@Tomi

IMO you are wrong discarding application stores in one sentence. There and in services is difference. And while iPhone and Android are going ahead with leaps and bounds Ovi is a joke. Vague roadmap (S^3, S^4, Maemo, Meego), low quality of services (crashing servers, missing mail, messages).

I think this is real battlefield of tomorrow. Hardware can be commodized - in fact Nokia started that fight with slashing of prices across the board - but services are real golden egg. I think Nokia and OPK understand this. They were making various moves in this direction in recent years but execution is horrible.

Brad

Tom,

I think you are correct on your focus on platforms, but then you under estimate what Apple is doing. I also think you should have just focused on smart phones, bringing in "dumb" phones and the market share they have doesn't matter since there is no customer loyalty there. Finally, you mention profits and number of units sold but you neglect revenue. One $200 phone is as important as 10 throw away $20 phones..

Apples app store is "not just like everyones". Apple licenses apps (music, movies, etc) to the account, not the phone. It also provides an additional distribution mechanism through Itunes. You may not have kids but the effect of this is our family can share all the apps, music etc that anyone of us buys - we pay once and load it on our Ipods, IPhones, and Ipad. If my daughter wants a game I bought, no problem, she just pulls it off my computer and loads it on her Ipod. By the way, what phone do you think the kids with there Ipods want?

Whatever you might think of apps the developer community recognizes this and targets Ios because of the 100 million devices out there with a proven track record of purchasing things. Here in Seattle windows is having a terrible time getting companies to focus on Windows 7. Symbian - they aren't even on the radar.

Just driving today I heard a radio commercial from Chase advertising how you could directly deposit you checks using their Iphone application. Just take a picture of the front and back of the check and your done. What a great advertisement for the Iphone - and Apple didn't pay them a penny. And it's only on the Iphone

I just bought Omnifocus for the IPad. It cost $40.00. I have it for my phone ($20.00) and my computers ($50.00??) at home and work. It is a spectacular task management program that automatically synchronizes between all of the computers and devices. For better or worse I am "locked into" the IOS world unless they port to other operating systems. I don't see how I ever can go back to Nokia.

I also think Apple is going to shake up the phone world some more when the new Ipod touch comes out with built in face time and "Skype" type calling. I don"t know what it is like where you are but wifi is everywhere here, schools, McDonalds, starbucks, libraries, and it is all free. One of the issues in looking at smart phone data usage is just how much more data is going over wifi.

Finally, a few words on Nokia. I have had their phones (still do) and used to like them but they have lost their way far more than you realize. It looks like the N8 is going to be releases with Symbian 3, not 4. If that is true then it represents a major failure by the company to respond. 4 would have been ok the even Nokia realizes that underneath Symbian is a mess and is trying to transition to Meego. their failure to do so in a timely manner is going to cost them badly.

Bottom line. Apples is rapidly evolving a platform (Iphone, Ipad, Ipod) that is making them the most important mobile platform company in the world. Google realizes this but doesn't but is struggling since there platform is splintering in all kinds of directions - and there heart is in advertising anyway. Microsoft realizes this but still wants windows everywhere. Nokia seems to be operating in "turtle" time while the rest of the world sprints by them.

vvaz

Uh, while I think Tomi underestimates ecosystem, rest of commentators greatly overestimate its meaning.

1) US is only US.
2) Rest of the world is functioning differently a) pre-paid phones are much, much, much more popular, Nokia will take benefits from slashing price of smartphones b) brand loyalty also is more significant elsewhere, in Europe when customer walks in the store looking for new phone first question is about producer of old one and batch of new products of "old" producer is presented - and usually something from this first wave is picked.

Reason that Nokia tanked in marketshare in recent years isn't vanishing of Nokia clients - it was explosion of whole market. Apple and Android is usually winning users completely new to concept of smartphone while Nokia is generally keeping old ones and getting small percentage of new ones.

Enyi

Dear oh dear, the usual US centric users just dont get it, do they. Apple is this and that they keep asserting forgetting that Apple was in the doldrums before the iPod launched. What is it about Apple that evokes such religious fervour ?. So their App store is so great but most of the core apps over there can easily be ported over. Youtube, facebook, twitter. hordes of website apps, even top games like AngryBirds which is even installed on a low key device like my N900 and is on its way to Android. Yes the apple store is tops but by no means insurmountable, its not like Windows and MS Word, its not that high a barrier.

A lot of people here underestimate Nokia citing factors like UI where Nokia is weak and ignoring fwd logistics and supply chain management where it is renowned as a champ, not to mention technical core expertise - see how Apple is struggling with Antenna design now that they can no longer steal from Nokia. I doubnt they will try that nonsense with the next iPad so they really have to settle with Nokia fast. People love to diss Symbian because of its UI but its more than that, see how Apple IPhone 3 is struggling to handle multitasking, Symbian will multitask much better on same hardware as iPhone or Nexus 1 as its designed for mobile and in any case, is much more functional than them. We shall see what Nokia does with N8.

I agree with Tomy, fanboys can argue all they want but Apple will eventually fade away - they cant scale logistically and tech expertise does not run deep as we have seen recently, a renaissance Nokia will be too strong for them but my tip for the next champ is Samsung.

So samsung did 500k GalaxyS in a month but Apple only 800k in 9 months ?

Watch out for Intel, I predict that their new moorestown processor will disrupt the smartphone landscape soon.

JB

I'm tired of bad metaphors hiding bad thinking. VHS has less to do with smartphones than Toyota. If you want to make money make your customers so happy they don't want to leave. Engagement is the only thing that matters in this battle. HTML 5, JavaScript, h264, these are the format winners moving forward. The notion that symbian has stickiness for consumers is ludicrous. Nokia, Microsoft, everyone just need to make customers excited and happy with there goods. The cell providers have minimal input these days and the smart ones are creating brand identities that are separate for handsets (Droid). Also, no way Apple let's Foxconn design a iPhone nano.

Reda

hi Tomi,
few comments:

1)
"And I was puzzled why something that seemed 'obvious' to me, would bring so heated arguments."
I'm glad you clarified your thoughts because a lot of times when "talking about individual handset maker market shares, in the "Smartphones Bloodbath" of 2010" you tend to mix different things. Sometime you talk about platform market share, then you mention the end of Kin in casualties of smartphone bloodbath (which I don't consider a smartphone and cannot understand how it's relevant to platforms), then you mention the Google nexus one (which is just a phone with very low sales, Android is still growing strong) and so on... at least now the peasant reader will know what is obvious to you ;-)

2)
Operator effect on sales, agree completely. You spent hundreds of words on VHS when you could have taken good examples from past mobile phones sales.
3)
Regarding the analogy used: i think it's not relevant at all and I'm not sure why you used this example to substantiate your stats? First, the exact reasons why VHS won are still debated so I'm not sure why you present this version as the real history facts? e.g. a lot of people also think that VHS won because of the pornography issue. Why not use GSM vs other standards example which is at least something from the same industry?
4)
profits. I still think they are as relevant (even though you don't consider them) as the "missing million" which you are writing books about. nokia has to maintain 3 platforms (if we don't consider s^3 and S^4 as two separate ones) S40 for low end, S60 for middle and Meego arguably for high end. If they cannot sustain them profitably, Nokia could in theory stop supporting one of the plantform from one day to another. You could argue as Nokia said during the earnig call that Meego is "is about leveraging speed to industry leading flagship services" but i think in 2 years time Meego could go down to mid to low range and S40 could fill the low to mid range. So symbian (speculating here) could potentially be dropped by Nokia from one day to another. Where is this info in your charts? At which point can you logically assume that Symbian might disappear by just looking at stats? Oh, I'm talking about the platform here just to avoid any confusion ;-)

All in all, you bring a lot of good points on the table and it's a pity you taint the validity of the discussion with bad examples and comments which appear very biased (i.e. Nokia bias).
Unfortunately, I mentioned profit in my comment so I guess you might delete this or not reply at all. However, I would suggest that if a lot readers insist or present a different view from yours, then (perhaps) you might be communicating this in the wrong way. Don't just assume that we "don't get it".

-Reda

Alexander

Yes, Microsoft won the desktop OS war, and Apple lost. Yet Mac OSX is still a part of the market, and Apple's desktop/notebook division has been profitable again for quite a while. So while I similarly think that Apple is not going to win the smartphone OS war, that does not mean that iOS won't be around for a long time, and that Apple won't continue to make profits with devices running it. So to all the Apple fanboys: Calm down! Nobody's predicting the end of your favorite company. They just aren't destined for world domination in the mobile space any more than they were for the desktop/notebook space. Their only product that ever had true market dominance in terms of numbers was the ipod, and even that not worldwide.
Regarding Nokia: Sure, they're well positioned in a lot of ways, but they have to start executing their strategy. More Ovi Maps (a major reason I'm considering getting another Nokia as my next phone) and less Ovi Store (still a desaster in usability, and nowhere near where it should be in terms of content) and Ovi Chat (do it right: buy somebody who has the code to include ALL the major platforms at once).
As for the platform generally being important for choosing a phone: Yes if things like Ovi Maps or Google Maps with free navigation mean a difference in usability that goes beyond the pure OS. Otherwise, my personal total investment in software is below 10 € on my current phone, and a quick romp around any bigger app store could probably bring me up to the same functionality on a new OS within a couple of hours. My data is on my desktop machine or in the cloud - so in the end it's not really much of a look-in.

Walt French

I think the analysis of video recorders is a bit off the mark: VHS had won overwhelming market share (70%) just three years after its introduction. Wikipedia's history of those format wars cites some important "developer" advantages to VHS: better ability to shoot, edit and transfer in VHS. This strong technical advantage for people who wanted to shoot their own footage drove early adopters' market share suddenly to the VHS camp.

AFTER beta lost the market share battle, Sony's sensible business strategy was to emphasize quality to retain its high per-unit profitability for playback-only customers.

= = = =

Lock-in on smartphones is very different. Unlike tape formats, talking and internet-focused usage are entirely inter-operable, while retail inventory costs are minimal. Third-party apps are somewhat interoperable in that they are either free or relatively easy for the developer to port. So locks come from brand loyalty, brand-specific services, etc. Most manufacturers seem to enjoy vanishingly small brand loyalty. (Present site notwithstanding.) OS loyalty would seem to matter more (for porting apps, motor memory of usage, etc.), but no OS that was around 4 years ago will matter next year. So the OS dynamic might be helpful only for Apple.
.
Note that Android phones emphasize carrier and manufacturer branding, with "Android" increasingly in small print. Part of this is that "Android" confers no competitive advantage vis-à-vis other manufacturers and carriers; I think also that Google has managed its brand badly by allowing obsolete, dead-end OS versions to be sold under its name. (Today: 1.6, 1.7, 2.1 and (any day now) 2.2; 3.0 is "expected" by October. Some phones sold today won't be upgradable to the significantly smoother/faster 2.2, let along the "imminent" 3.0.) That is NOT the way one builds a brand.

Ben Dover

You seem to have missed a few things, Nokia's share declined to 35% this quarter down from 37%.

Motorola was number one, above Nokia now they sell less handsets than Apple.

RIM grew.

You left out all the other devices using iOS eg iPod Touch, iPad.

Apple has been building computers for thirty years, they are larger than Microsoft in market cap and were a shade under in revenue and profits, not bad for a company that has had a small share of the market for years.

Apple and iOS aren't going anywhere, across Asia, Europe, the US and Oceania they are performing very well, Apple can't produce their iOS devices fast enough to meet demand.

More revenue = more R&D, stronger customer support and services.

chip_mk

Thinking about conversion of dumbphone users to smartphone users I guess it is not so abut brand loyalty. Being capable to produce (and sell) milions of dumbphones at competitive price assumes remarkable logistic in supply, manufacturing, distribution,servicing, support, etc. Pretty complex I would say.
On the other hand the gap between modern dumbphones and smartphones is not that wide. It is much easier task to add some complexity and upgrade existing dumbphones to smartphones than to scale up logistic to increase volume of existing range of smatphones.

Chip

Bob

All iphone supporters should realize one thing, US is going to be a smaller and smaller part of the world. BRIC countries are growing faster. And Iphone is just a small part in BRIC. And there are 100 dollar Android 2.2(5 time faster) phones being released now. wifi will never replace voice. Get a grip guys. Skype makes 600 to 700 million dollars per year world over, and it is the biggest wifi company over voice. And guess how much AT&T makes, it makes 111 billion dollars per year. And will Apple be happy with Iphone mini ? I doubt is as it will start cannibalizing iPhone 4 quickly. If it does that Apple will end up looking like Nokia which makes vast majority of its money from cheap phones. Apple hates Nokia, it will never do that. And one more thing, People may be used to buying stuff from Apple true, but people are also used to buying from Amazon, Google has just to team up or offer an option of Amazon on their devices and people will be right at home buying stuff. Android will beat or equal symbian by year end. Apple of course will be most profitable. And apple hates keyboards too, so no slier either. I predict Apple share will go down to 1.5 percent of all phones and 10 percent of all smartphones by year end.

Timuke

Hi Tomi,

what do you make of this article?

Nokia Earnings: It Keeps a Smartphone Lead — but Apple and Google Will Pass It Soon

"There’s a good chance that Apple and Google will have passed Nokia in smartphone and tablets by the end of the year"

http://www.bnet.com/blog/technology-business/nokia-earnings-it-keeps-a-smartphone-lead-8212-but-apple-and-google-will-pass-it-soon/4473

Piot

@Tomi
"Why care about market share of 'smartphones'? This is the ultimate platform war!"

Because your initial "bloodbath" post (and many others) talked about phone manufacturers. Fujitsu, LG, HTC etc are not 'platforms'.

@Bob
"I predict Apple share will go down to 1.5 percent of all phones and 10 percent of all smartphones by year end."
I predict that are the rightful heir to Toni's blog.

christexaport

If I could just siphon your thoughts, Tomi. You are saying the same things I say, since I learned from you, but the way you say them, and your knowledge of the numbers hits home.

I'm indebted to your "classes", and when Symbian Freak and returns to prominence once Qt takes off, I hope you bless us with a short post or two. That's if you're not too busy jet setting the world, schooling us on all of this knowledge.

I bow to the master. You're the man. I owe you at least ten coffees. The war will be won at the low end. The high end is for PR points. The next billion will have a more profound effect, just as you let on. And brand loyalty matters, folks.

Pragna Sen

Tomi
Thank you for an illuminating article - that was absolutely fascinating. We've been debating the future of smartphones as the next big device (entertainment, productivity, tele-medicine, security, identity, money, etc.) for a while at the Convergence Conversations we run with Intellect (the UK's technology trade association), it would have been great to have you attend and speak. Are you going to be in London anytime soon?

christexaport

@ Arild,
Your comment was very thought provoking, and it caused me to rethink some things, because you had various valid points. I actually had to sleep on that and clear my mind, because I absolutely agreed with Tomi. I'm his biggest fan, and find it blasphemous when others accuse him of missing the mark or getting it all wrong... He's that good.

But I figured out where YOU missed the point. This is a platform/ecosystem war. And you are right, we are accessing protocols and standards on our devices. They all access the web, email, make calls, IM, etc. This is true. But when a platform fails to maintain scale, it loses its viability to developers. Not ALL developers, but most major ones that make the best software.

There are new protocols and uses that will be standards tomorrow, like social networking. At some point, developers will look at a small OS, like maybe WebOS (which I love, honestly. Very MeeGoish...), and decide its not worth the $50-75k required to develop or upgrade their application. Remember, most software development costs are the same across all platforms.

Some share code bases so you theoretically kill 2 birds with one stone using cross platform technologies. This is what Microsoft and Symbian have done with Silverlight, and Nokia is doing with Symbian, MeeGo, and the desktop OSes with Symbian. Nokia has presented a lower cost of software development for major software development houses. This is Nokia's ace in the hole, and its other true advantage. They have so many that others seem to ignore, as if a UI design is much harder to make than the rest of their advantages, but I believe that not to be the case.

Also, when scale is lost, development costs aren't easily recouped, and there becomes a point when platform evolution of, say, the UI/UX stagnates because of costs of development. It becomes much cheaper to just pick up the more popular platform and work with it. If its an open platform that allows UI differentiation, like Symbian, MeeGo, and Android, it's almost a no brainer.

Just like we're using standards, so are the developers. And they prefer to remain using common standard tools that target the widest audience possible. This is why Microsoft is king of the desktop, and Apple is king of profits, but almost tanked were it not for a lifeline investment from Bill Gates of all folks. You must know that devs make far more from the Windows ecosystem that Apple.

Its the development ecosystem. Period. Without continued growth, the iOS ecosystem will stagnate. No major developers target a 20% share when there are larger slices with greater reach. It seems they do today, but remember, that was because of the App Store craze, and the newcomers started with that advantage, but it has been replicated, and is no longer a long advantage. Google and Ovi have recently emerged, and Microsoft has studied the competition, and will also show up. None of the App Stores are proving to be big money makers, so cost of development and reach will matter more once app delivery becomes a standardized thing, just like email, document handling, web, and music. Once everyone is doing it, you can't use it as a unique selling point.

"If we look at the main example used that market share matters, namely VCRs, then there is a major difference with smartphones. With VCRs the core purpose was to watch films and/or recordings off the TV. If I had a Betamax player I could never hope to play a VHS tape. So I had to "buy into" the platform long term. In other words, even if the films on these tapes were seen as "software" (not in terms of software programming, but vs the hardware of the players), it was still a physical, non-negotiable object."

Great point, and it makes mine as well. Unlike VCR tapes, our apps evolve. And if a platform fails to reach critical mass, that evolution slows, and becomes an issue. So users usually wind up where all of the developer support lands, and developer support is usually at the door of the ecosystem with the farthest reach, most volume, and lowest cost to development. This means iOS, for example, will have to find its way into more devices than Android or Symbian/MeeGo (they share the Qt ecosystem, so they are seen as one), diversify its device portfolio to allow it to reach more price points, and in turn lower the cost of development vs. the expected return.

Most apps today use ads for revenue. Its not always the affluence of the audience that brings in the dollars, its usually the amount of eyes in the ad business. Developers are embracing ad generated revenue, and eyes is the name of the ad game 90% of the time. I'll tell you this, I'd rather target Symbian/MeeGo's 40% of the eyes than iOS' 15%. And once others feel the same, that 15% becomes shakey, and has to fight to survive.

"The only thing that the platforms made a difference for was the quality of my experience of using these functions"

Hence my point of developer costs. That ease of use you favor was created with an exact cost in dollars. And customers bring revenue. Apple is making profits, but the high end consumer profits, which is Apple's niche and specialty, is more risky in the long run.

This is why most luxury automakers always have a mass market counterpart that is their bread and butter. Cadillac has Chevrolet, Lexus/Toyota, Acura/Honda, Infinity/Nissan. And it is why Mercedes tried to merge with Chrysler, though unsuccessfully, and BMW is seeking a mass market partner. You can't trust rich folks. When times are tight, they get tight, and a severe profit margin collapse can really hurt such a company. Without reach, a luxury brand won't maintain profitablity or viability long term, especially not in the tech world, where R&D costs are prohibitive. Why do you think Apple stole so much intellectual property, allegedly (we know they did.)? Its the biggest cost to absorb, and without a way to recoup that cost, you lose in the end.

"It is all about protocols (e.g. email, SMS, web) or formats (e.g. MP3, PDF, DivX) most of which are open, except .DOC. The importance of this can be seen in one of Steve Jobs first actions when he got back to Apple in the late 1990s, he then persuaded Microsoft to continue making MS Office for the Mac. This way, the dominant format for exchanging word processing documents and spreadsheet, would be present on Mac and people could safely use them to "communicate" with other people who use MS word, which is the wast majority of office users."

This is a testament to Jobs skill as a salesman, not anything more. Apple probably wouldn't even be here were it not for Microsoft continuing to support the Mac OS. They knew they lacked the mass, and were it not for Microsoft, Apple would be toast today. They got saved, and that wasn't the first time. I doubt the same happens for iOS. They really messed up putting others into the Antennagate issues, and they won't be itching to help them once they are down, and the big software houses will remember how they blocked their cross platform toolkits and raised development costs with no real reason than "it MIGHT THEORETICALLY allow bad looking apps". Its much easier to just address the mass, and ignore the niche, for most developers.

This means Apple will have to pay or beg, and pass on that cost to you. But raising prices...LOWERS share, right Master Tomi? (Learning from the best is fun...) Developers won't continue to address all of these platforms. It just costs too much. Something has to give, and the smaller market share OSes are usually the first to go or allow cross platform tech. Don't see Apple going there, do you?


"Now, if we for arguments sake accept that for people who do not choose their phone based on loyalty to a brand (which admittedly for some will be strong) or to "show off" then platforms become less important, not more (as Google indicates with their Chromium OS which is only concerned with getting the PC commected to the web). This then represents a commodification of the smartphone, just as laptops who were once expensive and only available in beige/grey were chosen based on speed and hardware features are now so cheap that we also chose them based on colours and slimness and other "soft" features. If so, I would suggest that our experience with the phone will be more important than the platform or hardware, and this is where Nokia (as the primary Symbian smartphone manufacturer) has some serious issues these days, and perhaps in the bloodbath story users (such as me), will punish them. Admittedly Symbian is a great OS in hardware terms, light on battery, small etc, but the experience is not smooth (recently a colleague of mine and I with some 40 years of experience between us in IT spent a good 15 minutes trying to find out where the email client on the E72 could be told to leave messages on the server... this should of course be a default on a mobile device). Added to this is the fact that a lot of Nokia phones are just too fat. Solid, yes. Well engineered, yes. But I want to carry less weight, and so do most people."

On THIS I do agree. But ignore recent history. Nokia paused its hardware building process R&D to focus on Ovi and Qt integration. But before 2008, no one would dispute Nokia is the king of hardware and manufacturing. And judging by the looks of the N8 and its QWERTY cousin, they haven't suddenly forgotten. They obviously rested on their laurels until now, and are repoised to show this is their forte. I've known all along about that, and also realize that the same guys that made the iPhone, Foxconn, can be paid by Nokia. So its not hard to get good hardware. The platform is more important by far. I'd bet a smart man could easily put Symbian or MeeGo on an iPhone with a little time...

"This also means that consumers can quickly switch from one platform to another without being penalised (which may make brands more important, not my area of expertise) and certainly will make the personal user experience/UI much more important."

I agree again, but I also see a new breed of devices that have much more complex runtime support and support a higher class of software. Think programs like on our PCs, not cut down "apps", in our pockets. Without the capabilities to support these complex new apps, the experience will be affected, and a penalty will be felt, just like going from a PC to a smartphone. There are penalties today, like not being able to run Photoshop, ProTools, Final Cut Pro, Nuendo, SketchUp, Autodesk, etc. This market is expanding, and so are the ecosystems.

Today, they SEEM similar, but the engineering aspects many want to ignore will come to bear when there is software to take advantage of them. Its not all UI like they think here in America. This IS a computing race alongside a communicator race. It happened with the desktop, and it'll happen here. Runtime/Toolkit support WILL MATTER...

HCE

Let me make just one comment. In one breath you talk about both platform stickiness and also say that apps are unimportant. Then you compare this to the Windows PC market. I'm sorry but all of this does not hang logically together. Why do more people buy windows than any other platform? Primary reason - apps. Why is Linux having such trouble breaking through to the desktop. Primary reason - apps. Yes, familiarity with the platform is also important but the ability to use familiar apps is paramount.

In the end, if everything is web services, then every platform will eventually be able to everything that any platform can. At that point it becomes a race to the bottom with people shopping based on price rather than other features. I would submit that no one wants this scenario to happen. Profits may be unimportant to you but they are important to every company in this space. No one wants to live on wafer thin margins.

As for Apple, they won't be interested any more. They'll move the phone business to the back burner and start on the next big thing (which so far, they've been able to find with tremendous accuracy). Even now, market share does not mean all that much to them. What matters to them is to be able to establish a niche where they can make significant money.

BTW - if smartphones become commodities, the one brand that may still maintain customer loyalty and loyalty-based sales is Apple. Even though they do not have a great market share in the PC market, they command more loyalty than anyone else.

- HCE

Timo Poijärvi

Tom,
I am simply thrilled about reading your article. You are absolutely right, spot on! The race is definitely about platforms, not individual device models - and not about companies making profit!
I too believe in cloud, especialy with mobile devices...and again you are right when saying it is about communication not computing. All those fancy i-family devices (pods, pads etc) are very nice gadgets but they are not real communication devices - email, messaging etc is not enough, it is the real voice & SMS that rule the game.
Anyway - thank you again for a very good article.

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