Android Won. Windows Lost. Now what? We have passed the tipping point now, the balance has tipped and can't be flipped. The Platform of the Century will power cameras, credit cards, cellphones, computers, consoles, clocks - and collect consumer insights on our consumption..
Ok. The numbers for Q3 are in, inwhat I anticipated to be the "smartphone bloodbath" three years ago, that would last long into this new decade. That was then, when the battle was joined, and since have called and the battle of the century, the battle for the pocket, the battle for the platform to control the digital destiny of humanity.. that battle, the biggest race of all time - has been won. Already? But we barely got to know you? Yes.
Well, at one level, the platform level definitely, the winner is Google with Android. The future of computing, the future of the internet, the future of music, of gaming, of television, of newsmedia, of banking and credit cards and even cash itself. The platform that will be in our cars, soon in our clothes and eventually embedded within humans - all that will be owned and controlled by Google, as an evolution of what we now know 'only' as the smartphone platform, Android. Wow. So this is my first blog after Google achieved its victory, to examine these thoughts, what does that mean for humanity, for business and tech, for media and marketing and advertising.
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE
So lets do the math first. What do I mean? Yes, now the margin of victory is beyond any dispute, Google's Android is currently selling so much more, in new digital devices, than any other open or closed platform in the world, that Google is the winner. Far far more than Xbox or Wii gaming consoles. Way more than other smartphone platforms like Blackberry or the iPhone even if you toss in all iPods and iPads into the mix. Even more than all Windows based devices currently sold from desktops to laptops to smartphones to tablets. Even the proprietary Nokia featurephone platfrom, S40, has now been passed by Android in selling more per quarter. Android powers 71% of all new smartphones sold. In Q3 they sold a staggering 121 million new units or 1.3 million new devices every single day, Saturdays and Sundays included. And Android keeps growing. Android grew sales 18% - not in a year, in just one quarter!. For the Christmas Quarter, Q4, expect total Android unit sales (including tablets) to easily pass 50 million - per MONTH. That rate is almost twice what all traditional PCs, desktops and laptops - the domain of Microsoft's past glory, Windows - manages to sell, and Windows does not power all PCs anymore, not even close.
The smartphone wars are the most heavily contested global industry of all time. More global giant Fortune 500 sized companies are in this race than in any other industry, ever. The world's largest consumer electronics company, Sony is in the game. The world's biggest basic cellphone maker, Nokia is in of course. The world's biggest technology company, Samsung is in. The largest computer manufacturer by one count, Lenovo, is in the race as a new entrant. And the world's largest computer manufacturer by the other count, Hewlett Packard was one of the pioneers of smartphones. The world's most profitable company got that way, by selling a smartphone we know and love as the iPhone. Just two short decades ago Apple the then-PC maker was on the brink of bankruptcy. The biggest mobile phone operator/carrier group, Vodafone sells some of its own-branded smartphones in some markets too. The world's largest software company, Microsoft is in the race on the software side, and is approaching the race on the hardware side too, already making its own tablet PC and is rumored to soon launch its own smartphone too. Almost any major tech or consumer electronics brand you can think of is in the smartphone races from Panasonic to Sharp, from Alcatel to LG, from Dell to Fujitsu, from Acer to Toshiba.
And then look at Android. Of the Top 10 largest smartphone manufacturers of the world, Android powers number 9. It powers number 8. And it powers number 6. And number 5, number 4, number 3 and number 1. Of the Top 10 biggest smartphone maker in the world, only three manufacturers do not supply Android based smartphones, and none of those other three use each others' operating systems either. This is sheer dominance. This is like Gulliver and the Lilliputs. Android is the only giant around with the tiny people.
The Android world is so new, that their installed base is still 'modest' by mobile phone standards, altough they are already by far the biggest smartphone platform by installed base. At the end of Q3 there are 559 million Android powered smartphones in use, plus several dozen million more in tablets. In round terms, lets call it 600 million Android devices of any kind, in use. That is nearly twice what Apple has in the iOS ecosystem of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. It is about three times more than Nokia's shrinking Symbian ecosystem and five times bigger than RIM's Blackberry ecosystem of its smartphones and tablets.
But looking at the next milestones now in December 2012, in passing the next digital platform rivals, Android has still a way to go. The next rival is Microsoft's 1.25 Billion Windows devices in use, across personal computers, servers, tablets and smartphones. So yes, Android devices already sell twice the level of all Windows based devices, but Microsoft's installed base was built over three decades, Android has been arnoud barely more than one fifth that. So Android is selling more than Windows - and the gap is growing not shrinking - so when will Android pass Windows in installed base?
But that moment is coming sooner than you might believe. When will Google's Android power more digital devices in use than all Microsoft Windows gadgets, combined? This time next year! When the data comes in for Q3, 2013, Android will have a larger total ecosystem of devices in use powered by that operating system, than all Windows devices globally in use. Yes, this includes best case for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We have seen the emperor fall. Watch this moment, it is rare for us to witness such a giant fall as what used to be Microsoft in the tech space. Its fall has started, it is now accelerating, and the CEO in charge, Steve Ballmer, is clearly struggling to keep his faculties and is acting ever more erratically, trying to keep the pieces together.
Then. Just one quarter later, by the end of next year, 2013, there will be more simply Android-powered smartphones alone, forget the tablets and other devices, than all Microsoft powered Windows based devices in use, across all Windows versions. Wow. That is fast. No wonder Microsoft is panicking about how their smartphone strategy imploded with Nokia. Yes, the era of Microsoft powering most computing devices is ending - next year. Some of us thought we'd never live to see that day haha.. Windows will be relegated to only being a desktop based obsolescent computing platform, eventually thought of in a similar way as we might think of Cobol, Fortran and Pascal on mainframe computers today. (hey, don't laugh, I learned to program that way in 1983!)
MOST WIDELY USED TECHNOLOGY BRAND OF PLANET
Then by the first quarter of 2014 - only 16 months from now - Google's last historic rival will be overcome, the peak of human adoption of any one digital technology brand - Nokia's peak global adoption level when it was in the pockets of 20% of the planet about a year ago. Yes, by Q1 of 2014 Google will be used by more than one in five humans and their global device installed base will be past 1.5 Billion globally.
And that won't be the end, by this time year 2014, Google's Android will power literally half of all mobile phone handsets sold - when about two out of every three new handsets sold will be a smartphone, and most of those will be Androids. And then by Q4 of 2014, Android will reach another incredible milestone, it will be (mathematically) in the pockets of one out of every four humans alive. Yes, Android's market share of humankind will be 26% by Q4 of 2014. That is a mathematical calculated average, in reality, many of us will have several Android gadgets like two smartphones and a tablet, and thus the real reach of Android won't be one quarter of humanity, but it will be unprecedented nonetheless and enormous.
Android will breach the rarefied Billion user club in just six months from today, by June of 2013. A Billion users? Only a handful of brands have ever reached that lofty level. Facebook, Skype, Windows, Nokia, Coca Cola, Visa and Mastercard. And by 2015 Android will join the truly exclusive club of 2 Billion users, doubling that club's size from 1 to 2, joining Visa, which just this year hit the 2 Billion active Visa credit card level. It took the Visa brand 32 years to hit 2 Billion cards in use. Google will achieve that level with Android in 7 years from launch in 2008. And the frightening part? Google will breach the 3 Billion user level in only .. one further year! Yes by the end of 2016 Android will be in the exclusive altitude of 3 Billion concurrent active devices in use of the technology and the Google brand.
No wonder Visa is already saying the future of payments is mobile money, on mobile phones. They saw this scenario developing. And did Google anticipate it? Google wrote in Harvard Business Review last year that their number two priority is.. mobile money. You know those famous Visa TV ads 'they don't take American Express' - that day may come soon, when Google runs its ads as 'they don't take Visa'. Don't laugh, 40% of the total Kenyan economy already goes through mobile phone payments. Turkey was the first country to set a date for when they end the manufacturing of coins and banknotes - 2025 - to be replaced by mobile money. Coins were invented in the region we think of as Turkey today, 2,600 years ago. Yes, you and I will live to see the end of cash being manufactured as a monetary instrument (no doubt, some commemorative coins will still be made, for collectors). In Norway and Estonia you can submit your whole tax return by SMS text message and Estonia has already run national elections where the citizens were allowed to vote via their mobile phones.
Your mobile phone number is the nearest thing to a global identity number, it is truly unique, where social security numbers and passport numbers are at best, unique to a given country. Very soon your driver's licence, passport and other identity will be on your smartphone.
CENTER OF CONVERGENCE
I've been writing about digital convergence in all of my 12 books. I've gradually expanded the reach of industries which will find most if not all of the given industry migrating to digital, and that the smartphone is at the epicenter of that convergence. We see it today, from our cameras to our wristwatches and alarm clocks to our web browsers, music players, gaming (Angry Birds, anyone?). The mobile is becoming the primary newsmedia channel, the primary entertainment platform and increasingly even retail, commerce, travel, banking, insurance etc are going onto our pockets, or derive a major part of their consumer interaction through our smartphone.
What does it mean, when Carrefour the giant French retailer now drives its retail consumers to the correct aisles in its stores, based on the smartphone app that is the shopping guide? What does it mean, when Finnair counts how many empty seats it has on a given flight, and then sends upgrade offers to its frequent fliers - as they are processed through security onto the airport? What does it mean to Clarion Hotels chain when they already offer for example in Sweden the chance for travellers to use their phone as the key to the hotel room? No plastic hotel keys needed anymore. And what does it mean to Visa in South Korea, when they automatically enable your brand new Visa credit to your phone, but they then ask 'do you want a free plastic Visa card mailed to your home address?' Why would they ask that? Because in South Korea today, nobody uses the old plastic credit cards anymore, every merchant who takes credit cards, has mobile payments already enabled.
Google through Android will be involved in all of our digital activities, in all our lives, as obviously central to it, as Windows had been on our PCs for the past two decades. No matter what else you did, that Windows basic set of tools and apps - remember the annoying paperclip-guy who was Microsoft's virtual 'Help' guy at one point? If you can imagine that world, but expanded ten-fold, no, hundred-fold, in the digital future of this decade, replace Windows in that metaphor with Android, and you see Google will be literally in every one of our lives, and in all our digital activities.
And Google isn't standing still on this. Not like Microsoft, which tended to follow, let others build a future, and then try to bully its way into it - winning some (WordPerfect? Lotus 1-2-3? Novell Netware) but losing others (Chrome and Firefox. Google search. iTunes). Google instead is taking a leading position. Like look at its bold way of pursuing Google Glass and Google Goggles, the Augmented Reality (AR) future for digital. What I now am calling the 8th Mass Media (following Mobile which was the 7th obviously). Google has won the battle for the 6th mass media (internet). It has just now been declared the winner of the 7th mass media (mobile) and Google is trailblazing its way to own also the 8th mass media, which only has a couple of million pioneering media customers in some of the most advanced markets today, like Japan, South Korea, Netherlands and Sweden. But Google is there already.
THE TRUTH IS IN OUR POCKET
We look at our mobile phone 150 times per day, said T-Mobile USA earlier this year. For smartphone users its already 200 times per day according to UK measurements reported in the Guardian. Like I have been saying for years now, its the first thing we see when we wake up, and the last thing we look at before we fall asleep. Yes, most of us sleep with the phone in bed with us and use it as our alarm clock. The mobile phone is our memory bank, it is our calendar, our address book, our messaging center. A study by Vodafone of its New Zealand customers found that more than a third of New Zealanders had resolved a bet or argument by going to their pocket, by searching the answer via the mobile internet. It is the ultimate truth machine. The truth is in our pocket! And who sits at ground zero of that search? Google of course.
Android will power most cameras. Not all, but by far the biggest part of all cameras in use (as cameraphones, obviously). Android will power most videocameras used by consumers. Android will power most 'watches' and clocks and alarm clocks in use (again, only through the clock face on our smartphone screen). Android will power most web browers and 'computers' used by consumers. Not all, there will be an ever diminshing - but not vanishing - segment of 'professional' computers with keyboards and mouse inputs and full peripherals that professionals use. But consumers will use tablets and smartphones, and while Apple will have a nice healthy slice of that business, and some rivals may hold other pieces, Android will dominate that. Android will power our calendars, our music players, our video players, our gaming consoles, and so forth. Soon Google launches its first Google Goggles, the eyeware with the inbuilt cameras and tiny projection screens viewable by the person wearing the glasses. All that - powered by Android, of course. Think of it as a specialized smartphone form factor, built in the shape of eyeglasses. There already exist wristwatches that are in effect smartphones (not very popular by the way). The smart technology is invading our clothing too.
THE POWER OF THE DATA
We just saw the US election, how the Democratic party used the power of deep voter data and insights to run circles around the Republicans, winning the Presidency, winning several 'hopeless' Senate seats, and even taking several seats in the Congress. A victory 'sweep'. And powered by superior insights of consumer ie voter data. It was as I wrote, Orca vs Narwhal.
What of Amazon? Amazon knows that I love my James Bond and I am into mobile telecoms and Formula 1 racing, based on what I buy. Imagine how much more powerful Amazon's search engine - and its recommendation engine - would be, if Amazon also knew which retail shop I go to, what airline I fly, what credit card(s) I use and what hotel I am staying in right now? Have a guess who knows - or will know soon. The company whose operating system powers the gadget in my pocket. Google will know soon, through Android, just about everything one could ever hope to find out, about anyone.
Alan Moore coined the phrase that social media intelligence is the new black gold of the 21st century. Just like how the Klondike and gold miners were (sometimes) able to strike it rich by disovering gold (or silver). That was mostly in the 19th century. Then in the 20th century, the 'black gold' was that liquid gold they started to discover in Pennsylvania and Texas and Saudi Arabia. Oil. Today most of the biggest companies on the Fortune 500 are oil companies (or companies that build devices that run on oil - cars). Now, Alan argues, for this new 21st century the 'new black gold' is that data we extract from our phones and other digital devices about consumer behavior - and its most lucrative part is the 'social media' part of the insights.
The recommendations! What do we talk about and with whom - haha, not unlike how the Obama campaign used SMS text messaging on election day, asking registered Obama supporters, would they be willing to make one call to another Obama supporter who had not voted yet, to encourage them to go vote for Obama. And how the Obama campaign used Facebook apps to have Obama Facebook friends spread the Obama message to likely Obama supporters - 600,000 Obama voters did that, the average reach was 8 people, so Obama's reach in Facebook expanded by 5 million beyond what Obama had achieved up to that point. Of those 5 million, 1.1 million turned out to register to vote for Obama.
There was no way through television or robocalls or home mailers or emails or even Twitter and Facebook friends, for Obama to find those 1.1 million new voters. They were found by Obama's friends on Facebook, doing the targeted marketing for Team Obama, to find new supporters. This is what Alan wrote about with social media intelligence - the new black gold. Not just to make us rich - also to help us win our elections or help in whatever causes you have from education to healing the planet.
What power does this give Google? I don't mean anything creepy in spying into what we do. I suggest you read Tony Fish's book My Digital Footprint and follow his guidelines very closely. Certainly yes, that power will also be there to spy on consumers - but just think about Amazon. We often go to Amazon just to search something - to see what else Amazon recommends. We are quite literally accessing Amazon 'just to see ads'. To see Amazon recommendations. And how often have you done this? When Amazon recommends a book or DVD for you, and asks 'would you like to see more recommendations' you click on 'yes'. Of course we do! We love Amazon advertising so much - we do literally ask for more ads.
Its the magic that Blyk was able to exploit in its telecoms and media models that we see from Alcatel-Lucent's Optism system to OutThere Media. It is seen in innovative companies now, like Qustodian are doing in Spain and the UK. Making advertising so targeted, personal, useful and beloved - that we do literally ask for more ads! And then imagine all that insight and all that power, and multiply it by infinity (ok, not infinity but as close to it that it won't matter). When Google decides to take full advantage of Android - and Google's other assets from search to YouTube to what will soon be known as something like Google Money - it will make Amazon's recommendation engine seem as advanced as reading the Yellow Pages. If you hate the very idea of seeing ads on your phone and think this future scenario is unbearable, I urge you to read Kim Dushinksi's brilliant Mobile Marketing Handbook (2nd edition) and her Ten Commandments of Mobile Marketing. If companies follow those rules, the advertising on mobile will not be creepy or annoying or interruptive. They will be beloved.
We already rely on Google search to find us anything! That search is only becoming faster and more relevant and more personal and more urgent on mobile, as Peggy Anne Salz has been reporting at M Search Groove and in her books. And we are learning to do that instantly, through our smartphone, rather than waiting to get home to our PC. Now imagine if we program some clever logic into it - imagine Siri a few generations later, when it also handles our money, knows what is on our calendar, knows what we like to do, etc. It will start to make suggestions to us, and again, not in a creepy way of spying on us, but in ways just like Amazon does with our book and DVD purchases. It will for example tell us, that since we usually take the train home at 5 PM, now is the time to go if you want to make it to the train, or the next train is at 5:20, or are you intending to work late and should I order a taxi for 7 so you can make it home in time to watch the live game on TV tonight?
That would seem like the perfect secretary, the perfect assistant, the perfect butler and perfect consierge, all rolled into one. Incidentially, that is what the worlds's most advanced mobile operator/carrier, in the most advanced mobile market, Japan, NTT DoCoMo has found, when it evolved its mobile wallet, Osaifu Keitai, into its latest iteration, called iConsierge. Consumers say its the best service they have ever experienced, and it feels like the mobile phone is reading their minds. They cannot imagine life without it.
Like with most tech, the early iterations will be 'proprietary' models, so we'll find a mobile wallet by a carrier/operator like NTT DoCoMo or another by a handset maker like Nokia Money was in India, or a third by a digital money player like Paypal or a fourth by a traditional bank or a fifth by a credit card company etc. But then the platforms win out and if Google is already working on Google Money and Android sits in the pockets of one out ten humans by the end of this year, one out of six humans by this time next year and one out of four by the end of 2014, of course they will become one of the biggest money platforms - if not the biggest. And then - imagine how much more powerful would Amazon be, if 'Amazon Dollars' were also used at Ebay and Ikea and McDonalds... But soon Google will handle our payments and who knows, we migth see G-dollars some day too, no doubt instantly convertible across all real currencies and also most virtual currencies, much how Google Translate helped us instantly understand any written language today.
Google started off doing search better than anyone else without worrying exactly how to 'monetize' it. They eventually discovered a highly lucrative commercial model, by providing advertisements alongside search, and the sponsored search. With that, they became the biggest advertising platform on the newest media - and one which today is bigger than cinema, recordings and radio. Soon internet advertising will be bigger than print and eventually it will be bigger than TV ads. And Google utterly dominates this massive media opportunity. Google's roots are in search and its data, and monetizing through advertising.
Whatever Google may do with Android and maps and videos and money, you can be sure its Google, it will include understanding data, search, consumer user data, and advertising. Which brings me to Jonathan JMac MacDonald's concept of Advocurrency. Jonathan argued that when advertising and money (currency) merge through mobile, there will be a bonus benefit from 'advocacy' hence Adv(ertising) plus (adv) o (cacy) plus currency equals Advocurrency. A kind of evolution of advertising that includes some form of money - not unlike coupons were advertising and money in the past - but which now incorporates social media insights. Is my Twitter recommendation with 11,000 followers the same as someone else's who has 100 followers? And even more, Jonathan argues, that we can influence and manage that value - if I recommend Pepsi this week, then if I try to recommend Coca Cola next week and Red Bull the week thereafter, the value of my recommendation diminishes, regardless of how many followers I have. But if I rarely make recommendations, the value potentially increases, etc.
Now think of it from the side of money. We already have some rudimentary advertising on our currency - usually either ruler worship - the picture of the Queen on the British Pound for exampe - or celebrating history - the pictures of dead presidents on US dollars. Some countries have taken the opportunity to use their currencies as a kind of tourism and travel advertising, showcasing their landmarks and national treasures. Of course the Europeans were so inept at this kind of thinking, they couldn't agree on what European landmarks to use on the Euro banknotes, and decided to create bogus images that are 'representative' of European landmarks without representing anything specifically. How silly is that? Why on earth not use the Eiffel Tower and the Parthenon and the Brandenburg Gate and the Little Mermaid? But I digress. Yes, money has had some advertising for centuries. Now we have the new digital era, when money can have much more.
Digital coupons, digital money, digital recommendations. Group buying. Gamifying our money like becoming the mayor of Starbucks. These all are steps on the road to advocurrency. There are early signs of actual commerce conducted on recommendations as 'currency' and for example Kellogg's opened its first shop in London that lets you have free snacks paid for by sending Tweets via Twitter. That is clearly an early manifestation of advocurrency.
ANDROID OWNS THE FUTURE
Now, think about this. If the future of the internet is indeed mobile. And the future of money is mobile. And the future of advertising will increasingly be on mobile. And the future of social media is, as all major social media brands from Facebook to Twitter already say - on mobile. And mobile enables 'advocurrency' then we will soon see this as a real viable commercial revolution. Then, I can go to Pizza Hut, order a pizza, and pay for it with real dollars, or by having Audi sponsor my meal - through me agreeing to see four Audi ads - not now, but Audi trusts me, and says I need to watch them over the next two weeks - or I can pay for my pizza with my reputation, by doing two Tweets about that Pizza Hut. This will soon be the reality of commerce, in a world of advocurrency.
And someone has to act as the fair arbitrator, on what is the correct 'exchange rate' of one dollar vs one Audi ad to Tomi Ahonen vs one Tomi Ahonen Tweet about Pizza Hut today..That could theoretially be Citibank, banks are good at those exchange rates for example between different currencies. But do you think banks will ever really 'get it' about advocurrency, before its too late? Incidentially, if you can deposit real cash to a bank, and they will pay you interest on it - and then they will lend your money to someone who needs to borrow it, and charge that person interest - will this not also be true of Advocurrency at some point, in some way?
Someone like Visa is more likely to 'get it' but I would rather bet on someone truly gifted at disrupting everyone else's business, like say .. Apple .. or Google. Did I mention, that Google thinks its number 2 global strategic priority is mobile money? And that Android is now the world's most sold digital platform?
Today when we think of the biggest computer platform, that is Windows. If we think of the widest reaching internet advertiser or brand, that is Google. If we think of the bestselling consumer technology, that is now Samsung (was Nokia still at the start of this year). If we think of the biggest credit card, thats Visa. In the near future Google's Android will be far more relevant globally, than any of these. By the end of next year, Google's Android will power half of all new mobile phone handsets sold - not just the smartphone 'segment' but half of all new handsets sold.
MICROSOFT (BALLMER) THREW IT AWAY
This future belonged to Microsoft. Its Windows platform ruled the desktop and the laptops, the previous era of computing. Microsoft's Bill Gates did see and correctly anticipate the smartphone revolution, partly observing Nokia and Hewlett Packard build it - and Microsoft rushed to join this race a decade ago. They were doing ok, captured one eighth of the market and were clearly the second largest smartphone OS behind Nokia's Symbian
(Hey, hold on. Wanna see irony? Today latest Q3 data and 20 months after Nokia CEO annoucned the premature death of Symbian, in Q3 Symbian sales has collapsed from the 29% market share it had when Elop announced it, to 2% now. Latest data Q3. When Elop announced in February 2011 he would replace Symbian with Windows, Symbian was stil the world's bestselling smartphone OS platform, obviously bigger than Windows. And what did Elop select to replace Symbian? Windows Phone. And still today, after Symbian has shred nearly 11 out of every 12 customers it had, and Symbian is at 2% global market share by latest numbers - Windows Phone market share lags that of Symbian!!!!!!! Elop replaced 'the first ecosystem' with the 'sixth ecosystem' promising the world it would become the 'third ecosystem' haha).
Back to the battle of the century. Bill Gates saw it coming and prepared Microsoft for this next transition to smartphones, yes. But it was his successor, Steve Ballmer who blasted that future away, not just continuing Microsoft's history of bullying its 'partners' and suffocating their business, but by killing migration paths, from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 6. How did that go, Ballmer? Crashing market share from 12% globally to 4% (both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone combined, peak market share). Smart move, Sherlock.
Then to verify, Ballmer had truly learned his lesson of the wrong way to shift from one platform to the next, with its new partner Nokia having just spent its biggest launch budget ever - three times more than any phone launch of any company in history, globally pushing brand new award-winning Nokia Lumia smartphones on the latest Windows Phone 6.5 OS, what did Ballmer do next, to really screw Nokia, the 'strategic partner'? It announced no migration path to Windows Phone 8. All of Nokia Lumia was instantly Osborned. The Windows total smartphone market share (Windows Phone and what remains of Windows Mobile) was 1.9% in the latest quarter. This is how you destroy a market-dominant position. Textbook. Microsoft had it all, it had all the biggest partners in the game from Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo on PCs (and would have been tablets too) and Nokia and Samsung in smartphones. And Ballmer massacred that by his moronic mismanagement of Microsoft's massive market.
Will Microsoft be a player in the ever-diminshing desktop? For sure. Will it manage to hold on to much of the non-growing laptop market,. probably. Will it become the biggest in tablets, no way. The Surface and Windows 8 tablets will go the way of the Zune. Will Microsoft be able to take third place in smartphones. No way. At some point Ballmer will finally look at the endless money pit that is Windows Phone, and pull the plug like he did with the short-lived Microsoff handset, the Kin. The carriers hate Microsoft Windows Phone, not because it has Skype pre-installed and fully integrated with Microsoft's 1.25 Billion PC world - they don't like that either - but because Skype was a tiny irritant of big damage before Microsoft bought it. Today Skype cannot be killed because Microsoft owns and bankrolls the existential threat to mobile operator/carrier business. Not my words, Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop told Nokia shareholders that carriers don't like Skype 'of course' and many are refusing any sales of Windows Phone handsets because Microsoft owns Skype. Not my words, that is Windows partner Nokia talking to Nokia shareholders via its ex-Microsoft CEO. So for any carrier to support Windows Phone is like deliberately and knowingly drinking poison.
There is no confusion in this matter. Carriers will never, ever, allow Microsoft's Windows Phone to become a significant player in mobile. Never. Ever, ever. Microsoft and Nokia can bribe their ways into a tiny share. They may get 2%, 3% if lucky, even 4% market share. That would be one THIRD better performance than Microsoft the world's largest software maker and Nokia the world's largest handset maker at the time, managed to achieve at the peak of Lumia success, added to by the best that Samsung, HTC and others could do with Windows Phone this year. The peak performance. And I am allowing 33% better performance. And if you have 4% of the global market for smartphones, you are a tiny meaningless shit. Sorry, didn't mean to say that. A tiny meaningless 'niche', you are not 'the third ecosystem' by any stretch of that definition. Sorry, Ballmer, Gates was the brilliant guy who saw this coming. You are the putz who threw the future all away. Gates at least understood that to migrate customers from one platform to another, you build a migration path, as Microsoft did from DOS to Windows nearly 3 decades ago.
And Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will not matter one iota in this. The battle for the PC was WON by Microsoft. They now are desperately trying to extend that leadership position to tablets, to truly dismal success, so bad, that Microsoft had to resort to its own Surface tablet. And then a FAR FAR bigger market is the smartphone, where Microsoft was once the second biggest, today they are at 1.9% and falling. Can Windows Phone 8 help Microsoft grow to 2% or even 3%, maybe. That is MEANINGLESS when your software once ruled on 90% of the digital platforms sold on the planet. Windows 8 will help Microsoft extend the PC side of Windows further, it will never become an acceptable platform for smartphones. Mark my words. Never. It will NEVER reach 10% market share in smartphones. NEVER.
Did you notice IDC just announced their latest forecast for Windows Phone to be 11%. Their previous promised 19%. So a massive cut in the IDC forecast in just a six month period - and IDC didn't even bother to tell us why the sudden drop. And what of others. There are many analysts who now say Microsoft and Nokia can only do 3% or even 2% for Windows Phone in 2013. That - my dear readers - is finally in line with my projections haha...
NOKIA (ELOP) THREW IT AWAY
Nokia saw this massive future coming too. Nokia invented the smartphone (with HP) and Nokia dominated the smartphone market utterly. Nokia was the first to claim smartphones as true pocket computers long before Apple's iPhone made that a more widely accepted view. Nokia invented the consumer smartphone and the gaming smartphone, in addition to inventing the corporate/business smartphone years before anyone had seen a Blackberry. Nokia saw the future of advertising on mobile as well as the future of money on mobile - and had major investments on both. Nokia had one of the world's first smartphone app stores for its N-Gage gaming phone and by the time the world was celebrating the iPhone's App Store, Nokia's Ovi quietly grew to become the world's second biggest app store - and the bestselling app store on four of the six inhabited continents including the three with the biggest populations.
Nokia owned the future to smartphones on every front from the hardware to the operating system to the ecosystem, the services and the support systems. Nokia had for example Nokia Money in India, with 12% market share of the rapidly growing mobile money market of the second most populous country - and one where regular banking is not widely used. When Elop announced his new strategy, Nokia dominated the smartphone market more than Toyota or GM has EVER dominated the car market! Nokia was twice as big as Apple in smartphones, four times as big as Samsung when Stephen Elop took over as CEO. Nokia grew MORE than Apple in 2010, so the gap was increasing. Nokia grew unit sale by a world record amount that year, growing revenues, and setting a Nokia record for growing profitability in the firt Quarter Elop was fully in charge. That, my friends, is the definition of utter global world dominance.
The world's most used tech brand was (and still is today) Nokia. Nokia's Symbian powered not just Nokia smarpthones but those of several other manufacturers especially in Japan where the most advanced phones are made. When the big telecoms analyst houses issued their forecasts for smartphone markets in late 2010, into years 2011 and 2012 - they ALL agreed, ALL agreed, (by 'all' I mean EVERY SINGLE ANALYST WHO PUBLISHED A SMARTPHONE FORECAST FOR NOKIA INTO 2012 or beyond. ALL AGREED) that Nokia would continue easily as the biggest smartphone maker till now. Where is Nokia? Stephen Elop came in as CEO, looked at a growing smartphone market, a growing Nokia smartphone sales unit, growing revenues, growing profits and an industry-leading migration rate from dumbphones to smartphones - yes, in 2010 Nokia's migration rate from dumbphones to smartphones was ahead of the industry average - and decided that was not good enough. And he decided to abandon all that, issue his Elop Effect edicts and destroy Nokia in the process.
Today? Nokia has fallen to 10th biggest smartphone maker by Q3 and may fall out of the Top 10 by now, Christmas Quarter ie Q4. Nokia market share in smartphones was 29% when Elop annoucned his mad Microsoft strategy. In Q3 even as we add what remains of Symbian share, Nokia's global market share had fallen in smartphones to 3.7%. It may be at 3% now in Q4. Elop has destroyed the market for 9 out of every 10 customers Nokia had owned in the smartphone space, in a period of six quarters. This is the world record in destruction of any global market leader, and the only reason Ballmer is not the worst villain in this story, is that his buddy Elop did an even worse job over at Nokia. Stephen Elop is the worst CEO of all time, caused the fastest collapse of a market leader among Global 500 sized companies ever, in any industry! He has set the world record for mismanaging a company. Why is the Microsoft Muppet allowed to remain as CEO, I can not understand. And any investigative journalists out there, please consider this story - it is a Pulitzer Prize in the waiting, the story of how Nokia owned the future and the new CEO willfully threw it all away.
If Elop had let Nokia be. If he had let the three MeeGo devices be sold last year, and allowed Symbian to shift and die slowly as it was intended, over several years, shifting to ever lower-cost devices (for Africa, India and the rest of the Emerging World where the big growth in smartphone market is going to be, and where Symbian was holding between 70% and 90% market share) as MeeGo took the top end, Nokia would now sit on - according to EVERY published analyst in the world - on the world's largest share in smartphones, ahead of Samsung, Apple, Blackberry, HTC etc. If we say conservatively that it would be 25%, Nokia would be selling 180 million smartphones now, at revenues of 36 Billion dollars from his smartphone unit alone and adding at least 4 Billion dollars more to Nokia profits. That is not 'my view' - that was the CONSENSUS view of industry analysts just before Elop annoucned his mad Microsoftian misadventure. Now Nokia sells maybe 5 million smartphones this quarter and last quarter, it made a loss of 49% PER SMARTPHONE !!!
So Nokia gets big press for its Augmented Reality 'city lens' on the latest Lumia. Sounds nice, until you go back nearly four years of Google's Android and look at Layar, the worlds' first Augmented Reality browser, which yes, did just that same city lens type of AR solution - on Google Android smartphones - more than three YEARS ago. Like we used to say jokingly, to see what is coming to the next iPhone, look no further than the Nokia smartphone of 3 years ago, now we apparently also know, what Elop will bring to the Lumias. Look at Android smartphones from three years ago.
BTW if you doubt MeeGo, keep an eye on Jolla and Samsung's Tizen in 2013. That is what Nokia 'owned' and Elop threw away. So Nokia could have shared this future with Google, as a fair fight, side-by-side. With Android now the biggest OS with maybe half of the world, with MeeGo/Symbian/Meltemi the second ecosystem and Apple's iOS the third. These three would have controlled nearly 90% of the worlds' smartphones. Stephen Elop sat on the guaranteed rocketship ride to being one of the winners of this decade. He threw that away for Nokia. Now instead, Nokia is on the brink of oblivion.
SAMMY SAMMY SAMMY
And we cannot write about Android without mentioning the biggest hardware contributor to Android's astonishingly fast rise to the top. Early Android bestselling smartphones were made by HTC but then along came Sammy. Samsung today has sold nearly half of all Android devices in use worldwide. The biggest thank-you from the Googleplex needs to go to Seoul to Samsung's HQ. But observe what is happening quietly in the battle for the pocket. Samsung launched its own OS even as it made our highly praised Galaxy series Android devices. The first OS was called bada (which still haha, outsells Windows Phone, talk about adding insult to injury, Samsung is also a Windows Phone manufacturer). And when Nokia bailed out of its partnership with Intel, to develop MeeGo into the next smartphone platform, who stepped in? Samsung of course. They refocused and realigned the partnership, its now the Tizen alliance but yes, Samsung and Intel are the core hardware partners.
This is a bit like IBM vs Microsoft in the 1980s if you are old enough to remember. When Apple introduced the Macintosh, Microsoft would develop its Windows OS as the 'Macintosh envy' that Microsoft had. But IBM had differing views of where the PC market needed to go, plus it wanted to break away from its PC dependency on Microsoft (sound familiar, haha) and thus it built its own 'next generation' operating system for PCs, called OS/2. That ran alongside early Windows and later editions of DOS for quite a many years back then. So in a way, Samsung with bada and Tizen today are a bit like IBM was in the 1980s, taking on Microsoft, except that with Samsung, obviously the primary target is not the miniscule Microsoft Windows Phone in smartphones, its Google's Android. So yes, Samsung, the biggest Android handset maker, is preparing to launch a new smartphone operating system for 2013, called Tizen, to go directly against Google's Android. And fair's fair - Google itself bought Motorola and sells Motorola branded smartphone hardware, running Android, against Samsung's Galaxies. Whats good for the goose, is good for the gander.. The lesson that Samsung seems to have learned very well from the IBM OS/2 fiasco is, that Samsung have hardware partners like Intel, they have committed handset manufacturers and they have most importantly - the carrier support already locked up, with major global carriers supporting Tizen from NTT DoCoMo to SK Telecom to Telefonica to Sprint.
Anyway, Samsung is very good at the hardware from handsets to the big plasma screen TVs to many of the components going into iPhones etc.. They are not as well known for the software and services side, but have competences there as well - many hidden as only on services and apps launched in South Korea to it highly evolved dometistic digital market - and have been expanding that competence now globally with the bada ecosystem, which will likely be merged into the Tizen project in the coming months and years. So in some way, when you look at Samsung smartphones, and especially its Tizen part in the next few years, remember you could remove the Samsung logo and were it not for Elop, that would have been (should have been) a Nokia brand there..
As to Android and the iPhone, Tizen is the real Third Ecosystem. Just with Samsung's own smartphone global dominance, if they shift 20% of their total smartphone production by the end of next year to Tizen, Tizen will automatically be the third ecosystem. That is, before ANY of the many hardware vendors have added their handsets to the Tizen mix. I do expect over time Tizen will grow to pass the iPhone iOS to become the second biggest but Android is so far ahead and well entrenched, I don't see Android being toppled, not during this decade at least.
But if you grew up thinking the tech world was governed by the 'Wintel' alliance of Windows and Intel - the new tech standard is Samgle, or Samsoogle, Samsung and Google (or Googsung). The biggest tech company of the planet (Samsung) and the biggest internet company and biggest advertising company, that owns the biggest-selling software platform (Google). And the biggest loser pairing is Nokisoft, that is ever shrinking to be the Microkia.
So yes, if you're in advertising you love your Macs, iPads and the iPhone. Of course you believe the Apple cool-aid that the future belongs to the iOS. And you prepare your award-winning iPhone apps and show them on your iGadgets to your friends and colleagues.
But for all others in the tech industry, the digital world now starts with - and often even ends at - Android. Get your competence there. If you do apps, make sure you do Android apps. If you do advertising, check out Google advertising services. If you do search, you know what I mean... Google is now the new epicenter of the digital convergence space. Windows is dead (Nokia also is dead). The King is dead, Long Live the King. Android is the new King of Digital. Congratulations Google. You said the future of the internet was mobile, and only by being able to successfully transition into that future, can you remain relevant into this new decade. You did it. Android is the winner now, unstoppable.
50 million new Android devices sold per month, today. Wow.
What is your strategy in mobile? How will Android play in that strategy? Are you going to be partnering with Google on that path, or competing against it? How can you capitalize on the biggest economic opportunity in our lifetimes? Did you notice that the most profitable company - and the most valuable company - on the planet, is a former 'computer' company which now calls itself a 'mobile' company? Apple. And the wealthiest man on the planet no longer comes from the computer industry, Bill Gates has been supplanted on the top by Carlos Slim, a mobile industry tycoon. This is your life and your career whether you wanted it or not. And if Google's Android will shortly be in one out of every four pockets on the planet, you will not be able to avoid Android on your career path.
So what does that future look like? What is the digital landscape in 2014 or 2015? Check out the TomiAhonen Mobile Forecat 2012-2015 to see the future through the eyes of the most accurate forecaster in the mobile industry.