Which Smart-phone is King?
For months before I upgrade my mobile phone, I will sit and research all the current phones and phones due for release. Firstly, there is no doubt that it will be a smart-phone. According to Gartner, smart-phones accounted for 23.6% of all mobile phones sales in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of 85.6% year-on-year. Then it comes down to which of the major smart-phone OSes you support: Android, iOS, Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile, Palm or Symbian?
In the last two years or so, a lot has changed in the world of smart-phones as can be seen by the data available from Comscore and Gartner. If you analyse worldwide smart-phone sales from 2009 to present, things are very interesting indeed. In the days before Cupcake (version 1.5) and Donut (version 1.6), when the only Android phone was the HTC Dream (G1), in the first quarter of 2009, Android only had 1.6% of the world smart-phone market. By quarter one, a year later, in 2010, they were close to 10%, and had climbed above Microsoft and all the other OSes. Symbian, iOS and RIM were still the dominant players though. At this stage, Android phones coming out were on the Eclair (version 2.1) release of their OS and Froyo (2.2) was expected by quarter two of 2010. The only significant jump for the iOS was in quarter three of 2009 shortly after version 3.x of it's OS was released in June 2009. By quarter three of 2010 though, there were two major changes visible in the sales of mobile phones, as both Android and iOS jumping above RIM and Android showing them both the way of things to come by jumping to the second spot, a massive 15.9% climb over 6 months. By the first quarter of this year, Android would be on it's latest versions of OS, Gingerbread (version 2.3) for mobile phones and Honeycomb (3.0) for tablet devices.
Things aren't much different if we look at the US smart-phone OS market. For some reason Comscore, who supply the data, don't seem to consider Symbian to a smart-phone, not that I completely disagree, especially since Nokia have started going to Microsoft for their OS and Sony-Ericcson have been using Android for a while now on their smart-phones, but it would have been interesting to see nonetheless. Shortly after the first Android phones hit the market in 2009, the Android OS only had a market share of 2.5%. RIM was smiling with a market share of over 40%. I'm pretty sure they had no idea how things would change. Fast forward to May 2010 and Android had overtaken (or almost) the previous number three, Microsoft, and number four, Palm, who were losing market share quite consistently. They weren't the only ones affected either, while Apple were idling along at around the 25% mark, RIM were just starting to lose grip. The trend continued for Android until sometime around November last year, when they overtook Apple for second place. By January this year, Microsoft and Palm were choking on their competitor's fumes at 8% and 3.2% respectively. More importantly though, in less than two years, Android had grown to the point where it was the number one smart-phone OS in the US. I'm not the biggest fan of Blackberry or Symbian phones admittedly, so it's no big loss, but with Android and Apple controlling close to two thirds of the smart-phone market in the US and dominating smart-phone sales worldwide (close to 60%), it's going to take something drastic to change the way things are currently going. Maybe Nokia's move from their now-archaic Symbian OS to the Windows 7 phone OS could do that? But then what about the rumours of the new iPhone 5/4S or even talk of the iPhone 6. You also cant ignore the fact that all-unifying version 4 of Android's OS due out by the end of the year.Continued on the next page