Attention has focused on Nokia’s problems which see its sales growing but market share falling into an abyss. The company’s sales volume grew in Q4 from 23.9 million in 2009 to 31 million in the same quarter of last year, which in a kinder, simpler era would have sounded impressive. Unfortunately, over the same period Android grew from 4.7 million to 33.3 million units, taking it into the number one spot for the first time.
It is clear that in two years belief in Google has turned its platform into the number one smartphone OS on the planet in the minds of the people who matter, developers. Where these influential group go, so the customers follow.
Apple also did well with its iPhone but the figures suggest that it has reached a high water mark in term of influence where it will continue to rake in profits for Apple as it consolidates as the world’s second platform. My prediction is that Apple will survive here for some time just as it did when confronted with the dominance of Windows.
The real question is which platform will take third place. It might sound like a small issue but the world needs a third way, an alternative to the cosy mass-market duopoly that turned the desktop computers world into a competitive desert a generation ago.
The BlackBerry looks like a strong competitor, has worldwide traction and its products are undoubtedly excellent but the only name on the smartphone also-ran list with deep pockets is Microsoft.
It’s an ironic role for Windows to find itself playing, but consumers need Windows Phone 7 to kick up a gear and do more business. At the moment, it is scudding along the ground with only 3.1 million handsets and a 3 percent market share.
What none of these figures tell us is what impact newer technologies such as tablet computers will have on the smartphone market as a whole given the interconnections between the two. This is surely where Microsoft will start to pile on the numbers in the next two years that will decide whether or not mobile computers turn out to be as dull as desktops became.
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