Friday, June 22, 2012

Mobile War Far, Far From Over


While it’s half time now in America, according to Mr. Clint Eastwood, we’re probably in the middle of the second quarter in the mobile war.  For a while, folks, tech pundits, bloggers, and analysts, have kinda given Android a 50+% share of the market with the iPhone somewhere around 25-30% and the rest to be split up between RIM, Windows Phone, and others.

Well, I’m gonna tell you that is very premature.  The dynamics of the mobile market, both smartphones and tablets, are is great flux.  No need to recap what’s been going on.  Just know that the latest development in mobile is Microsoft’s entry into the hardware business.

And Microsoft is a company that has a reputation for not necessarily getting it right the first time around but doing whatever it takes to get it right.  Patience and persistence.  Microsoft doesn’t really have a choice.  This is not a market that it can afford to lose out.

So, we just learn that Amazon is furthering its reach with the Kindle Fire by offering its app store in Europe.  This ought to be very interesting given that updated Kindle tablets should be ready for the upcoming Christmas shopping season.  So, Amazon’s mobile plans are definitely in its infancy despite dominating the ereader market.

Then there’s also Apple that just launched its App Store in 32 other countries or territories.  You would think by now, Apple has already circled the glove within its iOS ecosystem.  And there are definitely more carriers and countries where iPhone and iPad penetration has not started.  And given Apple’s focus on the Greater China market, Apple has a lot more innovating and growth to go through.

Obviously, there’s Google.  Android is the most popular smartphone platform in the world but, somehow, I doubt Google is happy with the way things are going.  Lawsuits galore but it is also the feeling that things are slipping away from Google with respect to control of Android.  The core Android OS has been forked for various use that not only do not have necessarily any benefit to Google’s mobile plans or bottom line but are increasingly becoming competitors.

What Google has in store for Motorola.  It’s a card that has been held closely to its vest but we should know in short order.  As a mobile fan, I can’t say that I am happy with the deployment by hardware makers and carriers of Ice Cream Sandwich.  It’s just horrendous.  Maybe Google’s Motorola devices will get timely Android updates the way the Nexus devices have been.  And this ought to light a fire under its quasi-partners to step it up.

Lastly, Microsoft.  I know, there’s also RIM.  Blackberry 10 is a story for 2013 rather than 2012.  And that is assuming RIM is still around in 2013 as it is now.  More and more, RIM’s technologies (patents) and the Blackberry brand is more valuable in pieces to be sold off rather than trying to recapture its glory days.  And its corporate stronghold is slowly being eroded by the iPhone and will soon have to contend with Windows 8 smartphones as well.

So, that brings us back to Microsoft.  This week’s Windows 8 developments certainly has the desired effect – if raising eyebrows is what Steve Balmer intended.  Microsoft’s only major point at Monday’s LA special event where they unveiled its Surface tablet is this:  we’re doing hardware.  Many questions were left unanswered and the biggest one is will Surface be more of a Nexus or serve to further growth Microsoft’s revenue and profit like the iPhone/iPad has been doing for Apple.

And remember:  Microsoft can be persistence.  Stubborn, in fact.  And Surface will not be its first try into the mobile market.  We’ve seen it with Windows Phone 7 which has kind of served as a reset, new era for Microsoft in mobile.  We’re currently at Windows Phone 7.5 so Windows 8 should be Microsoft’s third try at mobile.

With Surface tablets, it shows that Microsoft has learned something valuable in the last couple of years.  Once Microsoft’s tablets go on sale, maybe we can finally call that the start of the third quarter in the mobile war.

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