Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mobile Phone Threat Landscape 2009 (draft in process)

It was some time in 2001 where I wrote a column piece for PDI about the coming threats to mobile phones (cellphones they are called in the Texting Capital of the World). Will have to dig through my newspaper clippings for that one, but the main point to bring out was that I was asked future predictions - to which I answered its all limited by phone functionality and the rise of smartphones.

What are smartphones? The term gets upgraded for every new technology and its almost a decade now of new and exciting additions. But wait, to the average user a phone that can almost act like a computer terminal is one. My first Nokia Communicator 9110i was such a device and its as old as 1998. I could telnet with it to another computer and get some work done, it served as my notepad in creating documents, edit and listen to .WAV files, use same music files as my ringtone -- and this was way before today's iPhones, BlackBerrys, Palm Pre, and even netbooks. How's that for a decade old device?

So, I was looking around recently for world statistics both of the platform and marketshare. There's some good advice out there particularly for developers, telcos, and manufacturers in today's environment. I can tell you for a fact that pre-2003 during my world travels observationally the Philippines and most of Asia and Europe used Nokia, North America was Motorola, with a smattering of Samsung and LG in some areas. Windows Mobile was almost non-existent and Palm VII was an interesting gadget. Now, lets snap back to 2009 with the reality of Symbian now owned by Nokia and OEMed by even its old competitor Sony-Ericsson, Google pushing its Android, Apple with its iPhone, RIM and Microsoft with their own app-store.

With enough resource it would make sense for developers to make versions for all platforms. However with today's tough economic setbacks and the growing number of competing vendors that would almost be tantamount to tempting fate. According to Gartner's Q2 2009 (Table 2) report its undeniable that Nokia is still king, followed by Research in Motion at less than half the numbers, Apple at only one-third. Just these three-(3) combined make up 77% of all sales. It is notable that the iPhone's share of sales was almost five-(5) times of what it was in 2008. AdMob has some pretty graphs basedon Gartner's data shown here:

There's a little caveat in these numbers and this is coming from experience of a Nokia N95 lover and grudging Apple iPhone user -- even with all the annoying lackluster physical limitations of the iPhone the fact is that these days you can forego that sweet 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss lens or the built-in GPS if purchasing songs, movies, tones, and applications are as easy as it is now with the iTunes Store. Everyone else has latched onto this concept and Nokia finally opened its Ovi Store earlier in May.

Hail to Joe Quinto aka Al Pacino at Sulu Toastmasters who flagged my use of "age old" which I associated with him from then on. And yes, I brought my old Communicator during those meets. :-)

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