Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia, Windows Phone - pick only three

by Volker Weber

Quite a lot of people believe that the mobile market for smart devices has room for three dominant platforms. I currently see five contestants: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia (Symbian/Meego/Qt), Windows Phone. Each of those players see themselves as one of the three. With the exception of Microsoft (3% market share) each of them would define themselves as the leader. Keep in mind that Nokia has zero foothold in the US market, but leads most other markets.

If you had to pick three, which ones would you come up with and why?


from my personal perspective it would be

Microsoft due to intergration and alot of embedded devices around (yes WMO7 currently needs a update to work with any management software)

IOS as the marketshaper

Blackberry for the security

But we will se in a few years

Flemming Riis, 2010-11-22

iOS - Consumer "mindshare" leader.

Android - Google.

Blackberry - Current Enterprise leader.

Daniel Silva, 2010-11-22

iOS, Android, Windows Phone - All three of these work with Active Sync and it's a low cost solution to implement in the enterprise. Most of the apps will move to the browser as time goes on so some of the enterprise features will move there.

Bill Dorge, 2010-11-22

@Vowe. You're not allowing for the 6th contestant. My choices are 4, Android, BlackBerry, iOS and the guy in his garage that is about to trump them all in about 6 months.

Giulio Campobassi, 2010-11-22

That guy's garage is in Finland. :-)

Volker Weber, 2010-11-22

Ok, HP(Palm) is already out.
Blackberry will be taken over by another player, probably Nokia (perhaps even Microsoft).
Google has a business model that does not depend on Android so they will stay. Microsoft has a lot of cash and their shares are flat anyway. Losing a few billions does not seem much of a problem.
Apple/iOS is a strong player that is here to stay.
It has been a management decision from Nokia not to use Android but they could change their mind any day. They have Symbian that is not moving forward on many devices and MeeGo on little devices. Compared to the other players they have the lowest hurdles and they could support both Android and Windows Phone.
So iOS, Windows Phone and Android.

Henning Heinz, 2010-11-22

Android because it's the nicest Toy and the apps are awesome, while it seems to be a little buggy.
iOS because it just works and the battery is the best
Windows because it's the nicest UI and the easiest, too (I'm astonished i said that)

All of them work with Exchange Active Sync and have a nice way to use multiple Mailaccounts Kalenders and Contacts. All of them work much better with WLAN, than my E71 does.
Android is in the lead because of the way to get apps while iOS and Microsoft are a litte disappointing whith their stores. Searching for apps is very disappointing with Windows, because it allways tells me, to download songs, called like the app i'm searching for.
Android has build in complete navigation which works. (While Nokia Maps is the winner in this Contest, still love my E71) The iPhone hasn't and bing Maps is miles away from to be finished.
Windows has the nicest Mediaplayer included and the HTC7 Trophy is the winner in Sound, too. (testet with my MDR-V700 and Interpol)

Disclaimer: I'm stuck in testing these 3 and after 1 Week i don't know which to pick for my company.

Kai Schmalenbach, 2010-11-22

Kai, you find apps in Marketplace by selecting Apps and then hitting search.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-22

iOS - mindshare, mobile web usage share, app store and advertising markets

Blackberry - entrenched in Enterprise (Commercial and Government)

Android in US, Nokia elsewhere - the "other" category

Here in a US corporate consulting environment that has both commercial and governmental clients, I hear *NOTHING* about Nokia (but believe you that it is huge elsewhere) or Windows Phone 7.

Kevan Emmott, 2010-11-22

Andriod - Current growth, number of devices, openess

iOS - Design, Fanboi-ism, mindshare.

Nokia - already big in smartphones outside of US. Huge in "dumbphone" market. As more & more budget smartphones become available, and less techy users move from dumbphones to smartphones, Nokia has a huge pre-existing userbase to tap.

Brian O'Gorman, 2010-11-23

Volker, i entered the Marketplace hit the HTC apps and then the search and got this
i also got this after entering the market Place and then hitting the "anwendungen" and then the search. Elseway i wouldn't have told you :-)
(hoffentlich ist mein Englisch nicht zu schlimm)

Kai Schmalenbach, 2010-11-23

Nö. Elseway wäre otherwise, aber sonst ist das OK. Aber schreib doch einfach deutsch. Schaue ich mir noch an, das mit der Suche.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

#1 and #2 feel like a safe bet to me, in whatever order you like:

iOS has captured the hearts and minds of developers, major brands, media companies and the general public. Wonderful hardware synergised completely with the software.

With multiple devices from multiple manufacturers, Android will dominate on sheer numbers.

#3 is more interesting. It feels like the enterprise is slowly losing its infatuation with RIM. BlackBerry seems more popular amongst teenagers in London (who use it for BBM) than the business people I know. Those who do use a BlackBerry for work seem to always carry a second phone. You would have to say Nokia stays a dominant force, but Microsoft have managed to create something really slick with Windows Phone 7...

Jeff Gilfelt, 2010-11-23

Indeed, picking #3 is hard. In the rear view mirror it's BlackBerry, but not looking forward. Nokia currently looks weak in smartphones, but once they get their Qt act together and make a splash with Meego (MWC anyone?), all cards are on the table. Msft already made that splash.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

I wonder if you can take one of these Win7 phones and load Android on them, then the two can do a shootout on the same hardware (kida Windows vs. Linux on server or desktop hardware).

My bet: Nokia buys RIM and then its settled:
iOS, Android, Nokiaberry

Stephan H. Wissel, 2010-11-23

Nokia and RIM have roughly the same market cap, so I'm a bit puzzled at the posters predicting Nokia will "buy" RIM. Perhaps they are predicting a major RIM decline (or significant Nokia growth?)

If they did combine via a merger it could make for an interesting combination, but what will Nokia do with yet ANOTHER smartphone platform (QNX)? I could see this being a possible combination if for some reason Rim's new QNX-based OD appears to be technically brilliant but fails in the marketplace for some reason. Otherwise, I don't see what benefit RIM would see in a combination with Nokia.

Paul Simpson, 2010-11-23

Is WebOS really dead?

André Adrian, 2010-11-23

iOS, Blackberry & Nokia are my favorites....

Michael Klüsener, 2010-11-23

@André: Not technology-wise (yet), but maketing-wise. It's simple, but market share is the outcome of sales figures. Everything else (Developers, Customer-interest etc.) follows. And that is exactly what HPalm doesn't seem to understand. In spite of that they behave as they would have plenty of time to assemble one (idea of a) strategy after the other ... In the meantime the train leaves the station.

Jan Lauer, 2010-11-23

1. iOS as a lifestyle device addressing the same market as OS X does for computers.

2. Android as a fast growing mobile OS with Google behind it, flexible, and reaching the devices of many manufacturers.

3. Blackberry as a business device.

Frank Müller, 2010-11-23

I still don't get the rationale behind this. WHY do THEY believe this? I haven't heard or read any solid argument yet.

Timm Caspari, 2010-11-23

android - power users and geeks
Ios - for the beautiful people
Nokia - for people that want a phone

Mark Myers, 2010-11-23

Mark, iOS is no longer hip. Way too mainstream. Which opens up an opportunity.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

The question implies mature markets where a few big players will dominate, doesn't it?

A market would need to be homogenious and disconnected from others, relatively stable with high barriers of entry. I doubt that. The smartphone OSes used to be a separate game to the computer OSes, but now, it's becoming intertwined, wouldn't you agree? We have "computers", tablets, smartphones, other mobile and smart devices... The only "OS" which has succeded to really be successful on all intelligent devices is Linux / Unix & co.

The assumption that markets will necessarily be dominated by a few players is rooted in the "industrial" experience, where very quickly either you had a kind of monopoly or you had a few players which succeeded to achieve a certain level of economies of scale and therefore establishing a "natural barrier" for new entrants to the market. These barriers are far lower than ever before. If we were still in the old days, Microsoft and Nokia wouldn't have anything to worry about.

As long as customers can get the same benefits and network effects from any market participant, they don't care if it is a Nokia, blackberry or whatever. The costs of "migration" are currently largely artificial because some players try to prevent customers from switching, but these strategies are doomed, because they are "defensive" and these players increasingly isolate themselves.

Android (and ChromeOS), MeeGo and iOS are all members of the wider UNIX / Linux / webkit & co family. Business based on these reasonably open components can very quickly benefit from enormous economies of scale through a networked economy.

Any business which tries to build on network effects within it's own closed eco-system is bound to be in trouble.

BTW The only way for closed systems to prevail is to prevent the growth open systems through "force". Microsoft tried that many times, as did others. In the long run it never works, open networks are far to "agile" and flexible. This is also true for services like Facebook and iTunes. As long as a service can offer network effects to their customers which are easily accessible and immediate, it can dominate the market for a period. But their old school business models imply a level of control, that open networked services don't need. The only chance of long-term survival of those closed services is a deep transformation process to business models based on open networks. But try to do that, when short term profits are so lucrative and tempting. Closed systems are bound to be (too) late to the party.

Moritz Schroeder, 2010-11-23

I'd agree that consumer demands become more volatile but I prefer "integrated vs. modular" to "open vs. closed". Apple, BlackBerry and Nokia follow the integrated approach, the Open Handset Alliance and Microsoft follow the modular model. Look here for an analysis.

The interesting observation might be that we have not yet developed a dominant design. It might appear that the iPhone with its simplicity is that dominant design that is copied by many vendors, but I would agree with Marko Ahtisaari who believes otherwise. The iPhone UX pattern is multiple screens of app icons with a home button. BlackBerry 6 follows a similar pattern. Android and Symbian use multiple customizable home screens with widgets. And Microsoft introduced a new pattern with Windows Phone 7.

While the multiple customizable home screens is currently the most successful UX pattern, it's not without flaws. It has become way too immersive (heads down) to be the dominant design for the future. That is the bet that Microsoft is making with Windows Phone 7, and Nokia is going to have another shot at it with Meego next year.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

Look. It's like this....

The phone brand that will dominate will be the one that easily allows me to transfer the 120 phone numbers out of my father's 4 yr old "el cheapo" phone to his new phone without writing them out on a piece of paper, then typing the blastard numbers and names into the new phone because the evil phone maker are too busy looking for the latest pointless gucci widget to add to their phone rather than understand that a phone actually uses phone numbers and makes voice calls, and you will one day need to put them onto a new phone!

But I can't do it, because the crappy make of the old phone and the ZERO backward compatibility of the new phones has no ability to competently connect and pull the numbers out of the old phone and get them into the new phone!!!!

Obvious right ?

Giulio Campobassi, 2010-11-23

I think there is enough room for more than three platforms - apart from ios, more and more apps will be built using web-technologies like html 5. So various platforms will become handable for developers.

My choice:

1. Apple iOS - best experience for mainstream, brand for people who spend a lot
2. Android - many devices in every price range, fast time-to-market. HTC and Samsung will be dominating the platform.

3. Nokia Qt (Symbian^3 and Meego) - will still make better mass market devices than android, but they need to build highend-performance and low-end-smartphones with bigger screens. And please bring back the red and green buttons for easy phone calls (missing in the n8). The only company that makes usable german keyboards (asian and american phones always forget äöü and ß for the german market - something that really makes fast writing a pain as you need all these in every german sentence.

4. Windows phone 7 - Microsoft has the money to keep the platform alive. And version 7 feels really fast (though the have to fix the browser and maybe provide local syncing with pcs, maybe through easier setup windows live)

Christian Just, 2010-11-23

vowe: re Ios, you know that as your a cutting edge geek, but it will be some time before the masses pick that up, they may not BE the beautiful people but they badly want to be seen as them, see Burberry for the similar scenario

Mark Myers, 2010-11-23

@Giulio - 100% right. I've been there.

Nick Daisley, 2010-11-23

Giulio, phone calls, that is SO Italian. :-) Seriously, in old school phones the phone numbers are stored on the SIM. Plug the SIM into the new shiny phone and copy into the address book. From there, brave new cloud world.

Christian, local sync is dead. It's missing from Windows Phone 7 on purpose.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

The whole idea is stupid - why would there only be 3?

Look back at the situation 3 years ago and you'll realize how ridiculous this is...

Frank Köhntopp, 2010-11-23

@vowe - not always! I have done battle with at least two old mobiles (both Samsung as I recall) where names had been stored on the phone itself, and there was no means I could find of transferring them to the SIM to enable transfer...

Nick Daisley, 2010-11-23

Thanks Volker for the link. The guardian links to another great discussion on integreated/interdependant vs modular.

Maybe the problem of open vs closed is the proximity to the opens source vs proprietary debate. And that might be slightly misleading, because open source is a part of open, a certain state of openness.

And of course integreated vs modular is another perspective, but mostly about combining hardware and software / UI. But isn't that a bit short-term? The hardware components of the iPhone and Nokia are basically from the same pool of widely available technologies. You may have a short term advantage when you are the first big brand incorporating certain components in your hardware and mix that time-limited excluveness and a few new features and services.

Sure, Samsung, LG, HTC, Asus, Acer and Sony are desperately trying to find ways to distinguish themselves, to be more than simply a hardware company. They all envy Apple, therefore there will be e few attempts like Samsung's Bada. But that will fail like all me-toos which don't offer anything sexy and unique and cannot benefit from any network effects for apps and services. And Apple's model is only possible for a first mover for a brief moment of time.

Sure the UI is a field of great innovation and it will continue to that way for some time. But any innovative UI will quickly inspire others to follow and to improve. No way of protection, only delay tactics like the classic FUD or patented hardware innovation. And will customers buy MS Phone 7 in droves because of the nice interface alone?

Longer term competitive advantages are network benefits and network "immersion" (I can't think of a better word at the moment) - technologically, socially and economically.

The smartphone will become a real "group" centered device, not just a device focussing on features and design desirability for the "individual". That's a field where mobile device brands can distinguish themselves.

Moritz Schroeder, 2010-11-23

will customers buy MS Phone 7 in droves because of the nice interface alone?

I believe it is a driving force. Not the only one, but an important one. The other important one is the best available integration into Exchange, Office and Sharepoint.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

First I think that Nokia is not a platform, it is more a handset manufacturer using another platform. They have two platforms today: Symbian and MeeGo - and could easily switch to another one. Need to look into Symbian, as they have taken over full control recently.

Beside this I can see Android, iOS and BB to survive and maybe the guy in his garage ;-). On a long term BB might well loose as more and more enterprises allow "personal" devices to sync via ActiveSync or tools like Good. This moves away many potential BB users from the Enterprise side.

Henk Aichernig, 2010-11-23

Henk, I am well aware that Nokia is a company and not a platform. But their platforms are in transition. We are looking at the future here, so I am just calling it Nokia (Symbian, Meego, Qt).

Volker Weber, 2010-11-23

IOS is here to stay. Beauty & power in perfection. And because Apple is smart and arrogant in an appealing way. Kind of BMW.

Blackberry is Mercedes, fat and reliable, still big due to company relations and the masses love the keyboard to SMS.

Android will become the greatest in numbers, the Nokia of the future, it's the Toyota among smart phones.

Just my 2 cents.

Juergen Heinrich, 2010-11-24

hmm one more Thought:

The US Centric View maybe not fit.

The picture of US (50%) and the World (50%) looks to me a little silly for viewing into the next 5 years.

China is growing strongly - (Russia, India ...) and will be in smartphones maybe bigger than us market in 3-4 years

I guess, that it is intresting for Countries like China, India to have Smartphone industries by themself.

The Implication:

1. US Controlled software by license like ios and Windows are not so intresting for chinese ... markets.

2. Only Android is an open system: so maybe it will be used from chinese ... industries.

3. to be strong on us market will be less important. Strong on global will be more important

(compare with car industries, 1950er, 1960er, 70er, 80er, 90er, 2000er, 10er )

so if i have to guess the best 3 out of 5 in 5 years.

- android because it could be used by Smartphone firms around the world

- Nokia because it looks not only at its home market (finland)
-- Looking global, biggest player in mobile phones, ...

- Number 3: ??? - Maybe Windows, maybe iOS, maybe RIM
-- Windows maybe best chance - but no real volume at the market now

-- i think ios will be going into a premium segment niche. (like a porsche)
--- Smaller submarket - high price and good wins but limited market volume

-- i think enterprise feature will be integrated more and more in all Systems
--- RIM is losing its "Alleinstellungsmerkmal" and has a good chance than to fail.

martin rosenberg, 2010-11-26

1-ios - in the minds of consumers, iPad possibility for sales force is great
2-android - in the minds of enthusiasts and easy to develop for, Honeycomb Tablets will further challenge the iPad as the Samsung (Froyo) already has.
3-WP7 - I think that M$ is behind this platform now with it's integration into the zune product but keeping it's enterprise roots.

I have both ios and android devices at home which I prefer using much more than my blackberry. I would very much like to get on the beta for either of these.

Wesley Stocker, 2010-12-11

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