The new IDC report for smartphone shipments in Q4, 2012 hands it over to Android – which seems to have reached more dizzying heights than what Symbian/Nokia ever reached in their near monopolistic regime heydays. the two systems accounted for 91.1 percent of operating systems on all smartphone shipments during the fourth quarter of 2012. For the year 2012, Android and iOS accounted for 87.6 percent of operation systems on smartphones shipped.
Android smartphone vendors and Apple shipped a total of 207.6 million units worldwide during Q4 which is a 70.2 percent increase from the 122.0 million shipments of Q4 2011.
Android Saw triple-digit growth for the year. According to IDC, Samsung was the biggest contributor to Android’s success as 42.0 percent of all Android smartphone shipments during the year were by Samsung. The report notes that the intra-Android competition has not stifled companies from keeping Android as the cornerstone of their respective smartphone strategies.
At the end of 2012, Android had a 68.8 percent of market, with over 497.1 million shipments. In 2011, Android’s market share was 49.2 percent with 243.5 million shipments.
iOS also continued to register strong growth. But the report notes that iOS’s year-over-year growth has slowed compared to the overall market. Of course the report also mentions the growing buzz around a large-screen iPhone and a cheaper variant, which it says would help sustain growth. iOS shipments for 2012 stood at 135.9 million smartphones which represents an 18.8 percent market share. This is a 46 percent growth compared to 2011 when iOS smartphone shipments stood at 93.1 million at a market share of 18.8 percent.
BlackBerry OS: The report states that the decision to postpone the release of BB10 to 2013 left the platform vulnerable in 2012 and reliant primarily on older smartphones running on BB7. As a result, BlackBerry’s tight grip on enterprise users has loosened. BlackBerry had 32.5 million shipments for 2012, which gives it a market share of 4.5 percent. This is down 36.11 percent from 2011 where it had 51.1 million shipments and a market share of 10.3 percent.
Windows Phone/Windows Mobile: The report notes that this has made some progress in Q4 of 2012. Nokia’s Lumia phones were the key driver in Microsoft’s success, says IDC. Windows Phone/Windows Mobile had a 17.9 million shipments and represents a 2.5 percent market for mobile OS on smartphones. This is 98.9 percent increase from 2011 when it had only 9.0 million shipments which was a market share of 1.8 percent.
Even while iPhone is the best selling smartphone ever, the loose, tardy iPhone map application make one think, that Apple’s penchant for beautiful and complete products is perhaaps getting over as the Steve Jobs effect begins to fade away. Sharing the lament fron New York Times.
If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? As Apple’s chief executive, Jobs had no tolerance for mediocre products. The last time Apple released a substandard product – MobileMe, in 2008 – Jobs gathered the team into an auditorium, berated them and then got rid of the team leader in front of everybody.
No doubt, the iPhone 5, which went on sale recently, will be another hit. But there is nothing about it that is innovative. Plus, it has that nasty glitch. In rolling out a new operating system (OS) for the iPhone 5, Apple replaced Google’s map application with its own, inferior, application, which has infuriated its customers. With maps now a critical feature of smartphones, it seems to be an inexplicable mistake.
Part of the reason is obvious: Jobs isn’t there anymore. It is rare that a company is so completely an extension of one man’s brain as Apple was an extension of Jobs. It’s just not the same without the man himself looking over everybody’s shoulder. But there is also a less obvious reason that Apple’s best days may soon be behind it. When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, Apple was in trouble. It could afford to take big risks and, indeed, to search for a new business model. It had nothing to lose.
Fifteen years later, Apple has a profitable business model to defend – and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens. It happens in every industry, but it is especially easy to see in technology, as things move quickly. Less than 15 years ago, Microsoft appeared to be invincible. But once its Windows OS and Office applications became moneymakers, its strategy became geared toward protecting its two cash cows. Now it is Apple’s turn to be king of the hill – and, not surprisingly, it has begun to behave in a similar fashion. You can see it in the patent litigation against Samsung, a costly and counterproductive exercise that has nothing to do with innovation.
And you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally, Google is now a rival. Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not good. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.
Even before Jobs died, Apple was becoming a company whose main goal was to defend its business model. Yes, he would never have allowed his minions to ship such an embarrassing application. But despite his genius, it is unlikely he could have kept Apple from eventually lapsing into the ordinary. It is the nature of capitalism that big companies become defensive, while newer rivals emerge with better, smarter ideas.
Android’s weakness may be Windows’s gain.
Even as ComScore reported four straight months of Android smartphone growth slowdown in 2012 (Jan- April) in US markets, the one device that Android has failed to lord over globally is tablets – it remains Android’s Achilles heal. Amazon was a single quarter flash in the pan and it remains to be seen how Amazon leverages its content comptence to lift up its delivery device- Tablet sales.
Now with Windows8 tablets making their first appearance – it is expected that Windows8 will usher in the new wave of Microsoft devices – tablets and ultrabooks with the keyboard dock and touch functionality.
Morgan Stanley has predicted that after Apple and their iPad, Microsoft will take the number two spot in the tablet market, in the process surpassing Android.
Morgan Stanley now estimates shipments of 133 million tablets in 2012, up 57% from their original estimates; and 216 million tablets in 2013, up 112%. No surprise there, tablet sales have been growing fast — despite high-profile stumbles by Hewlett-Packard and Dell — thanks to demand for Apple’s iPad. The report expects 25% of (new) users expect to buy Windows 8 tablet. Office will be the key feature, especially for those considering their first tablet purchase. Microsoft would be able to attract tablet builders by bundling its two strongest personal computer brands — Office and Windows.
Microsoft’s hopes are pinned on the success of the tablet - if Microsoft can’t make itself relevant in the tablet market now, the value of its Windows and Office brands will only get weaker over time as Apple and Google push alternatives to Office such as Apple’s iWork and Google Docs on iOS and Android tablets. For Microsoft, it’s now or never.
During a recent speech to delivered at the City University in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that most smartphones can be hacked remotely with ease. “Who here has an iPhone? Who here has a BlackBerry? Who here uses Gmail? Well, you’re all screwed,” Assange said during his talk, which followed the release of 287 documents related to mass surveillance. Assange explained to the crowd that more than 150 private organizations in 25 countries can easily track phones and intercept messages, browsing history, email accounts, phone calls and more remotely.
Carrier IQ refers to a suite of what can seemingly be described as spyware pre-installed on a wide range of devices by both carriers and vendors. Carrier IQ was conceptualized by Telecom carriers to understand what problems customers were having with networks or devices for action to improve service quality. It is used to collect information to understand the customer experience with devices on networks and to devise solutions to use and connection problems. The IQ tool was not allowed to look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc (as a moral responsibility). Carrier IQ is marketed as an analytics tool for mobile telcos, this software claims to exist to ensure good network performance.
However, a recent research published by security expert Trevor Eckhart pulled back the veil on Carrier IQ. Carrier IQ (CIQ) sells rootkit software included on many US handsets sold on Sprint, Verizon and more. Devices supported include Apple iOS devices, Androids, Blackberries, Nokias, Tablet devices and more. Rootkit is defined as software that enables access to a device unbeknown to the device’s owner. Carrier IQ defines its own solutions as “Mobile Service Intelligence solutions that have revolutionized the way mobile operators and device vendors gather and manage information from end users.” Eckhart estimates that Carrier IQ’s software is currently installed on more than 141 million handsets, and that was before references were found in Apple’s iOS software
Shortly after, Wikipedia in its report “the reality of the international surveillance industry” elaborated CIQ technology to spy mobile users across US, Canada, UK, Australia and several of the regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. The Carrier IQ technology has been used in Bahrain to track human rights activists. The malware reportedly can “record every use, movement and even sights and sounds of the room [a phone] is in.” The Wikileaks documents are particularly compelling given the recent revelation that millions of smartphones have spyware called Carrier IQ installed, an application that is capable of allowing wireless carriers to spy on their customers.
It is likely still too early to panic, however. Despite the extensive coverage this story has garnered across tech blogs and in the media, it remains unclear exactly what Carrier IQ and its clients are doing with this data. It isn’t even clear what data carriers have access to. Carrier IQ software on Android devices can log anything from usage data and location to key strokes and usage habits, but it has not been determined that this data is sent to carriers regularly or at all. Carrier IQ’s software can theoretically be used as a window through which carriers can spy on users in real-time if they so choose, but whether or not the software is used in this manner is also unclear.
But, as Assange rightly points out, the interception of this data will lead society to a “totalitarian surveillance state”, if the spying racket is really what it is about.
Presenting a snapshot of CIQ related statements issued by different handset makers and carriers.
Digital content distribution has disrupted several notable industries. In that context, no industry has been more impacted by digital distribution than the video games. Leading the disruption are iOS and Android devices, whose free and inexpensive games, distributed across a massive installed base of powerful and networked tablet and mobile phone form factors, have already disrupted billions of dollars of game revenue.
Portable gaming, has been dominated by Nintendo and Sony for over two decades. In this model, at retail, consumers pay around $200 for the gaming device and up to $40 for popular game cartridges. Because of the similar form factor, overlap in consumer base (especially younger players on iPod touch) and the casual nature of game content, iOS and Android devices have redefined the category. With the inclusion of smartphone revenue into the category, shifts taking place in market share become clearer.
The most striking trend is that iOS and Android games have tripled their market share from roughly 20% in 2009 to nearly 60% in just two years. Simultaneously, Nintendo, the once dominant player, has been crushed down to owning about one-third of market in 2011, from having controlled more than two-thirds in 2009. Combined, iOS and Android game revenue delivered $500 million, $800 million and $1.9 billion over 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Within the portable category, an abundance of digitally distributed free and $0.99 games, available on hardware that is both comparably priced and more powerful than traditional portable game devices, better appeals to many consumers. As a result, the days of paying $25, or more, for a cartridge at a retail store may soon end. Further, the installed base of iOS and Android devices has not only reached critical mass, but also continues to grow at unprecedented rates. In their latest public statements regarding installed base, Apple and Google reported a total of 250 million iOS devices and 190 million Android devices activated, respectively.
Due in part to its demise in the portable game category, Nintendo is facing its first fiscal year loss since the company began reporting profits in 1981. Combined with slumping Wii sales, Nintendo is indeed struggling. Equally concerning for Nintendo is that the battle for video game dominance is entering the living room, with entries by both Apple and Google into the TV category. Ostensibly, this new class of hardware will create a new platform upon which the digital distribution model of apps will be overlaid. Now, in addition to tablet form-factor competition, the console game industry, which currently pits Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo against each other, will additionally face competition from Apple and Google TV initiatives. Beyond 2011, if Nintendo continues to face financial hardship, it may be forced to consider difficult choices such as divesting its hardware business and distributing its content, for the first time, across non-proprietary platforms.
In February this year, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop mentioned about the burning platform in a internal memo to Nokia employees. Nintendo has a very similar problem at hand. A burning platform and hard decisions for its future – Innovate or Die!