Don’t believe the hype.  The smartphone world of today will probably not look like the smartphone world of tomorrow.  As of November 29th

of 2011, only 27% of the worlds over 5 billion subscribers had a smartphone.  This presumably includes old, doddering Windows Mobile handsets and low-end Android devices that only manage to be called a smartphone because they have Android.  Also, Blackberry, but whatevs at them.

Now the mantra of “This is an iPhone and Android race!” doesn’t hold much water.  Just a few years ago, it was a Blackberry/Windows Mobile sp

rint to what was presumed a geek-and-business-only line of phones that would never penetrate the mainstreams desires.  We all know that, of course, the iPhone went and changed absolutely everything about smartphones and the desirability of such.  It also raised the metric by which smartphones were judged and simply running powerful programs and accessing e-mail was just not enough anymore.

What’s happening now is more than who has the best-looking phone with the most bells and whistles.  Most phones these days come with a laundry list of options than the lions share of users will never know they had, wouldn’t use if they did, and wouldn’t care if they didn’t existed.  What matters is the existing and potential growth of ecosystems and contiguous access to the social and entertainment options offered on the Web.  In short, people don’t want to have to have three or four different access points to information, each one with different bookmarks, access abilities, and rendering.  We want to see the same web from our phones, tablets, and home computers of choice.  Parity between mobile and non-mobile entities will be a deciding factor now.

Just recently, Vizio and Google joined forces to bring Google TV to Vizio’s value TV’s in an attempt to revive the flagging franchise in an attempt to shore up Androids ecosystem.  There are rumors of Kinect-enabled televisions and a possibility of the next iteration of the Xbox will come built-in to certain sets.Anecdotally, I heard a fellow worker tell me he wanted Apple TV because he could control it with his iPhone.

Considering how fast things are changing, how much our once serparate technologies are converging on each other, and how blurred the lines are becoming… don’t count anyone out just yet.  One unfortunately-timed flop can derail an entire digital economy, and one well-placed product can give birth to a legacy that you would have never expected.

Put away the crystal balls and enjoy the ride.

7 COMMENTS

  1. You’re right.. it doesn’t hold water at all… the market has about 12-20% of ‘other’ OSes available to people looking for them….

    WIDE OPEN.

  2. I had to choose between palm and WinMo back there in the early days. Once I learned what those 2 OS were capable of, BB had nothing to offer. Then along came Apple. Today palm and BB, etc are gone.
    While I would agree that not everyone who could have a smart phone, does. And there are more to come, I think the OS specific markets are going to start holding customers to keep them from switching.
    Like me, if Windows Phone does not come up with something I have to have before my next purchase, I will probably never look at Windows phone again.
    I bought my kids android tablets, and they are already investing in the google eco system. How is another OS going to get them to switch?
    The mobile OS industry is closing in at light speed. Only a couple of years ago there were no markets, just getjar, XDA,PPC freeware and the like.
    A completely new idea and use is what is needed to create any more real players that will become any type of competition to Apple, Google, and WP.
    Just A consumer, what do I know?
    Peace

  3. “What matters is the existing and potential growth of ecosystems and contiguous access to the social and entertainment options offered on the Web. ”

    Exactly – get a consumer invested into Your Ecosystem hard and fast, and the exit costs will keep them from thinking twice about leaving you.

  4. MartiM, that’s exactly the issue. When a new, non-smartphone user goes to buy a smartphone, what’s on the tip of their tongues? Android or iPhone. If a person buys into the iPhone Ecosystem, they’re not likely to switch anytime soon. Android’s ecosystem doesn’t have as many paid for apps or games (most are ad supported or simply free) and no where near as many 3rd party hardware accessories..

    So, when your 75% of the world looks to buy a smartphone, where are they going to look? the two or three ‘other’ competing OSes? Sure, some of them will.. but based on the NEW mobile market where there are ecosystems like we have, I don’t think that the market is “WIDE OPEN”.

  5. I have great expectations from MS. By the next year, they will have all of the entertainment+work needs of almost anyone covered with a consistent and compatible devices/softwares.

    Windows 8 PC + Windows Phone + Xbox + Marketplace/Store

    It’s a complete ecosystem and user satisfaction is very high there. I for one have been sold the first time I saw WP metro, and I am certain that even the people who don’t fall in love at first sight would love it after trying it.

    Not just that, but it seems that windows OEM hardware space is going to be full of exiting and amazing products. For example, I am loving the Lenovo Yoga concept. If the hinge design is sturdy enough, I see that as a perfect fit for W8.

    It’s going to be an amazing 12 months ahead of us.

  6. Chris:

    Much like “Xbox” is a replacement for “video games”, so is “iPhone” a replacement for smartphones. Hell, I know people that think “android” is a form of hardware, and not simply because there’s a phone called the Droid.

    Things change, as much as you don’t want them to, no matter how much you cross your fingers, close your eyes, and pray to the Gods above that the iPhone will never lose its cool and Android will always be there.

    Maybe they will be, but I’ll bet you $100 that the market will have a huge fundamental shift within 5 years, and at least one (if not both) of the market leaders will be displaced. Replaced by who? I dunno. But they will be.

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