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Updating My Smartphone Market Analysis: The Market Is At A Strategic Inflection Point

NOTE: My original post, originally published in January 2013, continues to be one of the most viewed on the site.  Android and Apple have enjoyed an estimated 98% market share between the two, and many of my earlier projections regarding this market appear to have been borne out. However, the smartphone market has now matured to the point that it is at a strategic inflection point which has major implications for the future of this market and the major competitors. The rapid maturation of the smartphone market should have been foreseen: the rise of domestic Chinese competition combined with the predictable end of the Western consumer fascination with “the next smartphone”

Silicon Valley Culture

WCW III: World Chip War III

After something of a long hiatus, we have an emerging epic World Chip War Three, which is being fought over “CODECS,” and related chips which power our smartphones. Not that the semiconductor industry hasn’t been innovating and evolving, but this is something much bigger. Today’s news about Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm omits the other crucial player in this new War of Titans, Intel, which has risen from earlier ignominious failures to become the third player in WCW III.

Industry Standards

Everything You Need to Know About Google's Fi Wireless Service

As some may already know, Google is launching its Fi mobile phone service in the United States, and with aggressive expansion plans, hopefully, into Canada and Europe. Google has partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States. But the intriguing aspect of this new business is Google’s intent to offload phone service to WiFi wherever possible. This prospect has been looming in the wings for awhile, with the talk of true Metro-scale WiFi using VHF white space, and Google’s innovative experiments with “Loon Balloon,” (see my earlier post), and with low orbiting satellite WiFi coverage. Whether these risky and expensive experiments will materialize is another question. However, the prospect of wider area, stronger signal metro WiFi continues to move forward. Google’s hybrid approach using both mobile service frequencies and WiFi to provide full mobile voice and data service is beginning to sound very interesting.

Silicon Valley Culture

The Incredible CardMunch for Android Mystery: Market Stolen by CamCard

Over a year ago now someone on the UBC campus, who was thinking of developing an app, told me about this cool application for capturing cards into your contacts by photographing them on your smart phone. It was Cardmunch. It turned out that the application was only available on the iPhone at that time, but as luck would have it, the company had just been acquired by LinkedIn. Voila! It would obviously only be a few months at most before I could obtain it for my Samsung Android smart phone, right? Wrong. That was over a year ago.

Canada

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: Should Microsoft buy Blackberry?

Readers of this blog will recall last week’s post on the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) report on the mobile phone market. The problems for both Microsoft and Blackberry were exposed again for all to see. Microsoft’s Windows Phone market share at 3.7%, would have been even smaller without Nokia. Blackberry’s situation was even more dire. A few months back Microsoft and Blackberry opened another new patent war on each other, as if this would somehow help their situations.
This week Blackberry has announced the inevitable search for a potential buyer to take the company private, as has also happened recently with Dell Computer. The suggestion that Ballmer and Microsoft should consider purchasing Blackberry is actually a potentially very interesting idea. A broader market consolidation, with much larger implications, may be on the horizon.

Google

Latest IDC Mobile Market Report Underscores Importance of Industry Analysis

Students of Industry Analysis will note the importance of high technology industry analysis firms, like International Data Corporation (IDC), which this week issued its quarterly reports on the state of key technology markets. The report has been seized upon, sliced and diced by the Wall Street Journal, and a host of other media sources. The technology blogosphere is alive with comment, PandoDaily, Gigaom, TechCrunch, Gizmodo have all been furiously offering their own spins on the IDC Report. It is amazing to see so much of the industry talking about nothing else but IDC today. Similar firms like Forrester, Gartner and others offer similar industry analysis reports, but IDC is the big dog, and the mobile market is their dog food.

Industry Analysis

Microsoft's New End Game Strategy: Pray

In a further episode of my earlier posts on the Mega Mobile Market Share War, it would seem that International Data Corporation (IDC) and Gartner, the two leading high tech industry analysis firms, are haggling over whether the precipitous drop in quarterly PC sales is 11. 2% or 14%. It also adds evidence to the accelerating rate of change in the corporate life cycle. Corporate life cycle events that took a decade are now occurring in a few short years.

Globalization

Mobile World Congress: Smart Mobile Mega War Gets Even Weirder

New developments in the global smart mobile and tablet war at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Spain, continue to add to the intrigue, infighting and mega dollars being bet on this market…with little impact so far on the probable outcome. I have spoken with two colleagues who are in Barcelona this week watching it all unfold. Blackberry (the former Research in Motion), Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and Microsoft, are all struggling and at risk, and making bold survival moves, with mega dollars. Meanwhile, Google and Android continue to consolidate their market dominance globally, but not without major worries about Samsung “wearing the pants” in the Android market.

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