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”


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.


In the simplest terms, the concept here is how a company can potentially increase both revenue and market share by executing a strategy to work with direct or indirect competitor(s) to the benefit of both, a win-win. The old Arab saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” also applies. It can also be as simple as joining an ad hoc collaboration among a group of companies or a standards group to create market order and simplicity from an overcrowded and confused market. Customers invariably respond to products that provide the greatest value and paths to long-term increased value and cost reduction. Collaboration or “Co-opetition” is one of the most effective means to achieve that goal, particularly in an economic environment where “flat is the new up.”


No part of the tech job market is more insane than the fight for interns. A few of my UBC Faculty of Management students have recently been very fortunate to land internship jobs with excellent high tech firms based both in Silicon Valley and in the Lower Mainland. The more industrious and resourceful UBC students should use these network connections to compete for their dream internship or first job.


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.


If properly managed and matched to local economic need, resources and capabilities, local accelerators can be a significant local economic asset. However, the problem with so many of these “everywhere else” accelerators, is highly unrealistic expectations to be “the next Silicon Valley”, failure to connect with local economic needs, excessive focus on any and every new Web app, and most importantly, poor management. It is also apparent to me that many of these more remote smaller communities are so distant from the mainstream economy, that many of the “great ideas” that come out of them, are embarrassingly late.


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.