The smartphone industry is mainly driven by Apple’s market share growth that has been 10x higher than its competitors within the last year. On the other hand, Apple has faced tough competition by key smartphone manufacturers. For instance, Nokia sold approximately 18,441,000 units in the Q2 of 2009, and RIM (Blackberry) sold approximately 7,680,000 units. During the same period, Apple sold approximately 6,900,000 units. Other key players in the smartphone industry are HTC, Fujitsu, Sony and Motorola.
For many consumers, the main competition is between the iPhone and the Android OS that was launched in the market in 2008. According to a survey conducted by ChangeWave, 4,068 consumers believe that Motorola Droid is a direct threat to the iPhone and also one of the best smartphones available on the market today due to the native support for Exchange, the unified contact list and the exceptional new mapping and navigation application from Google. Besides, 21% of respondents who plan to buy a smartphone within the next 3 months they would prefer a smartphone that features the Android OS.
However, in the Q4 of 2009 the Android OS was ranked second in consumer preferences among the key mobile operating systems, after iPhone OS which remains the number one choice for operating systems.
If one needed to put a hierarchy in the needs of consumers that are targeted by smartphones, then the most important would be (1) handling phone calls including battery life and call quality; (2) sending text messages; (3) handling email; (4) navigating phone numbers; (5) featuring web browsing; and (6) featuring advanced customization. And the truth of the matter is that the iPhone performs well or even shines in all of the above.
Although competition is tough, the iPhone is currently the landmark of the smartphone industry, for the most part because it features amazing technological advancements. Without neglecting the fundamentals of a phone such as calling and texting, the iPhone offers the in-between extras of other higher priced phones such as web browsing and Bluetooth, and a unique 3.5″ touch screen that packs the device’s exceptional technology. The latest model of the iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, runs twice as fast as any 3G model, from switching apps to opening attachments and sending text messages, and has a longer battery life although high-speed networks need more power.
Android OS or iPhone?
One of the reasons that the iPhone will continue prevailing in 2010 is because the iPhone features the touch screen. The Android OS comes with a QWERTY slider keyboard that, no matter how good it is, it cannot have the same on demand, streamlined, glossy feel of the iPhone.
Another plus for the iPhone is that its advanced technology and high quality parts allow anyone to create and publish games and apps to the Internet for download, thus offering the ability to create a huge variety of apps specialized for the iPhone alone. This means that as the iPhone’s popularity increases, the developers of an application will enjoy greater earnings.
iPhone or any other competitor?
For its fiscal Q3, RIM reported $3.9 billion revenues, up 11% from fiscal Q2 and 41% from the Q3 of 2008. Net income for Q3 was $1.10 per share versus 69 cents in the Q3 of 2008. Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry, delivered more than 10 million mobile communication devices during the Q3 alone. Besides, the company estimates an increase of 6.8% to its subscribers from 4.4 million to 4.7 million.
On the other hand, for many consumers and telecom analysts, RIM delivers short. If they do not rewrite their OS from scratch, they are likely to be left behind in the mobile OS battle and 2010 will be a critical year for them.
In conclusion, the iPhone is likely to dominate the market in 2010 as well. Although competition is tough, the RIM’s limitation to deliver on long-term and the fact that Android is still experimenting with Google being on the lead for entering its own branded phone, leaves iPhone on the top.