Mobile Phones Platforms

Apple and Google rule the Smartphone Market, while others are Crying

Android and AppleThe smartphone industry in America was overtaken by Apple iOS and Google Android. Yet, many of the formative companies had to rethink and rebuild their strategies. Microsoft and RIM were among them.

As far as shares of the U.S. market are concerned, Android maintained 53% in 2011. Apple’s share ballooned to 29%. The BlackBerry OS share slipped to 11%, while Microsoft could not get its game on, remaining around 2% with the Windows Phone.

Google and Apple have taken control of the game, coercing other players to completely reinvent themselves in this area. Ross Rubin, executive director of Connected Intelligence for the NDP Group, believes that 2012 will be the year which reveals the fruit of these companies’ labors. Against the domination of the U.S. Market by both Apple and Google, many other manufacturers are strategizing to regain lost ground in market shares.

Apple’s shares grew to 29% between January and October 2011, while Google’s rose to 53%. RIM felt a drop to 11%. All except Apple and Google are developing business strategies to protect their share of the market. 2012 will be the proving grounds for their plans.

The big move was when Google bought Motorola Mobility, at $12.5 billion in August 2011. Motorola Mobility, up until January 2011, was the Mobile Devices division of Motorola.

One reason for the move was to protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies. It also strengthens the ties between Android and the hardware manufacturer, Motorola. Perhaps most importantly, though, Motorola Mobility holds over 14,500 granted patents and more than 6,500 pending patent applications throughout the world. Acquiring Motorola, Google opens the doors to these for Android.

Motorola threw its weight into the mobile devices niche in 2009, releasing the Droid, running Android. It was designed for the Verizon network. Last year, the public watched the release of the Droid X and the Droid 2. Now Motorola’s competitors are shaking in their boots. What can Samsung, HTC, Acer, Sony Ericsson, LG, or Lenvo do?

RIM is trying to play catch up. There are not many companies which have been hit as hard as RIM by the popularity of touch interfaces and bigger screens. In 2006, more than half of all smartphone sales were by RIM. In as few 5 years this percentage had dropped to 8%. They are struggling to improve the next generation of their OS, BlackBerry 7. The company falls into 5th spot among the world’s top smartphone companies. Only Apple, HTC, Samsung, and Motorola surpass it.

Of course the shocker came when Nokia announced an agreement with Microsoft. Nokia phones now carry Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. They have a steep hill to climb to catch up with everyone else. They are up against Apple’s consistency and Android’s flexibility. While Microsoft Windows Mobile topped out at 50% of market sales back in 2007, Windows Phone 7 cannot get its game on at all. It has not broken the 2% barrier.

Apple and Google have cornered the market between the two of them. The outlook for other companies is bleak at best. What happens in the next few years is anyone’s guess, but if neither Google nor Apple make any huge blunders, the landscape is unlikely to change.

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