The splintering of the mobile industry
Since the launch of the G1 in 2008, it looked like the mobile device industry was a two horse race with iOS and Android, uh-humm, streaking ahead of everyone else. This all changed with two big industry announcements: Google buying Motorola’s mobility division and Amazon launching the Kindle Fire. In two foul drops of a press release, my dreams of a world where all devices worked together seamlessly regardless of the operating system or manufacturer were shattered as I was reminded that there is no section covering ‘playing nicely together’ in the capitalist’s handbook.
Why Amazon instantly became the third horse in the race
A lot of people who cared, including myself, were rather disappointed by the lack of spec powering the Amazon Kindle Fire and the rushed nature of its entry into the market. “It’s just not the iPad killer we all expected” was the general whine from the tech-nut gallery. And it’s true the spec is disappointing but Amazon know what Apple know and Google wish they didn’t know:
It’s not the device or the number of apps in the store that count, it’s the seamless integration between device, apps, digital media and cloud storage of said digital media.
So Amazon, with its massive loyal user base, trusted online retail brand, powerhouse digital media offerings (mp3s, Kindle books and magazines, Amazon Prime movie rentals, games and apps in their app store) and seamless payments, propels itself ahead of Android as the only true competitor to the Apple ecosystem.
The tablet space, at least, is now a three horse race.
But hold onto your mobiles as the rumours are flying about that Amazon is looking for it’s own operating system, maybe even the orphaned Web OS which would propel them into the smartphone market almost as spectacularly as they launched into the tablet market.
How the Googarola deal changed the smartphone landscape forever
So what seems like an eon ago, or mid August if you don’t work in tech, Google announced that they will be buying Motorola’s mobility division also known to some as the Larry Page rope-a-dope deal. While a lot of people see this as a power play deal from Google to get hold of some ammo for the tooth numbingly dull patent wars, some major handset makers have been forced to look again at their OS strategy, despite their show of unity after the announcement.
Samsung who seemed to have banked their future on Android, whilst growing their own Apple-style closed Bada OS, seem to be getting a lot more involved with next best thing: Windows Phone, who up until now have a laughably small share of the OS market and one would be excused for wondering why they bother.
But throw in a bit of corporate jiggery pokery and hey presto, Windows Phone are in bed with the world’s 2nd biggest smartphone manufacturer: Samsung, the world’s biggest feature phone manufacturer: Nokia, oh and HTC who also make phones.
So while Amazon gleefully shows off the inherent flaws of the Android ecosystem and Google frantically scramble to add some media to their offering, Windows Phone can hit the market hard with the world’s top manufacturers spewing out great devices, and chomp away at some of that all important market share, while also scoring $10 every time certain Android devices are sold, in a rare moment of triumph over their long time rivals.
Picking up the biggest pieces of the broken window pane that is the mobile industry, it’s clear to see a cosy two horse race between iOS and Android has pretty quickly turned into a frantic fox hunt between Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Amazon (and whatever OS they settle on). Hey with so much action in the market, maybe even Nokia will humour us by pushing out more smartphones on the Symbian OS.