Before developing a purchasing strategy, organisations first need to understand the market including the major players and their operating system (OS) roadmaps. For example, Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS combined currently command 60 per cent market share.
The following guide outlines the top platforms and the roadmap issues that need to be considered prior to any significant investment.
Android continues to be the platform of choice gaining 40 per cent of the smartphone market in 2011. Moreover, the platform will continue to mature driving developer interest in its ecosystem.
“The release of the Ice Cream Sandwich version will make the platform more appealing to developers, as the OS will unify user interfaces (UIs) across smartphones and tablet form factors,” according to Gartner analyst, Roberta Cozza.
Android’s position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in mid-to-low smartphones. Gartner expects Android to hold 50 per cent market share by 2015.
Symbian’s appeal over the next two years will be limited to emerging markets and more price-sensitive consumers in mature markets. Following its alliance with Microsoft, Nokia is expected to retire Symbian during 2012 and to migrate to Windows Phone as its main smartphone OS.
This will impact Symbian’s market share, which is expected to drop globally to 21 per cent in 2011 and 6.6 per cent in 2012, Gartner said.
Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier range of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in worldwide rankings, ahead of RIM, by 2013.
Apple’s iOS will remain the second-biggest platform worldwide until 2014, according to Gartner. However, falling prices and increasing volumes of lower cost devices will impact Apple’s market share.
“Our assumption is that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins and profit, rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy, this will limit adoption in emerging markets,” Cozza said.
The transition to QNX will enable RIM to bring to market more competitive products which will mitigate an overall decline in market share during 2013, Gartner said.
With the migration of legacy Blackberry devices to QNX (the OS used on the Blackberry PlayBook in 2012), RIM will be able to offer users a consistent experience across its whole product portfolio and create a single developer community.
Gartner said organisations most interested in this platform will be those that have already deployed RIM infrastructure or have stringent security requirements.
HP is currently undergoing a major transition. Earlier this year HP announced it would stop producing hardware based on the webOS with plans to explore new alternatives. The announcement came after continuing poor sales of new webOS smartphones and the TouchPad’s failure to capture consumer interest.
Although the webOS platform had potential as a modern OS with a good UI, Cozza said a lack of applications, services and content limited its appeal.
Gartner said Bada has done relatively well at the low end of the smartphone market. But one problem with the platform is that it offers no development path for tablet devices. Users want to share applications across devices so this is likely to limit uptake.
Intel Without the support of Nokia, Gartner believes MeeGo has little potential to become a relevant platform in the smartphone market.
Intel has plans to merge MeeGo with another open source effort, the LiMo Foundation, to create a new platform called Tizen. Gartner said both MeeGo and LiMo have, as separate entities, failed to attract mind share and the support of developers.
“Gartner remains unconvinced that a combined effort will change that much,” Cozza said.
Glossary of terms
ASP Average Selling Price CDMA Code Division Multiple Access CSP Communication Service Provider GPRS General Packet Radio Service GSM Global System for Mobile Communication HDSPA High Speed Download Packet Access HSPA High Speed Packet Access LTE Long term Evolution technologies MIMO Multiple Input/Multiple Output OFDM Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing OS Operating System UI User Interface WAN Wireless Area Network
Part 1 — Smartphone buyers guide for the enterprise: FAQs. Part 2 — Smartphone buyers guide for the enterprise: Shopping checklist. Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU