Interesting numbers. Google has higher market share than Nokia now in smartphone market segment.
A thought is lingering in mind from conversation with a friend yesterday. He is planning to buy a new phone, and we were discussing whether he should buy iOS, Andriod or WP7. I am thinking how different this conversation would have been a year ago. A year ago, we would have been talking about Apple, Nokia, and Samsung phone. To me this is a paradigm shift that we are seeing in mobile devices industry. The hardware is becoming commodity. Less and less people care about hardware now. They care more about the OS and entire ecosystem (apps etc) that OS makes available.
Let’s look at Nokia’s situation in this context. Nokia has traditionally been a hardware company and software / OS has been secondary business for it. Nokia run Symbian and it had racked in all major player such as Samsung and LG to adopt Symbian. But the main business driver for phones in the past was hardware and features such as camera, display and in-built torch (yes, in emerging markets). People did not care much about the OS loaded on the phone. I think the competitive drivers in industry are changed now. The competition is now based on OS and adaptation of OS by developer community. Hardware features are given. Nokia is still sticking with Symbian, and it’ll have to compete with companies like Apple, Google in future, which is quite different from competing with Samsung, LG on hardware. Nokia will have to develop new competencies and new ways of understanding market. Would it be wise for Nokia to stick with Symbian or become OS agnostic by going along with OS that wins the battle and focus on hardware as core competencies?
I came across this excellent analysis of Symbian by Michael Mace - where it is today and what’s behind its current state.
“The business entity called Symbian was originally designed to prevent Microsoft from controlling the mobile OS standard, without having Symbian itself seize control over the mobile phone companies that funded it. In that task it succeeded. However, as a company run by a consortium, Symbian’s governance was politicized and inefficient.”
Check out Michael’s original post here.
Time will tell whether Symbian will be irrelevant or not. But Symbian still has largest market share and if Nokia gets its Qt strategy right, it can still pose challenges to iOS and Android.