Many people actually seem to consider it news that Android OS will overtake mobile operating systems made by Research In Motion (RIM), Apple and Microsoft

Android to take number two spot behind Symbian in mobile OS market

Posted by

symbian android

Many people actually seem to consider it news that Android OS will overtake mobile operating systems made by Research In Motion (RIM), Apple and Microsoft to occupy the second position after Symbian OS.

Of course, when organisations like Gartner and IDC speak, the information carries some weight.

Yet, this information is old news to us here at MobilityNigeria. A full year ago, I already made that same projection in my article, Battle of the Mobile Operating Systems.

From my October 2009 article:

I submit that Symbian is likely to remain the dominant mobile OS for a long time. Current trends suggest that Android will take the 2nd place quickly.

One of the advantages that Symbian has is what will help Android achieve this feat. Both Symbian and Android are licenced by numerous manufacturers, some of which are adding layers of services, functionality and usabilty to the underlying operatiing systems.

From Gartner in September 2010:

Communication service providers’ (CSPs’) marketing and vendor support for Android-based smartphones will drive the platform to become the second-largest platform, following Symbian, by year-end 2010 (see Table 1). This is almost two years earlier than Gartner predicted a year ago.

From IDC in September 2010:

Symbian will maintain its leading position, while continuing to slowly lose market share. BlackBerry’s market share is projected to be almost flat (though, because of the overall growth of the smartphone market, RIM will see device shipment numbers increase). Android will overtake BlackBerry and reach second position, possibly posing a threat to Symbian in the (very) long run. Windows Mobile (or rather, Windows Phone) is expected to regain a bit of the market share it has lost in the past few years.

Of course, it isn’t as if this is the first time that these research organisations have projected that the competition is between Symbian and Android. It is the hype around the news that is surprising to me. People are acting like this is really, really, really news.

Well, it isn’t.

For sure, Gartner and IDC are giving us projected figures, and in my opinion that is a risky exercise. Those figures are not likely to pan out. But there is no doubt that the top two mobile Operating Systems for a while will be Symbian and Android in first and second place respectively.

I remember that someone questioned my position earlier and I replied him, “I will be glad to tell you, I told you so“.

In my October 2009 article, I mentioned the fact that the other operating systems are generally mono-products – iPhones are manufactured by only Apple; Blackberries are manufactured by only RIM, and Palm devices by only Palm. Bada OS devices are made by only Samsung for now.

To expect the battle to turn out otherwise does not make sense, unless there is a policy shift by one or more of the others.

And those screaming that Symbian is dead are living in denial. Symbian is selling more and more devices with each passing year. Plus, Symbian still sells more devices than most of the other platforms put together. How can these indices be interpreted in any way as death throes?

Personally, I have issues with Symbian, as do many others. But that does not translate to Symbian dying. For the records, I have issues with Android and iOS too – and I know that many others do too.

Before WebOS, Palm was dying. They were selling less and less. That was dying. Symbian is alive and well, people. Sales are up. Read the figures. The figures don’t lie.

As for Windowsphone 7, it is not here yet and I won’t place any bets on that platform yet. Once it arrives and we see how the river flows, I’ll have much to say. In the meantime, here is a summary of where I stand:

Fact: Symbian will lead for years to come.

Fact: Android, not iOS, will be Symbian’s main competitor. iOS never was a competition to Symbian. It is not likely that it will ever be. Even today as I type this, iOS is not number two. Blackberry is.

Possibility: Some day, Android may overtake Symbian as the king of the mobile jungle.

Fact: All others except for Windowsphone 7 remain niche platforms, being limited to only one manufacturer per OS unlesss and until a policy shift happens.

So is it news that Android will be the platform to compete with Symbian for the number one spot in mobile OS market? Nope. Old news. I took that for granted a year ago. Still, it is good to see that others in the industry see things clearly too.

Share This Article

15 comments

  1. Symbian would have to stop production for a couple of years before Android can take top spot. It’s mind boggling to think of the number of symbian devices around planet earth.

  2. Nokia will for a very long time be number one because they sell unlocked phones world wide and they sell a verity of phones.

    Android has good future but for Android to even come slightly close to Symbian they have to make more affordable phones and ship worldwide.

  3. Lovely analysis. The report says by the end of 2010. So that still keeps ios as the number 3 Smartphone sales world wide and number two in the US. I read that Android just overtook windows phone as the number three OS in sales in the US recently.

    “Fact: All others except for Windowsphone 7 remain niche platforms, being limited to only one manufacturer per OS unlesss and until a policy shift happens.”

    I would like to state that Windows phone 7 would not be produced by one manufacturer. HTC, Smasung, and even Motorola at last count will make windows 7 phone. Although it isn’t as open source as Android but it is going to be produced by muultiple manufacturers. And if it does well like Apple ios and Android did, then it would be an OS to beat and Android and Blackberry may not get it pass it easily.

    And considering downplaying Apple ios, it remains a fact that the ios ecosystem makes much more in market share profits than Nokia would ever dream of doing. Nokia only has more sales in Units and not profit. If you ask me, profits and quality is waht counts and not how many phones you make!

  4. I would like to state that Windows phone 7 would not be produced by one manufacturer.

    I thought I already said that in the article. Here it is: “All others except for Windowsphone 7 remain niche platforms, being limited to only one manufacturer per OS unlesss and until a policy shift happens“.

    And considering downplaying Apple ios, it remains a fact that the ios ecosystem makes much more in market share profits than Nokia would ever dream of doing. Nokia only has more sales in Units and not profit. If you ask me, profits and quality is waht counts and not how many phones you make!

    It is no wonder that the human race got into this messy situation – we started believing that everything boils down to the bottomline.

    Without Nokia, many people around the world would not be able to afford a phone. Most would not have used their first phones. The mobile revolution in Nigeria and in many other places would still be a dream. Left to Apple, only people who earn N300,000 and above monthly would ever own a phone. Here in Nigeria, 95% of those who own mobile devices now would never be able to afford one in a universe governed by Apple.

    Same way, left to MTN most Nigerians would still be coughing out N15,000 for a SIM and paying over N50 per minute even if each call lasts only 15 seconds.

    Quality? Subject an iPhone to the same rugged use that most Nokia models (from low-end to high-end) are subjected to year after year for as much as 4-5 years and see if it will make it through. Nokia phones are used, abused, re-sold and re-abused, and just keep going.

    Quality can be subjective, and to be honest Apple is more of ostentation than quality. The manufacturer who is truly changing the lives of people – making it possible for everyone to have a chance at communication – that manufacturer is undisputably Nokia.

    To you and Apple, the profits may be what counts. But to the majority of the world, what matters is the fact that a company somewhere makes it possible for them to communicate without milking them down to their bones. That company strikes a good balance between profits and service to humanity.

    That company is Nokia. Thanks to Nokia (and Symbian), more people are using smartphones. Left to Apple, smartphones would still be the exclusive preserve of the rich. Many businesses would still be living in the stone age.

    Lastly, it is interesting how Apple’s fans are interested in marketshare (especially when they want to push how well Apple is doing in a particular region) until the total, global picture is presented, then the goalpost shifts to profits.

    History is clear about which company has truly revolutionalised mobile communications. The records boldly print Nokia. Believe me, the number of phones made and sold is important. Very.

    But enough of this. My article is not about Apple and Nokia, though you have attempted to paint it that way. Symbian is bigger than Nokia. Symbian devices bear several brand names, including: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and a number of others.

    So, back to the point: the top two slots in the mobile OS market will be held by Symbian and Android, and whatever position iOS occupies, eventually the distance between the number two slot and the number three slot will be significant. Two giants; everyone else. At least for a significant while.

  5. Yomi, What about Windows phone 7? You don’t give credence to WP7? If it TAKES well in the mobile world when it launches in October and it is well received, it may be a force that Android would have to contend with. Even Symbian OS, especially in the Enterprise sector and Business.

    It was a good analysis Yomi. I loved the syllogisms in your comment. But You made it seem as if Nokia are a philanthropic company and that Apple is too capitalistic. ANd that Nokia is innovative and Apple is just after only the money (benjis), without being Research and developmental (R&D) conscious. But I believe that just as Nokia is innovative, Apple is too, with good money spent on R&D.

    And for all I care, they are all after our money, whatever their apparent good natures. They are all in business to make money and to allow their shareholders smile home with fat pockets! No matter their strategies, whether smoke screened or not… Whether they cater for the low end, mid class or High class individuals, they are all business companies.

  6. Yomi, What about Windows phone 7? You don’t give credence to WP7? If it TAKES well in the mobile world when it launches in October and it is well received, it may be a force that Android would have to contend with.

    I took care of that too in my article. Here: “As for Windowsphone 7, it is not here yet and I won’t place any bets on that platform yet. Once it arrives and we see how the river flows, I’ll have much to say.

    It is no use dealing with “IFs”. If WP7 takes well. If Apple signs on more carriers. If WebOS is licensed to different manufacturers. If…

    I prefer to analyze trends and facts on ground in the market. For now, WP7 is not in the market. When it gets here and we see the trends, I will have much to say.

    But You made it seem as if Nokia are a philanthropic company and that Apple is too capitalistic.

    No I did not make it sound like Nokia are a philantrophic company. Here’s a quote from my comment: “That company strikes a good balance between profits and service to humanity.

    Every business (including Nokia) is in operation for profits, but there is such a thing as being as making profits without requiring people to break the bank. Which is the difference between Apple and Nokia.

    No-one needs to be told that Apple are capitalistic. They are. Their policies and products and pricing all point that out glaringly. The things I stated about them are true. Apple are capitalists per excellence.

    Cheers.

  7. Why do apple fanboys always come down to the argument of the company’s profitability? As a consumer, I’d expect reasonable people to be appalled that a company makes a lot off me.

    Would i not be better served by the company which offers me the best bang for the buck? If company a can give me comparable (if not more) features and services for a fraction of the price company b offers it to me, why would i want to go with company b?

    As an apple shareholder, I could see the point, but as the gringo being quoted in earnings reports and gleefully pronouncing it, something is wrong. The apple RDF(reality distortion field ) is really powerful.

  8. the way i see it nokia might end up being the only company that makes symbian phones. motorla, sonyericsson, samsung and LG don’t have plans to produce symbian phones. symbian is till ahead because android phones are damn expensive, well that’s understandable considering the specs, however i think the definition of what makes a smartphone is changing looking at the capabilities of the new generation phones( powerful desktop-like OS and spec nearing mainstream computers), i see symbian phones falling out of the smartphone category.

  9. Mahogany,

    Yes; indeed. A number of those companies are likely to dump Symbian. Still, Nokia’s share of the Symbian market is so huge that it won’t spell the OS’s doom.

    Consider also that Symbian is now pushing the smartphone experience to all-time low-cost levels, and there you have another reason why Symbian will remain formidable.

    Android devices are expensive because pound-for-pound, a Symbian device packs more punch for the same specs. Symbian simply has better resource management than any other mobile OS out there.

    The most interesting part of your comment is your projection that Symbian devices may fall out of the smartphone category. I’m at a loss there. What is it in the current definition of smartphone that Symbian devices lack that may result in this change of status?

  10. Wow. This is some apple bashin…for the record I hav no brand loyalty,
    You lads speak as if number of phones is the MOST important and what drives the market.
    But the doom people are talking about for nokia is the lucrative high end smartphone market. And symbian is out or will soon be out of that picture. Nokias profit per handset is down across the board although there is an increase in sales. And the drop is higher in the smartphone biz and mature market. The last success of nokia highend is N95, this was there last blockbuster according to telco analyst. Although they are happy with their strong presence in emerging market.
    Apple iphone is/was not suppose to be an entry phone. They are not providing phones for people in emerging market. Saying apple is very capitalist is too strong abeg. And comparing them to mtn is just disrespecting.

    The only complain the majority of people who have apple products is price. Their product does the simplest things in a pleasurable way. And apple understands that its not just the hardware they are selling you, but also the experience using it. That is the premuim.
    Android has just become the top highend smartphone in the last quarter. Due to being available on more highend handset.

    Nokia sales will still increase as expected. But increasing its profitability will be a major challenge.
    Nobody is running the race to be no1 handset in terms of total. Definately not apple,blackberry and maybe htc(andriod). As for windows. Who know about those guys strategy.
    They are all running the race in their niche markets.

    Conclusion. Symbian will always have the highest because they are on nokia. Nokia is not going away .But they will decrease more and more in all the markets that iphone and android are competing, anyway I think nokia is dropping symbian from its highend and introducing their own linux OS. This definately shows its trying to stem its fall in this market. Since putting higher megapixels and higher hardware isn’t enough now. This shows trouble for symbian OS.
    From my limited knowledge, mobile OS companies can generate more revenues if its on high end phones.

    That’s my 2 cents. Please correct me on any wrong assumptions.

  11. Chris,

    Some of the issues you commented on have already been dealt with in my previous comments, so I’ll skip those.

    The last success of nokia highend is N95

    That is highly untrue. Google up a bit.

    But the doom people are talking about for nokia is the lucrative high end smartphone market. And symbian is out or will soon be out of that picture.

    If Nokia has alternative plans for the high-end (as we know they do), how does Nokia dropping off Symbian from their high-end devices spell doom for Nokia (or even for Symbian itself)?

    anyway I think nokia is dropping symbian from its highend and introducing their own linux OS. This definately shows its trying to stem its fall in this market. Since putting higher megapixels and higher hardware isn’t enough now. This shows trouble for symbian OS.

    How can this show trouble for Symbian when Symbian:

    1. still outsells any other OS out there?
    2. is selling more and more devices each year?

    From my limited knowledge, mobile OS companies can generate more revenues if its on high end phones.

    In business and economics, there are at least two distinct ways of generating revenues –

    1. high margin, low-volume sales
    2. low margin, high-volume sales

    Neither of these is a faulty business strategy. Nokia has operated largely on the latter strategy for ages. That another company generates more on high margins does not spell trouble or doom for Nokia (and again, this is about Symbian, not Nokia). The low-margin, high volume sales is exactly what grew Nokia into the largest mobile and smartphone company on the planet.

    Nokia’s problem at the moment is not their business model. Rather, it is their poor implementation of touch on Symbian (which is partly why MeeGo is in the works), and some poor decisions in specifications on some of their high-end devices (and I hope that the people behind those poor decisions have been fired).

    Once we sift the issues clearly like this, the misconceptions are gone.

  12. If I may add this, I remember that when the Symbian foundation came into being, I said that if they wanted a touch interface that works, the sensible thing was to adopt some of the user interface features and capabilities of the now defunct Symbian UIQ. The user interface was largely logical and worked well. It was built for touch from ground up and would only have been tweaked for finger-friendliness. Remember P800, P900, P990, and P1?

    Rather, they went with S60 and slapped a touchscreen on it. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. It is not the easiest thing to adapt a user interface that was not designed for touch from the word go and slap a touchscreen on it.

    Symbian UIQ was superb and would only have been tweaked a little. That would have made tremendous difference in how the story has gone so far.

    Apparently, Nokia realised their mistake but won’t admit it. Why? They created the Symbian Foundation so as to focus on one OS, but are now pursuing two different OSes – Symbian and MeeGo. If they had gone the UIQ route for Symbian touch, they would simply have had everything under Symbian, and Symbian would not likely be losing marketshare in the smartphone world (top-end and low-end) the way it is doing now.

  13. @Owoche Igwue. I think just as the Apple fan boys you are so clearly dissing with som APple bashing to boot, you yourself are a Nokia apologist!. You are a Nokia Fanboy too.

    AS Yomi quoted above; “In business and economics, there are at least two distinct ways of generating revenues –
    high margin, low-volume sales
    low margin, high-volume sales

    Whatever option you take, it is purely business! Nokia is not from heaven, neither is it a philanthropic organization. Likewise speaking, Apple is no NGO. Let’s get this fact straight! It is because Nokia is failing in the high-end and developed markets that they are trying so hard to continue to succeed in the emerging and developed markets. Not long ago yomi showed us a pic of people lining up to buy a cheap Symbian 40 phone in an Asian country. You can’t see that happening in Canada or UK for instance! Over there they talk of top end Smartphones. This is not to say it is a bad venture, but then that doesn’t make Nokia an NGO? They make profit no matter the method they use!

    Nokia, like any other company is only trying to survive, and not doing good or fatherChristmass to us or anyone. It is just like MTN lowereing their Data tarriff. Survival!

    Remember in the early twenties(2000s) when Nokia was losing market share to Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericson? Because Nokia concentrated so much on Candy bar phones, while flip phones was the in-thing then? What did Nokia do? They slashed down their phone price tags! to maintain their sales and lead. Isn’t that anticompetitive to the newly comes like Samsung and LG then? They also started imitating half baked flip phones! Nokia is as Capitalistic as Apple. They need profit but don’t really know how! That is why they keep lowering prices!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *