Yes; I know that the above header is a bold claim to make, but it isn’t so difficult to see why it will be so. First, I can only make projections based on what is on ground now. Who knows what new mobile operating system will show up tomorrow and change the game? This article is based purely on what is on trends from the past and what is on ground now.
The New Gods
Before the introduction of iPhone in 2007, the smartphone world was ruled by the Symbian god. Lesser gods revolved around Symbian’s glory, including Windows Mobile, PalmOS, and Blackberry OS. Apple started a new world order with the introduction of the iPhone, and since then things have never stayed the same. The first Android smartphone, T-mobile G1, was released in October 2008. Since then, Android has dazzled and surprised everyone with its rapid adoption rates, upturning everything and eventually pushing back both Symbian and iOS in terms of marketshare. Android has already clocked 1.3 million activations per day and over 500 million devices activated. Today, Android has over 50% of the global smartphone market.
Top Three Ecosystems
There has been talk of three mobile ecosystems. For now, the current top two are clear – Android in first place, and iOS trailing some distance behind. That isn’t difficult to comprehend. Android is open and available for any and every manufacturer to use, while iOS is a totally closed system that is pushed by only one manufacturer. The Android community is thriving. There are many tiny OEMs and brands pushing Android on their smartphones. The results speak for themselves. I said it years ago when iOS marketshare was ballooning that unless Apple changed approach, it was not sustainable. Common sense indicated that Android would catch up and overtake iOS in the market. That is exactly what has happened. Android has left iOS in the dust in the smartphone race. Android’s open nature means that users can download both Play Store apps and apps not listed in the official store and install to their devices.
A closed ecosystem limits marketshare. Simple.
This is the very same reason why if RIM does not license BlackBerry OS out, there is no chance in heaven or hell that BlackBerry OS will make the top three ecosystem. RIM does not have the cash to push devices alone as Apple is doing. A single manufacturer going up against an army of manufacturers pushing Android and Windows Phone does not stand a chance.
Yes; Windows Phone
Having taken a look at what is on ground, barring any other surprise entries and exits, I am convinced that Windows Phone will end up a part of the top three smartphone ecosystems. Windows Phone is licensed, and so has a number of manufacturers pushing it. Not only that, Windows Phone has a champion rooting for it – a desperate champion for that matter – Nokia. While it can be argued that other manufacturers are not taking an all-out approach to Windows Phone, the same is not true for Nokia. Nokia are currently making Windows Phone look good. A weakened champion, yes; but a champion all the same, and they are leading the Windows Phone pack gallantly. Weak as Nokia are, they remain the number three smartphone maker on the planet and number two mobile phone manufacturer. They are still no pushover.
Just look at the hype around Windows Phone 8 since Nokia’s announcement of the Lumia 920. For the first time, a WP smartphone is in the contenders race for the top flagship smartphone on the planet. Every comparison I have seen includes the Lumia 920, and not only that, in many cases it is tipped as the guy to beat. Windows Phone is finally getting the kind of attention that it needs. The Ativ S from Samsung is superb too, and other OEMs will be announcing their WP8 line-up as well.
RIM does not stand a chance of a spot in the top three list unless they license BlackBerry OS and find capable manufacturers to jump on board as is the case with Windows Phone.
iOS in Third Place
iFans will eat me out for this, but it is going to happen anyway, barring any surprise acts. Just as Apple caved in to the onslaught of Android manufacturers in the smartphone race, they will also eventually cave in to the march of the army of Windows Phone manufacturers. Nokia has put out some compelling WP8 smartphones out there. Samsung’s Ativ S is a compelling device too. Other manufacturers are lining up to announce their WP8 gadgets as well. It is only a matter of time before Windows Phone overtakes iOS in the smartphone arena.
Already, the iPhone is becoming boring. The excitement is waning. The magic isn’t so magical anymore. The platform is about reaching a plateau – a state of little or no growth or decline. Of course, in terms of marketshare, the iPhone has been in decline for a while. IDC’s figures for 2nd Quarter 2012 shows that iPhone had a 16.9 percent share, as against 18.8 percent a year earlier. Also take a look at the latest iPhone5 trailing behind a number of flagships from other platforms. It is only a matter of time. Windows Phone will take that second smartphone platform spot away from iOS.
Beyond the Top Three
Many times, when people talk about the top three ecosystems, it is made to sound like there is no life outside of that group. Listening to enthusiasts, one gets the impression that any platform outside of the top three is dying. This is not necessarily true. I believe that there will always be thriving platforms outside of the top three. In my opinion, BlackBerry OS not making the top three does not mean the death of that OS. Then there’s Tizen, and there’s Firefox OS, as well MeeGo. There will always be others around, and this will make for choices. Not everyone wants Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.
Yes; these projections are based on what is on ground now. The mobile landscape tends to change fast, and something totally out of the blues can tip the scales differently. Still, all other things being equal, iOS will end up third place in the smartphone ecosystem battle.