Matthew Miller has been around in the mobile space. He is the guy who switches phones more often than he change socks. That’s far more than I can lay claim to. Darn! Anyway, he has a very insightful piece that provides quite some history of the mobile phone industry. In that article is titled Crash of the mobile titans: What happened to Palm, BlackBerry, Nokia, and HTC?, and there he explores how founding companies in this space are down and out, He lists Palm, BlackBerry, Nokia, and HTC as the 4 pillars of the mobile industry. Every mobile enthusiast should read the article.
However, I would add Motorola to that list and say “5 pillars” instead.
Palm is dead and out of the race. First pushing Palm OS, later Windows Mobile, and finally WebOS, Palm attempted to evolve, but failed. Gone.
Nokia is going – on the way out to be subsumed by Microsoft. Perhaps some years down the road we might see a new Nokia mobile pushing Android or a fork of Android. For now, if the terms of the deal that have been made public stand, in the next one year, you’d be hard pressed to find a Nokia-branded smartphone being sold in the market. Nokia once ruled the smartphone space with Symbian OS. They also pushed Maemo/MeeGo for a while, and have been the darling boy of Windows Phone OS. Still, going, going… Say hello to Microsoft, who will mostly fly the Windows Phone OS flag by themselves from now.
I pondered a bit whether to place BlackBerry under Going or Struggling. I think that to the extent that the BlackBerry brand is going to be retained in the proposed buyout, it is okay to classify BlackBerry as struggling. Struggling badly, yes. BlackBerry has always pushed only one mobile OS – BlackBerry OS. In different iterations, but they have been true blue.
Then there is HTC. Not a lot of people are talking about HTC’s struggles, but the Taiwanese company has had it rough for years and are in real danger of ending up dead. HTC rode the waves of Windows Phone to stardom. HTC was behind a huge chunk of Windows Mobile smartphones and Pocket PCs ever made. Of course, Windows Mobile is dead now. The odd thing is that HTC makes many good phones running the world’s most powerful OS, yet continues to struggle. Witches and wizards? You will also find a handful of HTC phones running Windows Phone. A very tiny fistful.
Motorola was also once the world’s largest mobile manufacturer. They ended up in a steep decline and were eventually acquired by Google in 2011. Motorola used to be a member of the Symbian Consortium and later switched to Android OS. That however has not resulted in a change of fortunes. Motorola keeps struggling till today, though having access to Google’s deep pockets shields them from any immediate threats of giving up the ghost.