Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Apple, Android, and Windowsphone

The next big shift in the mobile Internet is the move from smartphones being the preserve of the rich western world into the less prosperous world. The next billion smartphone owners will be earning significantly lower salaries than the first billion.

For each of the smartphone platforms this represents a challenge. Apple are the Gucci or Prada of the smartphone world made 'exclusive' by price. Iphones are often bought as a fashion and design icon than a piece of technology. However it is priced for first world wealth. At the moment Apple is beginning to flatline on sales. Apple is still selling millions of phones but the customers who can afford the premium price are getting rarer. Hence the company has an almost annual upgrade cycle to re-start the adoration that sells new Apple product. The question for Apple is do they produce a iphone junior at a lower price targeted at less prosperous markets or does it settle with the premium only strategy.

Android has a different problem. Only a few phones have the pure Google experience. The premium phone sector is dominated by Samsung and the dozens of other cheaper Android phones have no common interface, common specification or run the same version of Android. The market is fragmented and customers are getting a wide variety of smartphone experiences. The question for Google is can it unite the fragmented market and, with a 70%+ share, does it want to.

Windowsphone has a tiny world market share of 3%. The good news is that Nokia, as the largest player, has a range of phones that hit most price points. Outside the USA it has superb brand recognition. Plenty of potential to sell to the surging economies of the developing world.

People think the smartphone wars are all over with Android in first place, Apple in second and everyone else trailing behind. I think the next billion phone sales will really determine the winner and those customers may well choose very differently from the rich western world.