April 12, 2012

Platform Wars

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Kindles, iPads, Galaxy smartphones, MAUI, HTML5, iOS, Android, Windows 8 . . . so many choices, so much more work to cater for them all.  Can't we just have a one-size-fits-all solution?

A simple straight-forward answer would enable developers and advertisers to get a better night's rest . . . . or at least cut back a bit on their working hours.

But that's not going to happen.

Fragmentation is going to rule for at least another year.

The Tablet

The user experience for many consumers - particularly in the middle and upper income groups - is now anchored across three to four screens: a computer, mobile handset, tablet and television.

Tablets have neither displaced phones or PCs, but have instead emerged as a unique device with its own set of benefits. Gartner expects global tablet sales to nearly double this year to 119 million units. While Apple should continue to be the biggest player in the tablet space with a 60+ percent market share, others are catching up. Consumers are expected to buy over 37 million Android tablets. Watch for the roll-out later this year as well of tablets built on Microsoft Windows 8.

Android tablets, like this one by Sony, 
are expected to account for nearly one-third of the market this year. 
Gartner expects sales of Android tablet to jump 8x by 2016.

As carriers develop data plans catering to multiple devices, consumer demand for tablets will increase even further.


2011 was the year that the global sale of smartphones outstripped PC sales.

And not only that, Apple is no longer the biggest player (though it does have the single most successful phone). Samsung, which posted record profits in the last quarter of the year, now holds that honour, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Nexus, which run on Android.

Samsung was a relatively late entrant into the smartphone game. Its success clearly demonstrates the demand for affordable, powerful phones.

Nokia and Microsoft meanwhile are investing 18 million euros to spur app development for Windows-based smartphones. They're setting up an "AppCampus" at a university in Finland to attract students and entrepreneurs to their platform.  Will Windows 8 emerge as a viable threat to other operating systems?

Sleepless Nights

Ever-increasing demand for mobile content -- and a proliferation of ways to view it -- inevitably brings more players into the game . . . and this has implications for how carriers make their money and contain their costs.

But more about that in my next post. In the meantime, apologies to developers who think they can concentrate on just one screen or one platform . . . ain't going to happen this year.