iOS v. Android, but What about the Others?

The media keep focusing on the "battle" between iPhone and Android. But the mobile platform and handset market is not winner-take-all. There's room for more than two players to succeed in the US and internationally. This is a key point made by Google itself several times now. 

But how many platforms and smartphone operating systems can the market support exactly?

The following charts reflect OS representation on AdMob's global network. (AdMob does not equal the mobile Internet or mobile handsets more broadly, but there's a directional correspondence between mobile Internet trends and what AdMob shows in its metrics reports.)

If you consider the chart immediately above, what you see is that the "mobile Internet" (on AdMob's network) is dominated by iOS, followed by Android in North America and Western Europe. In other regions Nokia is a major player or dominant. Despite its large, installed base RIM is barely present on this chart.

RIM of course sells more smartphones than anyone in North America. However its mobile Internet usage data and overall user experience lag competitors. BlackBerry 6 seeks to change that.  

There aren't going to be five viable global smartphone platforms. There might be four, but it's more likely three. Those will vary, as the chart above suggests, on a geographic basis, with the two "constants" across regions likely to be Android and the iPhone.

Given the scathing criticque that an InfoWorld writer offered of Windows 7 (after a demo), it's quite possible that Microsoft might not be among the winners:

The bottom line is this: Windows Phone 7 is a pale imitation of the 2007-era iPhone. It's as if Microsoft decided in summer 2007 to copy the iPhone and has shut its developers in a bunker ever since, so they don't realize that several years have passed, that the iPhone has advanced, and that competitors such as Google Android and Palm WebOS have also pushed the needle forward. 

We'll have to wait and see how accurate this very harsh review is later this year when the handsets hit the market. But the Kin debacle is not a good sign for Redmond. 

In the US smartphone market, it's currently a three-way race between iPhone, Android and RIM. In Europe it's likely to be iPhone, Android and Nokia. Other platforms may simply not have the scale and (developer) mindshare to compete. Several developer surveys certainly suggest this as well. 

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 Source: Appcelerator (6/10)