Friday, March 30, 2012

Smartphone is the new majority

Yesterday Nielsenwire released an article about surging smartphones in U.S.  Close to half of all mobile phones in U.S. are smartphones.  Since that was February data, there could be more smartphones than feature phones now.  Trend is clear.  Smartphones will be the new majority as number of feature phones dwindles down.
We are at singularity point; feature phone is new VHS cassette

There are two things to note on meteoric rise of smartphones to become new mobile majority.  First is that smartphone OS is two horse race between iOS and Android.  Although there are still segment of smartphones running on Blackberry or others, it's rapidly shrinking.  From Nielsenwire's data, it looks like most of losses are turning out to be wins for iOS (iPhone).  Barring success of new Windows 8 launch, it looks to be that smartphone market will be controlled by Google and Apple.

This may look like a consolidation of smartphone OS into two winners.  In reality, it's a lot messier than that because within Android there are lots of fragmentation.  Not only multiple versions of OS but physical phone hardware choices are even more divergent to be considered as single OS platform.  This is causing under-utilization of Android features by customers and increasing the barrier for developers to deliver applications on Android.

As Business Insider pointed out, fragmentation has been a big drag for Android.

Second notable point is the velocity of how fast smartphones and tablets are becoming the dominant computing devices for everyone.  According to International Data Corporation, nearly 1 billion connected devices were shipped in 2011, and this number is expected to double by 2016.  This means even with conservative estimate there will be about 7 billion connected devices shipped between 2011 and 2016.  Just to put this number in perspective, world population is estimated to be about 7.3 billion.  This means that there will be more connected devices than number of people on Earth.  That's staggering growth.

These two points translate to huge disruption to the way we communicate with each other, and how we are going to be connected to each other.  There will be many changes in high tech happening between now and 2016.

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