Monday, July 19, 2010

What the leading smartphone is, and why it doesn't matter

In my last post, I looked at a post that characterized the smartphone as a "must-have" item, and then I mentioned a few smartphone platforms - Apple's, Google's, and Blackberry's, among others - and noted that none of them is the leading smartphone platform.

The first place among Gartner's 2010 survey of smartphone sales, with a 44.3% market share based upon sales of over 24 million phones, is Symbian.

Yes, Symbian.

When was the last time that someone mentioned Symbian when talking about major smartphone platforms? And even I'll grant that Symbian hasn't really taken off in my home country. eWeek acknowledges this:

Despite maintaining a leadership position in terms of smartphone platform market share, the Symbian Platform has not been as successful in the United States as it has been in the rest of the world, particularly in emerging markets.

Notice those words "emerging markets." Now if you want to make money, are you going to go to a mature market, or to an emerging one?

And don't forget that even the mighty Symbian is not a major player in the TOTAL mobile phone market. In a sense, I'm more representative of the average mobile phone user than my buddy with an iPhone or a Symbian device. When you talk about "apps" on your phone, the only app that I have on my LG env3 is a WAP-compatible web browser (an Obigo web browser, to be specific). And if your content isn't compatible with my Obigo web browser, I'm not going to visit you on my mobile phone.

Then again, how many mobile phones even have web browsers? Maybe you'd better make sure that you have an SMS-compatible service if you want to reach these users.

Or maybe...maybe...I'm sorry for pausing, but this is too shocking to contemplate...maybe if you want to reach the vast majority of mobile phone users, you have to offer A VOICE SERVICE. Now I'll grant that some people, including myself, don't use a mobile phone as a phone all that often, but for a lot of people, that's the only way that they CAN use a phone. If you want these people to access your service anywhere, anytime, then a fancy app or a WAP-enabled web page won't do you any good.

And perhaps that's the true #21stcenturyproblem. When I was growing up, there was no concept of being able to reach someone at any time. This might shock some younger readers, but back in the day we used to say, "I'll be out of town - you can't reach me."

Let's say that I was on vacation in San Francisco. You wouldn't be able to reach me during the day, because I might be at the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman's Wharf or Chinatown, and unless you happened to know the phone number for a pay phone in the area, you weren't going to be able to call me.

Oh sure, you might be able to reach me at night, when I was back in my hotel room (or in my case, my grandma's house), but were you really going to pay SEVERAL DOLLARS to call me in San Francisco - back at the time when a local call cost ten cents?

But today we have the capability to reach hundreds of millions of people, no matter where they are. But you're not going to reach them if they need to launch an app or a web browser.
blog comments powered by Disqus