Apple and iOS will not become a smartphone monopoly

I just read this article on Techcrunch about why -allegedly- iOS will dominate the burgeoning smartphone O/S market.

It won’t.

As I said in the comments, I can’t agree with this analysis of the market.

Even from an instinctive point of view, without referring to the market numbers, it is highly unlikely that a high end desirable brand like Apple will become the dominant player in the mobile space. I’m unconvinced they even want to.

Apple will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the direction of the market and likely remain the fanboy and girl object of desire and admiration for the foreseeable future, but do not mix this up with the realities of the wider market.

In addition, Apple remains a more desirable piece of kit for laptops and desktop use with PC’s, but has never been dominant – the arguably inferior Windows O/S has.

Once you do look at the numbers, the likelihood of Apple and it’s iPhone O/S taking an equivalent position to Windows monopoly on desktop, seems even less realistic. Firstly most of the growth in mobile subscribers over the next 3 years will be in developing countries. Second, the bulk of the upgrades from feature to smartphone of western users, will now come from the un-tech savvy. They will believe what the shop sales person says, or just pick the brand of phone they are used to and had before. iPhones will even be out of the reach cost-wise of many Western users, on lower incomes.

Apple is vastly profitable, it does not need to own the entire market and were it to try to it would likely not be the most profitable of operations that it is.

In addition, open ecosystems are more likely to dominate and the Android O/S is free to install. This is without even discussing RIM’s new O/S, or Samsungs Bada (Samsung is the worlds biggest manufacturer of phones).

With only 30-40% of the US and UK population having a smartphone, there is a huge amount of growth to come – but with 3-4 times the number of phone subscribers due to have smartphones, than there are current internet users globally, it is extremely improbable that the phone O/S war will even be just a two horse race, in the next 3 years, or even 5, IMHO.

More reading? I wrote about Android versus Apple some time ago here:

Five Great Reasons To Attend MLOVE 2011

As if the onslaught of social media, real time feeds and micro blogging is not enough distraction, there is an ever growing list of events trying to grab our attention these days. So why should you invest the time and money in coming to MLOVE 2011? (Disclosure: I’m an advisor to MLOVE)

*** MLOVE starts evening June 22nd 2011 continuing to Friday/Saturday. You can still grab a last second ticket here -use my code “MLOVE-VIP11-Andrew” ***

  • Mobile IS the Internet, it’s the future of us all. In 10 years, we’ll scarcely remember the days of tapping at our desktop or laptop PC. Our desktop PC –in fact our only PC – will be in our pockets
  • MLOVE was created to inspire you to approach your business, and ultimately the world around you, with a different perspective. At MLOVE we strive to be more engaging and create value for you through interaction and involvement
  • MLOVE is held in a trusted environment where people can relax and speak candidly, in order to build real world off-line friendships to benefit your life and your business ambition
  • MLOVE aims to deliver the power, inspiration and education of TED with the irreverence, trust and freedom of expression, embodied by the famous Burning Man festival ..but with less dust
  • MLOVE will take you out of a regular hotel conference environment and put you in a 100 year old German Schloss, alongside peers who are guaranteed to educate and entertain you.

The MLOVE society is resolved to build on the success of MLOVE 2010 with a second Confestival in Europe which kicks off in just 36 hours and you can still grab a last ticket now!

Meanwhile, there will be MLOVE Camps throughout 2011; MLOVE Barcelona Camp was held in February 2011 after Mobile World Congress and further Camps in London and San Francisco are pencilled in for the Summer and Fall and conferences outside of Germany during 2012: help us.

MLOVE Team Barcelona Camp 2010

Harald (MLOVE Founder), attendees and MLOVE advisors at the Barcelona MLOVE Camp 2010. More camps coming: make sure you're there!

Most People Now Realise Android Will Win

Judging by this recent poll which the eminent @quixotic ran on his LinkedIn pages, it’s clear that general thinking has caught up with those of us who have been arguing open Android was always going to win over closed Apple, with Android being the clear dominant future for smartphones.

The results from Reid Hoffmans recent poll are pretty clear

People argue of course over how open Android really is, but that is missing the point. It is, for better or worse, more open and lower cost (being free for most licensee’s) than Apple’s IOS; and in this race that is all that matters.

See the full Android versus Apple poll here.  Just incase that one wasn’t enough, a second Android versus Apple poll I stumbled across thought the same thing.



Qik Mobile App Install: A Example of Best Practise

I rarely feel compelled to write a blog post because an install process for a web or mobile app is so good, but Qik has triggered just that compulsion. Qik allows you to easily record or live stream video from your mobile phone. The list of supported phones is growing fast; and you can expect the rate of engagement to explode once the iPhone 3GS is cleared for takeoff with Qik (currently you have to jail break your phone to get it working).

The point of this post though was to highlight the process they use to install onto your phone. In brief, you have the choice of being sent an SMS (supporting multiple countries), downloading it and then installing it via your PC (or “side loading” as the industry calls it), or visiting a WAP site (a mobile website) to download from a link.

However, the important bit comes once the install process starts on the phone. I click to receive the SMS, received it immediately; I think clicked the link in the SMS, it started downloading to my phone, but crucially, updated the page automatically to tick the box that install had begun, it then confirmed when install/download had completed and then when I had fired up the app.

Qik have an excellent mobile app install process from their website, closing the loop between PC and mobile & ensuring users complete the install there and then

Qik have an excellent mobile app install process from their website, closing the loop between PC and mobile & ensuring users complete the install there and then

This might seem simple but it is VERY rare this process is used; normally the site just sends you an SMS and you go on your merry way.  Closing this loop, provided you can guarantee speedy delivery of the SMS, encourages if not subtly forces the user to install the app there and then and to log in – making them feel comfortable and hand-held in the process to confirm that things are happening as they should.

A clever and slick way to help users get your mobile app onto a users handset.  When we have resource to make improvements to the Rummble website, my start-up which takes the vast majority of my attentions these days, we’ll be following this user experience as its one of the best I’ve seen yet. Well done Qik!

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Latitude: Googles Trojan Horse (or Why “Who’s Nearby?” Is Not A Business)

This post was published on Friday 6th February 2009 as a guest post on Mobile Industry Review

For the last 3 years now I’ve been crowing at conferences that “Who’s nearby” is not a business. I drew this conclusion from running playtxt, Europes first location-based mobile social network.

It started in 2002 and we had an Alpha launch in 2003. It was ridiculously early to market. Back in 2002 most normal people (i.e. those for whom a “tweet” today is still something only birds do) did not know what a social network was, let alone a mobile location-based social network. Thanks to MySpace, Facebook and the inevitable march of technology, even my own mother is now aware of social networking, SMS and GPS.

By 2005 Google had bought our main competitor Dodgeball and although the mobile operators were still charging for Cell ID lookups (ludicrously, they are STILL trying to!) I already believed it was only a matter of time before location became a commodity. It would too easy to do for start-ups to do and even easier for others such as Facebook, which was on its ascent.

I decided that “who’s nearby?” was never going to create a multi-million pound business and I made three predictions, some which are still relevant today:

  • GPS will be in every phone as cameras were then becoming. (GPS chipsets are extremely cheap, power consumption is becoming lower, processing power higher and Galileo is on the horizon -literally, haha).
  • One of the gorillas (Google, Yahoo et al) will release a free Cell ID/Location API. (Google have and its excellent).
  • “Who’s nearby” will also become a commodity

For the last 2 years I’ve been telling any start-up which is building its own Cell ID database, that it must be mad. I see no business model. Google about as likely to charge for Cell ID lookup as it is for its maps API; and that likelihood is slim.

There was (and is) money to be made with tracking and Cell ID technology, but both industries begin with “S” and neither spell the world “Social”. Instead, it is Security (child tracking, staff tracking) and of course Sex (proximity dating, adult services); infact any vertical where a premium can be demanded – we know that fear and shagging both command strong emotions which can result in a buying decision. Wondering “Where are my friends?” does not; unless of course you’re intensely paranoid or have VERY accommodating friends.

There is no mobile internet: there is only the internet.

This has been my other crusade for the last 2 years; and this is probably what Google believes too. What I mean is, that fix-line world-wide-web access is the black & white TV of the internet. Amazing in itself, but without the full functionality of what we recognise as “television” today.

Location, portability and the need for personalisation (a mobile being such a small, personal device) are the three missing dwarfs which give us our Seven Dwarfs of the modern internet. (The first four were IMHO: the web browser as user interface, freedom to publish without government or minority corporate control, always-on fixed cost access, and broadband bandwidth; Snow White being the internet itself).

So in the near future (3-5years?) no one will talk of the “mobile” internet but simply, the internet. You will have an iphonesque device (in size & looks if not in O/S 😉 which you take home and plug into your 24 inch screen and keyboard …we’ve still a decade to go before we type goodbye to Mr Qwerty and say hello to HAL.

Be under no delusion, Latitude is Googles Trojan horse into the social networking space.

After Googles purchase of Dodgeball it was clear they had every intention to roll out a service such as Latitude and they are perfectly positioned to do so.

Almost by-passing online social networking entirely (aside from Orkut which only took hold in Brazil) I believe Google will pursue a wide-reaching mobile social play. Google will build up a critical mass of users on Latitude; and they will join because:

  • It is Google (so its trustworthy; yes still)
  • Its easy to use – simple UI and simple privacy model: Automatic, Manual or Hide your location (or as I prefer: Honest, Lie or Paranoia)
  • It has reach (27 countries at launch, lots of handsets, no GPS required)
  • Its free

They will then likely launch an API (in the process solving some of the standardisation and interconnectivity problems – possibly using the new OAuth hybrid or equivalent) but also roll out other functionality enhancements. Although the latter may take longer than you think.

Latitude has lots wrong with it too e.g. Gmail import only (where is XFN Social Graph import or device address book comparison?) status update is crying out for Twitter integration and a hook into FireEagle (with which Latitude does not compete, yet) would all be very welcome (the last two are unlikely for political reasons but would be a fantastic nod to the open ecosystem) and dont forget part of Latitudes beauty is its simplicity; and Google have time on their side.

Many of us have been waiting for location-based services to come of age for YEARS! but in reality we’re still in the early adopter curve. Infact, I’d go even further than that. At BeingDigital in 2008 I stated on stage to a deluge of ridicule, that Social Networking wasn’t yet main stream. The laughing continued until I asked how many parents AND siblings of delegates had email? The answer was predictable: virtually everyone. Then I asked how many parents and siblings were also on a social network; over 75% of the hands dropped.

150 million people on Facebook is a lot, but 3.2 billion people have mobile phones: that’s a lot more. Email is mainstream, social networking is still maturing. Eventually it will of course become part of everything we do “online” rather than be a destination, with your social graph becoming portable and also actually owned by you, not FaceSpace.

So what does this all mean?

1) Location is already commodity AND your friends location will become a commodity.

Any service will be able to plug in and use this data (with the right permissions). Its already happening – checkout Yahoo’s FireEagle which is an aggregator of location between services.

2) If you’re a start-up building LBS, Cell ID, friends nearby services, or anything else which is being commoditised as we speak, see above.

Loopt; west coast startup run by a bright 24 year old entrepreneur – nice guy, flawed business plan. $13million+ in funding, nudging just 1 million users after 3 years with low engagement metrics. Differentiator? There isn’t one. Case closed, game over.

3) If you’re running anything with the words “mobile social network” in the title, lock yourself in a room with your team and work out how you’re going to save your business.

That means innovate. Mobile is not a differentiator, its an inevitability.

At Le Web 07 I met with Christian Wiklund, Founder of Skout. He had built a cool location based mobile social network (LoMoSoSo anyone?). By Q1 2008 when I met him in San Francisco, he’d already realised that competition was fierce and the concept was flawed — and that was before the gorillas had waded in. I implored him to change strategy (something which infact he’d already started doing). He chose dating. It’s a smart move. Dating generates money—and lots of it. Proximity dating, or infact “mobile dating” in general has never been done really well (even Mr Arrington agrees).

As a LBS start-up, you need to think about adding distinctive value for users; differentiating on location is an oxymoron. I know some of you are making money, some of the pure play mobile social networks are even profitable – great. But there’s an iceberg ahead and it may be bigger than it looks: just ask Captain Edward John Smith.

The future is relevance; the context of not only where I am but what I’m doing, who I am, where I will be. In summary: It’s about the data, stupid.

..and that will be what I write about in my next post; if they’ll have me back!

Chinwag Podcast on Search & Location, now available

For those that missed the Chinwag Live: Search & Location Based Services on 7th Oct 2008, the PODCAST is now online, so if you missed it you can listen to myself and these other purveyors of all this locational, at via Feedburner, and also on iTunes. (in 3 parts) RSS & iTunes:

In order, left to right:

Felix Petersen – Co-founder, Plazes / Head of Product Management, Social Activities, Nokia
Adrian Drury – Head of Commercial Strategy & Business Development, The Cloud
Chris Moisan – Product & Market Development Manager, Taptu / blog
Andrew Scott – Co-founder, Rummble
Peggy-Anne Salz – Chief Analyst & Producer, MSearchGroove
CHAIR: Jo Rabin – Consultant & Co-Founder of MoMo London