Android, Apple Dominance Leaves No Room for Third Platform: ReportBy Michelle Maisto
Google and Apple unquestionably dominate the mobile market, while Nokia and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion are said to be in a heated competition for third position. However, analysts with Global Equities Research now say that the might of the iOS and Android platforms don't leave room for a third platform.
Following conversations with approximately 15 Apple iOS and Google Android developers, they wrote in a Sept. 13 report, "98 percent of [the mobile market] will be shared by Google Android and Apple iOS. There will not be any third spot left. Nokia, Microsoft and RIM will struggle in the remaining 2 percent of the market."
They backed up this theory with a handful of points and statistics.
More than 400 million iOS devices have been sold, said the report, and Apple now has more than 435 million one-click-purchasing accounts, up from 180 million a year ago. Android's momentum is also "extremely strong." Google now activates more than 1.2 million devices per day, and the new Google YouTube iOS application was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours after its release.
The developers the analysts spoke with were also pleased that Apple both grew the iPhone's screen size and kept its width the same, making it still "a one-hand device."
By this same thinking, they added, the Nokia Lumia 920 is "dead on departure," as it's not a single-hand device and shows "poor industry design."
Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, who has been clear about her affection for Nokia's Windows Phone devices, made the same design point in a Sept. 12 blog post.
"The taller-but-not-wider solution to getting a larger screen on the iPhone means that your thumb has to do less reaching across the screen," she wrote. "Apple has elegantly solved a problem that niggles me about my Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone-the screen is just too wide."
It's also expected than an iPad Mini will arrive in October, in line with the release of the redesigned iTunes store Apple showed off during the Sept. 12 event at which it introduced the iPhone 5.
October will also bringing the launch of Jelly Bean, the newest version of the Android OS and, according the report, also the launch of at least 30 new Google applications, including Google Maps for Apple iOS, and at least 15 new Android-running smartphones.
"The innovation rivalry between Apple and Google will not leave any third slot in the mobile space," concluded report author Trip Chowdhry. He added, "Innovation velocity of both Apple and Google far exceeds that of its peers."
If a third platform is to emerge, it may come thanks to the backing of the wireless carriers. Executives with the various carriers have over the last year said they'd like a third platform to emerge, and analysts say the carriers need for this to happen.
"Operators are looking for leverage over Apple and Android OEMs, which dominate the marketplace and saddle carriers with high device subsidies," Technology Business Research analyst Michael Soper wrote in a July report, explaining the need for another platform.
Soper expects that Windows Phone will be that platform, noting that AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular have "voiced support" for the platform, and Leap Wireless was in discussions about offering Windows Phones with prepaid calling plans. Bloomberg has since reported that Verizon Wireless will also support the platform.
Given the expense of the iPhone on carriers-research firm Strand Consult has even suggested that, following the iPhone 5's release, we may see carriers issuing profit warnings-Soper told eWEEK that, "to gain favor with operators, it would be in Nokia and Microsoft's best interests to offer highly capable phones at low price points."
Nokia's new Lumia smartphones are expected to go on sale later this year, while RIM's BlackBerry 10 platform and smartphones have a penciled released date in January.