2013 : the moment of truth for Windows

I was invited to a Microsoft event recently and it started very odly. The guy from Microsoft started with a comparison of the cumulative shipments of Android devices and Windows devices. The Guy was chespounding that there were more than 1,5 billion Windows device in use compared with as little as 500 M Android devices.
So the real threat for Microsoft isn’t Apple but Android. And when you look closer and start to do some forecast there is a serious risk for Microsoft to be outnumbered by Android device in not a so distant future.
Here is forecast, I have cooked up aggtregating numbers from different sources.

Android vs Windows shipments forecast (M units)

Android vs Windows shipments forecast (M units)

As there is very little growth in the PC segment, the Windows growth will come from 2 sources : smartphones and tablets.
Next year 2013 will be a truth moment. If Microsoft Windows 8 or if Windows Phone fails, Android devices will outnumber Windows devices and will become the dominent computing platform.

Don’t count Nokia out of the smartphone playground

Nokia has done a very good job lately.

First Nokia is now the dominant player of the Windows Phone segment with a market share of 59% of the Windows Phone segment after just 9 months. HTC and Samsung are left far behind with a market share of 21% and 13% respectively.

> FierceMobile article

The Nokia Windows Phone portfolio is wide starting at a 200€ retail price without subsidy for a Lumia 610. This mid range product, or entry level for a smartphone, is a very good one. Ive tested it for almost one month as my primary device and the user experience is really good. To achieve this price point Nokia has compromised on the Application Processor, a ‘small’ 800MHz.

But the experience is still smooth and great. You just get some disappointment when you cannot use some games or apps like Skype as they cannot run on the device. You get a message in the MarketPlace that this application doesn’t run on your device. This small disappointment is however far better than an application freezing your device. And after all, you know this device isn’t the most costly and powerful.  The device comes with a free sat nav software that you can use off line, Nokia apps on public transports, image processing, etc.

On the other hand, Windows Phone is lagging after the other OS with 2.7% market share of the smartphone market but dynamics are there:

  • Nokia Lumia product range is very good
  • Windows Phone is a very good OS
  • Nokia has achieved in less than a year to be the dominant player in the Windows Phone segment
  • Windows Phone has grown 300%+ in 8 months when Android growth is stalling.

If no other manufacturer competes with Nokia, Nokia will be synonymous of Windows Phone. In that case, Microsoft might have the temptation to buy out Nokia and become an integrated player like its XBOX console business.

Let’s wait for the new Lumia range (featuring WP 8) announcement at the beginning of September. It will give some hints at the future of Nokia and Windows Phone.

A mobile downloads benchmark

I’m currently involved in discussions with many Content Service Providers(CSP). Even though the discussions are around connected TVs and tablets, CSP usually disclose their result in terms of downloads on purely mobile platforms.

The ratios between platforms are surprisingly stable from one CSP to the other.

a mobile downloads benchmark

a mobile downloads benchmark

The ratio they get is roughly 1 download on Windows Phone for 10 downloads on Android for 100 downloads for iOS.

One can expect the ratio to improve on Windows Phone with the upcoming launch of the first Nokia Windows Phone mobile due next week. Never the less these ratios help to make up one’s mind in term of platform priorities.

Google buys Motorola. WindowsPhone7 remains the only independent platform

Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility (the handset maker branch) raises a few questions on the future openeness of the Android ecosystem in the future.

The acquisition is mostly presented as an acquisition of a patent portfolio but is that all?

In a previous post, I was mentioning that Android 3.0 has been reserved to a few selected manufacturers mainly Motorola. Motorola enjoyed around 4 months to sale its Android powered tablet before another competitor could enter the stage.

It certainly won’t improve with Motorola being a Google subsidiary.

“The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem,” Google said in a statement.

So we’ll have a 2 kind of Android devices. The Motorola devices with the latest features and innovation and the rest of the market providing the same devices but with months of delay or niche products that Google/Motorola don’t want to produce.

Most of the OEMs don’t care as long the OS license fee remains free, but what will be the reaction of the main ODM like Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony-Ericsson? Even if Google is 100% honest and Motorola managed separately there will be still suspicion in the air.

This is creating a fantastic opportunity for Microsoft is they play smartly. After all HTC is paying Microsoft around 5$ per Android device for Intellectual Property. If the cost of a Windows Phone 7 license is around 10$ the benefits of using Android are meager: 5$ per device for an outdated OS version. With the end of the Symbian foundation, Microsoft remains the only Open OS provider not manufacturing devices.

Operators’ pillars: pipe & invoice

Mobile Platform providers have understood the key role operator have still to play in the application business. They are approaching operators to be able to use opetrators’ billing for their application store.

Microsoft started with Windows Mobile 6.5 and now Google is doing the same with Sprint in the US and will expand it to other regions in the coming months.

sprint billing android market

sprint billing on android market

Operators’ key asset beyond the pipe is their billing system. Unfortunately these billing system are most of the time obsolete and bulky, build on Cobol / Mainframe infrastructure.

Operators have here a unique opportunity to have their cut on the application business and get back at the centre of the game. Now it’s a question of IT agility. Usually not their most developed skill.