In the last year, I have been amazed at the speed for which mobile technology has evolved. While consumers have quickly adopted the current generation of smartphones, I would never have guessed that large enterprise organizations would start investing so quickly in technology that is still in the upwards curve for maturity. Software developers have jumped in head first to develop amazing tools that create true utility in smart phones.
One year ago the talk was Blackberry vs iPhone, with Android and Palm building momentum. Now it is iPhone vs a collection of Android enabled devices, with Palm now completely out of the picture, Blackberry barely newsworthy, and Microsoft yet to jump into the mix. With Android and Microsoft tablets on their way, mobile carriers, device makers, and platform developers will compete for their position as a market leaders while stabilizing the marketplace for content providers and consumers.
The joke about cutting edge technology today being obsolete tomorrow is a mantra that we have truly accepted…
SMART PHONE LEADERSHIP
Apple is still a clear market leader.. They were first to market and still have a well designed, stable product (setting aside the antenna issue) with the largest pool of quality content. 1.5 million units in a day without anyone even touching the product is undeniable success. They develop the hardware and operating system, and have a level of control over content and the developer community. Like it or not, this is a solid business model, especially when it is complimented amazing design, marketing, and PR buzz.
Google is relying on shorter release cycles and innovation among hardware providers to catch up and compete with Apple. It seems that every week there is a new Android enabled device crammed with more computing power than the predecessor. I still believe the X-factor for Google is an overwhelming presence on the web that Apple does not have. How that will play out in the long run is to be seen. Though unlikely, Adobe Flash could be another interesting play if mobile flash player 10.1 succeeds… We know Apple will never support it so it can be a clear differentiator, though I don’t think normal consumers care as much as technologists.
RIM / Blackberry still has a huge market share with organizations that bought into the blackberry server solution and consumers who have never picked up an iPhone or Android and converted. While they have the hardware and platform to be competitive, I still wonder if they will ever attract enough developers to compete with Apple and Android enabled phones. Developers will ultimately toward money so if there is not a strong market for Blackberry apps, it could lead to trouble.
Microsoft is a sleeping giant in the mobile space, and with Windows powering most desktops, and a huge development and partner ecosystem, it would be ill advised to write them off as a contender that could significantly impact the future of mobile computing.
The mobile revolution is here with the same fierce competitive and creative buzz that we saw in the 90s. An incredible shift in focus to mobility by all media outlets is creating a lot of pressure on large software providers to prove shareholders and customers that they have a sound mobile strategy.
At no point in history have we had our finger on the pulse on technological advancements as close as we do with mobility. The major technology players involved are PR magnets whom consumers have strong emotional ties to. That coupled with a 24 hour, perpetual, social media blitz has create a virtual spotlight on software and hardware companies.
Even as a small software vendor focused on desktop software, our software solutions will ultimately need to need to compliment various mobile integration points or we will be left behind. I am very excited to move in this direction, as I have been scheming and thinking for a long time about various mobile business solutions. I would love to hear your opinions and feelings on this subject. We can all come back in mid 2011 and see how much the landscape changes and where all of the pieces fall.