The worst smartphone I ever had was in 2009, a Sumsung Omnia with Windows Mobile 6.5 (not to be confused with Windows Phone.)But before heaping on the scorn let me backup and provide a little context.
In the first half of 2009 after seven years as a satisfied BlackBerry user I decided it was time to leave that world behind. I had seen various smartphones with apps running on them that were unavailable on the BlackBerry (can you imagine?) and I could tell the time was right to move to a more open platform. Of course the term “open” means that I was not considering an iPhone, but to be honest I knew little about the market beyond that desire and had no idea what platform was the right choice for me. Obviously I didn’t know it at the time but RIM had just hit their peak at around 43% U.S. market share, so it turns out I wasn’t alone in my hunt for a post-Blackberry experience. What to choose? Well, in second place was iPhone at 24% (eliminated by definition), Windows Mobile was in third at 19%, Palm (who?) was next at 8%, and the new kid in town, Google with Android was at 3%. The obvious choice was Windows Mobile right?
However obvious it was, within hours of getting home I knew something in the selection process had gone horribly wrong. For the first several days I was on the Internet reading about how to use my new gadget… which is a bad sign itself, having to read about how to use your phone. But I figured it must be me. How could Microsoft have such a position in the market if it was this difficult to use? The following months answered that question.
But as for me, during the brief time that Windows Mobile was my primary device OS, I learned more new curse words than if I had become the proverbial sailor. The rhetorical exclamation I made most of the time was “Does anyone from Microsoft actually use this?” I don’t think they did. To me it was as if someone had simply ported Windows XP onto a tiny phone. On second thought, make that Windows Vista. For the most part you couldn’t use it without a stylus since it made extensive use of drop-down menus – just like a PC application.
It didn’t take me long before I ditched it and purchased a Droid – the original version. At the time Android was still small in the market place (5%) but I guessed (correctly as history has shown) that with Google behind it, not to mention Motorola and Verizon, it would only get bigger and bigger.
If would be logical to wonder then if that is my opinion why would I be write an article with this title? Do I believe there will be such a collapse of Apple that the iPhone’s market share would shrink below Windows Phone (WP), currently at 5%? No, it won’t be an Apple collapse but I do believe the headline, and here’s why:
1 – The iPhone 5, when it comes out later this year will be close to catching up with Android phones. In other words, there will be no compelling reason for non-Apple fans to buy it.
2 – Microsoft has demonstrated on many occasions that they might not get something right the first time but they have the money and perseverance to keep at it until they get it right enough. Sometimes they give up and exit, or at least quit trying very hard, but in this case there is too much at stake. The world is moving mobile and the smartphone is the foundation.
3 – Nokia is and has been for a while the worldwide leader in delivering mobile handsets. Last year they announced they were dropping their own OS, Symbian, and starting anew with Windows Phone. That is really big and they will make an impact.
What you’ll see is that Noikia and WP will plod along and slowly gain market share. At first we’ll see the WP numbers come out of RIM but ultimately out of iPhone. As I mentioned in my tablet article 10 Reasons I Want an Android Tablet Apple has shown in the past that they are content to have a small marketshare as long as they can keep their profit margins high. They do this not only by not discounting the hardware but also through their software ecosystem. Everything you buy to run on the iPhone or iPad must go through Apple, who takes their significant cut. That essentially defines the term “closed”.
By late 2013 or the first half of 2014, Windows Phone will surpass iPhone in marketshare. Will I be a convert? Well, what I know is that I will be on an easy to use, app rich, open ecosystem. Today on the PC that is Windows. Today on smartphones that is Android. Let’s just wait and see.