There is a trap that too many people are falling into. I know, because it’s one that I have to be careful to avoid. The trap I’m talking about is the belief that the smartphone market is now mature enough that we can easily predict who the winners and losers are going to be.
This is something I’ve read or heard many times, “_____ is wasting its time with _______, because Google and Apple have the smartphone market wrapped up.” There are a range of options for those blanks:
- HP, webOS
- Microsoft, Windows Phone 7
- Nokia, Symbian
But this statement just isn’t true. As evidence, I submit the newly-released results of a survey which found that the vast majority of smartphone users are open to switching to another operating system if they see a good reason to (read more).
Apple did best in this survey, but it still found that over 40% of current iPhone users have no loyalty to this company. And Google’s Android OS did even worse — just 28% of current users of said they were definitely sticking with it.
A Lack of Maturity
The PC market is mature, and after someone has been a Windows user for a decade or more, they are unlikely to go out and buy a Mac. The reverse is also true: long-time Mac users aren’t likely to get a Vista PC.
But the mobile device market is not mature. A great many smartphone users are still on their first device. After someone has been using a BlackBerry for 6 months, if they see a really cool Droid or Palm or Windows phone, they are open to switching.
An important part of this is the fact that the mobile platforms themselves are still immature. Really important features are still missing or have weak support. Fonts, printing, and Adobe Flash are just a few examples.
The operating systems that offer the best support for the features users want are the ones that are going to draw in customers. If HP can bring in important features faster than Google can, then customers are going to switch to Palm devices. The same is true of Microsoft and Windows Phone 7.
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