Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Next Ubiquitous Platform - Part II

I started penning my thoughts on the next ubiquitous platform in July of 2007. I eventually posted it a year later as The Next Ubiquitous Platform. Since then, a lot of things have happened to the major players in the mobile world:

1. Nokia Symbian

In the past year or so, Nokia aquired Symbian, open sourced the platform, and released a new version. Symbian still has almost half of the global market share, but it is slowly losing ground to rivals.
Global market share: 2009: 46.9% 2008: 52.4%
Verdict: The #1 feature phone platform.

2. RIM Blackberry

RIM released a new version, stayed out of controversies, and continued to remain a solid second to Symbian.
Global market share: 2009: 19.9% 2008: 16.6%
Verdict: The #1 corporate messaging device.

3. Apple iPhone

Apple released a new version, lost a couple of prototypes, picked fights with Adobe, Nokia and HTC, and continued to dictate what users and developers can and cannot do with their iPhones including banning porn and the use of third-party libraries. Sales may have slowed down lately but it is still very popular with consumers.
Global market share: 2009: 14.4% 2008: 8.2%
Verdict: The #1 consumer Smartphone.

4. Microsoft Windows Mobile

Microsoft released a new version, but continued to bleed market share.
Global market share: 2009: 14.4% 2008: 8.2%
Verdict: Still as uninspiring as ever.

5. Google Android

Google released many upgrades, it's partners released many devices.
Global market share: 2009: 3.9% 2008: 0.5%
Verdict: The fastest growing mobile platform, eating away at the market share of other Linux platforms and Windows Mobile.

6. Palm WebOS

Palm released an impressive new platform. But it was too, too late. Unable to sustain itself, Palm was acquired by HP.
Global market share: 2009: 0.7% 2008: 0%
Verdict: Too many missteps along the way has made this one time leader into a niche player.

7. JavaFX Mobile

It's been 3 years since JavaFX Mobile was announced. Much was promised, but there still no devices shipped.
Global Market share: 2009: 0% 2008: 0%
Verdict: With SUN no more - having been absorbed into the borg that is Oracle, I pronounce JavaFX Mobile DOA.

In July 2007, in The Next Ubiquitous Platform I postulated:
It's clear that the next ubiquitous computing platform is going to be a mobile one. It's also clear that it won't be Apple's iPhone since it is a proprietary closed platform, and historically, only open platforms like the Apple II and the IBM PC have attained ubiquity. The last pretender to the throne was Palm, but delays in incorporating modern features like multi-tasking and multimedia support, have relegated it to an also-ran. It also seems likely that the next ubiquitous computing platform will incorporate the two heavy weights of the Open Systems world - Linux and Java.
Almost 3 years later, I can say that the Next Ubiquitous Platform is Android. I hate the fact that even though you code in Java, it's not really Java. And that Google doesn't seem to listen to it's users or developers and has done nothing to improve device fragmentation or fix the issues with it's marketplace. But there's no denying the fact, that with 34 different handsets being shipped in 49 countries, at the rate of about 65,000 a day, Android is the clearly the Next Ubiquitous Platform. And it incorporates both Linux and Java. Somewhat.

Credits: Global Market share stats by Gartner (2010)