Perspectives of Wireless Marketing Wars Who will Be the Winner?
By Serge Bocharov,
PDA & Mobile Market Analyst
According to the research held by analytics company Canalys the market of "smart" mobile devices in Europe, Near East and Africa grows more rapidly than market of mobile phones. Within the first half of 2005 9.6 million of smartphones and PDAs were sold compared to 3.6 million during the same period of the previous year. Such trend is observed worldwide almost 70 million full feature handsets are sold worldwide. According to analysts the two main processes in progress stipulate such growth at the moment. On the one hand, ordinary users interchange their old smartphones and PDAs to newer ones. On the other hand, there is an upsurge in interest in mobile E-mail and extended abilities of smart mobile devices from companies and corporations.
Modern smart mobile systems are to be: always available (small sized / handy), always On (optimized memory usage, minimal battery use), extensible (new software can be added if necessary), affordable, and of various form factors. Moreover, a smart mobile device should combine the maximum of mobile technologies available at the moment: GPS, VoIP, Bluetooth, IrDa, GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi, mobile E-mail, support of HTTP protocol, MP3 etc. This is a vast domain for competition among manufacturers of operation systems for smartphones and PDAs.
There are several very large players in this market: Symbian OS, BREW OS, Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile OS and Palm OS etc.
Ulf Morys, General Manager at Gameloft GmbH:
"Symbian: more important in the future, but still niche market (Nokia market share ca. 33 % overall; not more than 1/3 of this Symbian phones & some other Symbian phones). Overall optimistic estimate: ca. 10 % of total newly sold phone base.
BlackBerry: interesting for business / productivity applications; no mass market.
WindowsCE: difficult to judge. Microsoft will keep pushing it's platform, but results were often unsatisfactory in the past; make sure that the partners can actually bill for applications delivered to this platform. We've seen problems with this.
BREW: real mass market potential in US and Chinese market, not very relevant for European market."
|Nokia 6680||SonyEricsson P910||Motorola A1000|
SYMBIAN is a software licensing company that develops and supplies the advanced, open, standard operating system Symbian OS for data-enabled mobile phones and PDAs.
As of September 2005 60 phones that run under Symbian OS from eight manufacturers are shipped worldwide and a further 56 phones from eleven manufacturers (among them Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, BenQ and Motorola) were in development. Symbian OS is an undisputed sales leader in Europe and has a strong market share in other countries. Currently Symbian's market share is 55.9 per cent from worldwide sales (according to IDC analytics company), at that 82 per cent of devices were manufactured by Nokia (in whole since 2005 beginning there were sold approximately 34 million data enabled devices with Symbian OS on board).
19 of 60 devices with Symbian OS support WCDMA. By the way, smartphone Nokia 6680 is recognized a 3G world bestseller telephone.
|Motorola RAZR V3c||Nokia 6255i||Samsung SCH-A815|
BREW - Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless is a combination OS, application platform, and marketing system. BREW started with QUALCOMM-based CDMA chipsets and technology a vast market but BREW is independent of the wireless technology utilized by a particular handset or network and can support other wireless technologies. Ideally, BREW can work with any device, and Qualcomm is planning to port it to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Qualcomm is trying to remove the gap between GSM and CDMA operators. As CDMA strengthened hand, the GSM lobby propped its own version of CDMA which they named WCDMA (Wideband CDMA). WCDMA has been launched in a group of countries (80 operators in 29 countries), and many more are gearing to launch it within this year, it is already successfully running in countries like Korea, Japan, China, India, Brazil and in some parts of North America.
So far prevalent in the CDMA domain, BREW is gradually transiting to the GSM bastion of Europe as the continent's operators introduce 3G services based on WCDMA (by the end of year 2005 the number of WCDMA networks users worldwide increased by 2,6 times compared to December 31, 2004 and reached 43,81 million users). Such a scenario could make Qualcomm a worldwide flag carrier in mobile market. In all, 40 commercial BREW device manufacturers (Audiovox, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, BenQ etc.) offer over 135 BREW-enabled devices as of January, 2006 according to Qualcomm. Almost 10% of all handsets shipped worldwide are BREW compatible and the number of application downloads (May 2005) exceeds 300 million. The success of BREW has been built on CDMA platforms of major mobile operators, including Verizon Wireless, China Unicom, Telstra and KDDI.
Regardless of platform, BREW requires little memory (150KB), which makes BREW applications workable even on low-end phones.
BREW provides basic capabilities for such advanced services as GPS, VoIP, Bluetooth 1.1, MP3 and MIDI support, video recording and playback, multimedia streaming, e-mail. The set of BREW services includes communication capabilities of TCP/UDP sockets, HTTP protocol support, SMS-MMS services, extended telephony capabilities. BREW supports several programming languages including Java, and via extensions BREW understands C/C++, interactive animation Flash and XML.
The Wall Street Journal paralleled BREW with Microsoft Windows in wireless communication domain.
BLACKBERRY is a proprietary operating system, provided by RIM (Research in Motion, Canada), for the BlackBerry devices and BlackBerry enabled devices (BlackBerry email is already on a few handsets including Siemens SK65, Nokia 6820/6822, Motorola MPx220). BlackBerry is one of the leading wireless solutions, which allows users to stay connected with wireless access to email, corporate data, phone, web and organizer features. The true power of BlackBerry is mailbox integration. BlackBerry can integrate seamlessly with a user's existing corporate or personal email account providing a wireless extension of their regular e-mailbox.
The first BlackBerry was released in early 1999. The first BlackBerry with integrated cell phone, as well as the first BlackBerry sold outside of North America was released in 2001, using the European GSM/GPRS standard. RIM at the moment has a very dominant position in the mobile email market. BlackBerry is used worldwide, available from 95 wireless carriers in 40 countries. In November 2004, RIM announced the number of subscribers to the BlackBerry service to have reached two million, having doubled within ten months. Proceeding their steady growth, RIM announced an additional one million subscribers in May 2005, only six months after having reached two million.
No wonder, RIM manufactures a top notch device (with BlackBerry OS on board) that is secure, stable, and dominates market share with state and local government, the military, and with commercial corporations. In 2005 RIM was the first largest PDA supplier, and their technology BlackBerry occupied the second place among OS manufacturers giving Microsoft product the go-by.
RIM develops its own software for its devices, using C++ and Java technology. Third party developers applications must be digitally signed, that guarantees the application authorship. Available services are: Wireless Email Service, Wireless Calendar Service, Wireless Internet (HTML and WAP formats) Services, Voice and SMS, Mobile Data Service, Attachment Service, Instant Messenger, GPS Service, Bluetooth etc.
|Diagram Year-on-year increment of devices shipments|
|Note BREW includes CDMA and WCDMA chipsets|
The full feature handsets market is hard to predict, however almost all analysts predict steady and increasing growth of this market (which is observed at the moment). Each manufacturer aspires to create a common OS to globalize and standardize application development, distribution and management (as they say) to develop applications for all but not for each distinct device. Some people welcome such opportunity and some are bothered by possible monopolization and subsequent abuses in this domain. What is observed at the moment that each of the manufacturers had occupied a distinct characteristic niche, where he is successful, and already from there with mixed success tries to "conquer"the mobile wireless world.
The whole world, and wireless market in particular, moves toward high speeds, multiple functions and extended business possibilities. 3G networks is the next inevitable stage of mobile market development. It provides plenty of capabilities both for business and entertainment, communication and data transfer, Internet access and mobile e-mailing. Most of 3G devices should combine all available 3G technologies to be competitive. This factor will also affect the development of devices and operating systems for them. As we can see, the mobile market requires a device that could fullest reveal the capabilities of next generation mobile networks 3G and 4G. These numbers are dramatic confirmation of 3G leading position: 173 Commercial 3G Operators in 75 Countries worldwide (as of February 02, 2006), over 228 million reported 3G CDMA subscribers (as of November 30, 2005), 826 models of 3G devices worldwide. The industry standard for 3G wireless networks consists of 5 operating modes three of them are based on CDMA technology: CDMA2000, WCDMA (UMTS) and TD-SCDMA. In this light BREW OS has a great opportunity to become a leader, though Nokia 6680 under Symbian OS is a 3G world bestseller telephone. The services by 3G carriers are quite actual already 80% of British mobile users are ready to pay for mobile TV service, nothing to say about GPS, high-speed packet data access and high quality voice services.
Still large companies, financial giants, transnational corporations and government institutions adhere to the tried technologies they use BlackBerry undisputed leader in enterprise mobile solutions for mobile professionals and seek no alternative for it. However, if You still want an alternative for You BlackBerry You should be set for paying a pretty penny of some $500 for a new device and a new connection and it is not easy at all to find an equal substitution.
And let us don't forget that more players like Windows Mobile OS and Linux OS are on their way and hit their stride.
Table. Annual global sales [pcs.] and market share [%] of each OS
Note BREW OS is not included in the table
|OS vendor||2004||% share||2005||% share|
Undoubtedly, there's still a long way to go: Symbian powered nearly 34 million devices last year, more than double what Microsoft was able to ship, but the gap is narrowing.
Microsoft is preparing their new mobile operating system Crossbow which is to replace Windows Mobile 5.0 launched in May 2005. Crossbow will have both Push Email and built in Internet Pager, thus Crossbow will provoke competition to BlackBerry OS. Microsoft aspires to get over Symbian and BB at a time and we know how this usually results. New product will take time to be tested to make sure it runs smoothly in operator's networks. After all, will operators agree to update their software and servers for new applications to run properly?
MS provided an adequate tool set for the developers to develop software for their platform. In many ways they are helping to open up software innovation on devices. While developers for Symbian OS quite often complain of its being bad documented and too many OS versions. Microsoft's long legacy includes an understanding of the Developer and providing Developers tools. Symbian is a newcomer. Still, we shouldn't forget about the power of open source: Why would a Developer want to restrict themselves into a platform with a proprietary software code? Some experts consider that just the developer support is going to be key in who wins in the consumer market place.
Much also depends on marketing and promotion: Symbian's operating system is used in many top-end business phones today, because of its support for features such as PIM, voice-conferencing, push email and Web access. Nokia phone stands for world recognized brand and image phone and it does pay dividends. To have Nokia's smartphone is almost the same as to drive Mercedes.
The potential of growing markets should also be considered: the demand for mobile phones in India, China, Eastern Europe and Africa is not a new phenomenon. Just in time enter a growing market and you can lead the race (Industry analysts forecast that 80% of the next billion mobile phone customers will come from emerging markets).
This is a niche market, all around. We say Europe we mean Symbian, we say USA we mean Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and BREW. BREW is limited to CDMA markets (US and Chinese markets), Blackberry is closely tied to business and corporate clients, Symbian is prevailing mainly in Europe: it turns out they have nothing to "brew". I hope none of them comes to dominate, since that is a recipe for stagnation; the 3 equally balanced would be perfect for fair competition and product development. We can not provide adequate predictions for someone's success or failure. It will be just a forecast.
All is left is to guess who to place stake on ...