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7/12/2010
01:18 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Only Android Gains Share

For the three months ending May 31, 2010, the only major mobile platform to gain market share was Android. Samsung was one of the few manufacturers to gain share due in no small part to its phones that ship with Android.

For the three months ending May 31, 2010, the only major mobile platform to gain market share was Android. Samsung was one of the few manufacturers to gain share due in no small part to its phones that ship with Android.ComScore published its May 2010 Mobile Subscriber Market Share report late last week and it confirms trends we see in the news cycle. Android is hot, Apple was losing steam as buyers of its platform held off for iOS 4's June release and everything else is cooling off.

RIM, which commands 41.7% of the smartphone platform market dropped 0.4%. Number two iPhone with 24.4% lost a full percentage point in the same time frame. Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform dropped nearly 2% to 13.2% of overall share. Palm's WebOS, now HP's platform, fell 0.6% to 4.8%.

The two that really should be worried here are RIM and Palm. Apple's decline is not unexpected. I am sure when numbers that are release that include the June launch of their fourth iteration of the iPhone we'll see numbers move upward. Everyone knew the platform was coming out and thanks to a very early release of detailed information about the device itself, a number of buyers were holding off until it released. Actually, by only dropping 1% during that time shows the platform's strength even in the face of pending a hardware and software refresh.

Microsoft's decline is also to be expected. Yes, Windows Mobile 6.5 is still for sale and will have a life of another year or two in very specific markets, but the truth is WinMo's epitaph has already been written. Windows Phone 7 is its replacement and is also an all new platform. It wouldn't surprise me to see its share fall below 10% before WP7 is finally released.

RIM and Palm though are different. RIM has the largest share due to its popularity with business and some success with the consumer market, but the truth is the OS is looking older every day compared to the likes of Android and iOS 4. What's more is companies are starting to take note and are allowing their employees to use personal devices for corporate email. The company doesn't have to pay for the hardware and the employee gets to use the platform of their choice. It is a win-win, except for RIM which is increasingly less of the choice of the consumer that wants something that didn't look like it was designed in 2006.

Palm's WebOS is, at one year old, seemingly stuck in first gear. There was a lot of talk of the platform in early 2009 and it made a big splash the week it was released, but it has been tracking down ever since. Even adding Verizon to its networks earlier this year didn't help. It remains to be seen what HP will do as Palm's new owner to revitalize the smartphone platform. WebOS fans may be disappointed if HP ignores the phone market in favor of the tablet and similar devices.

And what are the biggest uses of mobile phones? Sending text messages (65.2%), browsing the web (31.9%) and downloading apps (30%). The latter two are what is driving smartphone sales and both Android and iOS 4 excel at those. Oddly enough, even though the iPhone has its roots in MP3 playing capabilities, music is only driving 14.3% of mobile phone usage. That suggests that the tie in with the iTunes store may not be that great. I guess many people are like me, preferring a separate MP3 player, only occasionally using their phone for music. Phones are larger and heavier than devices like the iPod Nano and while killing the battery on your MP3 player can be mildly frustrating, doing the same on your phone can be a show stopper when on a trip.

That may make it easier for users to switch platforms away from the iPhone. I doubt if Apple is too worried about that though. Their hardware is fantastic, the OS holds its own and the App Store is still the premier online mobile application source.

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