It was probably not an accident that Steve Jobs attended the Q3 FY 10 earnings call, as this report says. There are clear signs of war and while the market for such smart phones is still quite small, the players certainly are ascertaining themselves.
So, who could be the winner in the long run?
If I have to make a prediction, I would say Google is in the best position to be the winner or say garner larger market share.
And here is why I think so.
- History repeats itself: Have you watched Pirates of the Silicon Valley? For those who have tracked the history of computers know the pioneering efforts of IBM in standardizing the architecture of PC. The standardization and ripping a PC led to the creation of opportunity for different players who together grew the market. As Mr. Geoff Moore would agree, Google isn't trying to dominate the entire value chain. It prefers to become the Microsoft of mobile industry by giving a platform and letting device players and app makers to contribute their bit.
- It's all about App: Having conquered the PC market by ensuring that it was installed in all IBM and IBM clones, Microsoft ensured that it held the dominance over the applications built. And, of course, applications are the reasons we purchase computers, don't we! It's no different in the smartphone market. Every player has an application store. Apple as usual seems to have very high standards for app developers. That can go against it. Human beings have been rather lenient on not-perfect applications, it's the variety of choices that matters.
- Open or Closed, does it matter: I am quite skeptical like Apple about Open in the mobile world as much as Microsoft is or was in the PC world. Linux still hasn't broken Windows' back. Google's claim for Android being open actually doesn't make sense. As long as users get the apps they want, it shouldn't matter. But then openness could also mean faster go-to-market and choice.
But then I am assuming a lot of things:
- I am assuming that smart phone market will go through the same cycle as PCs. It may be entirely different. PC was lot about technology for a long time before it became mainstream and brand oriented. Mobile market is moving the other way around.
- The life of a mobile phone is rather short. In my own experience, 3 years is a good time for a phone. Except for contacts, I don't remember taking anything else to a new phone. Hence, stickiness factor maybe far less for mobile phones.
- Like I said in my earlier post on Apple, the company has never wanted to be the largest player in any market. It has always been at the forefront of bringing technology that empower users. It has also preferred to stay a chimp rather than a gorilla. Also, nothing to stop Apple from doing a Shuffle with iPhone.
- I have completely discounted the role played by Telecom Services Provider as distributors. Not sure why this mode of distribution still hasn't caught up in India. If things were to go in that direction, a lot might change.
We certainly have interesting times in the air!
But I am curious, why don't have any excitement in the mobile chips space?