Category Archives: Trends

Market watch & test device recommendation june 2014

A little late but here is the update with the latest market watch. Not too much new smartphones but still some nice trends:

  • Blackberry is officially gone
  • High-end smartphones have a large enough screen size for people to skip the phablets
  • Windows Phone remains stable and offers still mainly low-cost devices
  • Windows RT is also officially gone, apparently people prefer a full Windows 8 tablet
  • Samsung is losing to Huawei, LG and Sony
  • Android marketshare in tablets is growing but mainly due to low cost devices

Based on the offerings from Dutch telecom providers and (online) shops the following market share prediction can be made for smartphones:

smartphone_manufacturer_0614

smartphone_os_0614

And for tablets:

tablet_manufacturer_0614

tablet_os_0614

And of course the fifth edition of the list with recommend test devices you should use a minimum to test their mobile apps on the different platforms. This list will be enhanced each quarter. This quarter only two additions:  Samsung Trend and LG G3.

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Market watch & test device recommendation march 2014

It has been very quiet for a few months but here is our quarterly update again. Not much changed compared to last quarter. One disappointing observation however: telecom providers are pushing Android 2.3 prepaid models again, will it ever stop? Windows phone remains stable with only low cost prepaid models. Windows tablet remains stable but only because of aggressive price cuts on the Microsoft Surface 1 models.

Based on the offerings from Dutch telecom providers and (online) shops the following market share prediction can be made for smartphones:smartphone_manufacturer_0314smartphone_os_0314

And for tablets:tablet_manufacturer_0314tablet_os_0314

And of course the fourth edition of the list with recommend test devices you should use a minimum to test their mobile apps on the different platforms. This list will be enhanced each quarter. This quarter there quit a few additions:  new high-end Samsung devices.Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 1.36.46 PM

Market watch & test device recommendation december 2013

I’ve neglected my blog for a few months, but of course there is at least one update each quarter: the market watch. Looking at the numbers there are a few changes when compared to the previous quarter:

  • LG is making a big push at the cost of Sony, Huawei and HTC
  • Samsung is extending their marketshare even further
  • New iPhone 5S gives Apple a little bigger slice
  • Android 2.3 is officially gone now (except 1 prepaid model)
  • Blackberry has vanished from the Dutch consumer market (BB10 didn’t make it)
  • Windows Phone marketshare is completely based on Lumia 520 and Huwaei W1 phones and the question is how often apps are downloaded and used on these phones
  • Life becomes easier for developers: for almost the entire smartphone market just support iOS6+ and Android 4.x. Windows Phone might not be that interesting for earning money or reaching customers
  • Windows Phone marketshare remains low in the Dutch market which is odd when you look at the  German and UK market where Windows Phone is twice as big
  • Microsoft tablets are gaining marketshare due to clearing old surface stock for low prices and Asus making a push with full Windows 8.1 devices for a low price
  • Number of tablet manufactures is decreasing, Sony and the cheap Solara and Yarviks are gone
  • Asus is making a big leap with both Windows 8.1 and Android tablet devices
  • iOS remains stable due to new devices where Android is losing marketshare to Windows. Not the RT version but the full versions of Windows.

Based on the offerings from Dutch telecom providers and (online) shops the following market share prediction can be made for smartphones:

smartphone_manufacturer_1213

smartphone_os_1213

And for tablets:

tablet_manufacturer_1213

tablet_os_1213 

And of course the third edition of the list with recommend test devices you should use a minimum to test their mobile apps on the different platforms. This list will be enhanced each quarter. This quarter there quit a few additions: the new Apple devices with 64bit processors, new Samsung devices and the Motorola Moto G which is prime example of a new trend: cheap devices with mid to high range specs.

Screen Shot 2013-12-25 at 1.41.52 PM

The future of Windows Phone

This week Microsoft bought the mobile phone branch from Nokia. Nokia is the only mobile phone maker fully committed to Windows Phone and sells three-quarter of the Windows phones worldwide. There is a lot of speculation about why Microsoft bought Nokia but my take on it is: Nokia wanted to start building Android phones and/or Nokia is in financial problems. Microsoft additionally buying 2B in Nokia bonds is a clear signal of financial problems at Nokia. Nokia needs that money really hard for paying Siemens in the NSN buy-out. But whatever the reasons are Microsoft needed to secure the future of Windows Phone. The ‘success’ of Windows Phone is really down to the effort of Nokia. If I look at the statistics of my Photocasa Gallery app in the marketplace this becomes quite clear. Every uptick in downloads is initiated by the launch and promotions of a new Nokia phones.

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The big question now is: will Microsoft be able to continue and enhance the Nokia successes? Of course the Windows Phone development team and Lumia developers are now within one company but are they able to create better products. However it will be very difficult for Microsoft to make it a success. A lot of talent from Nokia is already leaving the company. The lead designer left and a group of Nokia employees already established a new smartphone company named Newkia. An even bigger problem will be that those who stay will lose that all important focus on the market because of internal restructuring. But the biggest challenge is losing the Nokia brand name. Nokia is world famous and has a good reputation. Customers won’t buy Lumia phones because they had good experiences with them in the past. The Lumia name is simply too small and too new.

It’s also interesting to see how Samsung, Huawei and HTC are going to react. Will the stop support Windows Phone platform? It’s hard to compete against Lumia phones when they are from Microsoft itself. Don’t forget Windows Phone is not free. My guess is that Samsung at least will keep a Windows Phone in their product lineup to see early on what the completion does. And the final challenge is keeping the carriers aboard. They now longer deal with Nokia for smartphones but with Microsoft, the owner of their biggest rival: Skype.

So where should Microsoft focus on? Looking at the market and statistics they should focus on first time users in emerging economies with low end smartphones.  That’s the only place to really gain market share. If you look at my chart you see the biggest jumps when the cheap 520 and 620 (I use the 620 for development and somehow like that phone pretty much. Not enough to trade in for my iphone for daily use but it’s a nice phone) phones were introduced. The same we can see from AdDuplex statistics.  Gaining market share is very important to attract developers for the platform to solve the lack of apps issue with Windows Phone.

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As you can see there is a difficult road ahead for Microsoft and their Lumia smartphones. My personal opinion is that they will not be able to become as big as Android or Apple and their global market share will never be over 10%. And for Nokia? Well they will be a healthy network company, which has 30 months for developing a new Nokia smartphone. (Nokia is contractually not allowed to enter the smartphone market for 30 months) Their brand will still be strong over 30 months and their relationship with telecom providers is still in place because of the networks business. Could we see a new Nokia smartphone in 30 months running Tizen or Android?

Can Microsoft turn the tables again?

In 1985 Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0. It wasn’t a big success at that time and there were far better offerings from Atari, Commodore and of course then also Apple. Their Atari ST, Amiga and the Apple Macintosh were true multitasking operating systems with a graphical user interface while Windows was still relying on MSDOS and nothing more than a graphic shell with limited options. But Windows came out victorious eventually. How did Microsoft become the dominant operating system despite starting with an inferior product?  Microsoft had the most important areas covered for making a successful platform: content, hardware, distribution and focus on companies, the main buyers of pc’s. Nowadays Microsoft has a problem on the smartphone and tablet market. The products they offer aren’t really selling well. They even had to write off 900 million dollar on Windows RT tablet stock. Now let’s look into the area’s Microsoft must cover to be successful in the smartphone and tablet business.

Content

The Apple AppStore and Google Play have about one million app titles available. Both offer also music, video and books through their stores. The Microsoft store for Windows Phone offers 160K app titles and Windows 8/RT offer only 80K. This still seems like a large number but you must realize that only half of the top 100 iOS apps are available for Windows Phone. Windows Phone users are missing a lot of really great apps. Another issue the quality of the apps. A lot of Windows Phone apps are written by students and inexperienced developers after financial incentives and competitions from Microsoft. Then there is the factor of a large loyal developer community. How does Microsoft treat their developer community? Well not that good. When Windows Phone 8 was released developers got it two days before consumers got it. Giving them no time to update their apps. Another issue is development tools. Microsoft offers some development tools for free but if you want professional tools you have to pay a lot of money for them. Apple and Google are providing their developer community with professional tools for free. It is clear Microsoft has a big problem attracting developers. License fees dropped from $99 to $15 per year and Microsoft’s piece of the cake from 30% to 20%. Apple and Google still take 30%. So looking at the content part the situation for Microsoft does not look good.

Hardware

Microsoft always relied on partners like HP, IBM, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etc. to make great hardware for running Windows. But these partners are nowadays less loyal to Microsoft than in the past. The pc market is shrinking and for the tablet market they have in Android a free (except for patent license costs they must pay Microsoft) operating system which customers want. If they use a Microsoft operating system for tablet or smartphone they must pay license costs which makes the entire package more expensive. And being more expensive is not good in a highly competitive market which is flooded by cheap Android devices from China. Another issue hardware partners have with Windows is the rate of innovation. Their hardware evolves much faster than Windows can cope with. And lastly, Microsoft started building their own devices. So Microsoft becomes a competitor instead of a partner. Looking on the hardware side the situation for Microsoft is not good. Partners have better and cheaper operating system options for their devices. And they also see Microsoft as a competitor.

Buyers

Nowadays consumers and not companies are buying the most PC’s, tablets and smartphones. And those consumers are shifting from unfriendly PC’s to more user friendly tablets. Furthermore consumers are the main buyers of smartphones. Look at trends like BYOD (bring your own device) where consumers use their personal devices in a corporate environment. How do consumers think of Windows? Are they happy with it? Well my guess is that most users use it because it came pre-installed on their pc and they can run their favorite programs on it. But for most users Windows remains a difficult hard to manage operating system, most people use it but don’t love it and for sure don’t want it on their smartphone. So looking at buyers it’s not looking good either. Microsoft failed to make Windows more user friendly in the last decennium and buyers associate the newer Windows RT and Windows Phone products with it.

Distribution

Tablets and PC’s are distributed through retail stores. A channel where not Microsoft and its hardware partners are well established. Android tablets and iPads are also and more abundant available through the retail channel.  For smartphones the major channels are telecom providers. In most countries they sell the phones with a subscription for voice and data. And there is problem, telecom providers have an issue with Microsoft: Skype. Telecom providers aren’t promoting Windows Phone a lot, only large sponsoring from Microsoft helps promoting Windows Phone smartphones for a short time. So looking at distribution we can conclude that for tablets Microsoft is not lagging behind. But for smartphones, a new channel for Microsoft, they have a large problem.

Looking into the future

Taking all this into account it looks like Microsoft has a really big challenge to make it on the smartphone and tablet market. They have a better product than Windows 1.0 in the past. But the important areas for becoming a large platform are now more difficult than ever. They must improve on their image and marketing. But also on their relation with hardware producers, developers and telecom providers. And that will not be easy since the competition, iOS and Android, have better products and a huge advantage on all important areas. Does it mean Microsoft is doomed? No of course not. They still have an excellent portfolio of business products, the most popular pc operating system, Azure, Office and lots more. But they will be more enterprise focused and probably have to leave the smartphone and tablet market to Google and Apple. The monopoly of Microsoft for personal computing is gone and will not come back again.

 

Microsoft Surface Pro experience

After using the iPad for more than year as my mainstream tablet for daily use, I’m now giving the Surface Pro a go for the next few months. In this blog I will share my frustrations and likes. How will it perform? Is it really a productive tablet or just a fancy ultrabook?

DSC00163Both tablets are not usable in sun.

I’ve been using my iPad for a lot of tasks: email, taking notes during meetings (no paper for me anymore), surfing the web, reading books, reading news via Flipboard, listen to Spotify, checking my social networks, see the weather, watch tv, presenting slides, testing apps, playing games, etc.  Now let’s see how the Surface Pro does all this. These are my experiences after using it for a couple of weeks.

The positives

  • Office on a tablet is really nice
  • Great screen, I like high resolutions
  • Visual Studio and other development tools always available
  • Keyboard cover (not touch version) is great for typing
  • Re-use of my apple VGA cable for presentations
  • Fast and responsive
  • Closing an application with swipe is nice, after you found out how it works!

The negatives

  • Desktop is not suited for touch interface, my fingers are just too big
  • Almost no apps for touch interface
  • Limited battery life, only half of my iPad
  • Heavy, it’s much heavier compared to the iPad and weighs a ton compared to my favorite tablet, the iPad mini
  • Pen is nice but prone to loosing or forgetting
  • Missing a mouse often and the touch pad of the keyboard cover is only for emergencies
  • In laptop mode with the keyboard, viewing angle is fixed (not great for outdoors)
  • Not the same level of connectivity in corporations available, iPad is better supported (mail, wifi, apps)
  • Apps offer limited experience (onenote vs notes+)  (bento vs flipboard)
  • Mail client limited and outlook not touch friendly, what to use?
  • Airplay missing, I can’t stream music or video to my apple tv’s
  • Switching between apps without keyboard is cumbersome
  • In desktop mode and using it as a real tablet (no keyboard attached) is hard, my fingers are too big for touching small things and you must bring up the on screen keyboard manually for every input box

Would I consider using a Surface with Windows RT for the better battery life? NO thanks! The choice of apps for this platform is so limited and you can’t run ‘legacy’ windows software except office.

These are my experiences after the first weeks with the Surface Pro. So far it has been a mixed experience. I didn’t fall in love with it but I also didn’t have the urge to throw it out of the window. Keep coming back the next months to see if my feelings towards the Surface Pro change.