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"Predictions" that need to stop in 2012 - Windows Phone, BlackBerry and the rest

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When we started this journey, the framing for the articles seemed clear enough: the rumor mill around tech devices is absurd and "analysts" can get away with murder by simply stating what any reasonably educated fan would already know. Then, we realized that we are reasonably educated fans, and we have a forum in which to say all the things that we already know. So, we decided to create the "'Predictions' that need to stop in 2012" series.  

Unfortunately, we found that covering all of the absurd Apple "predictions" concerning iOS in Part 1 was just about the easiest thing possible, because Apple is an incredibly secretive company that lets the rumor mill feed in as part of the marketing for new devices. When we moved over to Google's Android ecosystem in Part 2, we found that the rumor mill doesn't churn as hard in Google's world of openness and transparency; and, since rumors are the lifeblood of "prediction", there weren't as many topics to cover. This meant we had room in the piece to add in a well reasoned rant about the semantics of Android's supposed "fragmentation" problem (spoiler alert: Android is not fragmented). This time around, we wanted to tackle the remaining players in the mobile space: Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and the mangle of misfit OSes that are wandering the world, and this is where our entire conceit of "predictions" crumbles completely.

The problem is that Android and iOS absolutely dominate the mobile landscape, which means they also dominate the news and rumors, and as we mentioned, no company comes close to Apple products in the "prediction" racket. While there are a bunch of "predictions" for the other mobile players, they all boil down to the same thing: which platform makes a move for more market share, and which loses share. And, that's not really a concept that could sustain our interest for an entire piece, let alone yours. Or so we thought, because as we were trying to figure out where to go with this, a number of amazing things happened. First, Samsung decided to merge its bada OS with Intel's Tizen. Then, RIM finally got around to losing its co-CEOs in favor of a single CEO with some interesting ideas (if he can get them past the board). Soon after, HP announced that webOS will be fully open-source by September. And rounding it all off, Microsoft (and Nokia) suddenly has a lot of buzz growing with Windows Phone. 

So, now that we're all fired up about this again, let's dive right in and start with the platform that has the clearest path going forward:

Windows Phone & Windows 8

We've said it many times before that Windows Phone has the most likely chance to become the third pillar of the mobile triumvirate. For the past few years, we could say that the big three in the world of smartphones has been BlackBerry, iOS and Android (in no specific order), but BlackBerry has been faltering and there doesn't seem to be an easy path forward for the platform. That leaves a big opening, but we can't realistically assume that bada, webOS or Symbian can take over that market share. However, as Tim Cook was clear to point out, there is one company with the resources and will to never be left out of the game: Microsoft. Microsoft has the money to push through any slow uptake (as it has been doing so far with Windows Phone), and more importantly, the money to get solid hardware partners, like Nokia, and eventually, exclusive software. 

As we've already seen, Microsoft has a lot of money to throw at Nokia in order to get one of the world's biggest hardware manufacturers to abandon its own Symbian platform in favor of Windows Phone. In addition to paying Nokia to adopt Windows Phone. we've also seen that Microsoft is going to join the ranks of Apple and various Android manufacturers in offering carrier sales reps a bonus for pushing customers towards Windows Phone. Some may get it wrong and assume that Microsoft is the first to offer this sort of bonus, but that is certainly not true. Even so, it's a necessary step in order to push a platform that is actually quite good, even though many consumers may not know it. 

Besides all of the money that Microsoft can throw around, that's the biggest piece of the puzzle: Windows Phone is a quality platform. Microsoft has been straddling the line between iOS and Android ethos. Windows Phone has been licensed to multiple hardware vendors, but it still has certain hardware requirements, meaning customers can get hardware choice without software differentiation. Microsoft has also been working hard to make sure that the OS works seamlessly, meaning it will be smooth, quick, and relatively less likely to have crashes or freezes. And now, Microsoft truly believes that it has caught up with iOS and Android as far as platform features with Windows Phone Mango and can now focus on more "innovative" applications like pushing hardware iterations like NFC and dual-core processors. 

The most interesting point for Windows Phone will come with the release of Windows 8 and WP8 later this year. No one is quite sure what to expect, but we've already seen that Windows 8 is going to be the tablet OS for Microsoft. There have also been persistent rumors that Windows Phone 8 (code-named Apollo) will use the same kernel as Windows 8, which would make a lot of sense. WP7 still uses the outdated Windows Embedded CE 6.0 kernel, and is in need of an update. Also using the same kernel across operating systems will allow Microsoft to more easily get apps to work on any device. 

As we've seen with Google's Honeycomb mess compared to Apple's iPad, developers want an all-in-one development platform. And, when the developers adopt a platform, users usually aren't too far behind. Since we know that it will be Windows 8 on tablets and not an extension of Windows Phone, it makes it pretty reasonable to expect Windows Phone apps to work upstream on tablets and traditional PCs. That means that Microsoft can leverage its huge market share in the PC market to drive adoption of its mobile products, which is sort of the opposite of what Apple did with using the iPod, iPhone and iTunes to drive adoption of Macs. Another interesting point is that Microsoft has long talked about the fabled "3 screens", meaning the TV, PC and a mobile device. Microsoft has a product hooked up to millions of screens in the XBox 360, so it will be interesting if it or the company's next game console gets pulled into the Windows 8 matrix as well.

The key for Microsoft, as it always is in times like this, is in pushing existing PC users to upgrade to Windows 8. The company has found more success in pushing upgrades to Windows 7 than it had with Vista, but it needs to continue that trend if it wants to use the platform to push its mobile systems. Windows Phone still may hold a relatively small piece of the mobile pie, but the potential is there and the means to make it successful can never be in doubt when Microsoft is behind it all. We know that the Nokia Lumia will be getting a huge marketing push over the next few months, but if the rumors are true and the Lumia 900 will be selling for just $99 on AT&T, that could be a big boost for Windows Phone awareness. And, we should see Windows Phone make a bigger move to Verizon with the introduction of LTE handsets, and that exposure will be very big in pushing the platform.

Given that Windows 8 is slated for the later part of 2012, this year may not be the year that Windows Phone makes a big jump in market share, but we would be surprised if it didn't speed up adoption and set itself up for a pretty big 2013. 

Now, let's finish off the field of mobile competitors with BlackBerry, bada and webOS. 

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posted on 30 Jan 2012, 10:32 7

1. CannedKarma (Posts: 19; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


As much as I'd like to see Windows Phone explode in much the same way Android did with the launch of the Evo, I have a hard time seeing it happen without widespread, cross-carrier adoption in the US market. Having owned a Windows Phone for six months and absolutely loving the OS, it's certainly a worthy competitor. That said, without serious promotion from Verizon and Sprint, AT&T's offerings alone will not be enough to boost it effectively into the limelight. Yes, that approach worked for the iPhone, but that product was definitely the exception rather than the rule, especially given Apple's knack for marketing. The marketing for Windows Phone so far hasn't been what I and many others would call compelling; even Nokia's "The Amazing Everyday" has left me scratching my head at times. If the Lumia 900 really does release at $99, and sees that price mirrored on other carriers, that may well be what's needed for the platform to gain real interest.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 11:23 9

2. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Good stuff Michael. :)

This is where Peter would come in and tell you how Bada is set to take over the world.
Honestly, I think samsung is quietly taking their time working on Bada as a back up to android should something major ever come out of the legal war between android and iOS. If say, the worst happens and apple brings android to a halt, samsung is in a prominent position to offer an "alternative" to android. Bada looks just like a samsung android set anyways. If Apple fails in their quest to kill android, Bada will probably quietly fade away.

WebOS is dead and just a hacker's weekend project at best.. good OS or not.

The blackberry shake up is nothing more than shuffling a deck of cards. Those 2 bumbling idiots are still on the board which means they are still influential in decisions. They need to be removed completely before any real change can happen. i'd give them a solid 50/50 chance of a phoenix like rise or a crash n burn.

If Blackberry falls on its arse again this year, My prediction is a 10-20% world marketshare for WP7 by 2013... otherwise, id give it a 5-11% world marketshare.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 12:05 4

4. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I can definitely see bada as a backup, because if Samsung were to put all its weight behind that OS, it could make some waves. But, that would take a major problem with iOS, Android or WP to open up the market for bada.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 14:26 4

13. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


ha.. you made a funny. bada making waves.. lol. for anyone that doesn't know bada means ocean.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 15:03 3

15. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Surprisingly unintentional. I hadn't even considered that just about every bada phone is called the Samsung Wave, so quite literally Samsung is making Waves with bada.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 16:03 2

19. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol. for some reason I'm hearing Fozzie's voice going "wakka wakka wakka" ;)

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 11:39 2

3. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


very good read. thats what we expect from MH:)

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 12:09 1

5. downphoenix (Posts: 2267; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


One annoying prediction is how Blackberry is doomed to fail and WP7 is destined to be 3rd place, even though sales figures are saying otherwise still, even with Nokia's phones that are currently on the market.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 12:20 5

7. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Nokia hasn't made it to the US, and that can make a big difference. This is a pretty big market.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 14:51 4

14. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Interesting article here Michael, but there are a few points I disagree with.

1. No mention of Symbian. Yes, we all know the that idiot Elop said there will be no more Symbian devices, but Symbian is still a major player world wide. It's literally the OS that won't die. And even though Elop is merely there to do Balmer's bidding, I doubt Symbian will go away. It's making far too much money. Especially the stripped down version S40. In terms of sales, NO ONE is touching that. Symbian also has the
largest installed user base of ANY OS.

2. Bada, as Samsung stated when it first released, is not meant for North America so it's doing just fine. And why do you and most people from North America assume that any OS needs to be successful in the North American market to survive? You do realize that the Asian markets alone absolutely DWARFS the Market by leaps and bounds. China Mobile alone is larger than Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and At& the combined. To say any OS needs the US market is pure "American arrogance".

3. For all intents and purposes, Symbian is the third
Ecosystem cosystem. It outsold Windows Phoneand BlackBerry.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 15:23 4

17. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Symbian has little to no future as a major smartphone OS. It has been steadily losing market share for the past few years, far in advance of Nokia abandoning it for Windows Phone. It will be kept alive as a backup for Nokia, in case the Windows Phone deal doesn't pan out, but this article isn't about platforms that are simply going to continue to exist. It's about platforms that will be making news, and I just don't see that happening with Symbian.

As far as bada, there had been talk that Samsung was going to bring the platform to North America with a modified kernel based on Linux. Tizen, the OS that bada is going to be merged with, has a Linux kernel, so it's not a stretch to think that Samsung has plans to bring the platform to the States.

I never said that an OS needs to be successful in North America in order to survive. I said that in order to become one of the top mobile platforms, success in North America, particularly the USA, is necessary. Not only is the USA the richest country in the world, but our major export is entertainment. Becoming successful in the US means you can get marketing around the globe by having your product placed in movies and TV shows. There is a lot of money to be made in China, but that market doesn't have the global impact that the US does.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 18:50 4

22. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Symbian only really started losing market share when Microsoft's inside man, Elop, caused the "Elop Effect" by announcing that Nokia was abandoning Symbian. Prior to that announcement, Symbian was actually on an upward trend. This is detailed in GREAT LENGTH by Tomi Ahonen over at the Communities Dominate Brands Blige and by the good folks at All About Symbian. So it's only been losing market share since Feb. 2011. Symbian still makes the news. Just not on the predominantly iPhone "fanboy" sites that dominate the US media(Phonearena included. You guys don't have the nickname iPhonearena for nothing. You're almost as bad as iBGR.) In fact, Symbian just made the news because it's celebrating reaching a milestone 500 million sold. But I can guarantee that won't be up on Phonearena.

It was RUMORED that Samsung MAY be bringing Bada to North America. But it was never confirmed by Samsung to my knowledge and it was only RUMORED to be coming to prepaid carriers.

Again, being a successful OS does NOT require being successful in the US. That is, once again, US arrogance talking. As if the US is the center of the world. It isn't. Symbian was successful and DOMINANT for a decade without being successful in the US. Please do your research.

And to say the US is the richest country in the world is debatable. And Japan and China, but Japan specifically has more reach in entertainment than the US. You really need to develop a world view and not a US centric one. Broaden your horizons a bit. It would help you greatly in your articles.

And thanks for including Symbian in your article.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 15:41 2

18. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


That said, you are right, I should have mentioned Symbian, so I've edited the article to include the OS.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 13:50 3

10. snowgator (Posts: 3188; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Can't argue that, downphoenix. So far, Microsoft hasn't cut that much into Blackberry, if at all. Seems iOS has benefited from those consumers bailing on RIM the most, especially with business users, with Android happy to pick up a casual user or two. I do believe in WP, and a lot of that is because Microsoft has one thing a lot of companies do not have in this environment: Patience. They will continue to put money and resources into Windows Phones, and will do so as long as it breaks even or shows any profit.

However, 3rd place is still RIM's to lose. If this new CEO comes up with an aggressive vision, they could end up being the greatest turn around story in the history of Mobile. I am not betting on them, but they are still in a great position to prove a lot of experts wrong.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 12:13 2

6. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Great article.

In my opinion i think samsung is more than big enough to successfully manage Bada while continuing their commitment to the android community. personally i dont like Bada but i think it just might be huge in the emerging markets.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 12:38 5

8. Jyakotu (Posts: 814; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


As a strong supporter of Windows Phone, I do believe that it will soon become a major third player in the mobile OS race. After all, look at the Marketplace is growing at a faster rate than Android did. Not to mention, with Nokia backing the platform, Microsoft has a sure fire way of getting consumers on board to buy from a company that they trust and is known for great hardware. The major advantage Microsoft will have is Windows 8. The Metro UI has made its way to Xbox Live and it's going to make its way to Windows 8 desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Windows Phone literally blurs the line between iOS and Android. The only thing that people want from Windows Phone now is customization without it having to ruin the overall experience. I remember the story where there was a problem to customize the background of the Live Tiles. Little things like that will surely push Microsoft up because many people like Android for customization, but also, many people like iOS because of it's ecosystem and solid performance.

Also, the CDMA carriers need to get on board. Both Verizon and Sprint are too comfortable with their DROID and EVO line of Android phones, they don't even bother giving Windows Phone a chance. Verizon may start to look at it more, since future Windows Phones will have LTE. With Sprint, however, I don't know if they're willing to add any future Windows Phones devices beyond the Arrive, but maybe they will since they will be building out a 4G LTE network as well.

One last thing Windows Phone needs to do is also get phones on the prepaid carriers in the US. The Tango update will probably be used on these phones. Many prepaid carriers in the US have low to mid tier Android smartphones. Windows Phones need to tap into that market. Sure, many people could buy Windows Phones unlocked and get a SIM card from AT&T, T-Mobile, or one of their MVNOs, but not many prepaid carriers buy phones unlocked.

Overall, I see a bright future with Windows Phones. It's very fluid and it's gaining support from developers. I am excited for future devices and look forward to owning a Windows Phone myself. Let's just hope Sprint can deliver them soon, because if not, then I may have to go to AT&T. Their Windows Phone line up is incredible.

-EDIT-
Also, I would like to add that Microsoft should look into getting PC OEMs to start making some hardware for Windows Phone. Dell's phone, the Venue Pro, was an excellent 1st generation device. Microsoft has so many manufacturers making PCs, there's no reason why they can't get them interested in dabbling into phone manufacturing.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 13:40 3

9. snowgator (Posts: 3188; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Outstanding post, Jyakotu. With LTE now attached to WP, hopefully CDMA support will come along with it. I also like your point on prepaid carriers. With Tango offering optimization for lower spec phones, prepaid can be a strong area of growth in 2012 for WP.

Late last year, I was hoping for a 20% smartphone market for WP by the end of 2012, but with Apollo not coming into the market until late, I am concerned that is not likely. They need Apollo and the hardware heavyweights it will bring to compete for a strong third place. Overall, I sure do not think WP is in a place to compete against the two 300 lb gorillas in the mobile world just yet. But I still hope to see strong growth for WP. I think if WP ends up on all major carriers through out the world, and Tango gets Nokia back into the developing markets, than a great 10% market share can be accomplished. That would put WP into a position to really start to attack their own audience in 2013, though I sure would like to see a bit more urgency from them.

I am not bullish on Blackberry until we see where their new CEO wants to take them. So far, there has been nothing to even hint they are turning the Titanic away from the iceberg.

I actually like Bada's future. Samsung seem s to be developing it for a very specific market share, and doing a fantastic job with those simple goals.

WeBOS- what a waste.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 14:02 1

11. hritikbhimani (Posts: 26; Member since: 08 Jan 2012)


brilliant article.....awsum job michael....apart frm droid n ios ruling the market....i personaly expect tht tizen-bada merger will be one of the key events this yr......samsung alone has falied to create the market as big as it expected..now with a solid partner like intel.....bada will finally get some attention from devs n since tizen is open source...it will grow if tizen is not mismanaged as like meego...

webOS is dead....no words to describe how a potential os died ...bb's comeback road is really tough...i serously doubt if BB10 can turn around their fortunes..windows phone with huge resources pumped by MS n excellent hardware partner like nokia is looking really strong n will be the biggest gainer this yr...with tango they ll get hold of low-mid range n with launch of appolo,WP will finaly join the race n giv droids n iphone run for their money....

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 14:09

12. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


Great Observation Michael. H. Very solid post which left me speechless:)

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 15:09 3

16. Arpad (Posts: 39; Member since: 05 Jan 2012)


Nice work Michael!

The three articles you wrote really sums up and gives one a good picture how the mobile OS jungle was and how it will grow. I also like the professionalism of how you write and not choosing sides.

I recommended this to a friend who also agreed that he now has a much clearer picture about the different mobile platforms.

Thanks for the great article!

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 17:26

20. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


I see a major problem with windows phone, in terms of global market share - it's favorable status with Nokia.
that status may give them Nokia, but it should take them away all other manufacturers

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 17:58

21. Tarkio (Posts: 30; Member since: 17 Jan 2012)


Unless it really takes off for them, then everyone will be climbing on top of each to offer their own versions.

posted on 30 Jan 2012, 22:13

23. Jyakotu (Posts: 814; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


The same could be said for Google's favoritism of Motorola. Microsoft is just paying Nokia for their hardware and to the platform. Nothing more, nothing less. Even though Samsung makes the most Android phones, that doesn't take away from the sales of HTC, LG, Sony, and other manufacturers of Android phones. Nokia is just a BIG advantage for Windows Phone. Many members on this site have even expressed that Nokia should've gone Android instead of Windows Phone. Do you know why.? Because they know Nokia is known for great hardware.

posted on 31 Jan 2012, 02:39

24. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


but why would other manufacturers want to invest in windows phone when the public image is shaping up into Nokia being the best and "only true " windows phone experience??

it's just not gonna work, for other brands.
windows phone requires license fee that takes away a margin percentage for every unit.
so, you missed with Motorola-Google analogy. android is free and open for everyone to use. the source code is same for all. there's just no way Motorola would have something that others can't incorporate

posted on 31 Jan 2012, 11:36

27. Jyakotu (Posts: 814; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


You're making no sense. The Windows Phone experience is the same for ALL of its hardware. The only thing Nokia is doing different is installing some exclusive apps for its hardware. Samsung and HTC have done the same thing with their Windows Phones as well.

posted on 31 Jan 2012, 06:42

25. thinking (Posts: 130; Member since: 19 Jan 2012)


http://www.phonearena.com/news/Survey-shows-Apple-Android-and-BlackBerry-in-three-way-race-for-the-global-enterprise-market_id26422
This article at Phonearena would indicate that RIM is far from being on the fast track down.

posted on 31 Jan 2012, 12:49

28. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2650; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Compared to the share of enterprise users that BlackBerry has held, 25% and being in a virtual tie with Android and iOS is definitely being on the fast track down.

posted on 31 Jan 2012, 10:30

26. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1018; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


Although I am a Windows Metro fan I still hope that Blackberry stays afloat. as far as the windows metro OS phones are concerned it appears to be that there will be in the end 2 windows phones on the market which are the affordable Windows Metro 7 tango OS smart phones and the Windows 8 OS smart phones with all the high end bells and whistles that high end Android and Apple Iphones have. Windows smart phones will gain popularity and be sold at many price levels. it will take time for windows smart phones to be a treat to Android and Apple Iphones but Windows smart phones will be good smart phones because Microsoft has committed itself to make them work well.to satisfy their customers

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