The Future of Mobile?

Via LinkedIn I recently came across this really good presentation on the future of mobile. In many respects most of the information in here is nothing new, and won’t surprise anyone who has followed developments in the mobile and end user computing markets over the last year. On the other hand I haven’t seen it all put together so clearly before, and so the presentation is well worth taking a look at. The key points of the presentation are:

  • The number of smart mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) being sold is growing, and will soon dwarf the number of PCs sold.
  • Consumers are switching from dumbphones to smartphones.
  • The smart mobile device platform is currently a two-horse race between Android and Apple’s iOS, though there is a slim possibility for other competitors to get back into it.
  • The race between Android and Apple is not as close as it appears due to the fragmentation of the Android OS, developer preference for Apple and Apple’s far greater share of market revenue.
  • While people use smart mobile devices to do everything they do online on a PC, they also do other things that they don’t do online such as buy apps and play games.
  • The combination of mobility, apps, social, photos, and touchscreens is opening up new possibilities for making money.

I especially like their summary of the possible futures (from Slide 22):

  • Android gets its act together
  • Microsoft completes its Hail Mary pass
  • HTML5 nukes native apps
  • Apple takes over the world

Interestingly enough the slide deck doesn’t make much of the enabling capabilities of the different providers’ platforms and ecosystems, a feature that I think is key in driving the ability to make money from the smart mobile device area. App and game developers can only make money from these devices because of the underlying capabilities of the platforms, and this is part of the reason for Apple’s dominance: their platform is the most fully featured and emerged first. In addition there is a network effect at play here: the more people who are using the platform the more money you can make from an app on that platform and the more apps there are on the platform the more people will use that platform.

These are some of the reasons that Microsoft and Nokia partnered together – as I have remarked earlier. And while it is a long-shot (as the authors state), without this sort of play Microsoft will become a losing player in a space it has traditionally dominated.

In short, if you are interested in the mobile market, or are looking at the future of end user devices then I recommend having a good look at this presentation and taking on-board its observations.

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