Thursday, August 9, 2012

Android OS surges to dominace, were we surprised?

Apple vs Droid Lightsaber
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IDC released its quarterly smartphone OS report for 2Q2012 yesterday. Not surprisingly, Android and iOS accounted for 85% of all smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2012 (2Q12).

Chart: Worldwide Smartphone OS Market Share, 2Q 2012Description: Tags: Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

It is not surprising to find that Android has a market share of 68.1% of new smartphones shipped during Q2 of 2012, given that Android has many mobile partners loading the OS. Just to name a few- Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson are all global smartphone makers.

Not surprising. But why?
1.) Variety of Choices
These companies have already launched many flagship smartphones such as Samsung S2, Samsung Galaxy Note, various versions of HTC One, LG Optimus 3D etc. Compared to Apple, there are many models with enhanced technical capabilities at once for consumers to choose. Not forgetting that this also means a wide range of prices for consumers to choose from. The manufacturers are also creating lower end smartphones to increase their market share. This inevitably helped Android to surge in market share.
2.) The Hardware War between Phone Manufacturers
These manufacturers are pushing the technical specifications with each flagship phone launched. For example, LG was the first company to launched a dual core smartphone with LG Optimus 2X, then launched a Optimus 3D with 3D image capabilities. Dell launched a 5" Dell Streak. Samsung uses the AMOLED and Super AMOLED screen. Samsung also launched a 5.3" Galaxy Note with S Pen (stylus) function. HTC partnered Beats Audio to boast a phone with good audio quality. Not forgetting that these manufacturers are also pushing the pixel intensity of the screens and the energy efficiency of the hardware (battery remains an importrant issue for smartphone users especially with data usage). This competition pushes each of these companies to keep on improving the hardware capabilities so as to garner more market share. Invariably, this helps improve the market share of Android.
Having said this, hardwares of each phone models are increasingly similar.
3.)  Interface
Android allows the manufacturers to tweak the user interface. This is something good for the manufacturers. A company could provide a hardware that might not be available by another company, thereby giving it an advantage. However, unless the customer is a tech geek, these things are hidden and not easily understandable to most consumers. Now, the interface makes a difference in creating "impression" on the customers as this is what they see when they first on the phone. How nice is the interface? How user friendly is it?
But a word of caution- not all interfaces are a good selling point. Some interfaces have been known to draw irks from users. I won't name the interfaces here, just google and you shall find them.

What's next?
Look out for Windows Mobile! Windows has a strong corporate base. This link could be a point for which Windows could regain its foothold in the smartphone market.

Environmental Impacts?

I'm having a bit of dilemma here. It's good that phone manufacturers are pushing the energy efficiency of their phones, this means more usage time for less energy. However, the speed with which the new models of phones get released worries me. This, to a certain extent, will entice consumers to replace their phones more frequently- meaning more phones are changed before their "life expectancy" is up. Although the used phones are usually sold as pre-owned phones, it might to a certain extent create unwanted waste. Imagine an increase of pre-owned phones in the market. What will happen next? Most probably this would mean that the price of pre-owned phones will drop, which means people are more likely to buy a new "pre-owned" phone and perhaps discard their current phones. This would mean wastage.

Hmm... Where to get the balancing point?

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