In an earlier post predicting that there will be 200M BB connections in India by 2015, I raised the following questions
- Which OS/platform will dominate?
- Will incumbents like Microsoft and Nokia maintain leadership in the new paradigm?
- Will the iPhone become the way to access the web in India? Or will India be the country where Google first takes market leadership with Android and Chrome?
- And finally, will it matter who wins?
Soon after I wrote the post, Apple announced fabulous results. Apple announced that in 3 years, it has sold 100 M iOS devices. Interestingly Blackberry also announced that it had sold 100M BB devices, albeit with the difference that Blackberry has been in the market since 2002. With such a backdrop, is the issue of which platform will win even worth debating?
I think so. What Apple did not announce is that it is losing market share – Google is activating 160,000 Android phones every day as against ~100,000 for Apple. And the HTC EVO 4G which is being sold by Sprint has a significant order backlog. Or that both the 4G networks being rolled out in the US (Sprint, T-Mobile’s HSPA Plus) are only offering Android phones. Read Walt Mossberg’s review of the new Samsung Galaxy phones to see how far Android phones have come. And All of this pales beside the fact that, in China, Android is winning against iOS hands down. In a recent TechCrunch post, Richard Yu talks about how Android’s open source business model is fueling a virtuous cycle of innovation on 2 fronts: devices and applications. In an earlier post, I already talked about how prices for smartphones and tablets are dropping. Since then, I got a quote from a Chinese vendor willing to supply an “APad” with a 7″ screen for $ 65.
It looks pretty good, huh? The catch is that it has a 500 MHz processor which will struggle to render HD or to multi-task. But for many, its good enough. And the $ 65 price wins vs. $449 for an iPad.
On the application front, there are ~100,000 apps in the Android marketplace and it could catch up with iTunes in a year. And the fact that both China Mobile can launch Ophone (which its own Android marketplace) and Motorola can launch Android devices with Baidu in China is further evidence of the innovation underway in the Android ecosystem.
In India, where consumers are ultra-price sensitive, Apple has virtually no presence, and Google/Nokia/Microsoft are very well entrenched, it’s hard to see Apple being a major player. In India (IMO),
- Android shall rule and will likely have ~50% market share in the “smart phone+ tablet” market within 3 years
- Nokia, with 60% market share, cannot be ruled out and it will end up with 25 % of the mobile + tablet market
- Microsoft could actually claw back some market share in India, given its overall dominance/brand position but it will end up being # 3 with 15-20 %
- Blackberry will be next, leaving Apple behind in the dust
Now for the real question, does it matter? For consumers, the platform battle will fuel innovation and drive costs down and so, they win, irrespective of how this plays out. With HTML5 and development platforms like PhoneGap, I suspect that most app developers will feel the same way and say, “chalta hai” (Hindi for “whatever dude!”)
What do you think?