Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

Summary: Nielsen revealed the details of its mobile OS beauty pageant handicapping the "most desired" platform. Not surprisingly, Apple's iOS and Android led the parade, a big chunk of the mobile operating system market up for grabs.

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Nielsen on Wednesday revealed the details of its mobile OS beauty pageant handicapping the "most desired" platform. Not surprisingly, Apple's iOS and Android lead the most desired mobile OS parade. However, there's still a big chunk of the mobile operating system market up for grabs. Here's the breakdown:

  • In terms of market share, the iPhone and Research in Motion's Blackberry each have 27 percent of the smartphone market share in the U.S. Android has 22 percent.
  • Smartphones are 29.7 percent of the mobile phone market. Feature phones still dominate.
  • Among folks looking to get a new smartphone, 35 percent of current smartphone owner preferred the iPhone. Twenty-eight percent of feature phone and smartphone upgraders wanted an Android device.
  • Women prefer iPhone. Men prefer Android.

So it's a rout for iPhone and Android right? Not so fast.

Related: Have the mobile OS wars really been decided already?

Here's the most interesting part from Nielsen's data. Featurephone owners are more agnostic about platforms. Twenty-five percent of featurephone owners weren't sure what their next desired OS would be. Age matters in this group: Older people care decidedly less about the platform than younger ones.

The upshot: Featurephones dominate the market and there's a whopping 25 percent of owners up for grabs. Simply put, Android and iPhone may continue to dominate or BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 or something else could land the featurephone crowd.

Now the featurephone is a murky definition. These phones are allegedly not as smart as their brainiac cousin devices. However, feature phones are more than enough for most of us to get by. Feature phones will add more capabilities and ultimately all devices will be a smidge smarter. Even so you'll have 20 percent of the market open to mobile platform options.

Check out Nielsen's stats on likely U.S. smartphone upgraders.

Go right to the black part of the chart and you'll find 19 percent of smartphone buyers aren't sure about the OS. That's an opportunity for RIM, Android and Apple. Even Windows Phone 7 could sneak in here. If you break likely smartphone upgraders by gender the market is even more wide open. Indeed, 23.8 percent of female smartphone upgraders aren't sure what mobile OS they want. For men, 14.9 percent are not sure.

Bottom line: There's still a significant chunk of the mobile platform wars yet to be decided.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems

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28 comments
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  • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

    With 70% on feature phones and now having tiered data plans I'd say there is a good 70% of the market to grab and put on a smart phone.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

      @Loverock Davidson

      The actual UI also makes a difference as a common problem with all the people who don't read or post in these forums is difficulties in using their phone. WP7 is just easier to use, as well as the most elegant.

      I expect Apple will be dumping its crowded desktop UI and copying WP7 in a year or two ;-)
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

        @tonymcs@... Why would Apple want to copy a failure ;-)
        non-biased
      • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

        @tonymcs@... Speaking only for what I've seen- on the very few WP7 phones I've even seen thus far (2 were in the AT&T store- I think one was in use by an actual customer) it looked to me like WP7 may have taken some hints from iOS, the way Windows 7 took some hints from Mac OS X. Add to this that the iPhone has been around for years, and WP7 is still trying to get a foothold, and I think you may have gotten it backward.
        Before you call me a fanboy, btw, I don't have any allegiance to any platform, mobile or otherwise- so you won't hurt my feelings if you slam on any of them... just try to think your response through before you post it, though... ;)
        www.dfwsupergeek.com
        unclefixer@...
  • Logical fallacies?

    When few people had computers the OS was up for grabs also, but MS grabbed virtually all of it. MS had the standards (mostly HW), the momentum, the applications etc.

    I would also argue that as feature phones become more and more obsolete, replaced by low end smart phones, Android is in the best position by far to take advantage of this expanding market. Apple does not want the low margin, low end market, and nobody else has the cost and volume advantages in both HW and SW that Android is going to have.

    I think the conclusions drawn in this blog may be highly suspect.
    Economister
    • Cheap will always win the low end

      I'd agree Android is best positioned for this market.

      This market is huge however. Anyone that captures 10+% will have a good run.
      Richard Flude
      • Yes, but it is unlikely to last

        @Richard Flude<br><br>10% of a high volume low margin market will eventually lead to defeat. Manufacturers and developers will focus on the top player(s) and the 10% player will eventually be forced out of business. Consolidation always happens in commodity markets, even if it takes a while.
        Economister
      • @Economister. Poor insight.

        @Richard Flude

        Apple is doing 3% of unit sales and >50% of the profit. 10% of the market can mean serious change for a company in mobile.
        Bruizer
      • Lost focus?

        @Bruizer <br><br>I think we were talking about the low end/low margin market. NOBODY will make a lot of money on 10% of this market. NOBODY.
        Economister
      • @Economister: You can make a mint on 10% of this market.

        ANY company, with the right product line, can make a HUGE amount of money in this market if you have 10% of the handset market. Again, Apple is doing 3% of the market share an is pulling in >50% of all the profit in mobile handsets.

        And until Verizon, AT&T, Orange, O2... start offering free wireless broadband, your fantasy of "low end" simply does not exist.
        Bruizer
    • Poor analysis

      @Economister

      There is little price difference between a high end and a low end smart phone due to the 2 year contract needed for any major carrier.
      Bruizer
      • You have to stop looking ....

        @Bruizer

        in the rear view mirror. The future of smart phones and mobile communications/computing will be very different from what you see today.<br><br>PCs used to cost $3000 to $5000 for a very long time and the internet was a 2400 baud modem, dial up and the command line. You will see a similar revolution in smart phones over the next decade or so.
        Economister
      • @Economister

        And data plans will be free. Only a novice would apply the PC analogy to the mobile space.
        Bruizer
      • If you have no......

        @Bruizer

        facts or substance to your arguments, I guess the best you can produce is name calling.

        Firstly, I have probably been around longer than you have, so you can guess who the novice is.

        Secondly, you have already demonstrated a complete lack of ability to even contemplate the shape of the future.

        Thirdly, maybe you can come up with a better analogy/comparison, considering that both the smart phone market and the PC market consist of general purpose, programmable, digital devices, for consumer and other individual uses, communicating with each other.

        Did you say "novice"? I say clueless.
        Economister
      • I have offered several facts. What about you?

        Only a novice would attempt to apply the business strategy of the PC model to the mobile space. That really is a fact and has been discussed multiple times on sites like the Wall Street Journal, The Motley Fool and Asymco.

        With the PC model, the primary cost was the purchase price and there were little to no on-going monthly costs. Piracy is and was rampant allowing a single purchase and then near "free" usage after that point.

        Likewise, since PCs were typically anchored at a desk at home, the consumer mindset of "public opinion" did not enter into the purchase in any significant way.

        With mobile, there is a recurring usage costs that are not cheap. In the US and for national carriers (where most people are) those costs are very high being between $55-90/month. If you can eliminate these costs, then your analysis starts to make sense. If these costs stay (and there is little reason to see them going away as it is not in Verizon's, AT&T's or even T-Mobiles interest) your analysis is very novice sounding.

        Likewise, mobile handsets are a more personal decision than a PC and industrial design and style highly enter into the equation. This is why phones like the iPhone and the Galaxy S series have faired well. Both pay attention to clean and stylish lines.

        For example, take your above statement. NOBODY can make any money on 10% of this market.

        FACT: Apple is making over 50% of the profit in the mobile handset with only 3% of the market share. This simple fact alone shows your basis for discussion is without merit and based on a novice view of the market place.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

        @Bruizer

        Interesting number you keep spouting about 3%. Hmmm... 27% of 29.7% is not quite 3% -- just a hair over 8% off the top of my head for Apple's share of the total cell phone market. However, the article states that Apple and RIM have 27% each of the smartphone market not the mobile market. 27% market share/50%profit share is just a bit different from your 3% market share/50% profit share maundering.

        As for the low end market, I expect to see more smartphones being given away with 2 or 3 year contracts. Much the same as AT&T in the US giving a WP7 phone with every WP7 phone purchase.

        The old give them a razor and sell them the razor blades theory of marketing. Buy our cheap printer and purchase expensive ink cartridges for the next 4 years as a more modern example.
        DNSB
      • @DNSB - I said handset market.

        It is not "spouting" it is established:
        http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/09/21/pie-chart-apples-outrageous-share-of-the-mobile-industrys-profits/

        This is for Jan-June where the split was 2.8/39%.

        For the recent quater, I do think it went to just over 4.x%/51%. Either way, it is far below 10%.

        As time goes by, more and more phones will become "smartphones" and feature phones will simply disappear. This is the whole idea behind this blog. >80% of all customers have yet to pick a smartphone platform. Eventually (as in 3-5 years), all phones will be "smart". So it is very possible to make serious change with less than 10% market share.

        So the question here is, how many platforms will there be. Most analyst say about 5 and I tend to agree. Because the barrier to entry is actually lower than what the PC market is (most data is HTML based and translates easily between platforms), there will be many companies trying to get the 2 year refresh piece of the pie.

        With all of Android's market success, it is not translating to profit success except for HTC. Motorola, for example, is pulling in $0.33/phone and just under $1.00/smartphone.

        The three top profit performers do not use Android. Two are 100% proprietary (RIM and Apple) and the other uses an "open" system that is mostly only used by them (Nokia).
        Bruizer
    • RE: Most desired mobile operating systems: The market is more up for grabs than you'd think

      @Economister Of course, MS had the advantage of being the most available too, with a lot more hardware choices- which is also an advantage that Android has, not being locked to one type of hardware- I agree with you when you say they're in the best position to take advantage of this market.
      IMHO
      unclefixer@...
  • Silly to think there will be a single &quot;winner&quot;

    I would expect 3-5 main players.
    Bruizer
    • Well....

      @Bruizer

      that certainly was not the case in the PC sector. It was MS, Apple (and Linux?). Hardware manufacturers do not count.
      Economister