Smartphone platform wars: It's an iOS, Android world and stinks to be 'other'

Smartphone platform wars: It's an iOS, Android world and stinks to be 'other'

Summary: The sad reality in smartphone land for RIM and Microsoft today boils down to this: It's an Android and iOS world. You just live in it.


Smartphones are now half of all mobile phones in the U.S. and it's an Android and Apple iOS dominated world, according to Nielsen data. Here's an ode to the rest of the crowd and the tough position they're in.

Nielsen's info graphic tells the tale:

Among recent smartphone acquirers Android and iOS dominate. Android has 48 percent of the market and iOS has 43 percent. Simply put it really sucks to be "other."

Here's a look at the little slivers in that graphic above.

RIM BlackBerry. Among three month acquirers, RIM only garnered 5 percent of smartphone OS share. That performance is likely to be reflected in RIM's earnings later today. Analysts expect a poor outlook all the way around. The challenge for RIM will be to hold share ahead of its superphone launches.

Windows Phone 7. We're assuming "other"---all 4 percent of recent acquirers---is dominated by Microsoft's Windows Phone. AT&T, Nokia and Microsoft are spending big bucks to make the Lumia 900 a hero phone. If Nokia's entry to the U.S. flops it will be more "other" for Microsoft.

The sad reality in smartphone land today boils down to this: It's an Android and iOS world. You just live in it.

Topics: BlackBerry, Apple, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Security, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • That doesn't mean that others should give up

    Look at OS X and Linux - apparently it's a Windows world, we just live in it.

    Should they just throw in the towel? I say no.

    Though for those of us that have a WP7 phone, it looks to be a different world from where we stand, because we aren't using iOS or Android, like you are.

    So from our perspective, it stinks to be you. ;)
    William Farrel
    • Microsoft should give up now

      Microsoft wanted to extend its desktop monopoly into phones, but the plan failed, and Windows Phone is losing market share. Wrong approach. Too closed. Poorly executed. Too many platform resets (it will reset yet again later in 2012 with Windows 8 on a phone).
      • Remember the Xbox

        MS has commitment if nothing else. They will make Windows Phone a success. This is a world-wide market and Nokia is launching new phones all over the world (China).
        Once, Windows 8 ships with it Metro UI customers will flock to Windows Phones.
      • So mis-informed it isn't even funny.

        "Windows Phone" as a brand has NEVER lost market share. "Windows Mobile" is losing market share because no-one produces handsets anymore (apart from niche business devices). Analysts lump sales figures for the two together because they don't understand the differentiation and apparently, neither do you.

        "Too closed" is laughable - Apple's ecosystem is just as closed if not more so. They don't seem to be suffering as a consequence.

        "Too many platform resets" is also a joke. Windows Phone has had no platform resets, merely upgrades. Upgrades that thus far have by and large been rolled out to every handset running the OS. If that constitutes a platform reset, the entire tech industry is guilty of supporting its customers with plaform resets.

        Please also enlighten me as to how the platform has been poorly executed.
    • Or like the Starbellied Sneaches

      Like to look down on everyone else, while claiming to be better. Different is not always better. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is just different, and sometimes it is actually worse. While the jury is still out on WP 7, the consumers in general have rejected it. Much like the vaunted Zune HD, I have yet to see a WP 7 phone in the wild, and I may never see one. I have seen tonnes of Androids, and iPhones. Logically those are the one today's consumers want. I fully expect Microsoft to try and leverage their desktop monopoly to create a Phone OS monopoly, but feel they will fall short.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Sorry man, just cause WP7 doesn't take all sales at the store......

        Doesn't mean its not he best smartphone. Its a matter of preference, but I can tell you that me and my girl love our WP7 devices. She came from iOS and I came from Android and we both love everything about them except the app selection. I would love to see how well it does if the apps selection was the same and there are studies that show WP7 phones doing better in satisfaction than any other platform except in one area and that is "app selection". So may want to think a little harder about why WP7 has an uphill battle here. Its not about WP7 being horrible, its far from that buddy! Oh and just got done working with an iPhone user here at work that is looking to go on his second sim card in his 4S and he can't get his voicemail. I just laughed when he told me he rebooted his phone last week because it locked up and wouldn't work! Want to know how many times me and my girl have rebooted our phones in 11 months of being on WP7? That would be NONE! No other platform can say that and we know, we came from both of the kings in mobile OS's! Looks like the kings aren't that great to you guys!
      • Consumers reject a lot of, smart, sensible things in an effort to be "cool"

        so the fact that Verizon pushes Android, (or the fact that it's just what comes with the cheap phones, so I wouldn't say "it's what people want") doesn't take anything away from how really well WP7 works.

        And Zune? I'd take that over the iPod any day, as I like the subscription music idea over having to repurchase or rip every CD I own.
        William Farrel
      • OhTheHumanity

        I find that hard to believe, as the iPhone has consistently score very well in customer satisfaction. The only places that seem to have problems with Apple products are the iHater publications (like ZDNet), and the mentally challenged. Nokia has been having battery issues with their Lumia 800 hones since introduction, yet not a peep from the brain trust here. The iPad had a minor glitch in the charge indicator, and suddenly it's "Battery-gate". Maybe the liars at DNet should chang the name if this site ti something ore fitting. Microsoft lovers, or Microsft is out God might fit the bill better.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Go check the top rated phones at the carriers.........

        And you will find the HTC Trohpy right behind the iPhone 4S at Verizon and head over to AT&T and you will see the Focus Flash S as the TOP rated phone by their customers! You can ignore it all you want, but doesn't make it a horrible platform because you think it is. And I know plenty of people with iPhones and Androids and none of them can tell me they haven't had to reboot their phone in 11 months, not one of them and I manage the Verizon account at my employer and though the iPhones are much bette than Android as far as reliability, the iPhone still has issues from time to time and the most recent issue we had was an iPhone that heated up so much it just fried itself to death and we had to replace it! Apple can win with replacing everyone's faulty products, which is smart, but I rather not have to worry about replacing my phone every so often when it cooks my balls in my pocket! iPhone is not a bad product, WP7 is just better in everything but app selection! I almost have all the apps I want at this point so the gap is closing!
      • Never Seen One In The Wild?

        Are you serious?
        I have seen several of them in the wild. Also, everyone who sees mine wants one. Just wait, the market share will grow.
        Patrick Aupperle
  • As an Apple fan from way back I can tell you this much about tech...

    EVERYTHING changes and very often it changes FAST! Until RIM is actually dead and buried don't count them out. As for MS they have plenty of ammo and from what I've read from bloggers and commentators a good product to push. DO NOT COUNT THEM OUT. Me I'm not a fan of the look of the UI of MS but I'm not going to say they don't stand a chance.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RIM may not be dead yet, but...'s news about pulling out of the consumer arena is worrying at best and an early farewell at worst. With more and more businesses encouraging or at least accepting BYOD with regards to smartphone, the customer base for RIM is shrinking fast. To say they are moving away from the larger (and growing, rather than receding market is a questionable move in my opinion. Sure, I get it, for pure business reasons, they are the best phones out there with 2nd to none encryption and remote managability with their enterprise server product range and it makes sense to stick with what you know best. But the brutal fact that what they know best is quickly becoming irrelevant should be a kick up the backside for them.
    • Counting them out

      Even J. Allard is making Android apps now. It's over.

      Microsoft's problem now isn't how to get back into a dominant position in mobile. Now it's about not losing the Windows ecosystem entirely. There are now powerful tech companies - HTC, Apple, Motorola Mobility - who owe them nothing and are willing to innovate nonstop. Microsoft cannot count on the PC OEMs that must have Windows to hold the line and prevent this mobile progress because the PC OEMs no longer have that power.

      A poor launch of W8 and even their PC OEMs will abandon them. Those are the PC OEMs who aren't making any profits on Windows PCs anyway, and are already making noises about getting out of the client PC biz altogether. The outlook is not so good.
  • Why sad?

    That's how the markets work. And thank goodness for that. A few years ago RIM was on top of the smartphone world. Nothing like being in a seemingly hopeless position to spurr on a little innovation.
  • This is precisely why all the innovation is happening on Windows Phone

    As the underdog they are doing great work to make the user experience so much better than ios/android.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Then this mysterious "they" are

      Doing something completely wrong. Using the legal system to browbeat OEMs into using your product is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
  • I can honestly say

    It's not looking good for Microsoft, when you get lumped in with other. I kept hearing that WP 7 was going to take the world by storm, and how advanced it was. It hasn't exactly set the world on fire, and it is still lacking a few features. Maybe Microsoft should fix their broken mobile OS, rather than force feed it to the masses?
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Broken Mobile OS? Wouldn't that be Android

      or don't you read all the other blogs here on all the issues that are hampering Android, like cheap hardware, lack of updates, updates not working, Malware in the Android store, fragmentation, ect?
      William Farrel
      • Interesting

        If Android is so broken why is it on over half of all the mobile smart devices bought in the world? Is it because the claims are all a pack of lies, and the ability of liars to sway common people isn't what it once was? Or is it because people just don't care?

        Whatever the answer, your Android bashing isn't working. Is that painful? Does it frustrate you? It should.
  • Recently switched to a Windows Phone and love it!

    I just switched to a Windows Phone and love it! The Live tiles are insanely useful.

    Direct Facebook/Linked-In/GMail integration is sweet, and the apps are plentiful:

    Radio Hub, Netflix, Amazon, Best Buy, Facebook, Twitter to name just a few.

    Does my bank have an app? No, Windows Phone has IE9 now, so it really doesn't matter.