The mobile race shows no signs of slowing from the breakneck speed it's been run for several years. Smartphones are being adopted en masse, and tablets are stepping in to fill the void between the phone and the PC. The two big horses in this race, Google Android and Apple iOS, are mopping the field with all other contenders. That needs to change to allow the hot segment to be truly competitive. We need at least another horse to get established in the mobile tech race.
The problem is we are fast running out of contenders with what it takes to move into that third spot in the gate. The management of Research in Motion (RIM) have all but officially taken the BlackBerry completely out of the race with continual missteps in the market. The recently announced BBX platform that will become the new BlackBerry OS has a lot of us scratching our heads over the viability of the effort.
HP was poised to leverage the webOS platform purchased with Palm, and had a decent shot at grabbing that third spot. What HP lacked was the desire to stick it out and give it a chance, and the platform has been all but officially orphaned in the space. The webOS platform may end up going to someone else, but will lose all momentum HP/Palm has built. It's not likely that the platform will have enough to move into that third space.
Microsoft is looking pretty good for the position with the Mango-ified Windows Phone. The update is looking really solid, the real unknown is how the market will accept it. It will need to grab a lot of market share quickly to have a decent shot at joining the race, and there is not a lot of time. Microsoft is vulnerable should the tablet market keep growing, with the choice of making Windows its mobile OS of choice for that genre. It will have to get both of those platforms running well to really grab mobile market share.
There aren't any other viable contenders for the mobile race, which is unusual for such a hot segment. It's not for lack of potential sales, it's more like there isn't another company with all of the pieces in place to grab them.
It will continue to be Apple and Google slugging it out in the mobile platform war. Both companies are doing what they have been doing well, producing solid products and grabbing lots of customers. While the top spot could go either way in financial terms, there is a very real legal situation casting a pall on the race. Apple may intend to legally shove Android under the bus eventually, and this could be devastating to the mobile race.
Image credit: Flickr user Jessica M. Cross