We need a third horse in the mobile race

We need a third horse in the mobile race

Summary: Competition is required to give consumers the best choice in the market. In the mobile space there are only two serious contenders which limits competition.


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

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • Right!!!

    You are right there. Market is full of potential and there is no one that can grab this. I hope Microsoft's Windows 8 will make it to Mobile...
  • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

    I agree and I have joined the third horse with Windows Phone and really enjoying how solid this device is. Came from Android and though it was great most of the time, I still had performance issues and the occassional restart/pop-the-battery deal which is annoying. Not once have I had to do so with my Windows Phone in over 5 months and thats impressive let alone from Microsoft and using the Windows Mobile years ago. I think Microsoft will stick it out and though they may not beat down the dominance of Android and iOS in the States, they will most likely grab much more attention world wide. Other than Siri, there really is nothing that those other phones do better than Windows Phone. I setup email for alot of business users here and when I use the iPhone it just seems like old school tech, even though its not, the UI just feels that way now.
  • I to wish MS well in mobile and Im no MS fan!

    Still I think MS made it's share of mis steps in mobile the most recent being the ill fated Kin. Also I don't think it's smart to yet count out RIM. After all some of the comments about RIM remind me of articles written about a little company called Apple in the 90's:). Love to see WebOS get some REAL support as well.<br><br>Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • There already is a 3rd and 4th race

    It's MS and RIM (respectively)

    MS needs to work with more hardware manufacturers and carriers to get units made and out to the masses. Perhaps get to the point of Android where the phones are near free, there by giving them away to get more market share. Though without diluting the brand.

    RIM just needs to darn execute, stop missing deadlines, and come out with new/fast/cool "shiny," objects. A tablet with no integrated email? Stupid.

    HP is not a contender at all.

    How is this news again?
    • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

      @unredeemed MS is that injured horse that has the potential once it has recovered.

      RIM on the other hand is that lame horse that once ruled, but has since lost all its steam, and is sickly looking. Everyone is just afraid to put that bullet in its head.
  • Yada yada yada competition and choice

    Nice chatter, but there's almost always the 900 lb Gorilla in each industry. Why aren't you saying the same thing about the desktop?
    • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race


      Well, James's blog is about mobile devices.
    • We need a second horse in the PC desktop market!

      +1 Perfectly right!
    • Apple and Linux aren't gaining massive desktop marketshare?

      I keep reading about how fantastic the growth is with Apple's desktops. Is that not happening?

      I also hear from the likes of SJVN that this is the year of the Linux desktop. Is that not going to happen?

      Or do you deny these? Is Apple's desktop business floundering under the 900lb fist of Dell?
    • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

      Maybe because its not the hot topic of the day? For years before this there was plenty of people talking about more competition in desktops. That time has passed.
  • We certainly do not need a monopolistic company gaining more breadth

    If MS had the market of iOS or Android, you'd start to see extensions of Exchange exclusively for Windows phones, MS Web server doing mobile stuff exclusively for MS phones and vice versa.
    We're so lucky we escaped the dark ages when IE had 97% share.
    We certainly don't need them to come back in power and smother innovation once more.
    • Yes, that would be terrible

      " extensions of Exchange exclusively for Windows phones"

      Imagine a world where you could only access the iTunes store from a mobile device through iOS devices.

      Oh wait.
    • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

      Get out of the 90's man.
  • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

    I think we are heading there, it is just that horses one and two have taken quite a lead over the rest of the pack. But this is a long race, never ending is more likely, so endurance is just as import as speed. Now that Apple has slowed a bit, Android is picking up a little more, but Microsoft is starting to surge forward.
  • Samsung Bada?

    You forgot to mention Samsung's Bada, which is currently outselling Windows Phone 7. That probably counts as the most successful third horse in the race.
  • I'd rather have five or six

    That would annoy investors and success cultists who see oligopolistic markets as divinely mandated, but I think that is the best situation for consumers and developers (technological progress is good for developers).
    John L. Ries
  • RE: We need a third horse in the mobile race

    I think it is pretty clear the third horse will be Microsoft. The real question is are they to far behind to make a difference? @ryanfrederick