Which OS Should You Target?
By Tim Kridel for Digital Innovation Gazette
Just how quickly can a mobile operating system go from last to first? Between late 2009 and late 2010, Android’s market share grew 615 percent -- enough to leapfrog into first place.
Wireless history is filled with plenty of other examples, good and bad, including the webOS flash in the pan. Fast-changing fates make it challenging for developers to decide which OS to support. The research firm iGR has been tracking the mobile market for a dozen years, and we recently spoke with its vice president of wireless and mobile communications research, Matthew Vartabedian, about what developers need to consider.
Right now, it’s a race between Android and iOS in terms of global market share. Do you see that changing over the next year or two?
Matt Vartabedian: In terms of global market share, I expect Android will go down market into the lowest price points and widen the gap against iOS. Nokia’s already there with Symbian and their S40 devices, and their plan is to convert those users (and new ones) to Windows Phone. The clock’s ticking on that strategy since the other major players are already in place. RIM just launched a new phone in Indonesia targeted at that market.
What about BlackBerry, Windows Phone and the other OS’s? Are any of them likely to have their market shares grow or shrink significantly over the next year or two?
Certainly, Windows Phone has done pretty well compared to the other underdogs -- RIM and webOS -- but Windows Phone needs a lot of movement to generate the draw of the two leaders. Our current forecast doesn’t show much Windows Phone movement until 2013 and beyond.
There’s no shortage of OS market-share figures on a global or country basis. But should developers also look at other types of market shares? For example, if a developer wants to target the affluent, are there any OS’s they concentrate on?
M.V.: At this point in the smartphone market’s development, we’re reaching a massive level of adoption/penetration -- at least in developed markets, the U.S. in particular
Our most recent consumer survey showed that Android was in use across all income ranges (in the U.S.), just like RIM and iOS. There are some pockets where the one OS might be slightly more prevalent than others, but there’s not a whole lot of difference on an income level between an Android and iOS user.
In other markets, such as Latin America, there are definite differences in device usage by annual household income. But that’s mostly a non-smartphone versus smartphone discussion. People in those markets want the same devices used in the U.S. or Europe, and carriers are trying new ways of making those devices affordable.