Why There Will Be Only Two

It’s a simple matter of mathematics. Actually, it’s a simple matter of not wanting to spend any more money that one already has. This is why, despite all the advertising in the universe, all the amazing hardware designs on the planet, even all the star-studded commercials on TV, there will be only two OS choices left for the smartphone user when it is all said and done.

Rewind to a few years ago. The iPhone was just coming to market. BlackBerry and Windows Mobile ruled the United States markets and Symbian ruled the world. Apps for smartphones were available for free, or limited cost and could be downloaded and installed from many different places. The best part, most of them were free. Remember though, back in the day, dumb-phones were still in the pockets of most cellular users and kids didn’t really have them at all. It was different time, and they were different markets.

Moving forward, Apple burst on to the scene with the first full “smartphone ecosystem” with the iPhone and iTunes Store. For the first time ever, you could buy software, music and entertainment in one place. Sure, in the past, carriers tried to have their stores for purchasing ringtones, games and other fun add-ons, but they couldn’t hold a candle to what Apple had assembled.

This leads to the current smartphone market and the positioning of the top operating systems in the world. The split is in the sales figures verses income between iOS and Android. For the sake of the argument, they are one and two. Falling quickly off the map is Symbian, now orphaned by Nokia. BlackBerry, which Research In Motion is praying to bring back, is also struggling to maintain any measureable market share. The final player in the game is Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which has failed to make any meaningful gains in popularity even with its second generation launching in 2012.

Many wonder why companies like RIM, Microsoft and Nokia continue to fire blanks into the market and can’t gain back any of that lost market share that they once had. It’s a relatively simple answer, Apps…

It’s not the number of them or that the most popular one of the week isn’t on this or that platform, but the amount of them that people have already purchased. It may be that person that has downloaded the Amazon App of the Day for the last year and a half that won’t  if consider going back to BlackBerry because they have all the Apps they need. It may be that iPhone user that purchased Apps for the last 4 years and continues to install them on each upgraded device they purchase. It’s a simple matter of not wanting to reinvest in the Apps that were already purchased for a different operating system.

If you figure the average user has purchased $20 in Apps per year and they are in to their contracts 2 years when they are due for a new device, it only makes sense to stay where they are, or go somewhere that offers the same Apps they use now. This leaves RIM, Microsoft and Nokia outside in the cold, looking in through a window.

Right now, being on the outside of the top two operating systems is not a good thing. More and more users are moving to smartphones, but fewer and fewer of them will consider anything outside iOS and Android because of their friends and family.

In the end, there will only be only two… Since Google and Android are solidifying themselves as a freebie OS for manufacturers to tweak, play and mangle into their own and Apple continues to sell out of every device they release, it only seems logical to conclude that the others really won’t stand a chance. No matter how much money is thrown at them, how many ads on TV are run or vendors are given units to demo, once the end user has purchased a significant amount of Apps for their system, they won’t want to change – and that day has already come and gone. In the end, there will be only two…

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