DIGITAL BEAN COUNTER Comscore reported that Microsoft suffered a terrible three months to January 2010 in the US mobile market.
The findings are nothing short of embarrassing for Microsoft whose Windows Mobile platform saw a 4 per cent drop in its smartphone market share. That left Microsoft with 15.7 per cent. Microsoft showed the world Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress, but by the time that ships Microsoft might at this rate have to start from the bottom in clawing back market share.
Microsoft wasn't the only faded glory left to lick its wounds, with Palm dropping 2.1 per cent, leaving it at the bottom of the pile with only 5.7 per cent. For Palm the Pre was essentially the last punt for the firm, which for many produced the first proper PDA they used. It's particularly damning as these US figures are the best scenario for the firm, which has botched the Pre launch here in the UK by repeatedly delaying the launch of its app store.
The report wasn't doom and gloom for competing platforms however, with Google's Android seeing the largest rise with 4.3 per cent growth, giving it 7.1 per cent. Blackberrys, currently popular with teenage kids who use the advanced communication devices, also saw a steady gain of 1.7 per cent and remained out in front with 43 per cent of the market.
For Apple, the growth of Android is seeming to bog down the cappuccino firm's goal of world domination with its share increasing only 0.3 per cent. However with that rise Jobs' Mob now has reached, and surpassed, a symbolic 25 per cent share of the smartphone market. The more pertinent question is whether it can withstand the onslaught of Android devices, especially as the platform continues to increase its lineup.
Apple is busy trying to sort out the Ipad before moving onto more useful products such as the fourth generation Iphone. Indeed it is this device which looks set to be pivotal for the firm as unlike ever before it's up against credible opponents. As the battle of the app stores grows, Apple may have more pawns, in the shape of apps, at their disposal, Android has more value pieces in the form of handset manufacturers. Even with their established excellence in flim-flam over substance the idea of going up against consumer goods powerhouses such as Sony, Samsung and LG is not something that entices Jobs' Mob.
The report also brought up worrying news for Motorola, showing a 1.2 per cent drop to 22.9 per cent. Motorola still managed to keep top spot in the US OEM phone market, but it just goes to show that good handsets doesn't equate to an immediate upturn in market share. Again it was Research in Motion who benefited from other firms losses, catching up on perenial US underachiever, Nokia.
Research in Motion's figures, albeit placing the firm in dead last, were all the more impressive as the majority of their handsets carry a premium price tag along with requiring various add-ons to standard tariffs. Nokia on the other hand will be hoping that the recent alliances made with Intel and Orange on the Meego platform will give the Finnish manufacturer a kickstart in a market where they simply haven't understood what the public wants.
The analysts also released mobile content usage figures which showed that more people are using social notworks than ever before. Given all the press social notworks have gotten in the past few years it is surprising then that the original crippled communication medium, text messaging, is still the killer app on mobiles. According to the report 63.5 per cent still use their devices to send illegible, truncated texts.
For Microsoft, which has its fingers in many pies, the figures will be the source of embarrassment rather than worry. The time between publically showing Windows Mobile Phone 7 Series and delivering devices is simply too long. The problem for Microsoft is that its customers, unlike Iphone users, simply won't be willing to wait for a system that so far has been seen to match but not surpass its contemporaries.
It is Palm though which should really be concerned. The firm seemingly did the unthinkable when it tipped up to CES 2009 with a device that the world and dog thought was able to finally challenge the Iphone. Since then Palm has done a good job of taking the considerable positive press it generated and converting that into a means of running the remnants of a once market leader into the ground. The firm will have to circle the wagons if its slide into obscurity continues.
Apple on the other hand must be hoping that its lawsuit against smartphone manufacturer HTC will put the brakes on the growth of Android, as like its market share, innovation from the fruity toymaker has all but stagnated since the original Iphone. µ