Friday, October 29, 2010

A Mobile Market Analysis for Q3-2010

The third quarter proved to be a quiet one with continuation of some important trends, as compared to the second quarter. The quarter began with many new launches and announcements by the key players of the industry and has ended with many expectations from the next quarter.
The following sections highlight the happening of the Q3, followed by what to expect from the Q4.
Android built its already impressive momentum at the expense of iOS and Blackberry OS, further fueling the raging battle between Apple & Google. Research in Motion maintained its lead in the U.S., while its new Torch device — which sports the new BlackBerry 6.0 OS — received tepid reviews. Apple while facing a lot of issues in its new mobile advertising business in competition to Google and other players, has achieved huge success from iPAD launch by tapping a market that simply did not exist just a few months ago.

What happened in Q3?

Blackberry launched new Torch device, the new OS 6.0 and the Playbook
Though the users now have many options of robust platforms for their mobile phones, Blackberry OS has remained the choice of many business users since ages. Blackberry launched their new handset Torch which runs on the Blackberry OS 6.0, the latest OS version, with a vision to overhaul the complete platform. While RIM has staked its distant future to the QNX operating system, it will need to bring in supported handsets to market.

RIM finally revealed their iPAD rival, the Playbook, after months of speculation, rumors and hype. RIM’s Mike Lazardis was quoted saying “Playbook is going to be the first professional tablet.” The Playbook is being seen as a serious challenge to iPAD; with a dual core 1 GHz unit CPU, based on ARM Cortex A9 Architecture with a 7 inch screen. The PlayBook is supported by "BlackBerry Tablet OS" with symmetric multiprocessing and "true multitasking"—posing a serious challenge to "completeness" of the iPad.
Launch of the Playbook is being categorized as the comeback for RIM into the smartphone market.

Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 7
Microsoft launched their Windows Phone 7 in early Q3, though the phone is not expected to be available in the market until next month. The industry is already filled with expectations that WP7 is strong enough to the dominating operating systems in wireless, Android & iOS. Microsoft has played this one very carefully and has mandated specific futures (such as three hardware buttons). Moreover, it has maintained the role of quality assurance enforcer for all the supporting handsets expected to be launched in the market.

Apple launched iOS 4.0 in June 2010, iPad turned out to be an unqualified hit
Apple launched iPhone 4 in late June while already enjoying the success with iPad. Apple is expected to ship 12 million units by end of the year and has planned to sell 28 million iPads in 2011. The most remarkable aspect of the iPad’s success is the fact that a market for tablets among mainstream consumers simply didn’t exist just a few months ago. Approximately 80 new tablets are expected to be launched in the next six months. Among those expected to produce Android tablets are Archos, Acer, Cisco, Dell, LG, Motorola and Samsung; other likely entrants include Hewlett-Packard (for webOS), RIM (for BlackBerry OS) and Nokia (for MeeGo). We expect to see a few successful launches in the space over the next several months, particularly among tablets priced at $300 or less.

The Market Shares
Android sales overtook iPhone in the US and it captured nearly one-third of all new smartphone sales in the U.S. till August. Android is the only one amongst its competitors which grew its market share by 5 % and was at 17 % by end of July. Though Blackberry still retained its leadership in U.S, but still it observed a drop from 41 % to 39.3 % during the period. Apple observed a drastic drop from 25.1 % on April to 11.8 % in July though Apple did surpass RIM in Global Smartphones Share.
Android has not only been successful just in the U.S market but across the world surging to No. 1 in recent sales. Google grabbed the most market share and overtook iOS during the second quarter of 2010, taking a leap from a mere 1.8% to 17.2% in just one year. Though Apple saw its share grows nominally from 13% to 14.2 %, while it was still better than the rest of the platforms which lost ground. The important fact to note is that the market share gains from Android and iOS occurred as the Smartphone space expands by more than 50 percent year-over-year.
So thereby implying that these platforms are quickly capturing the new users and increasing their market shares by manifolds. The windows mobile’s was missed ant it was obvious as Microsoft was busy launching the new OS. The new OS is expected to turn numbers in favour of Microsoft as compared to its competitors.
Android’s ample handsets and presence with multiple carriers across the world might impact Apple’s growth in the coming quarter. But iPhone and primarily iPad should keep the numbers positive in Apple’s court. While Android will continue its breakneck pace, Apple will continue to be seen as the elite manufacturer in the space.

Mobile Advertising
Mobile marketing took more of a local twist during the third quarter. The traditional Internet companies are vying for a piece a U.S. mobile local ad industry that BIA/Kelsey predicts will explode from $213 million in 2009 to $2.02 billion in 2014.
Apple will likely have a 21 percent share of the mobile ad market by the end of 2010, according to IDC, as it eats into the market share of Google and Microsoft.

Perhaps the biggest news in the space, though, was Apple’s move to allow third-party ad networks such as Google’s AdMob to fully leverage its iAd platform. Apple revised its iPhone Developer Program License in September, enabling other ad networks to access analytics and other information considered crucial for deploying and tracking mobile ad campaigns. The move ended a standoff between Apple and Google; the latter (like many other companies) had previously been barred from accessing such data in iAd.

Takeaways of Q3

ü  Android has taken over the market from all the other mobile platforms and has become the dominant mobile OS, giving direct competition to iOS. The Android OS has many advantages, being an open source platform; it is bound to cause problems to the other platforms, mobile phone manufacturers and OEMs.

ü  iPad has succeeded in creating a demand for tablets in the market, this has also given rise to a number of companies launching their own tablets to compete with Apple. This might lead to supply outweighing the demand, which might lead to more failures than successes.

ü  With the surge of mobile platforms and launch of smartphones, thereby exploding the market with huge choices, has led to the advertisers capturing this mode of advertising. The location based advertisements is bound to increase with expansion of the mobile phones market and thereby giving the mobile advertising a boost. The location based advertising is going to be a success while this includes a consumer’s concern about security and privacy.

The ad networks will have to provide some transparency to the current system which lacks any visibility to bring in the location based advertising and make it a success.

ü  The technology is also advancing faster with 4G’s presence; it is bound to provide faster networks. But the onus also lies on the carriers to provide the services on large family of devices to enhance their reach to customers and hence the market shares. The congestion in the networks is going to be the challenge in the coming years, adding worries to the telephone operators.

What to expect from Q4?

Launch of Windows Phone
After windows Phone 7 OS unveiling in Barcelona, finally the phones will be launched in the market in October & November. Microsoft has announced ten Windows Phone 7 handsets for 30 countries, some available from late October in select European & Asian Markets while others from early November in US.
The phones will find their way to over 60 cell phone operators in more than 30 countries this year. Microsoft tapped Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung to deliver the handsets with a carrier list that includes AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Vodafone, TELUS, América Móvil, Deutsche Telekom AG, Movistar, O2, Orange, SFR, SingTel, and Telstra. This is just for the initial launch -- Microsoft has even more handsets coming in 2011 including the first one for Sprint and Verizon in the US.

Launch of iOS 4.2 with unified support for iPad & iPhone alike
The iOS 4.2 for iPad is going to bring together the iPhone & iPad under unified support. This OS upgrade includes a number of features already built, optimized & released for the iPhone including multi-tasking, folders support and unified mail inboxes.

Airprint wireless printing for Apple devices
Apple will be launching the Airprint wireless printing for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices in November with the iOS 4.2 launch.

The key feature of AirPrint would be that it can automatically finds printers on local networks and print text, photos and graphics to them wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need to install drivers or download software. HP’s existing and upcoming ePrint enabled printers will be the first to support printing direct from iOS devices.

The iPhone CDMA will come on Verizon network early next year
Verizon Wireless will be selling Apple's iPad in its stores starting Oct. 28, which hints that the rumors in the Smartphone industry about Apple launching a iPhone CDMA with the Verizon Network might be true.
If this is true then it should not be a long wait for the Verizon wireless customers who had been longing for an iPhone. This will probably end AT&T’s exclusive contract for iPhone in US. The Verizon network is building & testing the 4G network which is based on a technology called Long Term Evolution.  But it is speculated that the iPhone that uses the 4G network will likely not be available with the Verizon Network until at least the second half of 2011.

The Android gingerbread aka 3.0 will be out in Beta phase soon
With each platform launching a new OS, Android is also not lagging behind. Everyone is awaiting Android’s gingerbread’s launch which will be the next level Android OS. The Gingerbread, or Android 3.0, is intended to represent the high-end smartphones whereas lower end devices will stick with its brother the Android 2.2/2.1. 
There are going to be many new features of the Android 3.0, including a completely new user interface. It will have animated transitions between mobile applications and screens. The Android 3.0 will support displays with 1280 x 760 resolution, which is bound to drastically increase the HD quality of the display. 

Blackberry Playbook development SDK is out in Beta and being used for Adobe AIR (action script) based application
RIM is promoting their Playbook by a plan to provide one free BlackBerry PlayBook to every registered vendor with a BlackBerry App World, with an approved AIR application that is available for the BlackBerry PlayBook prior to launch.

Adobe’s AIR software developer kit (SDK) apparently has some inbuilt relationship with the PlayBook’s operating system, which would allow developers to easily create some powerful applications.
The Q3 has ended with announcements for new launches by the pioneer players in the smartphone industry, thereby raising hopes of the consumers in the Q4. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Blackberry Application for XIX Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games were first held in 1930 as the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada. The event was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and from 1978 are named as the Commonwealth Games. The  Games are held every four years in which all the member nations and territories of the Commonwealth of Nations participate in a multi-sport event which features competitions involving thousands of elite athletes. The Commonwealth Games are one of the world’s largest multi-sport events.
The vibrant city of New Delhi, home to 14 million people, will be hosting the XIX Commonwealth Games from 3 October 2010. This will be the first time India has hosted the Games and only the second time the event has been held in Asia (Kuala Lumpur in 1998 was the first).
The logo itself is in an invitation to every person across all divides – Indian and Commonwealth - to let go of themselves and participate in the Games to the best of their abilities, in the true sprit of the Games.

Come Out and Participate
With a vision to make this dream successful wherein every person is able to participate and Cheer for their respective countries and sportsperson, Endeavour – The Mobility Company, has developed “CWGames” Mobile Application to facilitate the sharing of experiences of Commonwealth Games 2010.

The solution would help visitors, fans and attendees of Commonwealth Games 2010 to keep themselves updated with the latest happenings in the Game Village comprising of

Medal History            
 Access to the details of records established in the previous CW Games sorted by Game, Sport, Event and Country. The user can also view the latest results from various sporting events during the XIX Commonwealth Games as it progresses.

Event Schedule
The application will provide detailed schedule of events along with information related to various games and map view feature to facilitate the visitors in locating the venue in Games Village.

Cheer My Country
The users will be able to cheer for their country by playing Cheer Sounds and voting for their respective nations. They can also save new and innovative sounds which would be then available to other users to use as Cheer Sounds.

Commonwealth Photos
The application allows the users to take pictures of their athletes as they perform share, upload and share their experiences with their friends and colleagues.  This ensures access to latest happenings around the Game Village even in cases when the user is not physically present.

In Summary, CWG Mobile application provides blackberry users to get all the latest updates on Commonwealth Games 2010 along with enriched interactivity such as cheer country with excellent sounds, upload/share CWG photos & messages which are Unique and Entertaining. This application provides details about the past history, guide maps to events venue, latest Medal standings and Event Schedules. The Voting for the Favorite message/sound of the day feature allows the user to Live Through the CWG Games. Stand a chance to win BlackBerry phones by simply uploading your photos and cheers! 

Rahul Aggarwal, MD, Endeavour Software Technologies, said the CWGames Blackberry application will mark a dramatic shift towards how people participate in the games and share their experiences with fellow members. According to him this application will provide a unique experience and set new standards for the Games to come. "We are excited about having this application available exclusively to Airtel BlackBerry customers and the value that it would bring to the visitors of Commonwealth Games," he said. 

Endeavour Software Technologies is a niche mobile solutions services company since 2002. The company offers Technology Solutions geared towards building Enterprise and Consumer Mobility Solutions for various verticals including Healthcare, Finance and Banking, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Consumer Oriented Organizations as well as market research, publishing and PR firms.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Apple introduces iOS 4.1; iTunes 10 and Ping Are Here; New Apple TV

Apple introduces iOS 4.1
·         First major release after iPhone 4 release.
·         There are bug fixes for some of the user reported problems related to the proximity sensor, Bluetooth and iPhone 3G users upgrading to iOs 4. 
·         Premiers Gamecenter, announced at the WWDC 
·         New feature called HDR for the iPhone 4 camera. HDR essentially takes three pictures, an overexposed an underexposed and mid range and combines them so that highlights are captured properly. 
·         Upgrade will be available next week and the price is free for all supported devices. 

Apple also announced iOS 4.2 that will bring iOS to the iPad in November along with new features for printing as well as a new media sharing feature called AirPlay.
The 4.2 release will also be available for the iPhone and iPod touch along with iPad.

New iPods
·         Continuing its tradition, this fall event on sept 1 announced new iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch.
·         iPod shuffle combines the features of last two generations. Buttons plus VoiceOver and playlist features. 
·         iPod nano - now in generation six is really new! A tiny Multi-Touch screen without click wheel, still no video, camera or games. It looks like as if using the iOS like iTouch but one of the blogger who has actually spoken to reps onsite said that its not on iOS. But i think in near future we shall start having some apps for it too.
·         iPod touch – It now has a retina display like the iPhone 4 along with the Gyroscope, the A4 and two cameras front and back. There’s FaceTime support. The rear camera will do 720p HD video but it’s not a multi-mega pixel for stills.

New iTunes 10 
·         Apple has built a social networking service called Ping as part of the iTunes app, centered around music. More like fusion of twitter and Facebook. Users can follow other users and as well as artists. 
·         The new Ping will be available in iOS. 
·         It’s an important direction for Apple and it sets the stage for a whole new set of services and functions down the road. 
·         This might be one of the most important pieces of news longterm from today’s announcements.

New Apple TV
·         4 times thinner and smaller than existing TV has no storage and completely internet based.
·         Can connect over WiFi or direct cable and has Netflix and Youtube support in built. 
·         It’s totally built around a rental model, not a purchase model although you can still connect to your computer and your iTunes library and stream any content that’s there. 
·         First TV networks to join for renting the shows are ABC and FOX
·         Ports include Ethernet, HDMI, USB, optical audio and no power brick. 
·         By not attempting to include DVR functionality Apple sidesteps the battle for input one on the TV set. It’s a very different approach that Google is taking. 
·         The bloggers expect there’s going to be some questions of a TV device with no apps. The app eco system for TVs can make sense, like the iPhone before it, Apple needs to educate the market on a paradigm shift. 
·         This Apple TV is a reset in many ways and the TV a device with very entrenched habits and behaviors. Before consumers can make a shift to that model, Apple needs to establish a position in the living room. 
·         There’s also a lot of issues in terms of user experience, command and control and content rights that need to be figured out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

State of the Mobile OS Environments - May 2010

By Jayaraman Raghuraman, VP – North America, Endeavour Software Technologies, Inc.

This document compares 4 mobile operating systems – iPhone, WebOS, Windows Mobile, Android on the current state of the respective mobile OS and their application development tools support. It indicates the pros and cons of each OS. Further it takes a view on the future of windows mobile and the potential of WebOS.

The 4 platforms are described with respect to

Operating System

Current Version. OS 3.1.2 for iPhone, OS3.2 for iPad

Base Framework. UNIX based kernel built on OS X. Runs on ARM processors

Future Visibility. iPhone OS 4.0 release planned for summer 2010 with added support for select background services for apps and multitasking. Enterprise support and consumer game center is part of new OS upgrade.

OS Efficiency. Very Stable OS. Optimum use of resources means battery lasts for around 10-12 hours.

Device Management. No direct support for enterprise level device management. Support must be built in applications that run on it.
User Experience. Apple leads this segment!  State of the art, ergonomic and user friendly. Support for multi-touch gestures and accelerometer available.

Web Browser. Based on WebKit, supports HTML5, CSS3 web fonts.  Quartz style smooth rendering and smart zoom features.

Storage. No external storage. Has Flash memory that varies from model to model. SQLLite and Core data services along with flat files can be used for application data.

Hardware Support. 2 MP Camera, A-GPS, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. Accelerometer and Multi-touch HVGA display.

Multi Tasking. Current version has only default phone apps multi task. User apps do not run in Multi-tasking mode. OS 4.0 is planned to have preemptive multitasking and select background services such as Audio etc. But this is also limited.

Media Support. Video - H.264, MPEG-4 in .mp4, .m4v, and .mov formats;
                            Audio - in AAC, MP3, M4a, Apple lossless and Audible

Development Environment

Tools and Language. xCode 3.x on Mac OS X 10.6, Objective C

SDK. Apple provides the iPhone SDK v3.1.3 for iPhone and iTouch apps and v3.2 for iPad apps.
The SDKs are bundled with xCode IDE. Unlike other platforms, development is supported only on Mac OS X 10.6 and above. Core Graphics and core libraries offer developers variety of graphics functions. Open GL support is also available in the SDK.

Developer Support. All developer applications work in a sandbox environment. The OS restricts access to the device except few routine tasks. Developers cannot utilize the device capabilities beyond what is offered by SDK APIs.

The Objective C programming is relatively difficult. Prior knowledge of MacOS X programming is great help and in some sense a must.

Application support

App Distribution. Available over the Air via App Store with over 150,000 apps. Private distribution can be done through the enterprise program via iTunes. OTA distribution for Enterprise available in OS 4.0

Enterprise Support. Limited support. Can entertain only one Exchange account, allows PUSH email and real time sync. No true device management support. Supports VPN networks.

Consumer Support. Huge number of applications available on App Store for consumers to download. 25% apps on the App Store are free.

Devices available

Current. Only one model with varied storage size – iPhone 3GS. WiFi only iTouch and iPads with varied device storage options. iPad also comes with optional 3G support.

Future. Only one device option will be available each for iPhone, iPod and iPad as is currently available.

Pros /Cons

  • Very powerful API library for variety of touch screen features capabilities of iPhone. These include Swiping, Accelerometer, LBS – Use of GPS, Pinching, Split view and many more

  • Lot of Development help available in terms of MAC tools

  • People with prior Apple Development experience can pick up this platform very easily

  • The OS is limited in terms of allowing developers to build background process, applications and increase the power of the capabilities. Apple has put in lot of restrictions on developers in terms of using the API in different ways than prescribed.
  • Multi-tasking – even in the newly announced iPhone OS 4 is limited

  • Security for the enterprise is a risk. Apple working hard to introduce new security features including mobile device management, mobile user management. Third party companies are building solutions for enterprise mobile security.

  • Over the Air (OTA) method of downloading enterprise applications not available. This means every enterprise user needs iTunes. This is becoming difficult for IT teams to manage and control. Apple has announced they will support Enterprise OTA soon.

  • In a way, this is a closed platform, as if you need to build applications to run on various mobile platforms, they have to be rewritten.

Operating System

Current Version. Android 2.1

Base Framework. Linux based kernel with Core services written in C, C++ and JAVA libraries. Runs on many processor architectures – ARM, MIPS, x86, Power.

Future Visibility. Android OS v2.2 has shown major performance breakthroughs. New devices from HTC and Motorola to be launched soon.
OS Efficiency. Very efficient. With v2.2 this is likely to become one of Android’s strongest points.

Device Management. No direct support for enterprise level device management. Support must be built in applications that run on it.

User Experience. Very user friendly. Support for Multi-touch gestures and Accelerometer, Magnetometer available. At par with iPhone, though iPhone is a shade better.

Web Browser. Based on WebKit, Supports HTML5, CSS3 Web fonts. One of Android’s strong points.

Storage. Supports external storage. Flash memory varies from model to model. SQLLite and native data storage mechanisms are available for applications.

Hardware Support. Video Camera, A-GPS, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. Accelerometer, Magnetometer and Multi-touch display with varying display sizes. Some features are device and manufacturer dependent.

Multi Tasking. Full multi-tasking applications can be written.

Media Support. Audio - 3GP, MP3, MP4, MIDI, Wave, Ogg. Video - H.263, H.264 AVC and MPEG4 SP. Flash 10.1 is planned in v2.2.

Development environment

Tools and Language. Eclipse IDE, JAVA.

SDK. Google offers Android SDK 2.1, 2.2 and NDK for developers to write applications. For graphics and rich user interface, OpenGL ES support is available from the SDK and some custom libraries. SDK offers variety of emulators for developers to test, debug and run the applications during development. In build Unit testing tools.

Developer Support. Operating System offers full control of it to the developer application via number of low level APIs and programming hooks. The programming effort is average compared to other platforms. Prior knowledge of JAVA is must. Low level programming, however, demands specialized mobile development skills using NDK.

Application support

Android Market Place. Over 50,000 applications available. However compared to the app stores of other Mobile OS platforms, Android market place has a much higher % of free apps.
25% apps are free on the other app stores – apple, blackberry.
50%  apps are free on the Android app store.

App Distribution. Available over the air via Android market place controlled by Google. Private OTA distribution is possible.

Enterprise Support. Limited device management capabilities. Supports VPN connections.

Consumer Support. Considerable amount of applications – 50000 -  are available for users to download free or at nominal charge. Wide range of device options is available.

Devices available

Current. Droid, Hero, Nexus One, etc. About 20 devices worldwide.

Future. Multiple device options are to be available from number of manufacturers. This is one of Android’s biggest accelerators and something Apple will find hard to compete against.

Pros / Cons

  • Open Mobile OS platform, with lot of emerging features that are needed in today’s smart phone.  Also enables various touch tone capabilities liked by people on iPhone.
  • More than 30 devices by various manufacturers.
  • Truly Multi-threaded, multi-processing OS. Developers can build lot of capabilities, not possible on the Apple iPhone platform.
  • The OS contains a lot of emulator UI skins that enables a developer to develop the application for one set of screen sizes and intensity, but easily make it available on other screen sizes, sharpness without any development. This is huge for both manufacturers and developers.
  • Lot of manufacturers including Dell is looking at building net-books / other mobile devices based on the Google Android platform. Not sure how this ties with the Google Chrome OS, also released.
  • Android Market is the second most popular application store with more than 50,000 applications available for download. 50% of these are free. On other app stores – Apple, Blackberry, about 25% are free.
  • The Android 2.2 OS is a state of the art mobile OS with features available on standard desktop OS and higher performance. More details available on
  • Enterprise Security features and other needs for I/T organizations to include Google Android in the enterprise is taking time, as tools for the same are being developed. This adoption of Android by enterprises will increase over the next 12 to 18 months.
  • The biggest disadvantage of the Android OS is how they will continue to support the various OS / devices going into the future.  Also the vision for Android vs. that of Google Chrome in other devices other than mobile phones is not clear.

Operating System

Current Version. Windows Mobile 6.5. No major OS architecture changes since last 10 years.

Base Framework. Windows CE 5.2 based kernel with core applications build in Windows C, C++ and Windows API.

Future Visibility. Completely revamped Windows 7 is to be launched later this year. No backward application compatibility.

OS Efficiency. With full usage of WiFi, 3G, GPS and bright display the battery lasts for 5-7 hours.
Device Management. Support for enterprise level device management is available. Exchange Active Sync is available for PUSH emails.

User Experience. Conventional Graphical User Interface. No support for multi-touch gestures and Accelerometer available yet. Windows 7 may have support for these. Windows Mobile certainly lags way behind competition here.

Web Browser. Internet Explorer, Relatively primitive web browser. Supports Flash Lite 3.1. Third party browsers such as Opera are available for download.

Storage. Supports external storage. Flash memory varies from model to model. For application data storage, SQLLite, SQL CE and many third party database tools are available.

Hardware Support. Video Camera, A-GPS, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth. Conventional GUI display with varying display sizes. Some features are device and manufacturer dependent.

Multi Tasking. Full multi-tasking applications can be written.

Media Support. MP3, ASF, WMA, WMV

Development environment

Tools and Language. Visual Studio v6.0, .Net  2008. Embedded Visual C++, Visual C++, and Visual C Windows 7 uses XNA framework and Silverlight.

SDK. For applications development, Microsoft offers the Windows Mobile SDK bundled with its Visual Studio all in one tool. For graphics functions custom OpenGL ES libraries are available. SDK offers generic emulators to use during development for testing the apps.

Developer Support. Operating System offers full control to the developer. Though low level programming needs specialized mobile development skills. Given the developer community exposure to Microsoft technologies, the learning curve is very shallow.

Application support
Windows Mobile Market Place. Less than 1500 apps. This is a major hurdle for Windows Mobile. However there are number of 3rd party app stores such as Handango which have over 20,000 windows mobile apps.

App Distribution. Available over the air via Windows Market Place controlled by Microsoft. Private OTA distribution can be done without too much trouble.

Enterprise Support. Available. Device Management Capabilities available through Sync functions and third party software.

Consumer Support. Considerable amount of applications are available for users to download free or at nominal charge on various forums. Wide range of device options is available.

Devices available

Current. Many devices are available. Multiple phone models from variety of manufacturer are available. E.g. HP, Motorola, Palm, HTC etc.

Future. Multiple device options are likely to continue to be available from number of manufacturers. Windows Mobile 7 holds the key to the future.

Pros / Cons
  • Based on popular .NET developer tools. Supports MS tools including Active Directory, Exchange ,etc  easily.
  • OS was not upgraded for a long time , for over 6 years,   and did not support the various rich features available in Android, iPhone, etc. Microsoft waited for a long time to revamp the entire Mobile OS platform. Now, with Windows Mobile 7, people are waiting to see how it has changed. However, none of the apps that exist today will run on WM7, it is not backward compatible.
  • Microsoft did not impose enough standard on how manufacturers will build devices using their OS. Hence applications built on one device usually causes developer a lot of problems to support on other devices. This increases the cost of supporting various platforms.
  • The OS is not free.  Device manufacturers have to pay a license fee on each device running the OS.

Operating System
Current Version.  WebOS v1.4.1. The most developer friendly OS ever!

Base Framework. Monolithic Linux based kernel with proprietary components developed by Palm. Runs on ARM processors.

Future Visibility. Recent takeover by HP might define a clearer roadmap in the next quarter.

OS Efficiency. Open OS. Very efficient in handling multiple tasks with proper utilization of the resources such as WiFi, 3G, GPS makes for longer battery life.

Device Management. Support for enterprise level device management is optionally available. Exchange Active Sync is available for Push emails.

User Experience. At par with iPhone/Android. Multi touch gestures and support for Accelerometer are available.

Web Browser. WebKit based browser with support for HTML5 and CSS 3 standards.

Storage. OS Supports external storage. None of the current devices have it though. For the application data storage SQLLite is available.

Hardware Support: Video Camera, A-GPS, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, Slide Out or Candy Bar Keyboard (QWERTY). Has Accelerometer and multi touch gesture touch screen. Inductive charging support available.

Multi Tasking: Full multi-tasking applications can be written.

Media Support. Audio formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV; Video formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264

Development environment

Tools and Language. Eclipse IDE, JavaScript, HTML

SDK.  WebOS SDK  is available to developers. Developers use Ares for UI building with webOS mojo Framework SDK underneath. For the plug-in application development, WebOS PDK is available. The SDK also offers various emulators to be used for the development testing and debugging.

Developer Support. Operating System offers full control of it to the developer application via number of low level APIs and programming hooks. Web developers may easily develop programs. No specific knowledge on Mobile development is necessary.

Application support

App Distribution. Available over the air via Palm App Catalog controlled by Palm. The private OTA distribution can be done. Code Signing is mandatory.

Enterprise Support. Available. Device Management Capabilities available through Sync functions and third party software.

Consumer Support. Limited. Device hardware options available in the market are very limited.

Devices available

Current. Palm Pre Plus, Palm Pixi Plus.
Future.  No clear roadmap available. However indications are that HP WebOS tablet is one way in which HP is looking to use WebOS.

Pros / Cons
  • Based on very popular web development kit and JavaScript. Makes it easy for web developers to learn this new platform.
  • HP will probably announce a variety of devices, thus spreading the adoption of WebOS as a new platform. This will probably compete with Android and Windows Mobile as an OS options available to device manufacturers. There is also a school of thought which suggests that by October 2010, Web OS is headed for the HP WebOS Tablet.
  • The WebOS was taken up initially by lot of developers and development organizations, but the interest waned due to lack of devices running the OS. A resurgence is likely now that HP will spend on ensuring that developers get the necessary support for the platform

Market Trends

Data source: Gartner

The clear winners are iPhone and Android. Android more so – a growth of 800%YoY – backed by multiple carriers, buoyed by strong marketing campaigns. It is almost given that both of these will catch up with Blackberry in too for a horizon.

In the US, Android (28%) has already raced to the 2nd spot displacing iPhone OS(21%). RIM (36%) continues to be number one.

Phones grow, Smartphone even more.
Overall, the global mobile phone sales totaled approx 315 million units in Q1 2010 – a 17 percent increase over Q2 2009.

Smartphone sales to end-users reached 54.3 million units - an increase of 48.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2009.

Can Windows Mobile turn around?

Windows Mobile's sales decreased from 10.2 percent to 6.8 percent YoY.

Windows Mobile is losing market share. This is attributed to the rise of Apple and Google Android.

However, they were ripe for the taking. And have been so for some time now. Consider this – The Windows Mobile Kernel, CE 5.2, is unchanged since 2004. Processors have changed, multi touch came in Accelerometers, Magnetometers and the works, but Windows Mobile did not make any changes.

Now the company has now rewritten the mobile OS ground up to provide better user experience, but given that the competition is already accelerating, it will really need a miracle for Microsoft to overtake anyone. At best they can recover some market share with WM7. Note that WM7 is not backward compatible! This means all applications will need to be rewritten. At the very least this puts WM7 two years behind Apple and Android.

Another daunting aspect is that the windows mobile market place has less than 1500 apps (yes 1500 compared to 150000 plus on Apple). The very large number of apps on the 3rd party app stores for windows mobile will be rendered impotent as Windows Phone 7 is not backward compatible.

What of WebOS?

Palm announced it’s entirely new WebOS platform in January 2009 and then released it to developers in May 2009. The first device which ran the WebOS platform was the Palm Pre mobile device. Later the Palm Pixi was introduced in late 2009.

On April 28, HP announced it was going to acquire Palm for $1.2 billion and it will develop various kinds of devices running the WebOS platform. Until that time, Palm struggled to push the sales of the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi devices. The earlier versions of the WebOS platform were filled with defects and not many tools available.

It is being speculated that HP may even launch a WebOS Tablet by October 2010, what that means for the windows 7 Slate  (demoed by Steve Ballmer in his keynote in January at the CES) is not clear.

Other Highlights

  • Apple is registering the fastest growth of over 110% YoY in terms of sales of its iPhones and now with the iPAD.

  • Nokia continues to be the largest device manufacturer in the world.

  • RIM is very strong in the Enterprise market. Their newly announced OS 6.0 due this summer has lot of features, but it remains to be see if that will increase the adoption of applications.

Mobile OS market share and sales – Q1 2010 (Source : Gartner)

Mobile Device Sales Q1 2010 (Source : Gartner)

Here is the link to the Gartner Report: