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Can Any Smartphone Platform Overcome the Android/iOS Duopoly? 404

Nerval's Lobster writes "The company formerly known as Research In Motion—which decided to cut right to the proverbial chase and rename itself 'BlackBerry'—launched its much-anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system at a high-profile event in New York City Jan. 30. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still dumping tons of money and effort into Windows Phone. But can either smartphone OS — or another player, for that matter — successfully challenge Apple iOS and Google Android, which one research firm estimated as running on 92 percent of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012? What would it take for any company to launch that sort of successful effort?"
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Can Any Smartphone Platform Overcome the Android/iOS Duopoly?

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  • I'd expect that... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:14PM (#42754437) Journal
    ... if anybody knew the answer to that question, they'd probably already be filthy rich.
  • Lots of Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:15PM (#42754445)

    I think Microsoft can. It's a matter of how many billions of dollars they want to bleed first. It worked with the XBox. Of course the XBox was also helped by Sony's stupidity.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirJorgelOfBorgel ( 897488 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:15PM (#42754451)

    As is always the case with /., if the subject is a question, the answer is no.

    Unless you let enough time pass, then the answer to this case is most certainly yes. Nobody knows how much time that would be, though.

  • Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:16PM (#42754473)

    Can any smartphone platform overcome the Nokia/RIM duopoly?

  • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:17PM (#42754491)
    I didn't know I really, really wanted an iPod until I saw one. Same with a cell phone, GPS, digital cameras, and palm pilots. It wasn't a stretch to imagine a device that integrated them all, but that took about another 7 years.

    What it will take to break the duopoly is someone bringing me a new capability on the order of the iPod, cell phone, GPS, digital camera, or Palm Pilot. And , of course, it needs to be integrated with the phone. Just giving me a new user interface, or a way to stir facebook, twitter, and the rest of that crap together won't do it. NFC payment systems are trying to be this, but don't make it. Whatever it is will be a whole new class of feature.
  • Re:Lots of Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:22PM (#42754547)

    I think Microsoft can. It's a matter of how many billions of dollars they want to bleed first. It worked with the XBox. Of course the XBox was also helped by Sony's stupidity.

    I was going to ask what you were smoking after reading the first sentence. Reading the rest of the post lends credibility to the possibility, though.

    If Apple seriously screws up the next iPhone and Microsoft manages to come up with something far, far better than any OS they've put on a phone ever ... than they might stand a chance of Microsoft coming out over Apple.

    It would be hard to beat out Android on all fronts, though ... there have been some seriously crappy Android phones, but I don't think the market has been without great Android phones from at least two different manufacturers in years. So that would require a failure from Google that applied to all manufacturers of Android phones, which doesn't seem too likely.

  • Re:Better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:23PM (#42754563)
    That's not a good comparison, though. Yeah, apple and google have eatten RIM's lunch, but even if they hadn't, they'd still be bigger because most of their growth was from sales to people who don't own smartphones. The market is saturated now. Even apple is starting to have problems competing with their own products that people already own. What we're talking about is something that's good enough to make people switch. Not new growth. And if you already have products you've bought through the app store for your platform, that's a hurdle. Your new offering has to be of more value that what you're walking away from.
  • by Farmer Pete ( 1350093 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:26PM (#42754591)
    I would give the answer No about 80% odds. It's very unlikely that RIM will be able to undo what they've already done. They took a monopoly and pissed it away. Every blackberry I used was worse than the one before it. My battery life went from 3 days with my first 8830, 1 day with my tour, and 16 hours with my bold. I enjoyed some features, (mail delivery and calendaring is much better on the BB than on Android), but the lack of apps was very disheartening. I really didn't mind the lack of a touch screen, and the keyboard was the perfect size for me. Even if the BB10 OS is soooo much better, the only way I would consider it is if the monthly fees were ridiculously cheap. Unfortunately, since RIM actually does something on the back end, they have the biggest price disadvantage of any manufacturer, and you are more likely to pay more than the competition, not less.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:35PM (#42754719)

    Then you'll never have it. Catering to freetards is not profitable.

  • Re:Better question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:37PM (#42754739)

    But most of those people already had phones. So a future market player can sell a foo-phone to the (large) market of people who don't own foo-phones and only own smartphones.

  • Re:Lots of Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:43PM (#42754845) Homepage Journal

    I don't think Microsoft can. Microsoft phones have been around for a while now, and not only do they still suck but they're still not popular. AFAICT the Xbox 360 is a fairly decent platform all told, too bad about their overmonetization of Xbox Live but that's not enough to keep them from success. But Windows CE and all its incarnations have always sucked hard, and not in a good way. I imagine that Microsoft will keep up their unvarying record of mediocrity in the mobile space, so I doubt that Microsoft can ever become even the #2 player in mobile no matter how much they spend. They have never demonstrated an ability to make a phone that fucking works.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:44PM (#42754851)

    Aging population + Jitterbug phone = THE FUTURE

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:55PM (#42754975)

    It wouldn't hurt anyway. Seriously though. They had better either do something remarkable or have some great features. For example, I'd pay good money for a phone with a physical scrolling wheel. Ditto for sound. Or an On/Off switch that didn't make you wait for the computer to contemplate its navel would be worth something too. Sometimes you can't beat physical controls. Nobody has yet done scrolling right and you always end up clicking something you wish you hadn't.

    What? No.

  • Re:Better question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin ( 2014446 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:16PM (#42755197) Homepage
    While I agree, the problem is that smartphones are basically by definition capable of "foo". They are truly general-purpose devices now. Nobody's keeping 2 year old phones anymore it seems, so if new technologies come along they can be added simply (relatively) in the next version; see NFC, LTE, etc.
  • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @05:19PM (#42755235) Homepage

    I love your business plan: Make everything free and spend millions on it with no returns. You should set up a Kickstarter page immediately. I know you'll do well!

    Isn't that exactly what Google did with Android? And now they rule the game?

    It looks as if his business skills are more aligned with reality than yours.

  • by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:16PM (#42755943)

    how can JB not support your hardware?!? oh, because it's not using drivers written for linux, it's stuff written for dalvik.

    So how do you think Ubuntu mobile runs on phones if the drivers were written for Dalvik? Especially given that Ubuntu uses the same drivers as Android []. You seem very confused about what drivers and/or Dalvik are, Dalvik is a Virtual Machine, drivers do not run in Dalvik.

  • by aNonnyMouseCowered ( 2693969 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:30PM (#42756147)

    Any asteroid big enough to wipe out Cupertino is going to wipe out whatever economy is necessary to buy new WinPhones and RIMs. No, I think the winners of that civilization-altering event will be the makers of survivalist communication gear like walkie-talkies.

  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @06:45PM (#42756301)

    REALLY GOOD TOOLS TO INTEGRATE WITH BUSINESS Everything you mention except remote wipe are for the end user. When people talk about tools to integrate with business they are usually referring to enterprise infrastructure integration tools. The problem is...The end user usually outnumbers the enterprise admin 200 to 1 so you have 200 people all going "It does what I need it to do" and 1 guy desperately trying to get anybody to listen to him about the inadequacies of the overall system. For enterprise the phone is but one piece to a very large whole. BlackBerry designed an enterprise system whereas Apple and Google designed a consumer oriented ecosystem. The former allows for fine granular control from the infrastructure to be pushed outward. The latter allows the end user to get stuff from iTunes/GooglePlay. From the very first BB phone connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) the infrastructure group was able to mandate policies on the device. There are third party policy tools to manage iOS devices in the enterprise but they are not as mature or feature rich as BES. Of course the new BES 10 actually has built in support for iOS/Android devices now which could aid in enterprise adoption of these platforms but BlackBerry will be making money off of each device with a seat license. But BB 10 upgrades can use existing licenses. BlackBerry wins either way.

    Your post inadvertently exposes the entire reason that RIM is loosing, and will continue to burn.

    The whole point is that phones used to be a corporate provided necessity, that the end user had mostly no use for outside of work. That meant that the company could have sole control and there would be no issue. Today, that situation is reversed, The smartphone is mostly for the end users use, and the company gets to tag along (often at no cost to the company even). The entirety of the needed technology is to prevent sensitive materials from ending up on the phone in the first place, as it cannot be considered a secure device. This is best achieved as en e-mail server administration policy. Any other solution is far more money and trouble than it is worth. Simply prevent the e-mail system from pushing attachments to smartphones devices, and you're 99.9% of the way there.

    The reason this is so important is a matter of control. End users do not want to give up *any* control over their devices. The devices belong to them, and they won't tolerate the company tinkering with it in any form. We are a typical operation that makes heavy use of smartphones to keep in constant contact. The company does not pay for private phones or plans, but will provide a company cell phone to anyone who needs a phone / refuses to use their personal phone. The company phones are obnoxious enough that most people just use their own. The company happily interfaces with the private phones for e-mail and corporate messaging as easily as for the corporate phones, but the no attachments policy is enforced on the email servers. Even if someone looses a personal smartphone, there is nothing of any real value that is exposed to theft, so there is very little risk.

    To implement all of that support requires only that the IT department implement attachment control policies on the email servers, and otherwise its a non-issue. Our wireless networks are already isolated from the corporate networks and considered completely untrusted, so there was never any exposure from wifi access in the first place. Even after all of that, we have not had anyone come to us and complain that something they were trying to do with their private or corporate phone wouldn't work.

    At the end of the day there isn't anything that a fancy BES system and draconian lock down provides that we don't already have, and we save a huge amount of money by not having to provide phones and plans to everyone, not to mention the cost of supporting BES and / or whatever other systems your way calls for. BES and its brethren is a solution to a problem that no longer really exists. RIM is doomed because they came late to the smartphone party with features that no one really needs anymore, and as MS is discovering, the market moves too fast to be playing catchup.


  • by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@yah o o . c om> on Thursday January 31, 2013 @08:33PM (#42757189)

    I love your business plan: Make everything free and spend millions on it with no returns. You should set up a Kickstarter page immediately. I know you'll do well!

    Isn't that exactly what Google did with Android? And now they rule the game?

    It looks as if his business skills are more aligned with reality than yours.

    No, it's not what Google did with Android. Google has enough money in the bank to do stuff "because they feel like it", and see if it could be successful. They weren't banking on Android's success, and they'd continue to be making billions if WebOS was in second place. When you can start from *that* starting line, it's much easier to make it to second place.

    From there, it was a timing issue - Apple was the phone that everybody wanted, but at least in America, many of them were either locked into multi-year contracts with their present carrier, or were loyal to them - many frequent domestic travelers swear by Verizon, because for all the Big Red does to royally screw them over, they frequently are the only carrier to have towers in obscure places, and for all of CDMA's faults, it did a much better job of routing calls through multiple towers (thus reducing the number of dropped calls) than the EDGE flavors of GSM. Resultantly, those who didn't want to give up their carrier were prime candidates for the Motorola Droid* when Verizon released it - the billion dollar marketing campaign Verizon did to launch the handset and its then-more-powerful interface didn't hurt the cause either, and neither did the generally-well-liked Google logo. Android took advantage of the fact that Apple and AT&T had an exclusivity contract and a limited feature base to springboard it to popularity. HTC and Samsung stepped up the game, and that's the nutshell version of how Android got the timing right.

    UbuntuPhone, Windows Phone, BB10, and UnknownPhone all share similar problems. Windows Phone has a pile of money behind it, but Microsoft has to care if it succeeds and it suffers from a brand with a stigma - I swear if it was green themed and called the "X Phone" it'd have double its present market share. BB10 has some money behind it, but BlackBerry desperately needs it to succeed and it too has a bit of a brand issue ("Who makes the battery inside a Blackberry when they made on which you can't pull it out? Energizer - the alkaline battery will long outlast your system uptime!"). UbuntuPhone has some pocket change behind it, but not a well known brand. UnknownPhone has to start from the ground up with everything. None of these brands have the winning formula of "we don't care if we succeed", "we have a mountain of cash behind us that continues to grow", "we are well liked by our existing customers", "we're affordable", and "people are being held back from getting the phone they really want, so we'll be the fallback until we have enough buzz behind us".

    That, however, will not stay that way forever.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein