Wednesday, June 15, 2011

iPhone 5 delayed? Apple may be slowing down in the mobile market race

The release of the white iPhone 4 last month and today's news of the unlocked iPhone 4 are signs that the iPhone 5 may be released even later than expected. The shrinking sales of the iPhone compared to the explosion in sales of Android smartphones may threaten Apple's position as a leading seller in the mobile market, even with iOS 5 and iCloud.

Samsung, HTC and Motorola provide handsets with an open-source platform, Google's Android software, and are expected to top 39% of the worldwide smartphone market in 2011, research firm IDC reported on June 9. Android is available on more than 300 different smartphones and tablets, with 100 million activated around the globe, and could climb up to 44% of the smartphone market by 2015.
Apple iOS is currently at 18% of the market, and is expected to drop to 17% by 2015. While the expectations for Apple's iOS 5 are split between a "revolutionary" update and an "underwhelming" copycat, Google has steadily been expanding its Android territory. As of May 2011, more than 400,000 Android devices are activated worldwide every day, up from 100,000 per day in May 2010. There is a global community of 450,000 independent Android software developers, and more than 100 million devices have been activated. The next version of Android is the "Ice Cream Sandwich," a combination of the latest versions of Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" and Android 3.0 "Honeycomb." It was unveiled last month and to be released in the fall, Q4 2011.
"Ice Cream Sandwich" is aimed at ending Android fragmentation, and rolling out an open sourced device, "one OS that runs everywhere," by adapting the framework and adding new APIs, according to Google. "Ice Cream Sandwich" is designed to integrate the smartphone and tablet variants of Android into one, and elevate it to the same playing level as iOS, thus marking the most pivotal and ambitious update ever.
A report from Gartner suggests that the gap between iOS tablets and Android-based tablets will lessen. The iPad has a worldwide market share of 83%, while Android tablets hold 14.2%. By 2015, however, the iPad's share is predicted to drop to 47% while Android's will increase to 38.6%.
Google's catch-up may be accelerated even more if Google successfully breaks the wall between smartphones and tablets.
Furthermore, developers no longer see iOS and Android as mutually exclusive when it comes to writing apps. Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray's research analyst, found that 22 of 45 developers (47%) surveyed at WWDC said they write applications for both iOS and Android, according to eWeek. While iOS remains the dominant mobile platform preferred by developers for monetization and ease of development, Android is closely following iOS.
William Power, Baird analyst, surveyed 250 developers in April and found that 70% of iOS developers reported they also develop software for Android, and 63% of Android developers also develop for iOS, according to eWeek. When Google learns to better serve developers, Android may be equally favored by developers, empowering Google to tackle Apple and take its lead.