Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Mobile Phone Market

US Market share, Q1 2010
If you're looking for an overview of the mobile phone market, here it is. What's interesting is the information hidden between the facts and figures. For instance, if you've been wondering why more developers don't create both iPhone and Android versions of their software, one need only see that 99.4% of all the App downloads last year were iPhone apps to know the answer. It's the same answer that famed 1930's bank robber Willie Sutton gave when asked why he robbed banks. "Because that's where the money is," he replied. No duh, in modern parlance.

The brief version is this: The iPhone and Android are growing, Blackberry and Windows are shrinking, and of course PalmOS is going away... and Nokia's Symbian barely registers. Smartphones are growing rapidly and overtaking the regular phone market, especially among the young. I think the core market for gamers is probably very likely to have a smartphone. Which makes a presence there all the more important.

The chart is not accurate or is misleading in some respects as regards worldwide market share. Here's the latest figures from Gartner Group:

  • 41.2% – Symbian
  • 18.2% – RIM
  • 17.2% – Android
  • 14.2% – iOS
  • 5.0% – Windows Mobile
  • 2.4% – Linux
  • 1.8% – Other OSes

So worldwide, Nokia is still on top... it's just in the US that it's nowhere. Android is leading over iOS, but for developers the Android market is much more fragmented hardware- and software-wise. Unless your App is very basic, you'll need to do some work to address all the variants of Android versions and hardware out there. Not to mention a lot of testing... these smartphone markets are starting to resemble the old phone markets with the multiplicity of handsets. Ah, the relentless march of progress.... making life harder for developers. And marketers.

One important thing to note is the impending release of Windows 7 Mobile, which has gotten positive early reviews. Microsoft's starting in a hole, but they may be able to develop some legs with this release. Oh, and it's still unclear what HP intends to do with Palm's WebOS software... smartphones? Tablets? The software had some very nice features, but it would need a healthy push to get back significant market share. Will HP take the plunge, or just let their acquisition gather dust?

Whatever marketing strategy you craft, you have to remain flexible since the hardware landscape and market shares continue to change.

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