Gartner released their annual smart phone OS market share figures today. Android, Apple and Blackberry grew at 1000+%, 100+% and 55% respectively. In retrospect, Q4 contributed significantly to sales. Apple shipped 8.9M of their 25M phones in Q4 and Verizon moved 2M Droids alone in 6 weeks of the total 6.8M phones. Digitimes is forecasting 35M Android devices sold in 2010, with more than 50 different handsets.
As I was gathering this data, I wanted to compare the 2007 figures out of curiosity. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t exist! Android, iPhone OS, Palm OS hadn’t yet been launched and the closest data compared market share of PDA operating systems.
Reflecting on this analysis, I concluded myopic perceptions are easy to make and relatively uninteresting – smartphones are exploding and the big three (Apple, Android, Blackberry) are winning. However, contemplating this data with a with 3 year view is a different animal.
The mobile ecosystem has undergone an evolution from the Paleolithic era of carrier closed operating systems to the Mesozoic epoch of quasi-open operating systems overnight. In 2007, 32,000 developers wrote mobile applications. Today that figure is more than quadrupled (in an unduplicated estimate). The number of applications has exploded by a similar order of magnitude. Most impressive of all, downloaded applications have grown by factors of billions.
More broadly, cell phone penetration has exploded:
There were an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions at the end of last year, compared with about 1 billion in 2002, the International Telecommunication Union said in a report. In developing nations, 57 percent of people were signed up.
While the internet lags, relatively speaking
An estimated 1.7 billion people, or 26 percent of the world’s population, were online last year, up from 11 percent in 2002.
Given this backdrop, the enormity of the gold vein in the mobile world is hard to understate.