Android and Apple won't dominate mobile forever

Posted by Trent Nouveau

The global installed base of smartphones is expected to total 1.4 billion by the end of 2013, with 57% of handsets running on Android and 21% on iOS.

Meanwhile, there will be 268 million tablets in active use, with 62% of them built on iOS and 28% on Android.

However, despite Apple’s and Google’s current dominance of the lucrative mobile sphere, analysts at ABI Research believe the future won’t be quite as duopolistic as it seems now.

Indeed, according to ABI Research analyst Aapo Markkanen, 2013 should be seen as a time of relative success for both Microsoft and BlackBerry.

"For the end of the year, we expect there to be 45 million Windows Phone handsets in use, with BlackBerry 10 holding an installed base of close to 20 million," he explained. "Microsoft will also have 5.5 million Windows-powered tablets to show for it."

Critically, perhaps, the figures refer to actively used devices, which is what app developers - with certain caveats in mind - should generally treat as an addressable market for their releases.

"The greatest fear for both Microsoft and BlackBerry is that the initial sales of their smartphones will disappoint and thereby kill off the developer interest, which then would effectively close the window of opportunity on further sales success," said Markkanen.

"Our view is that the installed bases of this scale would be large enough to keep these two in the game. It will definitely also help that both firms have actively kept the developers’ interest in mind while designing and rolling out their platforms."

Meanwhile, ABI Research analyst Dan Shey says RIM will have to win favor with both consumers and enterprise decision makers to secure a successful future.

“BlackBerry needs strong backing from IT administrators, but it also needs enough consumers and more specifically, employees to choose BB10 over Android, Apple, and Windows smartphones. [Yes], BlackBerry is in a good position with enterprise but it is unknown if the multi-device support in the recently released BES10 can rival those of other MDM platforms," he opined.

"Consumer adoption is less predictable as it’s highly dependent on positive perception toward BB10’s usability, device performance, and application availability. M2M or the Internet of Things is the next frontier for mobile and wireless computing. BlackBerry’s QNX platform is a fantastic starting point for a stake in this market, but BlackBerry can’t fall behind in IoT as it did with touchscreen smartphones if it hopes to become a mobile computing platform company.”