Chris J Powell

The World of Digital Darwinism

With the word that RIM and the Blackberry name is now officially on the market another piece of Canadian Technology Innovation (first Nortel and Corel) seems to be coming to an end.  Is this a case of Digital Darwinism at its best?  Are we seeing survival of the fittest moving at the speed of electrons and the transfer of bits and bites?

I last mentioned the concept of Digital Darwinism back in October with the falling of entertainment giant Blockbuster but with the push to the Personal Cloud and the ubiquitous connection of every thing we do in our personal lives to some form of mobile device…what will survive?

The Mobile ecosystem really has 5 players that cater to our every want and desire but each takes a radically different approach to providing us with the content, entertainment and connectivity.  There are also several outlying and newly developed mobile OS providers that I wanted to touch on as well.  The real question, beyond looking at balance sheets and fiscal returns…who will go the way of WebOS and Palm and who will continue to thrive and survive?

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Google Android

With hundreds of handsets on the market it is hard to dispute the dominance of the Android platform but with mobility now not just about the Smart Phone, can the Android really make a play into the Tablet Market and succeed?  I personally am shopping for one to replace my iPad…not because I don’t like the iPad…I am just bored with the limits that I face with it.  With an estimated 500 Million Android handsets on the market in the next few years…it is hard to believe that the little robot will be going anywhere.

Apple iOS

The iPhone changed the world.  IT Leaders, Geeks and Grandma’s the world over love the iPhone.  Then comes the iPad and again the world shifts and evolves.  Apple has sparked the two biggest shifts in technology in the past 15 years with these two devices but is that forward thinking enough to sustain it moving forward?  Will the loss of the visionary leader slow their growth?  Can the juggernaut that is Apple continue at it current pace and maintain a 25-30% market share with just a few options?  RIM was dramatically affected by its lack of diversity when it comes to both handsets and options…with that eventually be Apples downfall too?

Nokia SymbianOS

Already written off a the OS of the past, the total number of these “smart phones” are still available and dominate emerging markets as an affordable entry phone to the Smart Phone market but all estimates show that the steady decline of the Symbian phone market will have it remain as nothing but the phone of a bygone era.

RIM BlackberryOS

Once the king of the enterprise, there came a time when pushing out the same handset with a new skin or a slight upgrade to the hardware was just not enough.  My wife and daughter swear by their Blackberry’s and would not trade them for anything but with the complete failure of the Blackberry Playbook it looks like RIM is going to be swallowed up and probably split apart in the near future.  Still a very strong player in the emerging markets of Africa and South America, the Blackberry in my opinion does what it is supposed to do better than just ok.  Solid design, good hardware, stable software…it just isn’t sexy to be a Crackberry user anymore.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7

With the upcoming release of Windows 8, Microsoft is banking on the relationship with Nokia to regain its market share and make the race for top dog in mobility a 3 way race.  Never a fan of Microsoft but out of necessity a user of its products…I am just not sold on the fact that the future will be the Metro Interface.  I may be wrong but I am Widget kind of guy and change is never an easy thing and convincing millions of users that making the shift from Apple and Android is the right thing to do…that will be hard…especially if the predictions of the Personal Cloud come true.

So Looking at the space, my personal predictions are that the space will radically shift.  I have a gut feeling that there will be a shift once again to wanting devices that are not for games but for doing things. 

By 2015 RIM will make a comeback and maintain a strong 3rd place in the overall space.  Google will continue to dominate just by sheer numbers alone.  Apple will have a slip and will lose traction as the Windows 8 concept does take off.  Symbian will be basically extinct but the real winner…if the planets align and there is not some radical gaff in the release of Microsoft’s new OS that the popularity of the device will take off.  The connection from Phone to Tablet to Desktop will be exactly what has been sought after and by 2015, Microsoft will be in 2nd place in market share.

I know I can’t believe I said it either.  My reasoning for this is that there is a demand to be able to do more with a Tablet and a Smart Phone and Microsoft HAS to reinvent itself.  For the first time in its history it is a make it or break it moment for the Software Giant…and I think that they will be able to throw cash at this system until it penetrates the market deep enough to make a profit…just as it did with the XBox.

Well that is it for me.

The weekend is near…have a great day everyone.

Chris J Powell

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