Mobile Ecosystem 2013: Change and Big Questions
By Mike Anderson
The Mobile Ecosystem conflict in 2013 will be characterized by a tumultuous and exciting year. Significant changes are under way as the mobile ecosystem players must confront growing pressures and big questions regarding their future. Apple, Microsoft, Google, RIM and Samsung each face a big question as the year unfolds.
Can Apple maintain its mojo?
Apple has continued to grow in both smartphones and tablets, even as its once dominant role has been eroded by steady Android and OEM tablet device improvements. While its mobile ecosystem offers the most stability and consistency across tablets and smartphones, the competition has grown intense. Android leads iOS in smartphones and will challenge for tablet market share leadership in 2013. Although Microsoft has yet to make significant inroads with Surface and other Windows 8 tablets, by the end of 2013 the growth of apps and ability to leverage Office in the enterprise will increase its presence and pressure on others. Amazon is after the music and media business owned by iTunes, and will pressure Apple through its iOS client and cloud capabilities. Apple will face competition on multiple fronts.
Will Microsoft Surface as a contender?
Microsoft has only just begun to address the challenge of mobile ecosystems that it allowed iOS and Android to drive. Windows 8 and Windows RT have started off slowly, with issues regarding confusion around the options, lack of mobile apps, and mixed acceptance of the new user interface for its dominant Windows PC franchise. Microsoft has set out a grand vision of unifying PC, smartphone, tablet and gaming operating systems, but acceptance and market growth are likely to be slow throughout 2013.
Will Google go enterprise?
With Android, Google has created the soon to be market leading OS for smartphones and tablets. However, success is coming from consumers with more limited enterprise acceptance than iOS due to fragmentation and varied deployments on the hardware of each different OEM. While Android 4 brings needed security and consistency, the variety of implementations and rollouts across OEMs is unsettling for enterprises. Samsung has done far better in enterprise enabling Android. This leaves the door open for Samsung and others with direct focus outside of search and advertising to aim at leading in the enterprise.
Can RIM recover?
RIM and its BlackBerry are at a crossroads in 2013. While hanging onto a base of around 79 million users, financial and credibility losses along with big-name defections characterized 2012. BlackBerry 10, bringing a new OS and a number of new devices, is slated to appear on January 30. RIM is pulling out all the stops to attract developers and engage enterprises in BlackBerry 10. Enterprises have opened their doors for iOS and Android, and RIM’s hold in the enterprise has been severely loosened. RIM needs to maintain a grip on its enterprise fans and generate an upgrade to BlackBerry 10 while courting consumers with a new user experience and BYOD with BlackBerry Balance. Apple, Android, Samsung and Windows will make 2013 a tough uphill slog for RIM.
Will Samsung take its leadership to the enterprise?
Samsung has risen to the top of smartphone sales and is increasingly competitive with its tablets. While enterprises have been put off of Android because of version fragmentation and inconsistencies of implementation and rollout, Samsung has gained traction with its SAFE (Samsung For Enterprise). SAFE adds a layer of security, management and certification that enterprises rely on to enable control of their mobile devices. While Android is making inroad within enterprises, it is often in the form of selecting Samsung as the Android provider, as it enables for enterprises what Google has not built in from the start. With its influence and strategy to be enterprise ready, look for more focus from Samsung to be both the preferred Android platform and an influencer through efforts like Tizen as an alternative mobile OS.
Mobility remains one of the hottest and most pressing issues. Business will shift focus in 2013 toward mobilizing the enterprise, with these and other mobile ecosystem questions framing strategy and planning.