Mobile Device Momentum Hits Tipping Point in 2010

Major IT vendors acquired their way into the mobile space in 2010 as Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system reached critical market mass. Here’s a look at the year in mobility, from the rise of tablets to mobile advertising to Microsoft’s release of Windows Phone 7.

The year 2010 was the year of mobile – there is no denying that. From major disruptions in device market share to market-changing acquisitions, folks who play or are looking to buy mobile solutions—whether enterprise or consumer—have a lot of processing to do as they head into 2011. Let’s review major trends and the biggest stories of the year that had or will have the big impact on the mobile and wireless space.

Android Adoption Skyrockets

Google’s multiple manufacturer partnerships resulted in a slew of new Android phones this year – from basic affordable phones to high-end, productivity-focused phones like the Droid Pro, Droid X and the Samsung Fascinate.

And, it seems that Google’s plan worked. Gartner and other analysts said devices running Android out-shipped Apple and RIM. Plus, Gartner predicted that Android will become the world’s number two mobile OS this year—lagging behind Symbian.  Although security issues still remain and enterprises are a bit wary of supporting Android, the future looks even brighter for Android. Gartner also says that Android and Symbian will hold a combined market share of almost 60 percent by 2014, and that Android may even overcome Symbian by 2014. 2011 holds even more Android devices for unveiling—look to CES coming up fast—with newer social and media features supported on the newest iterations of Android.

Microsoft Tries to Make a Mobile Comeback

Once the de facto leader in the enterprise smartphone market (and even the consumer market), Microsoft blew it big time by failing to release innovative and sexy operating systems, instead opting for stop-gap releases like Windows 6.5 and continually delaying the launch and availability of what is now Windows Phone 7, released in October. Although the new OS is received by Redmond fans as pretty cool and savvy, is it too little too late? Gartner jabbed the software giant again when it predicted that Microsoft would continually lose market share and put the company almost dead last in its prediction rankings. Time will tell, but there is no denying that Redmond has a big hill to climb back to the top—and going head to head with Apple and Google who already have such fans and traction will be tough. It is trying, though, with mobile management shakeups and big marketing campaigns. It doesn’t appear that Microsoft can really even lean on the enterprise space anymore, as the consumerization of IT is driving personal use devices rapidly into business use cases. Look to 2011 for the state of Microsoft’s mobile future to become clearer, and see what they need to do to scale the mountain.

Google Spends a Bundle to Strengthen Android

The search giant has made no secret of its plans for mobile domination, and its 2010 M&A strategy was focused on everything mobile and social. Many of its mobile acquisitions focused on improving Android functionality – like visual mobile search provider PlinkArt, and music synching techie firm Simplify Media as well as Touch Typing and Bump—and the list goes on…and on. Most of the acquisitions were relatively small in cash value, but the point is that Google is focused on continuing to solidify Android as the most innovative platform, and instead of spinning dev cycles internally, knows it can get quicker to market by gobbling up innovative start-ups that can be easily integrated into its newest versions. The upgrades and feature sets to come in the newest versions of Android have the potential to truly solidify Google as the leader in mobile OS, and maybe even leave Apple in the dust.


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