Symbian: Smaller Slice of a Bigger Pie

Carl Weinschenk

This well-rounded WindowsForDevices story -- it refers to data from ABI Research, In-Stat, The Diffusion Group and IDC -- suggests that the smartphone segment will evolve rapidly during the next few years.


It may seem as if 2012 is a long time away, but it's around the corner in terms of corporate planning. That's why it's important to consider what type of smartphones may be hot and, therefore, have the best applications and support. It's not an exact science -- the industry doesn't have a set smartphone definition -- but the news is clear: The dominance enjoyed by Symbian is expected to flatten out.


The story features ABI. The firm says Symbian's market share will decrease from 73 percent last year to 46 percent by 2012. On one hand, 46 percent is a big chunk of a market that certainly will increase between the two dates. But, any way you slice it, moving from almost three quarters to less than half is not good news.


We doubt that the decline will be due to any problems with Symbian technology. It will pay to watch the dynamics, however, because companies protecting marketplace leads play defense and are less likely to innovate and take chances than those trying to close the gap.


Those concerns notwithstanding, the main engines of change will be the maturation and growth of the segment and the fact that the other players -- which include Microsoft, after all -- are aggressive and well financed. The world of smartphone operating systems figures to be particularly active because it is a prime target of both proprietary and open source OS vendors.


What could change this picture? Probably not much, in terms of the overall idea that smartphone operating systems will not become the near-monoculture of the PC. The big question, it seems, may be how big the overall market will get. 3G goes hand-in-hand with smartphones, and there is some early disappointment with penetration. I feel that is momentary and, in the long run, Symbian still will be doing quite a bit of business -- even with a reduced market share.

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