Who will lead the smartphone market in 2017?

“Let’s take a quick trip in our time machine to survey the smartphone market in the spring of 2007, five years ago. The iPhone had been announced but not yet shipped, and many were skeptical about its success. Android was still mostly a gleam in Andy Rubin’s eye. The hot smartphones of the day included the consumer-oriented BlackBerry Curve and the Windows Mobile-based Samsung BlackJack,” Steve Wildstrom writes for TechPinions. “The general expectation of forecasters was that Symbian’s dominant market share would shrink, but stay strong, Windows Phone would at least hold its own, while BlackBerry surged and Palm shriveled.”
“Fast forward to the present. Smartphone unit sales have nearly quadrupled, but the market has become jumbled in ways that few expected. Apple sells nearly one in five of all smartphones, but is the standard against all else is judged,” Wildstrom writes. “Symbian is disappearing and BlackBerry is hanging on for dear life, especially in developed markets. Android has gone from nothing to a nearly 40% share, while Microsoft, having replaced Windows Mobile with the snazzier Windows Phone continues to bleed market share.”

Wildstrom writes, “Given this background, talking about what the smartphone market might look like in 2017 seems like a fool’s errand, but I’m going to take my chances… The industry seems well on its way to more integration and more consolidation. My colleague Tim Bajarin thinks that despite its demurrals, Google will make an integrated Motorola the prime producer of Android products. There’s a lot of reason to believe that if Microsoft doesn’t buy Nokia outright, it will formalize an arrangement in which Nokia becomes its official premier Windows Phone partner. I think both Nokia and Motorola will end up as the official flagships of their operating systems. Apple should be able to fly above this storm. As demonstrated by its latest blowout quarter, there is every sign that it will be able to hold on to the high end of the business for some years to come… Apple doesn’t much care about market share; it will dominate the much more important categories of mind share and profit share. The company most threatened by MicroNokia and MotoGoogle is Samsung.”


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