According to a new study released by Asymco, the future is looking overall rosy for smartphones: in a hair over three years, combined sales have cracked the 80 million handsets mark, meaning that nearly one in four cell phones out there is a smart one. And all smartphone manufacturers have increased units shipped in the same period.
But let’s step back a moment: that also means that more than three-quarters of the cell phone market ISN’T “smart.”
The bad news doesn’t stop there — especially if you’re an Android evangelist waiting for the day when those little green robots drive the Crackberries and Uncle Steve-phones, lemming-like, over the cliff and into the sea.
But first, a little nomenclature: the report differentiates between the “modular” and “inter-dependent” smart phone paradigms. Say what? Well, in plain English, “modular” refers to phones and OS’s that license core components to build on (i.e. the Android phones), while “inter-dependent” phones are distinguished by linkages between elements, non-public/non-licensed protocols, and specific partners (e.g. iPhone with iTunes). So now let’s look at a modular vs. inter-dependent breakdown of smart phones:
Hunh. Play close attention to the two pie charts at the bottom: over a two-‘n’-a-half year span, RIM/Blackberry’s market share grew a little, Apple’s grew a LOT, and both took big chunks out of Nokia’s share. All three makers are in the “inter-dependent” camp. The big surprise is the “modular” sector, which hasn’t grown at all — and in fact, SHRUNK a percentage point in that period. HTC’s share is stagnant, Samsung and Motorola distinguished themselves in what used to be a catch-all “Other” category — and that’s it.
The report’s bottom line? Unless Android phones can grow much, MUCH faster than the Nokia/Blackberry/iPhone sector — and fight off the Windows Phone challenge — the Robo-phones will remain, at best, a niche market.