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iPhone Tryptich

Industry analysts predict that in spite of economic pressures proving to be problematic for many manufacturers in 2009, the next 12 months will see rapid changes occurring within the mobile market.

Analyst David Eller indicated that he expects conflict to be the defining feature of 2010 and believes the four largest manufacturers will continue to dominate, making it hard for lesser known producers to break into the market at the high end.

Eller's firm TownHall Investment Research has predicted that 90 per cent of all smartphones will be sold by Nokia, RIM, Apple and HTC, leaving a tiny proportion of the market for rivals. This will herald a significant shift in the figures after only 65 per cent of smartphones sold were produced by the top four back in 2007.

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Interpret, counters that the market may not be quite as restrictive and based on historical evidence, he suggests that new companies can still gain popularity and make a profit despite competition from the incumbent market leaders. Mr Gartenberg used the example of Apple and Google, neither of which three years ago would have been considered to be of importance within the mobile market but have since moved to dominate it.

There has been much debate surrounding the future of Palm, believed by some to be on its last legs and likely to fold in the next year. Others are more optimistic, believing that by remaining relevant and capturing consumers' imaginations Palm will be able to hold on until it can capture a more significant proportion of the market.

Opinions are also divided over the Windows Mobile and Google Android platforms, with the former relying on a serious update to restore public trust and the latter going from strength to strength but potentially becoming the victim of fragmentation and a lack of backing from its creators.

Experts agree that the iPhone is unlikely to fall from grace within the coming year. It is still the power of the Apple branding combined with the functionality of the thousands of applications that will keep people investing in the iPhone.

Although other manufacturers are continually attempting to compete with the iPhone's App Store, without the same volumes they are unable to attract the same developmental talent and will continue to struggle.

The volatile mobile market is expected to experience rapid shifts and snap trends in 2010, meaning manufacturers and network providers will need to stay on their toes if they want to succeed.

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