Astonishing research from NPD in the US, showing that iOS and Android now jointly command 80 per cent of the smartphone market in the States, is terrible news for Microsoft, and Research in Motion (RIM) in particular.
The spectacular slide of RIM, with just ten per cent, down from 25 per cent last year and 44 per cent in 2009, is one of the main headline grabbers.
But the Big M’s disastrous drop, from 27 per cent in 2008 as Windows Mobile, to just two per cent in 2011 with the infinitely superior Windows Phone 7, is just as telling.
Google and Apple are destroying the competition and no one seems to have the answer to how this dominance can be broken. A year ago, everyone knew that Android would continue to grow and the iPhone would also dominate.
But every rival has been laid low by a combination of Apple and Google’s ruthlessness and self-inflicted disaster.
The abject failure of webOS in the wake of HP’s buyou was not as obvious as some would have you believe.
It should have been a year for the former-Palm OS to take the initiative, but instead it’s been confined to the dustbin of history and is now an open source project for hardcore tech fanatics only.
Windows Phone is still an excellent OS, but the lack of any new, attention-grabbing hardware until September left it trailing.
Nokia’s Windows Phone, the Lumia 800, is gorgeous, but really should have been on shelves months before its November release date.
Now it’s struggling to break a million sales, while Samsung’s Galaxy range destroys rivals and the iPhone marches to its own beat, a million 4S’s sold in the first 24 hours it was on sale.
As for RIM, its drop is nothing short of catastrophic. Largely down to average hardware, foot-dragging over updates and a refusal to accept that the game has changed significantly, they’ve had a nightmare year, one from which they may never recover.
So how will these big tech players fair against Apple and Google in 2012? The prognosis is not good.
Microsoft is lining up budget Nokia Windows Phones for Mobile World Congress, but its lack of mind share is doing serious damage to the brand and surely these phones will not be able to majorly dent Android’s winning line up of cheap smartphones?
Don’t expect Windows Phone to get more than ten per cent in smartphone share next year. As for RIM, it needs to release a winning range of BB10 devices by the time MWC comes round.
It has to prove it can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. If it can’t, there’s every chance it’ll be into single digits for smartphone share by the end of 2012. That would be a huge disaster.
Come this time next year, Android and iOS will remain as powerful as they are now, if not more so. And there’s really not much Microsoft and RIM can do to stop them.