updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue October 27, 2009
Most PC firms making phones to flop
Of a recent wave of computer builders entering the smartphone space, only Apple is likely to have more than a small stake the market, Gartner research estimates today. The analyst group believes that "all" major PC firms will have signaled their intentions to build smartphones by the end of 2009 but that none of these will have more than two percent outside of the iPhone maker, even by 2012. Instead, most of the non-Apple growth will be left to traditional phone designers.
Acer, Dell and Lenovo have all released phones this year, albeit primarily in China. ASUS, HP and Toshiba have all previously been a part of the smartphone market. By contrast, Apple has already passed 13 percent of the market in less than three years.
Analyst Roberta Cozza attributes much of the challenge to both a stagnant existing market as well as an inability to adapt to the realities of what's needed to succeed in smartphones. Those who have been in the field for a long time, such as ASUS and HP, have never passed one percent share even when combined. In many cases they have treated their phones as an extension of their computer lines and shipped them with Windows Mobile and an emphasis on hardware specifications; that approach has only been appealing to business users, according to Gartner.
Any that hope to succeed are likely to have to break their existing patterns and learn to update their devices more often, focus more on unique attractive hardware designs, and develop a better user experience. PC builders also have to adapt to a different distribution model where carriers are often the gateways rather than third-party stores.
Some of these hurdles are believed to be the reason behind newer entrants choosing to use Android over Windows Mobile for their first or early devices. Although a commonly-licensed and Linux-based platform, it currently sports a more modern interface and features than Microsoft's OS, such as a much more touch-friendly interface, a contemporary, accurate web browser and a strong emphasis on Internet syncing.