Technology Journalist and Copywriter

Kate O'Flaherty


Welcome to my blog, featuring industry musings and opinions on the latest products

By kateoflaherty, Sep 3 2013 09:11AM

The news that Nokia will be bought by Microsoft for $7.2bn signals the end of an era. But it's hardly a surprise; and it becomes part of much wider consolidation in a complex and sometimes fragmented mobile market consisting of multiple operating systems and manufacturers.

What is surprising is the speed of the market's transformation, which can be traced back just seven years. Hark back to 2006/2007; each manufacturer had carved out a niche. Consumers had a Motorola Razr in their back pocket; or a Nokia; Samsung and Sony Ericsson were making decent handsets. Businessmen had a BlackBerry.

Then came the iPhone in 2007. Smartphones to rival Apple's device came along and with them, multiple operating systems and new manufacturers. HTC stormed the market with Android devices, while emerging players such as Huawei and ZTE started making their mark.

And with this deluge of smartphones came multiple operating systems, the biggest revolution being Google's Android, which immediately became a cheaper and more flexible alternative to Apple's iOS. Samsung's share grew as it jumped on the Android bandwagon. Sony Ericsson trundled along until it was eventually bought out by Sony.

And where was Nokia in all this? Although it was still selling the most smartphones by volume until recently, it was quickly losing traction in the consumer space, focussing instead on emerging markets and churning out boring feature phones.

In 2011 came the news that Nokia and Microsoft - which was struggling for share itself in the mobile market - would partner. The phrase, "two turkeys don't make an eagle" was uttered by execs. Why didn't Nokia go with Android?, the industry asked. Google later bought Nokia's rival Motorola.

But despite criticism, slowly, the Microsoft/Nokia partnership was becoming a success. Just this week, it emerged that Nokia's Lumia smartphones had boosted Microsoft's share of the operating systems market to nearly 10% in Europe.

Then came the news of Nokia's sale; it was inevitable. And as consolidation happens fast, the mobile market is changing again. There is only room for a certain number of players, signalling that it's only a matter of time before Blackberry - and others - are bought, too.

By kateoflaherty, Nov 6 2012 10:45AM

Microsoft's newly-launched Windows Phone 8 might have a chance of gaining more share, but it is acres away from competing with Android just yet.

IDC figures show that in the third quarter of 2012, 3.6 million handsets were shipped running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system (OS). This is a 140% increase on the same period last year but still way behind Android, which shipped a massive 136 million handsets during the same period.

Even so, IDC predicts Windows Phone could jump to third place in 2013, partly due to Blackberry OS' decline. The prediction only puts the Microsoft OS at 6.6%, compared with Android's current global share of 75%, but it seems Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has much bigger ideas.

According to IT Pro, Ballmer said at an event that he expects his newly-launched OS to become a big challenger in the market. This is partly due to the huge amounts of advertising that have been thrown at it and integration with the software giant's Windows 8 operating system.

The launch of Windows 8 last month saw Apple-like queues and to Microsoft's credit, it seems to be selling well. However, if Ballmer expects Windows Phone 8 to be just as successful, he is going to be disappointed.

Last week, Microsoft partner Nokia launched its Windows Phone 8 Lumia smartphones, after reporting an underlying loss for its third quarter in October. To date, phones running Windows Phone have been poor, with no 'killer' device to really raise the OS' profile. Its partnership with Nokia was largely a mistake for most parties, and HTC's Android smartphones hold far more appeal than their Windows Phone counterparts.

The figures speak for themselves. If Windows Phone is to mimic the success of Android it needs to be original, it needs to engage and encourage developers, it needs to be open.

Ballmer can throw marketing spend at the OS but what he really needs to do is inspire people. As Windows is often thought to be the standard for PCs, Android is closer to becoming that for smartphones. If Microsoft doesn't overhaul its attitude soon, its $1bn advertising spend could be a wasted investment.

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