In the interest of Putting It Out There, some predictions on mobile - and in particular, my thoughts on mobile operating systems over the next 3 years:

  1. Apple have done in mobile what they've done on the desktop, and they'll continue to do it: i.e. take the high end and defend it vigorously by doing an excellent job of not just design but also technology, logistics and marketing (I'm bored of people lazily equating all of Apples success with design, they do a phenomenal job in lots of less fashionable fields too). They take a small high-value percentage of the overall mobile audience (<10% at most) but not much more: iPhone will be to mobile as Mac was to the PC. It will not be as the iPod was to the walkman;
  2. Android will start to hoover up high-end smartphones, effectively replacing in-house OSes which Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung etc maintained, and taking OS marketshare from Symbian. Android is to mobile as Windows was to PC, and in three years has 60%ish market share of new devices;
  3. Palm will die. I'd like to think their excellent work lives on through an acquisition, but I wouldn't bet on it;
  4. RIM continue in the short term to do what they've done: hold onto the enterprise customer. They'll start facing competition in this area, as Google Apps for businesses plus Android become compelling, initially for SMEs and increasingly for large organisations. They struggle to offer a competitive range of services, but do well from a loyal and currently happy customer-base. They make small inroads with consumers, but face strong competition from iPhone/Android and don't go far here;
  5. Nokia continue to shift volumes of devices through their excellent channels, but whilst in volume they continue to be a market leader, activity from Nokia handsets declines disproportionally. Series 40 has a few more years life in it, particularly as it moves towards low-end devices. Symbian suffers even more; as a coherent platform for application development it is effectively dead, and it lives on only as part of a proven technology stack for mid- and low-end devices;
  6. Microsoft make little-or-no inroads with any form of consumer Windows Mobile device. Windows is to mobile as IBM is to mobile;

    Other trends? The rate of progress in mobile speeds up over the next 3-5 years, as over-the-air OS updates (which we see regularly now with iPhone and Android, and which are occasionally seen in the wild from Nokia etc) get us used to upgrading mobile software more frequently than hardware. This divorcing of software updates from hardware lets OEMs roll out incremental improvements much faster. The sophistication of mobile web applications increases far faster in the next few years than in the last few as a result, and the web starts to become a reasonable - if slightly lower-fidelity - platform for doing applications across a range of underlying operating systems. All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.

    What do you think?