Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More amazing analysis of the smartphone market

Too bad you have to pay to read all these studies from analysts, because the news items that they result in are almost always to vague to really say anything. Read this one. This one says that Linux has 15% of the smartphone market, with Symbian at 50% and Windows Mobile at 18%. I don't even know what they mean by "smartphone", but that's beside the point, because I see no way to count that'd give you those result. I know Gartner doesn't count S60 phones as smartphones, which means Windows Mobile gets a much larger market share than in other places. But with that sort of criteria (I think they require qwerty or touchscreens or something), how many Linux smartphones are there? The Japanese ones maybe. Anyway, this just doesn't reflect reality, unless you define "reality" as "what's reported by some analyst".

Now, with those figures in mind (Linux at 15% and Windows Mobile at 18%), doesn't it sound a bit weird when it says, later in the article, that they think "that it [Linux] will emerge as a worthy competitor to market leaders Symbian and Windows Mobile"? I'm starting to think that "15 percent" is a typo.

I also have no clue what they mean when they say that "
Motorola's recent troubles in the handset market have coincided with its increasing emphasis on Linux over Symbian". When has Symbian ever been an important platform to Motorola? They released a few Symbian phones back in 2003-2004 (A920, A925 and A1000). Then they took a break for a few years, and have now released a few new ones (Z8, Z10). Could someone please explain to me what they're talking about?

An advantage for Linux, says the report's author, is "
the waning interest in Symbian's monopoly", which I've never heard mentioned before. Symbian has about 70% of the smartphone market (using more conventional definitions of "smartphone"), but I've never heard anyone complain about that. That's still just 7 or so percent of the total phone market. But sure, this is an analyst speaking, not a simple developer like me. I agree with the report that Linux will probably grow a lot in the phone market, and that Symbian will lose in the long run, but apart from that, I have a hard time finding anything else to agree on. To me it just sounds like a manifestation of incompetence.

This reads like a report that was ordered by some commercial Linux distributor. I don't see why any regular Linux developer would be interested, as all the Linux phones so far have been closed devices. People who are into developing for Linux tend to like the open nature of the system. If you lock it down, and don't even give developers access to native API:s (Android), there's no difference between developing for Linux than for any other platform. I'd love to have an open Linux phone, like the new OpenMoko one (but preferably not as big, clunky and ugly), because then I might actually consider writing code for it if I got the idea for some cool app. But having a closed Linux phone is of absolutely no use to me. As it is now, Windows Mobile and even the security locked-down Symbian are more open platforms for mobile phones than Linux is.

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