Who will lead the smartphone market in 2017?

“Let’s take a quick trip in our time machine to survey the smartphone market in the spring of 2007, five years ago. The iPhone had been announced but not yet shipped, and many were skeptical about its success. Android was still mostly a gleam in Andy Rubin’s eye. The hot smartphones of the day included the consumer-oriented BlackBerry Curve and the Windows Mobile-based Samsung BlackJack,” Steve Wildstrom writes for TechPinions. “The general expectation of forecasters was that Symbian’s dominant market share would shrink, but stay strong, Windows Phone would at least hold its own, while BlackBerry surged and Palm shriveled.”

“Fast forward to the present. Smartphone unit sales have nearly quadrupled, but the market has become jumbled in ways that few expected. Apple sells nearly one in five of all smartphones, but is the standard against all else is judged,” Wildstrom writes. “Symbian is disappearing and BlackBerry is hanging on for dear life, especially in developed markets. Android has gone from nothing to a nearly 40% share, while Microsoft, having replaced Windows Mobile with the snazzier Windows Phone continues to bleed market share.”

Wildstrom writes, “Given this background, talking about what the smartphone market might look like in 2017 seems like a fool’s errand, but I’m going to take my chances… The industry seems well on its way to more integration and more consolidation. My colleague Tim Bajarin thinks that despite its demurrals, Google will make an integrated Motorola the prime producer of Android products. There’s a lot of reason to believe that if Microsoft doesn’t buy Nokia outright, it will formalize an arrangement in which Nokia becomes its official premier Windows Phone partner. I think both Nokia and Motorola will end up as the official flagships of their operating systems. Apple should be able to fly above this storm. As demonstrated by its latest blowout quarter, there is every sign that it will be able to hold on to the high end of the business for some years to come… Apple doesn’t much care about market share; it will dominate the much more important categories of mind share and profit share. The company most threatened by MicroNokia and MotoGoogle is Samsung.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.


    1. Actually, I’m not so sure attempting vertical integration by Microsoft and Google will be successful. It didn’t work for HP with its WebOS acquisition. And, those companies have little hardware experience, and what they do have has been error-prone. Yes, I know about Xbox, but also remember the RROD, and channel stuffing, etc. Hardly, great hardware execution. Google has almost no customer support for anything they do, and we know that has been problematic for their Nexus phones, and other businesses. Vertical integration is hard.

  1. HTC is in much more trouble than Samsung.

    Samsung is very aggressive with its photocopying ability and will adapt to whatever it needs to continue to sell handsets.

    Nokia is about to die unless it finds or develops an OS people like. Windows Phone will simply not cut it.

  2. Only a few players left at the table. The game will advance with some players getting more hands/sophistication.

    So what will it take to dominate >50% by 2017 ? The OS? The Apps? The Hardware? The cloud integration? Or all of them?

    I think 1 variable will determine the dominant winner.

    Pure Guess: The company that can take DFA to the next stage…Design for Automation. When a smartphone can be simplified, integrated and assembled by automation the core physical unit will become less expensive & more reliable.

    Who can do that? Maybe some company with a $100+ billion dollar war chest?

    1. BoC – Sorry to disagree, but cost of assembly is already fairly minor. Automating production isn’t that important — but simplifying the user experience will be.

      Siri is a start, but the leader five years from now will be the company that develops the “smarter” phone, one that anticipates its users needs and does what you want it to without having to think much about it.

      Apple is certainly poised to be that company, but there’s no guarantee someone from totally outside the conventional wisdom won’t leapfrog everyone. It probably WON’T be any of the other contenders at this point — they have too much entrenched in the current paradigm. But no doubt there are a couple of guys in a garage right now looking at the iPhone and saying to each other, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it could do this…?”

      1. I agree cost is a small point in cost.

        But to make 1/2 million handsets per day becomes a monstrous and limiting factor in where you can assemble plus another non-mentioned risk.

        Right now if the US & China have a major trade war OR actual war due to Taiwan or N. Korea, Apple’s entire supply of iPhones and iPads can be cut off instantly. Apple is 100% tied to China production like any hostage tied to a specific location.

        There were already cell phones made that were assembled on one flexible printed circuit strip, which were claimed to be disposable.

        Apple will have to break the hostage situation at some point. Brazil is a start. Automation is a needed end point.

        1. There’s not going to be a war between the US and China. It’s unlikely China would take any military action related to N Korea, and Taiwan was part of China at one point, if they feel they need to take military action around it, I doubt the US would interfere. China is not going to become an aggressive expansionist power. Taking back a small chunk of territory that was once part of their nation is more of an internal affair.

          Imagine if Europe decided to invade the North doing the American Civil War.

  3. Given that technology now exists to make a time machine, I predict that mobile phones will be obsolete, Apple will dominate with the iTelepathy. A tiny device that will implant your thoughts into the receivers head. Samsung will be a distant second with the Galaxy eSp iii.

  4. Who will lead all smartphone makers in 2017 ?

    First of all the smartphone is dead by the late 2015.
    Augmented glasses and contact lens developed in tangent with a company called “Bezeq” from Israel will be at the forefront of telecommunications technology. They shall lead the way.

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