The Fight for Third Place in the Mobile Market

by Matt Klassen on March 12, 2013

Evidence of just how competitive the mobile market has become, the fight among every mobile competitor not named Google or Apple is no longer for one of the top spots on the mobile mountain, but instead to become the third wheel, a viable alternative to the two entrenched incumbents. Where else in the world is third place considered the pinnacle of success?

To that end, there’s no shortage of interest in occupying that third spot and a plethora of companies are pushing their mobile operating systems to become the chosen alternative. With big names like Blackberry, Windows Phone, Tizen, Ubuntu and lesser lights like FireFox and Sailfish, the coveted third place spot is open to anyone who wants it, but occupying it may be easier said than done.

The problem all of these companies face is industry fragmentation, multiple operating systems competing for a finite amount of industry interest, developer focus, and subsequent consumer attention. By dispersing industry resources it seems unlikely that any of these options will garner enough support to establish itself as a viable third alternative, meaning the elusive third spot will remain exactly that.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with most of these emerging mobile platforms, in fact many of them are considerably more innovative and intuitive than either of the market incumbents. Samsung’s emerging Tizen, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and of course Blackberry’s BB10 all seem worthy options to achieve the lofty spot of third place in the mobile market, but they’re all fighting for the same finite pool of industry support and they can’t all win.

In fact, consider the latter two, Microsoft and Blackberry, the two most obvious choices for that elusive third spot. While both companies have produced quality operating systems, there is a noticeable lack of support from carriers and no where near the support from software developers needed to establish a competitive base of mobile apps, and until that changes neither mobile platform will ever eat in to the combined 90 percent market share divided between Android and iOS.

Industry support fragments further when you introduce the other burgeoning options like Samsung’s Tizen, FireFox, and others, with some carriers committing themselves to “supporting” both platforms, yet none committing to actually sell any smartphones sporting these systems.

Now there’s no question that the mobile market is clamouring for another OS option, with many analysts reporting a rising “iPhone fatigue” coupled with many other’s outright dislike of Google and its Android domination. This means there is clearly a window of opportunity, the exact reason there are so many options coming out of the woodwork.

Whether any of these companies have the sought after alternative in the mobile market remains to be seen, but I’m confident that by this time next year we should have a much better sense of who the industry will choose to become the third great OS, truly the pinnacle of success in an increasingly fragmented and competitive mobile market.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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