August 2010
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Day August 9, 2010

Visualizing the winners and losers of three years of smartphone share growth

Many consider June 2007 to have been a pivotal moment in the history of mobile phones. Apple’s entry with the iPhone has re-defined the market in many ways. However, there was a smartphone market before then. About 28 million smartphones shipped the quarter when Apple launched out of an overall phone market of 265 million. Apple’s entry with 270k phones was a drop in the bucket.

I thought it would be instructive to chart what happened between that quarter, exactly three years ago and today. I collected the data from IDC, Gartner and Canalys and company reports to paint a few pictures.

First, the market shares (by units) of the top mobile vendors, Q207 vs. Q210. I highlighted the smartphone vendors by separating their wedges from the pie. Note that I also separated Nokia’s smartphones from Nokia’s regular phones as two separated wedges–Nokia ex-SP for no smartphones and Nokia SP as their “converged” units. I did the same with “other”.

The parable of the transistor

This weblog could be read as a diary of the disruption of the mobile industry. There is lots of topical analysis and opinion, but sometimes I’ll post on the “theory” which describes what’s going on in a more abstract, and long-term, level. Theory is like a bullion cube: savory, but too concentrated to be enjoyed undiluted. For this reason, the most palatable way of administering theory is through example. So we kick off with an example of what happened to another technology industry as a result of the emergence of a disruptive technology.

The following is a draft article I wrote describing the “electronics industry” for POSTWAR AMERICA: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SOCIAL, POLITICAL, CULTURAL, AND  ECONOMIC HISTORY. It is itself based on a presentation by Clayton Christensen at the Open Source Business Conference in 2004.

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The consumer electronics (CE) industry began in 1920 when radio broadcasting commenced in the United States. Radio technology sustained a growing electronics business throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, however, the electronics industry underwent a major transformation after the war. The critical development came after 1948 when the transistor was first invented. The transistor and the subsequent development of solid-state semiconductors dramatically and profoundly changed the industry. The change the transistor brought was not just evident in measures of technical performance but also in the economics of the industry and the business models required of its participants