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Day September 14, 2010

What Apple and Android owe to Symbian and RIM

Following up on survey data showing that up to 25 percent of Americans have moved to smartphones, here is another survey (Comscore) which shows that US smartphone users are at about 23 percent.

Comscore also surveyed European countries, and we can compare the popularity of smartphones vs. the US.

I also indexed the share to population to show the relative populations of smartphone users across these countries.

It may come as a surprise to some that smartphones are more popular in the UK, Spain and Italy than in the US. Considering that these are countries with lower levels of disposable income, and that in Italy and Spain pre-paid plans are overwhelmingly more popular. Buyers in those countries are much more likely to pay full, unsubsidized prices plus 20% or more VAT. Overall the price differential for an Italian buying a smartphone vs. an American is likely to be a factor of 5. It gets even more peculiar when you consider that many Italians have more than one phone, with overall phone line penetration above 100%.

The explanation for this remarkable appetite for smartphone goodness is the early lead that Symbian had in Europe. Buyers who entered the phone market ten years ago became accustomed to upgrading their Nokia phones. Symbian phones were aspirationally positioned as feature-rich camera and messaging devices. Many were also purchased without data plans and were thus used as high-end feature phones. In other words, consumers in those countries were comfortable paying full price for unlocked Nokia devices and using them with multiple SIM cards.

This can be seen in the share of Symbian in these charts:

The data points to how normative behavior evolved and how different that can be even among culturally aligned Western nations. When looking at Asia and South America, it gets even more interesting.

Whereas in Europe it was Symbian, in the US RIM got the ball rolling.

The contribution of these platforms in shaping expectations, not to mention pricing, for the iPhone and Android should be noted.

Per Lindberg predicts things

“The N8 is certainly a step in the right direction, it’s much more multimedia,” Per Lindberg, an independent technology analyst at MF Global in London, told Marayam Nemazee on Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown.” “But whether it will move Nokia’s market share upwards is more debatable,” he said adding that Android phones are becoming an “formidable force.”

via Nokia Says Preorders for N8 Smartphone Are Strongest Ever Seen – Bloomberg.

This is the same Per Lindberg who, in January of this year, reiterated his February 2009 Sell rating on Apple and the entire smartphone industry:

“There is no doubt, in my mind, that the whole sector is hugely overstretched,” says the London-based physics PhD and MBA graduate who joined MF Global Ltd. in 2008 after 10 years at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort.

“The whole sector is priced as if the average player would sustain 25 per cent margin in eternity,” he adds.

“It’s bordering on absurdity. This will end in tears.”

He is willing to use the b-word: “Many stock bubbles are generated by sell-side analysts generating enthusiasm for the companies they cover.”

To date however, it’s Mr. Lindberg’s call that’s been the costly one for investors. He has maintained his sell rating on Apple since early February of last year, causing investors who followed his advice to miss out on a more than 110-per-cent surge in the share price.

Meet Apple’s sole skeptic – The Globe and Mail

In February 2009 Apple’s stock price was $89. Yesterday it closed at $267.

Nielsen: Nearly 25 percent of US adults use smartphones

Nearly all U.S. adults have cell phones, and 1 in 4 uses a smart phone, compared with about 16 percent last year, Carson said.

Nielsen, which surveyed 4,000 mobile-phone subscribers in August, predicts that the majority of mobile subscribers in the United States will have smart phones by the end of 2011.

via AppNation opens to sound of cha-ching.

Nielsen surveys are sound.

The last survey in June showed 20 percent penetration for smartphones in the US.

asymco | 20% of American subs have a smartphone with 1.2 million switching every month

iPad in the enterprise: Once the head goes, the body follows

In my talks with about 100 senior-level people at as many companies over the past six months, the feeling is that the tablet is here to stay and it’s going to be bigger than everyone expected it to be. It’s an always-on, always-with-you data experience. The other thing is that we spend about $1,500 for a laptop and another $300 per year over five years for the Microsoft Office suite. That same capability on an iPad is $600 to $800, and the software is $10 per application forever. It’s about one-third or one-fourth the price. The cost of ownership is inexpensive–and that’s just the first generation before they drop prices.

via Rise Of The Tablet Computer Page 3 of 3 – Forbes.com.

How fast is it catching on?

In the C-suite and the executive suite there is mass adoption. In Bank of America it took 60 days to hit the corporate standards list, which is the fastest any technology has hit that list. We’ve already bought 1,000 of these and we hadn’t bought anything from Apple in more than a decade. Executives everywhere are carrying iPads. And like we saw with the BlackBerry, once the head goes the body follows. The top executives get them and then they order them for the next 10 or 20 people.

The iPad use in corporate settings is even more disruptive than the Blackberry. No contract to sign, no administration overhead for voice and data plans. Trivial setup and instant gratification.

The way iPad is knocking down IT barriers to entry makes one wonder if Apple did not engineer it for this. But when you look at the product and positioning corporate use is that last thing you think of. This is often the case with disruptive products.

Lost of other great quotes in the article. For example: the iPad can be passed around a table but a laptop can’t.