Thursday, November 19, 2009

Smartphone Market: A Rugby Scrum?

The fast pace of change in the Smartphone space presents great opportunities for entrepreneurs and developers, but creates a great new risk I’ll call “choosing the wrong platform.” Anyone preparing a business plan must be prepared not only to choose which platforms (phone and OS) to develop first but must be prepared to convincingly defend these choices to investors or managers less well informed than they are.

Writing in today’s NY Times, AZADEH ENSHA says the Smartphone marketplace increasingly resembles “a rugby scrum (the Verizon Droid versus the BlackBerry Storm versus the Palm Pre versus the HTC MyTouch versus the Apple iPhone ).” Market survey numbers don’t just change dramatically year by year, but quarter to quarter. Gartner has just published Q3 figures on Smartphone sales. Some excerpts:

  • Smartphones continued to represent the fastest-growing segment of the mobile-devices market and we remain confident about the potential for Smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2009 and in 2010.
  • Nokia’s share of the worldwide Smartphone market reached an all time low in the third quarter of 2009 at 39 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in the second quarter of 2009. Research In Motion reached 20 per cent share, its highest yet.
  • Apple’s worldwide Smartphone share reached 17 per cent as iPhone sales totaled 7 million units in the third quarter of 2009. Sales in the fourth quarter should be even stronger as Apple starts selling in China, through one additional carrier in the UK, and in an additional 16 countries.
  • In the Smartphone operating system (OS) market,Android picked up momentum but with only a handful of Android devices available, its share remained modest at 3.5 per cent. Windows Mobile 6.5 only became available in October, too late to have an impact on the third quarter, so sales of Windows-based Smartphones saw another decline.
Interpretations of these results vary, but I did enjoy “How Microsoft Blew It With Windows Mobile” by Brian X. Chen in Wired:

“Microsoft Windows continues to dominate the PC market with a 90 percent market-share stronghold, but when it comes to Smartphones, Microsoft is getting beat up worse than a mustachioed villain in a Jackie Chan movie.

“Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its Smartphone market share since 2008, research firm Gartner reports. Windows Mobile had 11 percent of the global Smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, and last quarter Windows Mobile’s market share plummeted to 7.9 percent.

“Meanwhile, Apple’s global market share grew from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM saw a rise from 16 percent to 20.8 percent, according to Gartner’s figures.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Dinosaur vs. The Cloud

Why is it so hard to kill a web 1.0 dinosaur” asks Scott Kirsner in his blog this week? To investigate, Scott interviews Matt Douglas, founder of MyPunchbowl.

If you are not familiar with MyPunchbowl, it is a great party planning site. I will be using it to send out both ecards and invitations to our holiday parties, although it can do much more.

“In many ways, they've built a site that has surpassed the Web 1.0 dinosaur of party planning, Evite” writes Kirsner. “MyPunchbowl makes it much easier to decide upon the best date for a gathering among a group of friends, or organize a potluck where everyone brings a different dish, for instance… but MyPunchbowl (founded in 2007) still lags way behind Evite (founded in 1997) in terms of usage.”

Yet MyPunchbowl forges ahead, announcing this week the acquisition of some assets from GroupGo of Waltham to help party hosts find local vendors, such as a flower shop, a balloon-delivery service, or a Mexican restaurant with a private dining room.

I asked Matt Douglas if had a technological advantage over established competitors? “Yes, absolutely -- we're heavily involved with Cloud Computing. In fact, you can mention that the new MyPunchbowl local vendor portal is built off of the Amazon EC2 cluster. Fast, robust, and scalable; perfect for a project like the local vendor portal and for a startup like MyPunchbowl.”

So we have here not just a clash of applications, but a clash of technologies. My bet is on Cloud technology and on MyPunchbowl.
Full disclosure: the eCoast Angels, of which I am a member, participated in the original financing of MyPunchbowl.