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My (Not So) Personal Predictions for the Mobile Industry in 2012

 

As announced a few days ago, we are preparing our end of the year report, “The Mobile Oracle” featuring predictions from many top mobile leaders in and outside of China. You will see selected predictions here on mobiSights and the full report will be available to members. For a chance to have your prediction included and to get a free version of the report, let us know your prediction on our Facebook page.

My thoughts on what we should expect in 2012:

Honestly though, I can’t really claim them for myself, entirely.  I am very thankful to have been able to spend time in the past year with many industries leaders from Chinese geniuses like Leijun (CEO, Xiaomi), John Liu (CEO, Google China) and Wang Jian (CTO, Alibaba) to Silicon Valley visionaries like Jack Dorsey (Founder, Twitter & CEO, Square), John Donahoe (CEO, eBay) and Ron Conway (infamous Super-angel investor).  My ideas are a much less intelligent aggregation of the above.

1.  Android 

In 2012, Android will continue to push Nokia (and feature phones in general) out of emerging markets with ever cheaper (less than $100) but still quality smartphones. Android will continue to fork as additional hardware and internet companies (e.g., Facebook, Amazon, and Baidu) search for their place in the new mobile ecosystem and grow skeptical of Google’s “openness”. Regardless of the forking and continued legal issues, Android will grow in about every major measurement this year.

2.  Windows Phone

Despite continued loss to Android, Windows Phone will still become the distant #3 mobile operating system in 2012 or 2013 by building on their vast Windows PC user base, by winning remnants of Nokia’s previous global market share and by being the backup plan for Android manufacturers like HTC and Samsung.

3.  Tablets

The iPad 2 and forthcoming iPad 3 will still dominate the tablet space both in revenues and quality of user experience. The top competitor will be Amazon’s forked Android Kindle Fire and subsequent Kindle iterations. Android will improve their tablet offerings in 2012 and mainly compete on price but it won’t be until 2013 that Android has a true iPad competitor. Microsoft will push Windows 8 tablets hard in Q3/Q4 2012 but will largely be unsuccessful.

4.  Apps

App prices will continue to move rapidly toward free as better freemium revenue models emerge. The majority of app revenue across platforms in 2012 will come from freemium models. Developers will definitely begin to latch on to HTML5 due to the promise of greater and more open distribution but this will be muted since data traffic is still not fast enough and reliable enough in many parts of the world. The Apple app store will keep its hold on the highest revenue but will no doubt lose market share to the Android market as Android continues to rapidly gain users globally. Regardless, by the end of the year, Android will become the undeniable OS of choice for the majority of developers.

5.  China

Android will continue to win in China due its ability to offer a good enough experience at a very affordable price. However, the ecosystem will only get more fragmented with local players offering platforms that are more relevant to the Chinese user (e.g., Xiaomi, Aliyun, and Baidu Yi).  Even despite the Chinese love of Apple, Apple will continue to be beaten by other smartphone vendors due to its high prices, distribution problems and network compatibility issues. Out of fear of losing in this most strategic market, Tim Cook will finally make some compromises and ink a deal with China Mobile to better access its 600+ million users.

Due to China’s recent move to become the world’s #1 smartphone market (by users NOT revenue) and among the top countries for iPhone and iPad downloads, more international mobile app developers than ever before will target China as a strategic market and subsequently, experience more success than any internet/mobile companies before it.  We will begin to see some foreign tech company success stories in China but the road for politically sensitive companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter will not get any easier.

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