By Brandon Miniman | December 14, 2011 9:37 AM
Recently we showed you what we thought would turn out to be the biggest losers in mobile in the coming new year. Now it’s time to turn our sights towards the companies, technologies, and platforms that will win in 2012 in terms of marketshare and mindshare.
Windows Phone is going to gain significant market share in 2012, but not because it’s the most innovative platform or because it’ll bring the best hardware, but because the industry needs a strong second choice when it comes to operating systems that can be licensed. With the Android landscape becoming ever-crowded, OEMs are going to want to diversify beyond Android, and Microsoft’s mobile OS is the *only* second choice, and with it simplicity and elegance, proven staying power, and ever-increasing portfolio of third party apps, it’s a great choice.
Surprisingly, I feel like Windows Phone is going to have a big year, after a launch that was surely not as successful as Microsoft had hoped. It certainly didn’t help that the first round of handsets to run the platform weren’t very sexy or well-spec’ed, at least compared to the iPhone and many Android selections available. Fast-forward one year, and the devices have gotten a lot more appealing (think: Lumia 800, Focus S, HTC Titan/Radar) — even if they still trail the competition with regard to their spec sheets. With the coming Apollo update, Windows Phone will be almost as full-featured and polished as the more established operating systems, giving it a legitimate shot at significantly eating into their market shares.
As Smartphones continue to expand on-top of the dying feature phone business, each year brings broader opportunities for winners to be more than just one. I feel the biggest winners will be Apple, Samsung and Nokia:
- Despite Apple’s reluctance to change the iPhone 4S design, it’s still amazing to see how many people were willing to buy it. It proves that the original iPhone 4′s design was truly ahead of its time, and that it still is a worthy contender. Rumors have already begun about what we should expect with the next iPhone in the Summer of 2012, and expectations are high since it’s being mentioned that this was Steve Job’s last masterpiece.
- Samsung has proven that they are willing to put up a fight with great, hard-to-match products. The successful Samsung Galaxy S series was dwarfed in 2011 by the Galaxy S II, and we expect more with the Galaxy S III in 2012.
- And regarding Nokia, we must admit that many of us were were skeptical of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership in the beginning. Both companies were struggling to make a hit, and the combination of two underdogs is not always good. The Nokia Lumia 800 proved all our worries as wrong. Nokia is still capable of building iconic products, and Microsoft really knew what they were doing when designing Windows Phone 7. We see great success with this combination as their products reach the US in 2012.
Adam Z. Lein
I think Android will continue its massive share of the smartphone market, as Apple’s sales will lower slightly. I think we can expect to see Windows Phone’s momentum increase with Nokia producing a large variety of Windows Phones in 2012. That is to say if Microsoft and Nokia can fight against the negative image that many in the media force upon them. There will be quality Nokia-made smartphones for a wide range of price ranges within a larger number of markets. I think we’ll see Nokia step it up on the phone camera quality front with an optical zoom lens and their incredible 12 megapixel camera first used on the N8. Hopefully some type of new technology will appear that’s actually useful, since smartphones haven’t changed a whole lot from their palm-sized touch-screen beginnings around the turn of the century. We’re still waiting for bendable screens, right?
Anton D. Nagy
Companies like Apple, Samsung and HTC can’t be mentioned in this category as they are already at the top. The spots and the power balance can shift but they will still be there, taking the first spots. If Nokia and Microsoft play their cards well, they could be winning in 2012. Now this certain winning has to be strictly interpreted as in maintaining the third spot in the ecosystem battle but gaining in market share. Nokia might as well take back the top spot in terms of sales but it is difficult to compete with Samsung (which has at every moment in time at least a dozen devices on the market) and Apple with its great products.
I may hold a special place in my heart for Android, but I’m really optimistic for Windows Phone and I think 2012 could be the year it really starts to shine. While it’s still got nowhere near the market share it needs, I can’t deny that the platform’s come a long way in its first year. It’s managed to cultivate quite the passionate user base, and what we’ve heard about Microsoft’s plans for 2012 sounds like the right direction the operating system needs to take; if we ever get to a point where we’re still waiting for an LTE iPhone, and LTE Windows Phones are already available, we’re going to get a lot more people taking a serious look at Microsoft’s platform.
Amazon. While BN may look yo have better tablet hardware on the surface, they lack the content and capabilities of Amazon, who doesn’t care as much about hardware specs as user experience. Apple will continue to lead the overall tablet market, however (but probably without changing things up on their end by as much as the tech pundits would hope).
We’ve seen many, many technological advancements in 2011. From being able to shoot 1080p HD video on a smartphone, to phones with 720p HD screens — and even the thinnest smartphone yet: the Droid RAZR. NFC became usable with the Nexus S and Google Wallet, and Ice Cream Sandwich adds even more functionality. AT&T began to deploy their LTE network, and even have a phone or two that can take advantage of it. As we go into 2012, phones will continue to get higher-resolution screens, faster networks, better cameras, and more functionality. Ultimately, the biggest winner in 2012 will no doubt be you, the customer.
This last year was great for the mobile technologies market in terms of hardware acceleration and network speeds. For 2012 I predict that the biggest winners are going to be manufacturers that emphasis on design, specifically materials used to manufacture smartphones. We are drawn to smartphones that are thin, shiny, made of metal and glass. So for 2012 I predict that Apple will dominate the mobile market if they redesign the iPhone to be design savvy, capable of LTE, and have a better battery. Another winner in 2012 might be the underdog, Nokia, if they are able to draw appeal to the Windows Phone 7 platform. With Nokia onboard the Windows Phone 7 ship more popular developers will soon follow to design their apps for the mobile operating system.
I believe the winners next year will HTC with their quad core android phones. I think that ICS running on quad core phones will be the big trend for next year. Also with all the hype behind the new Nokia Lumia devices and the Windows Phone Tango update coming early next year, if they can get a few 4G LTE phones in the US it will be big.