Just 6 to 7 years ago you would never think that Google or Apple would be sitting at the top of the mobile phone business as comfortably as they are and that giants like Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson would be nowhere to be found. How bout the smart phone business? RIM seemed to be in total control of this branch five years ago with their rough and tough email and messaging juggernaut the Blackberry. But now, these companies are struggling against the most improbable competition, Google, an internet search engine that has become one of the major forces of the web and Apple a struggling computer company in the 80′s and 90′s that turned to the music business to survive have now become the kings of the mobile phone industry. Google developed an operating system and licensed it to many different phone makers to take most of RIM’s share of the market, while Apple with its once called “jesus phone“, the iPhone, has ruled the competition with a phone that is stylish and reliable. What would you say if I tell you that I traveled to the future and both companies aren’t kings anymore? How bout companies as Facebook and Twitter owning the mobile phone company sound to you? Doesn’t seem right uh? Are Google and Apple safe?
Apple once found themselves at the point that they had to hire their once fired CEO Steve Jobs in order to reinvent themselves as they were struggling to get back on track on their main business: the personal computer. As years went by they found themselves involved in a business that was so far away from their original line of work that it all seemed like a big big joke. When Napster was eliminated from the internet sharing community, Apple decided it was their turn to enter the market and reinvent this business. They saw an opening and they took it. This was probably their biggest move ever as they popularized the digital music format and practically created a new way of buying media, through the internet. iTunes is now a big part of all their mobile technology and their devices wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t have this store in common. As they introduced the iPhone, many predicted its death. The many features it lacked would soon be the reason of its demise. Who would write on a digital keyboard? No MMS? How bout no Tethering and Copy Paste?
Google created what I call the Windows of mobile phones and has licensed this software to many phone makers in order to popularize it and make their app store relevant. Even though Android has the same problems Windows has, mainly it isn’t made for a specific hardware system, it has gathered surprising popularity and has taken over the mobile phone operating system industry. While Apple’s own iOS is geared at their own hardware limiting their sales to it, Google’s Android can fit any company. Because of this it has lots of momentum going for it as people are starting to realize the power of this software. What Nokia, Sony, Motorola and RIM failed to see is that the mobile phone is no longer a phone, its now a mini-computer with a phone integrated on it. Apple and Google managed to visualize the future and went overboard on their tech and marketing skills to develop a new way of utilizing this little devices. Email and Instant Messaging were the main selling point for the Blackberry; it was reliable, safe, fast, easy to use and most of all integrated throughout their products. Once 3G entered the playing field, some phone developers started playing with internet browsing. Once Apple saw this window of opportunity they put their engineers to work led by Steve Jobs himself and made the ultimate internet browsing portable machine, the iPhone.
Phone companies failed to visualize this because they were too concentrated in each other to see the gold pot that was sitting right in front of them. External tech companies that specialized in other things saw this and jumped right in to it, eating a big chunk of the initial offering and leaving the big horses behind with a fast start. Some of them tried to jump back but failed miserably. RIM had its own Blackberry torch with a clunky interface and nowhere near as cool as its competitor. Palm also came up with something cool only to find itself on the verge of bankruptcy. Finally Google timed its entrance to the playing field and came up with a very good competitor for the iPhone’s iOS, the Android. After some years of battle RIM is almost knocked out, taking many knockdowns and looking as a sure looser in this battle. They have adressed their issues with last weeks conferences, admitting they need a total overhaul in order to survive against the two new hotshots in town. Who would have thought of it? Just 3 years ago RIM had 56 % of market share leading the pack big, now it has less than 10% and the future doesn’t feel right. Many Blackberry users have already felt that their phone is already becoming an antique and that more an more are switching to more modern devices.
If we take this as a lesson, Apple and Google should start checking what other big companies might be thinking about the way they are doing business. As good as My Space was, Facebook came out and dethroned it. Hotmail was king until Gmail came around and kicked its virus filled ass. Yahoo used to be the search engine of choice and now Google reigns supreme. General Motors was invincible, market changed, now Toyota is king. No one is safe in this day and age, any technology can become obsolete from one day to another. Without Steve Jobs Apple faces a tough road ahead, even though they have a strong company, its leader and visionary is gone, he stirred the pot when things didn’t go their way. Google is riding high with its Android OS, but it’s still too clunky for my taste and if they don’t look good, Windows 8 can unseat it. Microsoft is still powerful and has the right tools to make it happen. Don’t expect to see many changes in the next couple of years, but do expect a new player to come along and dramatically shake things up for the big guns.