I was wrong: mobile is, and will remain, a two-horse race

By Nathaniel Mott , written on December 26, 2014

From The News Desk

A few years ago I predicted the smartphone market was about to finally become more than a two-horse race between Google's Android platform and Apple's iPhone products. Or, more specifically, I said "Sailfish, Tizen, Firefox OS, and other mobile operating systems will be chipping away at Apple and Google’s headline count" throughout 2013.

That was some brilliant hedging on my part, if I do say so myself. I wasn't dumb enough to say any of those contenders would actually make any meaningful difference to the smartphone market itself -- I just thought the tech media would blog about 'em more. Still, there was some small part of me that wanted to see at least one of them kick ass.

None of them did. The smartphone market actually seemed to fall into itself in 2013, with essentially no one using anything besides Android, iOS, and for a few miserable bastards who still thought Windows Phone would be a success, Microsoft's platform. The established players looked even less vulnerable than they had at the end of 2012.

But I still thought there was some chance one of these platforms would be interesting enough to capture consumer interest in 2014. (The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, or so the saying goes, and I'm nothing if not insane.) So I didn't set the table to eat the crow I was happy to leave rotting in oblivion.

Well, that table has now been set. I'll eat the crow that I allowed to sit on the dusty corners of the Web where old tech blog posts languish for all eternity: I was wrong, and every platform not named "Android" or "iOS" is going to be fucked for the near future.

I mean, at this point there's hardly even any competition from large companies, let alone smaller startups hoping to disrupt the mobile market. Microsoft has lost some of its most ardent supporters. BlackBerry is a shadow of its former self. Even Samsung is starting to lose popularity, and Tizen, the operating system it supported, is all but vapor.

Which leaves the two horses I was so desperate to stop writing about in the beginning of 2013. I ended up getting my wish, but only because I no longer write as much about tech products for Pando. If I were still forced to fake interest in the pissing contest between software platforms made by multi-billion dollar companies I would probably lose it.

[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]