Is the Market too Crowded for webOS to be Successful?

Ben Bajarin - Feb 10, 2011, 11:55am CST
Is the Market too Crowded for webOS to be Successful?

Let’s start off by remembering that the smartphone market is still relatively early. Even though it is one of the hottest topics around, smartphones as a whole still only represent less than 30% of the total global mobile phone market. That being said the smart phone market grew 75% last quarter alone and is expected to grow at that pace each quarter for the next few years.

Right now RIM, Apple and their iOS and a host of Android vendors dominate the smart phone sector. Windows Phone 7 is on the far fringe of this market and HP’s webOS devices still farther yet. So the real question is in a market dominated right now by three companies is there room for more? The short answer is yes and here is why.

There is Always Room For Innovation
Too often companies are so afraid of competition that they are immobilized to even attempt to compete. To these companies I remind them that there is always room for innovation. People told Larry Page and Sergey Brin they were crazy when starting Google since Yahoo! was by far the most dominant web search engine around. They lived by the point that there is always room for innovation.

Someone can always make something better. Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that the next great innovation or technology disruption is always just around the corner.

That being said, innovation or competing with the incumbents in a market is not always easy. Especially when you have companies like Apple and Google innovating as well as anyone. For HP, competing with the likes of Apple, RIM and the Google army will be extremely difficult. Time will tell if they can do it, but it is possible.

The Market Opportunity is Huge
The other important point to factor into the discussion is the market size. Given that the market size for personal computing devices is so large, we can’t write off any one company at this point. If we just add the growth forecasts for PCs, smart phones and tablets in 2015 we are talking about anywhere from 1 to 1.5 billion devices conservatively.

Just to illustrate one last point take a look at the chart below created by Horace Deidu of Asymco. Using Canalys data he charted the platform growth in smart phones by vendor.

The time frame is what is important to pay attention to. In the past two years the newcomers have taken over 50% of the market. All of that to say it is not out of the realm of possibility that newcomers can enter the market and still take some market share.

How much market share, though, is left to be determined; however I am confident that three years from now the above chart will look very different.

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