In the world of software, nothing matters quite as much as being the market leader. And nothing matters as much as being the market leader in cell phone OSes and Internet browsers. In the massive brawl between Apple, Google, and Microsoft, who finished the year a winner and who got punched in the face?
The big winner in browsers this year was…Microsoft, which still controls over 50% of the browser marketplace, because it comes free with computers, cellphones, and possibly in cereal boxes, and you can’t talk your grandma into downloading Firefox. So essentially the rest of the market is chipping away at Internet Explorer while Microsoft stays at number one due to inertia.
Firefox came in second with 22.8 percent of the marketplace, mostly consisting of guys 30 and under and people just hip enough to barely install Linux on their netbook and crow on their Twitter about “their sweet new Ubuntu distro” without actually knowing what that means. Third place is Chrome, Google’s rapidly growing browser, with 10 percent. Chrome is actually impressive in that it’s managed to grow fairly rapidly, but unimpressive in that all it’s actually achieving is getting people to dump old versions of IE. It’s still doing far better than Google thought, as it hit ten percent of the market nine months earlier than expected…
…but it’s still used less than IE6, much loathed by the kind of people who care about web architecture and much used by people who don’t. IE6, the new hotness from Windows XP, still commands 13.1% of the market. Yes, more than 10% of the Internet uses a web browser that’s a decade old, quite possibly on a Compaq Presario purchased at a Circuit City with the free 16MB RAM upgrade. In a formal, Steve Ballmer invited Google to “download THAT browser plug-in”!
Opera, meanwhile, continues to be obscure.
Apple Controls the Phones…Not
Meanwhile, in terms of mobile phone operating systems, the market leader is iOS. Or Android. Or possibly RIM. All we know is that it’s definitely not Windows Mobile.
iOS, Android, and RIM are all within spitting distance of each other: iOS has 28.6%, Android has 25.8%, and RIM has 26.1%. Essentially, that’s too close to call; they’re all within the margin of error, so any one of them could be the leader.
Of course, there are still losers. RIM had 33% of the market six months ago and now, partially thanks to the iPad, it’s had to eat a 7% loss, probably because only 45-year-old executives still use it. Meanwhile, Android, at 15% six months ago, nearly tripled, largely thanks to the fact that if you want a smartphone that isn’t the iPhone, you’re probably buying an Android. In fact, 40% of smartphone purchasers in the last six months went straight for the Android phones.
What does this mean? Mostly that message boards will, as ever, be lit afire by arguing over which is better, because companies raking in billions of dollars really need the rabid, hostile defense. Also, it gives those open source types something else to be smug about, so that’s nice.
- Speaking of cellphones, with every major consumer electronics show comes yet another rumor about Verizon finally getting an iPhone. This probably reflects less the corporate strategy of one of the most successful consumer electronics companies of the modern era, and more their users dreaming of ditching AT&T for a network that can actually pick up a call in a major urban area once and for all. (Forbes)
- What’s the hot new tech trend this year? “Cord-cutting”, the practice of dumping your cable provider like it was a hot rock and you were Frosty the Snowman. Cable companies are insisting it’s just because more people are poor and don’t want to pay $200 for the privilege of watching the five channels they care about of the 2000 or so crammed down their throats. The big problem so far? Sports. You still can’t stream the games you want to see on your TV at your leisure, and that’s keeping the majority of cable users paying for those useless channels. For now, anyway. (The Tennessean)
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