Germany’s slow-to-develop smartphone market represents a significant opportunity
The OS war for smartphone users is grabbing headlines all over the globe, from the US to emerging markets like China and India. In Western Europe, Germany’s slow-to-develop smartphone market represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers and software firms to gain loyal customers.
According to data from comScore, as cited by the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), smartphone users in Germany made a mass exodus from Symbian to Android between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012.
comScore reported that Android captured 40% of total smartphone users in Germany in Q1 2012, an increase of 23 percentage points since the same period in the prior year.
Nokia’s flailing and officially discontinued OS, Symbian, dropped to second, with a 24% share, but remained ahead of iOS, which gained one percentage point to reach 22% share.
Interestingly, Android seemed to be the major benefactor of Symbian’s decline, despite a strong push by both Microsoft and Nokia to market their new Windows Phones in the country and throughout Western Europe, which Nokia considers close-to-home turf. Nokia had migrated away from Symbian, with Windows Phone serving as its new Lumia operating system.
The relative failure of Windows Phone to pick up more customers in the region is due, at least in part, to perceived problems of coordination between the two partners. “The Microsoft-Nokia tie-up is widely seen to be rather inefficient,” said eMarketer senior analyst Karin von Abrams. “Many observers feel Microsoft has squandered some of the advantages it acquired by joining forces with Nokia, while Nokia hasn’t benefited enough from the alliance.”
A case in point: Shares in Nokia plunged to a 16-year low in late June 2012, when it was announced that Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 program would not work on Nokia phones running earlier versions of the OS. That means sales of Nokia’s Lumia phones will suffer because many consumers contemplating an upgrade will likely wait until WP8 becomes available in the second half of the year. And many Lumia owners who can’t upgrade will be dissatisfied. Rumors have also surfaced that Microsoft is planning a proprietary smartphone—a move that would leave Nokia in a very uncertain position.
Germany represents a strong prospective market for smartphone manufacturers and a ripe battleground for the OS war: eMarketer estimates smartphone penetration at 18.5% of mobile phone users, for a total of 11.9 million users in 2011, and expects that figure to jump to 17.7 million in 2012. As millions of consumers in the country opt for smart devices, there is still plenty of opportunity for all operating systems to make headway. But at the moment, Android is winning handily.
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