2008 Wrap-Up. 2009 Predictions. (Part
31st December 2008
The iPhone 3G was just about the bare minimum update for the
original iPhone, adding 3G support and GPS and crucially a new
Applications Store for buying and downloading software. Apple will need
to come up with something even better next year, especially when it
comes to the relatively poor camera.
There are persistent
rumours of an "iPhone Nano" due next year - basically a very similar
concept to the existing phone, only a lot smaller. Even if true, we
don't expect to see a proliferation of iPhone models during 2009 with
perhaps an "iPhone III" and "iPhone Nano" turning up at some point.
Palm has a long and extremely complicated history, but it has been struggling financially for some time. Palm recently secured $100m in funding
to keep going. Well known as being one of the great innovators in the
PDA market, Palm never managed to repeat its success when it came to
2008 hasn't been a particularly notable year for
Palm with a handful of devices launched to moderate market success.
However, in a couple of weeks time we expect Palm to announce their new
"Nova" operating system, based on Linux. Nova will give backwards
compatibility with older Palm applications while creating a much more
modern platform for application development. We are expecting to see
some new handsets launched at the same time.
So will Palm turn
itself around in 2009? Sadly, we don't think so. Nova competes directly
against the Android platform, but Android is not tied to any one
handset maker. Sure, Palm's new OS can support legacy applications, but
that's hardly going to attract new customers.
Our verdict: unfortunately, we don't think that Palm will survive 2009.
Windows Mobile 6.5 should make an appearance in the first
half of 2009, followed by Windows Mobile 7 much later in the year.
Version 6.5 is simply an enhancement of the current version 6.1,
notable new features are expected to include a new version of Internet
Explorer and an improved interface for touchscreen users. Windows
Mobile 7 is a much more significant upgrade designed to compete better
with the iPhone operating system.
Windows Mobile is now a firmly
established operating system, and Microsoft show that they can compete
effectively, if slowly, with the competition. Support for push email
and device manageability is improving, and this means that Windows
Mobile is making some inroads into businesses too.
don't make phones, although rumours of a Zune-based handset have
circulated and have been denied. We suppose that Microsoft is the only
company that might be big enough to buy out HTC if they wanted to, but
in fact we think that the "hands off" business model works very well
for Microsoft and we can't see any reason for them to change it.
Google / Android
have waited a long time to see a handset running Android, and the
T-Mobile G1 seemed to be worth the wait. Motorola is committing to
Android in a big way next year, samsung and LG are reported to be
following suit. There are rumours that Sony Ericsson may do the same,
and the only major manufacturer that won't be going down the Android
route is Nokia.
We have no doubt that Google and the other
members of the Open Handset Alliance have enough clout to make Android
a success during 2009, but we don't think that it will be a significant
threat to the competition (by which we mean primarily Symbian and
Windows). Over the next few years we should see some interesting
developments as the Android platform continues to mature.
Toshiba, ASUS and HP came out with some promising Windows Mobile
handsets during 2008. Expect more of the same, but we think they will
still be niche players during 2009.
Sagem has been quiet
during 2008, the loss-making French handset maker was disposed of by
Safran to a venture capital company called Sofinnova who are determined
to make some money out of the business.. it may well be that the
current economic climate may benefit Sagem as it tends to make very
good value-for-money handsets.
ZTE is perhaps a company to
watch. This Chinese firm has enjoyed some success, especially with 3,
Telefonica and Telstra, although handsets are usually branded with the
name of the carrier rather than the manufacturer.
Mobile Gazette would like to wish all our readers
a happy and prosperous 2009! It's likely to be a difficult
year ahead, but the mobile phone industry is still one
of the most dynamic and exciting businesses to be in.