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Posts Tagged ‘Research In Motion’

Article from SFGate.

“It’s been a big couple of weeks in mobile. Verizon Wireless finally got the iPhone. Hewlett-Packard unveiled the first fruits of its Palm purchase last year. Nokia, the world’s biggest maker of handsets, abandoned its once-dominant Symbian mobile software system and demoted itself to a kind of glorified contract manufacturer of Microsoft-powered devices.

The struggle for mobile dominance has entered a new phase. Why would Nokia throw out Symbian, with its 37 percent market share, in favor of software with less than one-seventh of that? Because recently hired Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop is convinced that Microsoft has better odds of going up against the four other mobile powers – Apple, Google, Research In Motion, and HP – and making its new Windows Phone 7 software a center of gravity for the world’s programmers, manufacturers, and consumers.

“The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems,” Elop told investors at a recent London news conference.

Actually, it’s the same game that created the most valuable franchises in tech history, from IBM to Microsoft to Facebook. All successfully established themselves as “platforms,” in which countless entrepreneurs and programmers developed products and applications that gave value to customers and profitability to shareholders – sucking oxygen away from rivals all the while.

Platform leaders

In the 1960s, IBM trounced Sperry and other mainframe manufacturers by creating a soup-to-nuts stack of hardware, software and services.

In PCs, Microsoft erased Apple’s early lead by signing up hardwaremakers to create cheap machines, and software companies to develop Windows versions of everything from word processors to Tetris.

Facebook vanquished social networks such as MySpace by repositioning itself as a platform – a decision that led to the creation of gamemaker Zynga and other app companies that keep Facebook’s 500 million users hanging around.

What’s different this time is scale.

“Mobile is the biggest platform war ever,” said Bill Whyman, an analyst with International Strategy & Investment. More smart phones were sold than PCs in the fourth quarter, and sales should reach $120 billion this year. That doesn’t count billions more in mobile services, ads, and e-commerce.

This war will probably last for some time, too. Unlike with PCs, where the unquestioned victor – Microsoft – quickly emerged and enjoyed years of near monopoly, no one has a divine right to dominance in mobile. Microsoft crushed its competition by forcing people to make a choice. There were far more software applications for PCs, and most didn’t work on Macs. The more Microsoft-powered machines out there, the more people wrote software for them, the more people bought them, and the bigger the whole system became. Economists have a name for that phenomenon: “network effects.”

Appealing products

All cell phones can talk to each other and handle the same websites and e-mail systems, so winning means making products that function more effectively and appealingly. That sums up Apple’s success.

Steve Jobs figured out long ago that when people spend their own money, they’ll pay for something a lot nicer than the unsexy gear the cheapskates in corporate procurement choose. While others competed on price, Apple focused on making its products reliable and easy to use. Once customers buy an iPhone and start investing in iTunes songs and apps, they tend to stick with the system and keep buying – even though there’s no proprietary lock on the proverbial door.

Apple’s huge sales volume makes carriers and suppliers more likely to agree to its terms. The software that powers everything Apple makes – all variations of the Mac operating system OS X – is as intuitive to developers as Angry Birds is to app shoppers.

The result is economic leverage of staggering power. To create a blockbuster, Apple doesn’t need to spend billions on a start-from-scratch moon-shot of a development project. It just needs to tweak a previous hit.

Take the iPad, which is in many ways a large iPod touch. Apple won’t say how much the iPad cost to develop. Consider these numbers, though: In the year that ended Sept. 30, during which Apple introduced the iPad and the iPhone 4, the company spent $1.8 billion on research and development. Over the same period, Apple’s revenue increased by $22.3 billion. Nokia spent three times as much as Apple on R&D – $5.86 billion – and increased revenue by just $1.5 billion. No wonder that Apple, whose share of total global mobile-phone sales is only 4.2 percent, gets more than half the profit generated by the industry, according to research firm Asymco.

Fast-growing Android

Even Google, Apple’s mightiest rival, got only a $5 billion increase in sales on its $3.4 billion R&D budget. It does have plenty to show for its efforts, though: Its Android platform is growing at a blistering pace. In the fourth quarter, according to research firm Canalys, twice as many Android devices shipped as iPhones.

“Google is being far more aggressive in building its platform than Microsoft ever was,” says Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital.

Barring big surprises, the other contenders – RIM, HP, and Microsoft – are in for a slog: too dependent on mobile devices to give up, yet lacking the tools to make much progress. All lost market share in 2010 and have far fewer apps available for their devices.”

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Article from GigaOm.

“Google’s Android operating system solidified its place at the top of the charts in the U.S. with 44 percent of the market, according to a pair of reports out today.

While Android’s momentum shows no sign of let-up and Apple continues to hold its own, both are applying pressure to Research in Motion, which is hemorrhaging OS market share and was overtaken in handset sales by Apple in the third quarter.

According to NPD, which measures consumer purchases, Android’s share of the U.S. smartphone market in the third quarter increased 11 percentage points from the previous quarter while Apple’s share grew by 1 percentage point to 23 percent. Research In Motion’s share continued to tumble, dropping from 28 percent to 22 percent.

U.K. research firm Canalys, which arrived at similar U.S. numbers for the OS market, said that Nokia remained the top smartphone manufacturer worldwide with a 33 percent share, down from 38 percent in the second quarter. Apple took second with 17 percent, up from 13 percent last quarter, while RIM followed with 15 percent, a slide from 18 percent in the second quarter.

The Canalys numbers reflect the latest quarterly sales numbers from Apple and RIM, showing Apple eclipsing RIM for the first time. Apple also moved into fourth place in global handset sales, passing over RIM in the process. RIM is still the top vendor in Latin America with about 40 percent of the market but its prospects are looking tough with pressure from Apple and particularly Android, which appears to be eating into its sales. NPD reported that the iPhone 4 was the top-selling phone in the U.S., followed by the BlackBerry Curve, LG Cosmos, Motorola Droid X � and HTC Evo 4G.

Nokia continues to hold the top spot in the five so-called BRIIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and China, which bodes well for Nokia as those markets are growing 111 percent year-over-year, faster than the market overall which grew by 95 percent to 80.9 million shipped units. However Android, as my colleague Kevin has noted, could eat into Nokia’s share in places like India as it moves down market into cheaper smartphones.

That’s going to be a ongoing theme as smartphones work their way into more hands. The manufacturers and OS makers who can manage the growth in lower tier smartphones should enjoy a significant volume advantage. Nokia is already losing out on the lucrative high end of the market to Apple and is now facing the threat of Android outpacing sales in mid and lower-tier smartphones. Android shipments grew 1,309 percent year-over-year from 1.4 million units in the third quarter of 2009, according to Canalys, to more than 20 million units in the third quarter of this year, good enough for a quarter of the worldwide OS market.

Meanwhile, phones running a Windows operating system account for just 3 percent of the worldwide market, according to Canalysis. With Windows Phone 7 shipping this month, Microsoft will have to claw its way back to relevance. Microsoft’s tight control on handset interface customization and its high-end specifications could limit how vendors differentiate Windows Phone 7 devices and how well they sell down market, said Canalys.”

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Article from GigaOm.

Fundamental changes in networking and computing are shaking things up in the enterprise IT world. These changes, combined with ubiquitous broadband and new devices like smart phones and tablets, are leading to new business models, new services and shifts in corporate behavior. It’s also leading to a lot of M&A activity as companies jockey for position before the ongoing technology shift settles into the new status quo.

A report out today from Deutsche Bank lays out some of the shifts and names what it believes are the 11 most likely acquirers, calling those companies the Big 11. The bank’s Big 11 are: Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm. They were selected because of their size, their cash balance and their willingness to make strategic acquisitions. The report talks about which companies each might acquire, but it also gives a wealth of data on the companies which comprise the Big 11 that any startup looking for a buyer on the software and infrastructure side might find worthwhile.

In addition to the information on buyers, the report goes on to explain why many deals today are valued at multiples that are so much higher than the potential revenue of the company (HP’s buy of 3PAR is a prime example of this trend):

On the other hand, the multiples paid for these companies go counter to typical expectations for valuations. All of these deals were priced at considerable premiums to forward estimates. The implication is that the larger companies believed that there were strategic benefits far in excess of the smaller companies’ near-term prospects. A common criticism of acquisitions holds that management teams of large companies try to buy revenue and earnings to offset far lower growth rates in their core businesses. This does not appear to be the case with these deals. We see this as confirming our thesis that large companies are looking to buy technology and product synergies. In all of these deals, we see larger companies either significantly building up weak product lines or looking for the ability to bundle new features into existing equipment.

Some of the 50 targets mentioned are:

  • Salesforce.com (s crm )
  • VMware
  • Adobe
  • Citrix
  • Research In Motion
  • Riverbed Technology
  • SAP
  • Atheros
  • Skyworks
  • f5 (sffiv)
  • Juniper

Each are on the list of potential candidates for different reasons associated with improving the quality and speed of delivering web-based applications and services from a cloud-based infrastructure to a multitude of devices. However, there are plenty of startups and private companies that are pioneering new technologies in these areas which are also fair game. The report doesn’t go into the content side of the business where companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Disney, etc. are fighting for features and services to expand their reach and platforms.

Since we’re living through an enormous period of potential disruption thanks to technology, the giants in the industry find themselves playing a game of musical chairs as they seek the best seat at the table for the future. Startups and larger public companies that will help those giants fill out their offerings before the music stops are under the microscope and perhaps at the top of their valuations.”

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