Why Symbian is far from being on top in US (North America as well)

Just take a look at the statistics below:

…well, not so impressing.

I didn’t placed a question mark in the title’s queue because the post is not only about clearly tracing the reasons of a Symbian failure in North America but more about a quick analysis (without giving some numbers or percents, if this can be possible) of  the american mobile market.

In fact I do not know whether to trust this one or another statistic, they all differ depending on who requested them, but one thing is sure: Symbian is far from top 3 of most deployed OS on smartphones.

This statistic was taken from here, but I found many other which are awarding RIM’s Blackberry as the most deployed mobile OS in US.

Let’s briefly go through the possible reasons that may prevent Symbian to reach top 3 in United States.

First of all one question should pop-up in our minds before any further comments: who is responsible for the succes of one mobile OS or another? There are two decisive factors: mobile carrier providers and device manufacturers. Here some things need to be clarified, as I already mentioned in my previous posts about Symbian, this is used by the following device manufacturers, nokia, sony-ericsson, samsung and LG, second thing is that top three mobile carrier providers are Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel(in this order). As you all may know in North America it is largely spread CDMA mobile standard instead of GSM, which rules in the rest of the world.

One big drawback that Nokia didn’t manage to take care is that their smartphones, on which Symbian resides, are not enabled for CDMA networks that prevail in United States and more than this, they are not enabled for 850 and 1900 GSM bands available in US and which are not used in Europeand Asia. So, probably from a global perspective it was quite complicated for Nokia to manucature two cell phones, one for GSM standard and one for CDMA.

Until few years ago, two or three, there were two major plyers in the mobile OS market in North America: Microsoft with its Windows Mobile and RIM with its Blackberry. Despite the long lasting tradition and history that Symbian has, few smartphones equipped with Symbian could be found in US markets. None of the three reminded mobile service providers distribute in their stores “Symbian smartphones”.

So we’ve roughly seen that few communication service providers in North America are selling “their phones” deployed with Symbian and besides this Nokia, was not so interested from various reasons, to enhance their smartphones in order to be used in North America.

OK, but this is not all. I read an intersting article (which I have to confess that inspired me a lot when writing these words) about a presumptuous fail of Symbian in United States and I saw one thing which popped into my mind: generally average mobile phone users do not decide in between a smartphone or another based on the characteristics of their underlying OS. They want them to ease their lives and to do common things, such as sending emails or logging on Facebook, simple and fast. Microsoft was closer to their needs, after all Symbian was not born in North America, and if studying american consummers’ mentality, this can have a decisive impact. I’m just wondering how can someone love so much baseball without having any idea about “soccer”, it is clearly enough for me that there are some cultural boundaries between North America and rest of the world, especially Europe.

Three paragraphs above I emphasized that only “few years ago” there were two major players in this industry, but since then another one joined, it is about Apple’s iPhone. A truly remarcable succes story during this crisis years in US, maybe some economy book will make a reference on them in the future, highlitighting how can someone grow in times where global economy slumps. In 2007, year of its launching, Time magazine awarded with the title invention of the year. Sales numbers were sky-rocketing and in just few months Apple became one of the top mobile devices manufaturers, along with Nokia and Samsung. Actually even today, iPhone represents a big slice of Apple’s revenues.

Let’s face it, the iPhone is iconic, it’s cool, it’s sexy, it’s now, but last week, it was all about the 1 billionth app. They’re marketing geniuses, they dominate mindshare for their space in the market

says Ramon Llamas, analyst at IDC.

It is sexy, it is mobile and it was Apple’s decisive strike into mobile market. Nowadays it is a trend to go mobile, maybe a smartphone cannot fully replace a notebook but it is also the common understanding that smartphones are the most important piece of technology people can have.

Apple is a long lasting player into PC desktop market so probably this experience was very useful for their glorious entrance into mobile market.

Coming back to the very subject of this discussion, if you’re looking at the mobile market evolution in North America and on top of it you place Apple’s iPhone, then you realize that it is far from easy to pick some users from there.

Maybe the author of the reminded article on theunwired.net is right to conclude:

In the final analysis it may simply be that Symbian manufacturers think the U.S. market is unimportant or they think they have the time to play “catch up” in a rapidly growing smarpthone market.

Even if you feel comfortable installed in the the global leader position is not so pleasant to see that actually you do not count so much in US.

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2 Responses to Why Symbian is far from being on top in US (North America as well)

  1. kellogs says:

    >>and if studying american consummers’ mentality, this can have a decisive impact

    You have said it all in there. Of course Nokia did produce some CDMA phones attempting to protrude US markets. Oh, and look at it the other way around, how many europeans are that kin on WM and RIM ?

    • Yes that would be a great subject too: how many europeans are that kin on WM and RIM ? — to be honest my answer would be simply: I don’t know, even if my guess is that Blackberry OS is far more present in Europe than Symbian in North America.
      Regarding american comsummers’ mentality, this will end up in a cultural debate, but in case of software, in general, and mobile technology/mobile software in particular, the differences are not that huge (well… except the fact that they use a different mobile technology than in Europe, and I think this makes the difference and could answer both questions, mine, in the title and the one that you suggested)

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