Tuesday, April 19, 2011

72% of iPad users do not own an iPhone

Today I bumped into a very interesting report from ComScore on iPad users. In particular, there is one finding that jumped out at me: less than 30% of iPad users have an iPhone (27.3%, to be precise). 17.5% own a BlackBerry, the rest have an Android or something else.

It is interesting because it means that the Apple silo solution (MobileMe + iTunes) will not work for 72% of iPad users. When Apple announces their digital locker cloud solution (I am still betting it is by WWDC in June), they will leave all of them behind, scrambling for a solution to sync their phone with their tablet.

If you have an Android device and you cannot sync it to your iPad, then the Apple solution will be meaningless for you. You would better be served by someone who can go across devices (wink wink ;-)

On the other side, this puts even more pressure on Apple to have such a cloud solution. If you bought your iPad after your smartphone (likely) and you are looking at buying a new smartphone (very likely, you change mobile device every 18 months) then you might be attracted to an iPhone more than any other device. Now that you have an iPad (and you love it), you are more likely to ditch your BlackBerry for an iPhone, because Apple allows you to sync them transparently.

The other option, of course, is ditching your iPad for a BlackBerry PlayBook or an Android Tablet, but the iPad has such a lead in the tablet market - and I feel people will change tablet not as fast as they change mobile phone - that I see this as a 2012/2013 option. Not this year.

Bottom line:
  • there is a huge market for syncing devices across platforms and the iPad is making this very visible (72% is a pretty big share...)
  • there is a huge opportunity for Apple to use the iPad to drive iPhone sales, like they need more :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is MeeGo dead or alive?

Yesterday I received a call from a banker asking a very specific question: "is MeeGo dead or alive?". That made me think.

If you do not know MeeGo, it is an open source mobile operating system. It was originated by the merger of Maemo (supported by Nokia) and Moblin (supported by Intel), and it is managed by the Linux Foundation.

I tried MeeGo on a laptop some time ago and I was very impressed. Great UI, playful, very interesting metaphors. I had good hopes for the OS because Intel was behind it, and I assumed the big gorilla (Nokia, funny how they are not considered one anymore...) would push great devices on it.

When Nokia announced their move to Windows Phone 7 before MWC, it was clear they decided to abandon MeeGo. Their slide, depicted below, did not leave many questions. MeeGo was not even illustrated ;-) while Symbian was going to die (an horrible marketing mistake, in my opinion).

That leaves Intel as the only sponsor. And they have not been able to produce a mobile device yet...

If you look at the mobile OS market, there are two clear leaders: Android and iOS. Is there room for a third OS? Yes, I think so.

Who are the competitors? Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Palm WebOS and MeeGo.

If you have to put them in a sequence, which one would you pick? Hard to tell, but MeeGo is probably between #3 and #4, because Microsoft is betting their life on Windows Phone (and they have tons of money) and RIM is still a formidable player (at least in emerging markets). I think MeeGo can beat WebOS, but is there room for five mobile OSs? I do not think so. I hardly see room for four, honestly.

That would mean MeeGo is going to die. Unless they find a home for it. Let me try to see if there is one.

Android is not really open source anymore. It is hardly open. The rest of the pack are closed OSs. MeeGo is the only pure open source play remaining. This is a big differentiation. At the end of the day, if Android stumbles (there are many reasons to believe it could happen, from lawsuits to fragmentation), MeeGo could be a great option for device manufacturers and carriers.

In particular, I have a feeling MeeGo has a chance on connected devices, beside mobile. The world out there is in need of a true open source OS, built for low power consumption and great interactivity. Something you can use for machine to machine (M2M) communication. It could work on cars, digital frames, microwaves, and a lot of more devices. We are talking trillions here. With Intel behind it, providing the chips.

That might be it. Grow in connected devices, hope for Android to stumble and maybe eventually make it back into mobile or even tablets and laptops.

I have great faith in the Linux Foundation and I think they can pull it off. Android destroyed MeeGo momentum and Nokia stubbed them in the back. You could conclude they should be dead by now. However, we know open source does not die, it grows and grows. Sometimes under the radar, but it does not stop.

If you look at the news, you can see some signs of it. LG is looking at MeeGo. Many others could follow, and in many different markets. Android is giving device manufacturers some worries, and they like to maintain their options open (and keep vendors - like Google - honest). There is life here.

Not in great health but not dead for sure. We'll hear about it for a long time, I believe.

A business model for open source (hint: it's the cloud!)

Yesterday I found on YouTube the keynote I gave at the Open World Forum in Paris last September. I talk about what I consider THE business model for open source projects: a separation of a free community edition for deployment (for people that have time but no money) and a commercial edition in the cloud (for people that have money but no time). Obviously, the example I am using is Funambol... but I think it can be a model working for a lot more projects.

Caution: it is 15 minutes long. Too bad the slides are not visible, this was my best zen presentation sequence ever ;-)

Video on YouTube