In the battle for primacy over the mobile operating system market, 2013 will be a critical year for Microsoft and Research In Motion. So says a new report from IDC that predicts 2013 will be a year of full-blown competition by the two for a piece of the mobile pie.
IDC predicts mobile devices will continue to be a significant driver of worldwide IT spending. But it remains to be seen how much of the pie RIM or Microsoft can take from Google's Android and Apple's iPhone.
Both RIM and Microsoft need to capture much greater interest from mobile app developers to expand the number of apps that run on devices powered by their respective operating systems, IDC said. Failure to do so by the end of 2013 will likely be the beginning of their demise in this market, the report said.
Microsoft, RIM Wooing Developers
Earlier this year, Microsoft and Nokia collaborated to drive more developers to Windows Phone 8. The companies plan to invest $24 million over the next three years into a mobile app development program at Aalto University in Finland. The AppCampus program aims to foster the creation of innovative mobile applications for Windows Phone and other Nokia platforms, including Symbian and Series 40.
RIM has been working hard in recent days to attract developers. RIM updated the BlackBerry 10 developer program last week and also joined forces with Appcelerator to reward mobile developers.
The incentives, which include financial rewards, free services and testing hardware,
are open to Appcelerator's ecosystem of more than 390,000 developers, who have 50,000 applications deployed worldwide on more than 90 million devices.
Developers and enterprises will be able to build and port their applications to BlackBerry 10, and Appcelerator indicates that developers should have the ability to reuse 65 percent to 90 percent of their code as they port from other leading platforms to BlackBerry 10.
Wall Street on the Fence
An analyst at Canaccord Genuity downgraded RIM to "sell" due to fundamentals he said do not support the stock price's recent gains. Goldman Sachs took a contrary approach, upgrading RIM to "buy" from "neutral" because it expects to see the company's earnings beat Wall Street estimates over the coming quarters.
Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, told us consensus expectations have likely gotten too pessimistic because they don't leave room for surprises. Still, he said RIM's journey remains challenging as it moves to win developer interest and mainstream user adoption in the face of Google and Apple dominance. But some carriers are leery of that dominance and may look to BlackBerry 10 as an alternative.
"From our understanding, the rationale is simple. Carriers are growing increasingly leery with the growing dominance of iOS and Android and have been looking for a viable third or potentially fourth platform with the hope that either BB10 and/or Windows 8 takes off," Wu said.
"However, there are many fundamental questions. Does the world really need a third or fourth mobile OS touchscreen platform? And what makes it so different from iOS and Android? So far, developer support and customer adoption has been lukewarm so we will need to see if carrier hope wins out. To us, it's not just the number of apps, but the quality of apps and whether developers are making money and customers are using them."