We recently came across an interesting post from Sameer Singh over at Tech Thoughts, and wanted to talk a bit about what it means for small businesses and their apps. One of the main points he raised was that the mobile industry is very rapidly becoming more concentrated – much faster, in fact, than the PC industry did many years ago. The implications are worth understanding if your small business has an app (or you’re thinking about publishing one).
What is “industry concentration?”
Industry concentration may be an unfamiliar concept for some, but it’s not a complex metric. The basic idea is that you look at the largest companies in a given industry, and figure out how much of the market they own in the aggregate.
For example, if the four biggest companies in an industry own 90% of the market, the market is considered highly concentrated. If, on the other hand, they only account for 35% of the market, then there are a lot of significant players in the industry and it is not considered to be very concentrated.
How concentrated is the mobile industry?
According to the charts in Mr. Signh’s post, mobile platforms now account for over half of operating system usage, and mobile platform (e.g. Android, iOS) concentration is growing twice as fast as PC industry concentration grew in its first years. This means that smaller players are being squeezed out at an extraordinarily fast rate in favor of the leading platforms.
Let’s put in another way: iOS and Android account for over 90% of the smartphone market now.
There may be certain niches that are committed to the remaining platforms (e.g. Blackberry at 4%, Windows Phone at about 3%), but they are grossly eclipsed by the Big Two. This greatly simplifies things for small businesses that want to publish apps. Unless your target market has an unexpected preference for a niche operating system, you don’t need to worry about a number of platforms and devices. Instead, you only need to worry about three things:
1. An iOS version of your app
2. An Android version of your app
3. A mobile website
Deploy those three things, and you’ve essentially got all your bases covered. Don’t spend another moment worrying about what else is out there in terms of devices and platforms – the chances are, it isn’t at all cost effective to address them.
Okay, so now your problems have been narrowed down to three things. Where can you handle them all in the easiest possible way?
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