Apple and Google battle for Aussie mobile users
Apple and Google, two technology titans, are set to battle it out for control of the Australian mobile phone market.
Five years ago, such a statement would have seemed bizarre. What do a niche computer business and a search engine have to do with mobile phones? How quickly things change. Apple's iPhone was one of the iconic consumer electronics products of the last decade. It has helped Apple come from nowhere to take a healthy chunk of mobile handset markets around the world.
Australia has been particularly keen on Apple's wares. Figures published at the end of last year by IDC, an analyst firm, showed the iPhone accounted for 36.5 per cent of Australia's smartphone market. That put it ahead of Nokia, which had enjoyed a dominant position since 2002.
Nokia will hope to reverse its recent decline, but Apple's biggest threat is arguably Google. No longer just a provider of online search, the Mountain View company now offers everything from email and spreadsheets to video sharing and social media.
Mobile phone operating systems are one of Google's newest ventures, but the rise of handsets powered by its Android technology has been so impressive that it is already a major mobile force. In the US, for example, Android phones hold the largest share of the smartphone market, just ahead of the iPhone.
Android is also looming large in Apple's rear view mirror in Australia. IDC gave Android phones a 21 per cent share of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2010, up from just over 7 per cent in the previous quarter. With new Android-powered handsets hitting the market, including the much-anticipated HTC Desire, Google looks well-placed to grow its market share further.
Apple though is still the market-leader. The iPhone 4 remains a compelling offering, with many Aussies willing to wait weeks to get their hands on one. Apple also has the app store (you can't play angry birds anywhere else), iTunes and the slickest marketing campaigns.
Competition is always a good thing and Aussie consumers should be the ones that ultimately benefit as Apple, Google, Nokia and the like slug it out. The iPhone raised the bar for handset manufacturers. Google's involvement can only serve to further accelerate the pace of change.