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Top 10 Mobile Stories Of 2010

Dec 30, 2010 (11:12 PM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=228900197


Lines of people waited hours for the honor of ownership when Apple released its iPhone 4, a marketing frenzy relatively undamaged by later reports of problems with the antenna that caused phone calls to drop, forcing Apple to implement a return policy for dissatisfied customers. In fact, within three days of its June launch, Apple sold more than 1.7 million iPhone 4 units direct and through partner AT&T, the company said. The model features FaceTime, a simple video-calling capability, and the high-resolution Retina display.

Whereas mobility once meant hefty luggables, today's mobility mavens now have their choice of netbooks and a new era of tablet computer. Propelled by Apple's introduction of the iPad -- and Research In Motion's anticipated early 2011 roll-out of its PlayBook-tablets are taking the consumer and business world by storm. Many IT departments now are incorporating these devices into future plans, sometimes replacing notebook purchase plans with tablets, according to some research estimates.

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Turns out, there truly is an app for that. And if there isn't, there will be soon. At least, that's what a quick check of developers' app stores would lead most people -- including analysts -- to believe. After all, by 2015, there will be almost 25 billion mobile apps, said Juniper Research. That's up from less than 2.6 billion in 2009, the research firm said. Recognizing the importance of apps LG, for example, in November began giving users up to $30-worth of free apps through Microsoft's Marketplace for Mobile with the purchase of a new Windows 7 phone. Apple's App Store has more than 300,000 available apps, and almost 100,000 apps are available for Google's Android through its Android Market and third parties, according to a July report by Business Insider.

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Microsoft greased its marketing machine, hiring entertainers such as Katy Perry and Maroon 5 to promote its long-awaited Windows Phone 7 in November. Like competitor Apple, Microsoft chose AT&T -- as well as T-Mobile -- as its primary sales partner in the U.S. Initial demand appeared high, with devices selling out within the first day. Its newest telephone offering will propel Microsoft's share of the worldwide mobile OS market to 5.2% in 2011 from 4.7% in 2010, Gartner predicts. However, by 2014, the researcher expects Microsoft's share to fall to 3.9% as competitors Apple and Google gain share with their respective OSes.

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In early August, Research in Motion (RIM) made a splash with the debut of version 6 of its BlackBerry operating system. The new edition features a redesigned interface optimized for touch screens and track pads, expanded messaging capabilities, and is better-integrated with social media and RSS feeds, the company said. However, RIM fell behind Google's Android OS in the second quarter, according to NPD Group. Android is found in handsets from multiple vendors, such as HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, while RIM's OS used solely in the BlackBerry smartphone.

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For, perhaps, the first time in its more recent charmed history, Apple became the butt of late-night talk-show hosts' jokes with the discovery of "Antennagate," a malfunctioning antenna on the iPhone that generated consumer complaints, cries of "recall," and worries of the high price the error could cost the company. In fact, Piper Jaffray estimated about 20% of respondents opted not to buy the device because of the reception problem. Yet consumers continued to buy the hot-selling item, and Apple in September announced it would stop offering its work-around free iPhone 4 case and its full refund program.

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When it premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010, Google expected a lot of its HTC-built Nexus One smartphone. Yet so many details of the phone were leaked, that even the company's public relations team described the event as anti-climactic -- perhaps a pre-cursor to the phone's biography. Consumers soon complained their connections were dropped from 3G to carrier T-Mobile's slower 2G Edge network -- and pointed their fingers at Google, HTC, and T-Mobile. Google's new Nexus One is generating a steady flow of complaints from users who are griping that their connections are dropping from 3G to T-Mobile's slower 2G Edge network

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Even before it hit store shelves in March, Apple's iPad dominated headlines and mindshare of consumers and IT professionals. And since its much ballyhooed arrival, the iPad apparently has lived up to its hype, selling more than 300,000 devices in its first day of availability. Apple in October expanded its distribution agreement to include Verizon and Walmart. Expanding retail outlets, the steadily increasing number of apps, corporate adoption of these devices, and a growing number of competitors is expected to impact PC sales, with tablets replacing about one-third of PCs in 2011, a December study by Goldman Sachs predicted. Apple's tablet also spawned a spin-off industry of accessories, such as cases, desks, and covers.

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Android sales continue to snowball. In early December, Android chief Andy Rubin tweeted that Google is now activating about 300,000 Android handsets per day, compared with 60,000 a day at the beginning of the year. Two reasons for Android's ongoing success: Cameras that range between 5 and 8 megapixels and recorders capable of capturing video at 720p HD resolution. In addition, Google has attracted a growing stable of developers to its App Market. In March, there were more than 30,000 apps for Android; in December 2009, there were 16,000, Google said. Of these, about 39% of applications are paid for and 61% of applications are free, according to AndroLib estimates.

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RIM targeted individuals and corporate users with its September unveiling of the PlayBook, a tablet PC and corresponding Tablet OS. With a 7-inch display and 1 GHz dual-core processor, the PlayBook is slated to ship in the United States in early 2011. The device will include dual HD cameras, an HDMI-out port, stereo sound, a media player, and integration with BlackBerry devices, according to the company. In December, RIM opened BlackBerry App World and updated the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK for Adobe AIR.

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Android and iPhone smartphones became the two dominant players in the market, leaving little room for vendors such as one-time leader BlackBerry, as well as Symbian and Microsoft. In fact, whereas in October 2009 BlackBerry made-up 90% of Verizon's smartphone sales, a year later 80% of the wireless leader's phone sales were powered by Android, according to ITG Investment Research. Apple also has eroded other vendors' market share, both in the United States and around the globe. The iPhone 4, which Apple quickly made available in 17 countries, was so popular that it even displaced Nokia from its spot as Australia's long-standing top smartphone seller, according to IDC. BlackBerry and Microsoft are fighting back: The number of apps for Microsoft's new Windows 7 phone grew from 0 to 4,000 in less than two months. And its third fiscal quarter, Research In Motion sold 14.2 million BlackBerry devices worldwide; Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones in the same period. Nokia -- which brought on a new CEO -- said its Ovi Store had surpassed 2 million downloads a day.

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