In recent years, Symbian has dropped from being the monopolist in smartphone operating systems to a competitor of other mobile platforms. Its market share was a record 78.2% in the 3rd quarter of 2006 but by the 3rd quarter of 2010, its market share had halved to 36.0%. There are multiple reasons why this event took place.
Increase in competition
The principle reason for the decline in the sale of Symbian handsets was because competing mobile operating systems had developed at a very fast rate. Apple brought along the iOS, Google brought Android and Blackberry also brought its own custom OS to the market. These operating systems were designed to be smoother in operation and looked much better than Symbian graphically.
Along with that Symbian did not come up with something substantial to compete with the other platforms. The first version of Symbian with touch support, Symbian S60v5, was criticized as having major usability problems such as an inconsistency throughout the user interface regarding the number of times a person had to tap the display to register an action. For example the menu icons responded to a single touch while sub-menus needed two taps to register an action. These problems were absent from the competition.
Drop of manufacturers’ support
Although Symbian initially had the support of many mobile phone companies including Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Siemens, all of them except Nokia stopped supporting the platform. Sony Ericsson’s last Symbian device was the Vivaz Pro and Samsung’s last was the Omnia HD. All the manufacturers except Nokia have announced plans that they are not going to release any new phones running Symbian.
With only Nokia left in the game with Symbian, there is not much chance that Symbian will gain any more momentum. With Nokia itself dropping plans for a new version of Symbian after Synbian^3, the future of Symbian looks meek. Nokia has moved its interest to MeeGo, another platform that it is developing from the ground up to replace Symbian.
Vizio brought along its first smartphones at CES 2011 in the form of the Vizio Phone. The device runs Android and has a 4-inch screen. The differentiating features of the device are its universal remote capabilities as well as the custom skinned user interface. This handset is heading for a summer 2011 release. There are several reasons why Vizio, a relatively well known television company in the US went for the production of a smartphone. Here we ponder on some of them.
Diversifying the range
Vizio currently specializes in television production. It also has a small setup in the television accessories and disc-player domains. However, these other projects are not currently doing so well in their respective markets and thus Vizio wanted to diversify its range in order to gain a larger share of the consumer market. This diversification of its range also helps the company to create a better known brand image of it.
Diversifying the range also helps to minimize losses if a slump occurs in one market. For example if TV sales are down for any reason, Vizio may face a crisis and it would have to face big losses in its entire business model. However, with additional products there would still be some additional revenue generated so that the company can keep operating in different economic conditions.
Taking advantage of a growing industry
Smartphone sales are currently at a peak. Newer devices and platforms have created quite a lot of demand for them and several new companies are coming into the market to take advantage of this increasing demand. Along with that existing smartphone companies are also expanding constantly due to the increasing consumer interest.
Thus Vizio does not have much to lose if it goes into the smartphone industry as currently there would be sufficient demand for its products which would ensure that even if its products do not meet expectations, they would not flop completely or result in large losses for the company. As Vizio does not need to create its own internal hardware components for the smartphones, such as processors and memory cards, there is not much need for a large amount of investment.
Thus Vizio has invested in the smartphone market in order to diversify its range as well as gain a better footing in the consumer market. Only time will tell if this experiment has paid off for them.