Of all the months, June has the longest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere. Perhaps that is why we saw a lot of activity in so many tech companies last month. The guys at Apple, Microsoft and Google were busy with announcements. And not just ordinary announcements, mind you. If anything, June 2012 was a defining moment for the mobile industry. Over the space of just a few days, it became abundantly clear that all three companies are not going to give an inch in their quest to dominate the mobile market, and by extension, just about the entire consumer tech industry.
Here’s what we learnt in the month of June 2012 as well as the possible ramifications on some major players. But before that, allow me to say ‘I told you so’ to those who had proclaimed that the mobile wars were on its last legs and the winner had already been determined.
Apple announced details of their upcoming iOS 6 operating system. The improvements are nice but incremental. Except for Siri, that is. Apple has, rightly I believe, decided that voice control is one of the technologies that will be big and they are working on it. If they get it right, they will have a big role to play, not only in mobile but also in the car and home areas. At the same time, they have lost some shine with all the sexy hardware announcements coming from Google and, would you believe it, Microsoft.
Microsoft was a big winner in June. Not many Microsoft announcements create the kind of buzz their Surface tablet generated. Holding it in LA was a stroke of genius. Windows 8 will arrive soon too and details of Windows Phone 8 were released too. All in all, Microsoft was standing in a nice position at the end of June. But they have to worry about possible (probable?) backlashes from their partners and also, keeping to their deadlines. Having said that, Microsoft confirmed that they are serious contenders now.
Google announced the Nexus 7 tablet which looks mighty interesting. It has a killer price and addresses a segment of the market in which Apple is not in (yet). It also showed that it is willing to work with partners (Asus, in this case). Google also announced Jelly Bean, the next Android software which more than matches the upcoming iOS 6. The Google Glass project is absolutely a project to die for. On the flip side, Google has to ensure that the low price tag on the Google Nexus 7 can be met without having to resort to subsidising Asus and other manufacturers. But at the moment, Google is in the driving seat, and sitting pretty.
Now we come to the not so happy companies as far as June 2012 is concerned. For Nokia, it was at best a neutral month. It continues to shed people and, truth be told, they should have been the one announcing the Surface tablet. On the other hand, their Lumia devices have begun to hold some traction, with Lumia 900 and 800 reportedly doing well in many markets. And they can look forward to Windows Phone and hopefully, a tablet of their own soon too. But this is a battle of ecosystems and Nokia has yet to create one or find a rock solid place in an existing one.
RIM is in dire straits. Unbelievably, the company delayed, once again, its next generation operating system – that too after its top people say that everything is on track. The game is not over yet for BlackBerry – RIM has plenty of cash and their OS 10 is nice – but time is fast running out. Samsung are in a strange position. Their phones outsell the iPhone but they have no ecosystem, their OS partners (Google and Microsoft) may be about to do a dirty on them, and smaller rivals like Asus and a horde of other Taiwanese manufacturers are charging up their driveway.
Everything is still up to be fought for. June has been an exceptionally exciting month and may yet turn out to be the moment when industry watchers look back and say, this was when XYZ made their hugely successful bet or when ABC took a mortal blow. Fill in the names yourself and repeat after me, the mobile wars are far from over.