Date of Original Version



Working Paper

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Abstract or Description

Our research allowed us to make several predictions regarding the direction of the mobile computing industry. We believe the following developments are likely to occur in this industry within the next several years:

• The competitive advantage of the current players in the mobile computing industry is directly linked to the degree of control of the three complementary assets—handset design, applications, and established customer relationships.

• Apple’s central control point is the Application Store.

• Similar to the PC market, we could see the emergence of an intermediate (java-like) layer that will permit applications to be run on varying platforms.

• The differentiating capabilities of hardware will become marginal due to the decreasing rate of innovation and the more rapid rate of copying.

• We will see a battle for one standardized operating system that will dominate the application market.

• Application distribution is a fast cycle business, and most applications will become commonplace and available on most smartphones.

• Applications in the ‘Combination’, ‘Networking’, and ‘Product Supporters’ categories are better positioned to garner rents.

• New and platform-independent application distribution models are likely to emerge.

• The platform creator, in a closed source environment, possesses the clear control point. In the case of the iPhone Application Ecosystem, Apple owns the only application being reused consistently—the App Store itself.

• Strong forces could drive convergence to a standardized operating system and a single handheld for private and business use.


Working Paper No. 2009-E18