Column: If Android is so hot, why Are Samsung, HTC, and Motorola Struggling?
Back in 2010, I coined, somewhat prematurely, the phrase "The Great Smartphone Bear Market."
The idea was that the smartphone market was growing at an extraordinary rate, but nobody was really making any money, aside from Apple. Subsequently, from a device perspective, the industry has been a mixed bag overall, with some companies like Qualcomm and ARM Holdings, generating huge returns on the component side.
But the smartphone bear is rearing its ugly head in 2013, as it seems like it's just getting harder and harder to make money producing smartphones, despite enormous growth within the category.
So let's take a step back and look at the big picture, which in this case would be operating systems.
Since 2009, the major story in the industry has been how rapidly devices powered by Google's Android operating system have taken market share from the ecosystems of Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Nokia.
Android only got off the ground in Q4 of 2009 when Motorola, now owned by Google, released the first Droid smartphone.
Less than four years later, Android had a whopping 79.3% share of the global smartphone market in Q2 of 2013, according to IDC.
To put that in perspective, when the Droid launched, the top three industry names -- Nokia, BlackBerry (then under the Research In Motion name), and Apple -- had a combined market share of just 73.8%!
So Android is big, really big, and it's even finding its way into new markets like digital cameras.