We know, we know: This a web hosting blog at heart. So why are we talking about smartphones? Because, they’re becoming a more-and-more ever-present form of communication and software development, that’s why! If you dont’ believe us, just take a jaunt down to your local supermarket and look at what the people there are carrying around. Nine times out of ten, we’d be willing to bet they’ve got a couple bags of groceries in one hand, and a smartphone in the other. If you’re still not sure why this is worth talking about, consider this: All of those people at the supermarket are using their mobile devices to surf the Web. That includes your website, potentially. And with so many people browsing your site while at the supermarket from their smartphone, don’t you think it’s worth knowing what smartphones are popular? Knowledge is power, the old adage goes, and in this case that’s entirely the case. Knowing what platforms are being used to access your content, as well as what devices are running those platforms, gives you a leg-up on your competitors, allowing you to develop and refine your Web content to a polished shine.
So with all of that in mind, what are the hot ticket smartphones now, and in the coming year? Before we dive into the specifics (Which we promise we will, Cowboy, so hold your horses!) it’s first worth talking a bit about market share.
Market Presence and What it Tells Us
Using the latest information from this year (available here) it’s extremely clear that Google’s Android mobile operating system has bitten a huge chunk out of the global presence. Controlling a whopping 43% of the total market share, you can safely bet that nearly half the time your website is accessed, it’s being accessed from a Google-powered phone. A few reasons for Android’s dominance include its proliferation amongst lower-end, or budget-minded smartphones, it’s steadily increasing presence in the business world, and its near constant development and update cycle. The platform is also open source—you can download it in its entirety from Google’s website—making it one of the more accessible operating systems for developing phone manufacturers.
Looking at the market shares, it’s somewhat surprising that Symbian manages to hold onto its 22% share of the industry. The unsung operating system relies on cheaper phones to drive its business, and usually garners less attention than the number three smartphone competitor, Apple. On that note, with 18% of the market share, Apple’s iPhone is certainly a force to be reckoned with. If you’re looking to optimize your site for mobile use, testing it on an Apple device is a nearly fail-safe plan, as the company is renowned for its highest quality productions, as well as its rock-solid performance. And, of course, there’s always a level of prestige associated with the name iPhone, as the device was one of the first true smartphones to hit the scene.
Interestingly, RIM holds only a 12% share of the market, whereas it was once the chief operating system for business use. As the company continues to miss the mark with its phone lines and improvements, we feel this share will only decrease, lessening the importance of Blackberry optimization in favor of Android and iOS.
To summarize quickly: The coming year will likely bring an increased focus on Symbian, Android, and iOS, rapidly leaving RIM and Microsoft behind. When optimizing your site for mobile use, be sure to consider the first three companies in your design process.
Top Phones for the Coming Year
So now that we’ve dug into the meat and research of the field, what physical devices are likely to take center stage in the first quarter? We’ve compiled a few of our choice picks below, but keep in mind that new devices are emerging constantly, and it will always be an uphill battle to fully optimize your site for popular use.
Clocking in at around $149.99 with Verizon Wireless, the HTC Rezound is likely to be one of the more prolific Android-enabled phones on the market in the next few months. The device is perfect for viewing photos and videos, offering a capacitive touch screen with unprecedented detail and performance. The phone also comes optimized for 4G speeds, and with a middle-of-the-road price tag attached, we feel its a true contender for market attention.
As Apple’s latest release (autumn of 2011) you can rest assured that the iPhone 4S will be the company’s flagship model for at least a year. The phone doesn’t bring much in terms of physical improvements over its predecessor, but as the latest in the prestigious line of iPhone smartphones, you can bet your boots it will be out in force among the market. To cut it short, if your website isn’t optimized for iOS use, you’re really shooting your own foot in terms of end-user satisfaction.
Samsung Galaxy S II:
We’ve seen many advertisements for this phone lately, and if we have to pick another Android to take the lead, we can’t help but nominate the Galaxy S II. Samsung has a particularly healthy track record, as well as a reputation for producing some of the highest quality screens and hardware sets in the industry. Not to mention the customized version of Android hidden beneath the bonnet. In conclusion, the phone really is an experience device, offering a level of shine and polish that typically isn’t present in a Google-powered phone. In fact, we’d even put the Galaxy S II on-par with the iPhone, in terms of production quality. All in all, it’s certainly a device to keep an eye on, and if you’re looking for a gold standard Android to test your site with, you could certainly do a lot worse than the Galaxy S II by Samsung.