Global Markets for Smartphones and PDAs

Published - May 2009| Analyst - Shalini Ramamurthy| Code - IFT068A
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Report Highlights

  • The market for smartphones and PDAs was valued at $58.7 billion in 2008. This is expected to reach $153.3 billion in 2013, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.2%
  • Smartphones have the largest market share, worth $52.5 billion in 2008. This is expected to increase at a CAGR of 23.5% to reach $150.6 billion in 2013
  • PDAs have the second largest share of the market and generated $6.2 billion in 2008. This segment is expected to decrease to $2.7 billion in 2013, for a CAGR of -15.4%


One of the most visible symbols that underline the primacy of wireless telephony in our everyday lives is the presence of multi-functional handheld devices. Mobile phones have long outgrown their intended mandate of voice connectivity. The advanced models, known as smartphones, function as composite communication and computing devices. The wireless computing bug has bitten portable computing devices, commonly known as the personal digital assistant (PDA) as well. As a result, PDAs and smartphones, regardless of their origin, resemble each other and can be grouped together under the term “mobile computing.”

Mobile computing devices are the flavor of the season. The current global financial meltdown notwithstanding, smartphones in particular have emerged as the proverbial lifeline for all stakeholders related to wireless computing. Industry data released for the months of November and 2008-12-15 show that companies such as Apple and Synaptics, which deal with smartphones, have declared record earnings. For Apple, the iPhone has emerged as the “iPod killer,” something that was totally unanticipated. It is also important not to lose sight of the health of the underlying mobile telephony market. India, one of the fastest growing markets, recorded a net subscriber addition in excess of 10 million subscribers, one of the highest in its history, for the month of 2008-12-15.
This report unravels the growth engines of the markets for these devices, which have kept the demand going in the current unfavorable climate and the challenges that the stakeholders need to address for continuing the dream run.
This study has the following goals and objectives: 
  • Forecasting the size of the total market for mobile computing devices
  • Comparison and contrast of the two major devices: smartphones and PDAs
  • Categorize the global market for these two devices along waveforms, stakeholders, geographical regions, and operating systems.
  • Analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of each operating system and waveforms.
  • Explain the value proposition and challenges confronting original design manufacturers (ODMs)
  • Highlight the roles played by major stakeholders and players.
  • Overview the activities of influential companies.
  • Enlist crucial innovation breakthroughs through a detailed patent analysis.
Mobile computing is a much ill-understood term. On one hand, the overall domain is growing at impressive rates, while a component of the domain, the PDA finds its market base eroding rapidly. This report aims at clearing the ambiguity between these two terms, which are often used interchangeably. The following factors make this exercise necessary and complex: 
  • A high degree of similarity between the current architectures of PDAs and smartphones
  • Diverse genesis and evolution paths of PDAs and smartphones
  • Diverse future paths for PDAs and smartphones
  • Impact of the forecast on PDA and smartphone stakeholders
 A systematic analysis of the above factors helps in clearly identifying the relative importance of mobility and computing and how the two are clearly interrelated in the current and future scheme of personal information management.
The report presents the forecasts for the global smartphone and PDA markets for the years 2008 to 2013 on a volume and value basis. It is essentially a dissertation of two different design philosophies that have converged into a common design and their future with reference to the various technical and business issues that govern them.
The executive summary presents a snapshot of the volume and value size of mobile computing devices.
The section on technology overview and feature comparison defines smartphones and PDAs. It analyzes the relationship of PDAs and smartphones with their predecessors, PCs and mobile phones, before arriving at a composite model for mobile computing devices. It then compares and contrasts these devices based on drivers, challenges, markets targeted, applications, legacy, and physical form.
The section on the waveform angle examines the part played by the three major waveform families in the mobile computing landscape: Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), and Worldwide interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) It breaks down the PDA and smartphone market across waveforms and further along regions.
The section on the role of operating systems analyzes the strategies of stakeholders of major operating systems—Windows Mobile, Palm OS, BlackBerry, Apple, Linux (without Android), and others—in addition to explaining the genesis and features of these operating systems.
The section on stakeholder analysis and market overview identifies stakeholder groups, explains their value additions and business models and lists the challenges facing each of these groups in addition to discussing the buyer supply interplay, role of regulation and cyclicality in context of mobile computing domain. The section then mentions the activities of influential stakeholders.
The section on patents analyzes innovative activities that affect the core of the mobile computing industry. Patents are classified based on their role in the mobile computing realm. They are also broken down based on timing, assignee countries, and assignee organizations
This study provides a granular analysis of the market for mobile computing devices: 
  • Highlights the similarities and more importantly, enunciates the differences between PDAs and smartphones on various aspects
  • Analyzes the suitability and impact of waveforms on mobile computing devices
  • Discusses the suitability of operating systems and strategies of their stakeholders toward mobile computing devices
  • Elaborates the role of ODMs and their inter-relationship with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and contract manufacturers
  • Breaks down the market along PDAs and smartphones
  • Further breaks down the market along operating systems, waveforms, and stakeholders
  • Provides a regional breakdown of all these classifications
The report will add value to the following industry players: 
  • OEMs, ODMs, and contract manufacturers of mobile computing devices in identifying the size and regional distribution of the mobile computing device market
  • Waveform stakeholders in assessing the prospects of their technology vis-à-vis mobile computing devices
  • Operating system stakeholders in appraising their strategies against their competitors vis-à-vis mobile computing devices
  • Wireless operators in gaining from the pricing trends and regional forecasts of mobile computing devices
  • Component suppliers in deriving from the shipment volumes of handheld computing devices and their distribution across waveforms 
This report builds a solid base of existing information on shipments and value metrics of PDAs and smartphones based on published industry data from primary sources, companies, and consortia. This data is then subjected to forecasting methodology that takes into account the following factors: 
  • Robustness of technology succession plans and stakeholder initiatives with respect to waveforms
  • Track record of stakeholder drivers and their adaptability to the changing realities of revenue models and creation of solid ecosystems with respect to operating systems
  • Regional growth trends and country specific scenario in relation to the strengths of respective waveform families and operating system stakeholder presence with respect to geographical regions
  • Historical pricing trends and the impact of financial meltdown on these pricing trends
The following sources have been referred to: 
  • Published industry data
  • Shipment reports of non-listed companies
  • 10-K reports 
Shalini R. has extensive experience analyzing and evaluating advanced information technology, including networking, telecom, and optical networks. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunications and a Master of Science degree in Telecommunications and Software Engineering.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.

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