Wearables news roundup: Workers on wearables, Pebble Steel, Google’s diabetes contact lens, driving while glassing, pirates pass, and Borg mullets

How employees feel about wearables


The “wearables” section of Cornerstone on Demand’s State of Workplace Productivity infographic.
Click it to see the source.

Wearables are still a way off from mainstream use at the workplace, but once upon a time, so were desktop and laptop computers, and so were smartphones and tablets. The section on wearables in Cornerstone OnDemand’s State of Workplace Productivity 2013 Report caught our eye, and we thought we’d share it with you here.

The report has a lot of figures on mobile devices at work and BYOD, so we’ll very likely cite it in upcoming articles.

Pebble Steel


Pebble Steel’s brushed stainless steel (left) and black matte (right) models.
Click the photo to visit Pebble’s site.

Pebble — the small smartwatch company launched out of a living room in Palo Alto — have released their new Pebble Steel watch, and unlike others on the market, it looks as if it were actually made for grown-ups. Engadget has posted a review, which they close with:

Simply put, the Steel isn’t going to persuade many people to swap out their perfectly functional Hamilton, Movado or Citizen, but if you’re in the market for a replacement and want a smartwatch, this is your best option. What’s most important, though, is what the Steel represents: a realization that if smartwatches are going to become mainstream, they’ll need to appeal to people who prefer to adorn their wrists with jewelry. At the very least, the Steel is a significant step in the right direction.

Google’s contact lens for diabetes patients, and Microsoft Research’s version from 2011


Google’s blood sugar-sensing contact lens.
Click the photo to read the article on Re/Code.

The 400 million people worldwide with diabetes have a metabolic condition where they have high blood sugar either because they’re not producing enough insulin or because their cells don’t respond adequately to it. They manage their diabetes by checking their blood sugar levels several times a day, a process that usually involves some form of being poked with a needle.

Google’s latest announced research project is a contact lens that measures the glucose content of its wearer’s tears, which is a function of that person’s blood sugar level. The lens functions as a circuit board that houses the components and a circular gold foil antenna that lies outside the pupil’s visual range. Google says that their research wing, Google X, is working on the project not so they can eventually build and sell diabetes-monitoring contact lenses, but to publicize the work in order to find medical company partners to develop them.

As TechCrunch notes, Google’s not the first tech company to build such a prototype. Microsoft Research released this video that makes mention of a similar project back in 2011:

It turns out that a member of Microsoft Research who was working on their smart contact lens project, Babak Parviz (a former engineering professor at University of Washington), is now at Google, where he works on Google Glass and the smart contact lens project. Once upon a time, the brain drain worked in the other direction, with Microsoft absorbing bright lights from other companies, including Anders Heljberg from Borland, who ended up revitalizing their programming tools and creating the C# programming language (which in my opinion, is an improvement on Java).

California tech entrepreneur beats “driving while glassing” ticket

cecilia-abadieCecilia Abadie made history last year as the first driver to be given a traffic ticket for driving while using Google Glass, based on the California traffic law that states that you can’t drive while watching a monitor. She was initially pulled over for speeding on Interstate 15, but when the officer saw that she was wearing Google Glass, she was issued a second ticket for “driving while glassing”.

Both the speeding and “driving while using a visual monitor” charge were dropped by San Diego Court Commissioner John Blair for lack of evidence. The police office who ticketed Abadie matched her speed with his car, and an expert did not show up at court to testify to the calibration of his speedometer. Abadie also testified that her Google Glass was off when she was driving, and there was also no proof that the Glass was turned off at the time.

My guess is that a whole host of legal and social problems could be solved by building some kind of indicator into Google Glass and similar wearables that indicates to other people that it’s on, perhaps something like the light that comes on when the webcam on your laptop or desktop is active.

Chinese pirates see no upside in making knock-offs of wearables


Click the photo to see the cringeworthy ad it came from.

While working on a story where they went to China to learn how the tech “knock-off” industry works, CNN reports that tech counterfeiters, who only copy devices that will help them make a profit, are quite obviously not making copies of wearable mobile devices.

They note that at Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei (pronounced “Wa-chang-bay”) commercial district, the place to go for original and copycat electronics and components, demand for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch is “ice-cold”:

“You won’t find any copies of the smart watch here. I’ve never seen or heard of any,” said a young man who was busy shipping off boxes, that he said were filled with counterfeit mobile phones, at a local logistics center.

“Thinking about it, I’ve never even seen anyone wear one,” he added.

If you’re curious about Huaqiangbei, here’s an interesting video published in February 2013, where Bob Jordan from AsianOps takes a tour of the electronics mall:

Diesel Sweeties’ amusing take on wearables

R. Stevens’ geek-and-hipster-centric webcomic Diesel Sweeties has an interesting term for Google Glass:


Click to see the full comic.

“Borg mullet.” Heh.

this article also appears in the GSG blog


Mobile tech news roundup: Bankers embrace BYOD, BlackBerry one year later, skipping hotel check-in and keys with your smartphone

“BYOD is here to stay”

bank building

By necessity, banks tend to play it conservative when it comes to technology and paranoid when it comes to security, so it’s noteworthy when the American Bankers Association’s online journal runs an article titled BYOD is here to stay“The genie is out of the bottle,” they write, “the toothpaste is out of the tube, and the practice of bringing your own device to work will not go away.”

The article points out that everyone, whether desirable or not, benefits from BYOD:

  • Companies: by avoiding costs to keep their employees fitted with the latest gadgets, while gaining increased productivity in return,
  • Employees: by avoiding frustration with having to use less useful company-provided gadgets and instead are able to use the better, faster, and cooler new gadgets, and
  • Crooks: especially if, as employees and employers rely on outdated security measures or, worse, forego any security measures at all, they enable data theft, tampering, or destruction.

In spite of the benefit to that last group, the article states: “Still, like it or not, BYOD is no longer—if it ever was—just a fad. It is, or should be, a discrete corporate strategy.”

The article cites a number of analyst reports, including Ovum’s summer 2013 BYOX (“Bring Your Own Anything”) employee study that showed that 68% of employees with smartphones bring them to work, more than 15% do so without IT’s knowledge, and 21% do so even though IT forbids it, and Juniper Research’s estimates of over 1 billion employee-own smartphones and tablets in use in the enterprise by 2018.

BlackBerry, One Year Later

thorsten heins

It’s hard to believe that almost year has passed since the launch of the BlackBerry Z10, the Canadian smartphone pioneer’s attempt to play catch-up with iPhone and Android. The Z10 — properly pronounced “zed ten” in Canadian English — debuted in the UK on January 31, 2013, followed by Canada, United Arab Emirates, and India in February, and finally in the U.S. in March. The phone and revamped OS sported some interesting and useful ideas for business users, most notably BlackBerry Balance, a sort of built-in BYOD system that allowed you to keep work and personal data separate. The New York Times’ David Pogue sang its praises in his review, newly hired Global Creative Director Alicia Keys literally sang BlackBerry’s praises, and then-CEO Thorsten Heins proudly declared the Z10 was the first step on BlackBerry’s comeback trail.

We all know what happened next, and the Toronto Star provides a summary including a quick guide to where the key BlackBerry players from 2013 are now in their article, BlackBerry, one year later.

Skip hotel check-in and keys with your smartphone

mobile check-in

Add hotels to the list of businesses that mobile technology is revolutionizing. Starwood Hotels are conducting experiments with their Aloft boutique hotels in Manhattan and San Francisco that will soon allow guests will be able to use their smartphones to check in and as their room keys, bypassing the usual need to go to the front desk upon arrival. The Starwood app will allow iPhone 4S and later models or Android phones running version 4.3 or newer to act as keys for their rooms, which will have Bluetooth-equipped locks.

this article also appears in the GSG blog


I don’t think this is an official Apple product

iphone six

Here’s the Engrish text that appears on the bottle:

iPhone six

[ 2013/03 Establish ]

Deducting striking smoothness and showing healthy quality
Bran-new Series is designed to meet your special hair demands
Rendering professionalism and deducting beauty

My guess is that the text is the output of a Google Translate session.


Worth Reading: BYOD for You — A guide to BYOD from the end user’s point of view

byod-for-youAlmost every guidebook on BYOD looks at the subject from the point of view of management or the IT department. BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work breaks apart from the pack by looking at BYOD from the point of view of the person bringing his or her own device to work. Written by Daniel Lohrmann, Michigan’s Chief Security Officer and Deputy Director for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, BYOD for You is a breezy, 54-page Kindle ebook that provides the perfect introduction to BYOD for end users at organizations that allow the work-related use of personal mobile devices.

You’ll be able to read BYOD for You’s eight chapters, most of which are only a half-dozen pages long, within a couple of lunch breaks. It looks at all sorts of issues that come up in a workplace’s BYOD program, and not just the technological ones, but the social, legal, and ethical as well. Its chapters cover these topics:

  1. Categorizing your BYOD environment: Gold, Silver or Bronze?
  2. Your workplace’s BYOD program, or the lack thereof
  3. Security: How to safely use your mobile device at work and home
  4. MDM
  5. Privacy and other legal considerations
  6. Maximizing the financial benefits of BYOD
  7. Ethical dilemmas and proving you deserve your mobile device
  8. Building a personalized BYOD plan that outlives your device


Throughout BYOD for You, Lohrmann constantly refers to his “Gold, Silver, and Bronze” levels of BYOD use at businesses:

  • Bronze: An organization operating at the Bronze BYOD level has employees who bring their own devices to work, but doesn’t have an official BYOD policy. Mobile policy is ad hoc rather than clearly defined. It’s unclear about what happens when company information security policies and personal devices collide, if employees’ personal data will remain private, or if their work-related activities on personal devices will get them in trouble. Employees also bear all costs of using the device, even for work-related purposes. MDM is practically or completely non-existent.
  • Silver: In organizations operating at the Silver BYOD level, there is a basic BYOD policy that spells out how its data can be accessed, as well as issues of security and privacy, and there is tacit permission for employees to access their work email from their devices. Employees can choose between all-expenses-paid COPE devices or BYOD devices without any reimbursement for operating costs. MDM is limited; it’s often something basic, such as the management provided by Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync.
  • Gold: At the Gold level of BYOD, there’s a full BYOD policy that specifies the rights, responsibilities of employees who bring personal mobile devices to work, and the procedures and practices they should follow. In a Gold organization, employees are fully reimbursed for all device costs. The company makes use of state-of-the art MDM that is mandatory on all mobile devices used for work purposes.

While BYOD for You was written for end users at a workplace, it’s just as useful a guide for managers or technical decision-makers who are new to the idea of BYOD and want to get a grasp of the major issues that can arise when employees bring their own devices to work. Packed with a lot of good ideas and best practices, It’s an easy read, and at $2.99 from Amazon (you can even borrow it for free if you’re on Amazon Prime), it’s also one of the better one of the better deals you’re going to find.

An Amazon review that gave BYOD for You a four-star rating suggested that “A companion book on what the COMPANY should be doing to manage their employee-owned devices would make a great follow-on to this practical, employee-centric work.” Perhaps we’ll write that book.


this article also appears in the GSG blog


The original “Stevenote” (or: Steve Jobs’ first public Macintosh demo, January 1984)

it is now 1984

You’ve probably seen Steve Jobs’ January 1984 Cupertino demo of the original Macintosh, which was done in front of Apple’s investors and includes the standard cash-flow analysis and other suit-related bric-a-brac. There was another demo in front of a very different audience on the opposite coast, and it hasn’t been generally available for viewing until now. TIME has posted the video of Steve Jobs’ January 1984 demo at the Boston Computer Society, which was made in front not in front of Apple investors, but in front of computer enthusiasts and the general public:

TIME’s Harry McCracken writes:

People who attended the shareholder meeting saw the more historic presentation — hey, it came first — but what they got was also, in effect, a rehearsal for the later Boston one, which came out more polished. The BCS version was also longer and meatier. After the unveiling, Jobs participated in demos and a Q&A session with members of the Macintosh team: Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Owen Densmore, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Rony Sebok, Burrell Smith and Randy Wigginton. (Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, not a Mac team member, crashed the panel and talked about the Apple II line of computers.) Even more than the shareholder meeting, the BCS one was a prototype for the media extravaganzas that we citizens of the 21st century call Stevenotes.

presentation secrets of steve jobsUnlike the Cupertino meeting, which you had to be an Apple shareholder to attend and was aimed primarily at the suits, the Boston gathering was open to the general public and aimed at computer enthusiasts and people who’d be likely to buy a Mac. Even then, you can see Steve’s presentation technique emerging — a technique that he’d refine over the years and use to great effect after his return to Apple in 1997:

  • He created a story. Rather than simply dive into the technical specs of the Macintosh, he started his presentation with a story. He introduced an antagonist, IBM, the other dominant computer company of the time, who had a long history and great success, but a vision so blinkered that they blew several opportunities to lead and were perenially playing catch-up. Then he introduced the hero, Apple, the industry’s last, best hope for stopping IBM from completely dominating the computer industry and hobbling it with its lack of foresight. Finally, he shows how the hero will do so: Macintosh.
  • He delivered the experience. “People don’t buy drills,” the marketing wisdom goes, “they buy holes.” Steve followed this rule and showed what was possible with the Mac, making sure that software like MacPaint and MacWrite got significant demo time. Remember, it was a command-line world back then, and GUIs were largely unknown to the public, so it was important to give deliver this new experience.
  • He rehearsed and rehearsed. If you look at the Cupertino demo and the Boston demo, you’ll see that a lot of Steve’s presentation is the same, and shows that spent a considerable amount of time rehearsing. If you’ve ever suffered through a presentation where the presenter didn’t put in the necessary practice, you’ll appreciate the polish that comes through in a well-rehearsed presentation.

I recommend watching Stevenotes for pointers, as well as reading Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.


Predictions for the Mobile World in 2014, Part Two


In part one of this series, we looked at predictions for the mobile world for 2014 by CNet (competition is coming), Network World (change is coming, and it’s terrible!), Ericsson Consumer Labs (change is coming, and it’s awesome!), and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (big data will be the big disruption). Here’s a roundup of more predictions made by tech news outlets for what smartphones, tablets and other mobile technologies will bring this year.

As we said in the previous installment, the true value isn’t in the predictions, but in the way they let us see what people who are either in the mobile industry or who follow it closely are thinking.

ReadWrite: “In 2014, the mobile web will die — and other mobile predictions”

We’re a bit creeped out by a set of predictions that uses the phrase “will die” not once, but twice. ReadWrite’s predictions are all based around mobile devices: what to expect from mobile vendors, and how we’ll perceive and use their wares.

  • the-concept-of-mobileThe “mobile web” — that is, those less-capable, watered-down versions of websites that our mobile devices get redirected to —will die, thanks to mobile browser improvements. Also, the trend towards responsive design, in which a site’s content automatically adjusts itself to work with the size of the screen on the device it’s being viewed with, will continue to grow.
  • After so many predictions of an Apple TV set, ReadWrite have decided to stop giving that rumor life.
  • However, they believe that the rumored Apple iWatch will be released in the spring and function as a peripheral device for your iPhone or iPad. They believe that coupled with the iPhone 5S and its M7 motion coprocessor, it’ll be a big hit for fitness and “quantified self” buffs.
  • They also believe that Samsung’s lead in smartphones will decline, based on the sales of the Galaxy S4 being only as good as those for its predecessor, the Galaxy S III, the many half-baked features that the S4 has, and their poor, gimmicky software. This may create an opportunity on which other Android vendors may be able to capitalize.
  • With better mobile browsers will come more HTML5-compliant sites, which means that more websites will provide the functionality and interactivity that the latest version of HTML makes possible.
  • Google Glass was made available only to a select few early adopters last year; this year, ReadWrite expects that them masses will be able to get their paws on it for a retail price of US$299.
  • Android will go 64-bit this year, which isn’t much of a surprise as iOS went 64-bit last year. The move to 64-bit means being able to use more than 4GB of RAM, and being able to perform even more computationally-intensive tasks.
  • Just as the concept of “multimedia” — the ability to present users with text, pictures, audio, and video — went from a capability that only a few computers had to something we expect from even the cheapest of netbooks, as well as mobile devices, the concept of “mobile” will eventually vanish. After a while, we’ll end up just thinking of smartphones, tablets, and wearables as just another way to make use of processing and networking power, but in forms that aren’t as tied to the desk as desktop and laptop computers are. ReadWrite says it’ll happen in 2014; we think it’ll take longer.

Read ReadWrite’s predictions

Netbiscuits’ 2014 trend predictions for the mobile web


Creative Commons photo by Esther Vargas. Click to see the source.

Netbiscuits bill themselves as a builder of “software solutions for adaptive mobile web experiences used by brands worldwide”, which clients like PayPal, BMW, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Viacom, AT&T, and so on. They host over 300,000 mobile web applications that major brands use to interact with their customers, and naturally, their predictions are about the use of mobile technology to grow a customer base. Their predictions come in the form of an infographic.

  • Noting the trends in emerging markets, Netbiscuits predict a shift in expectations as more people worldwide will be in a position to acquire their first smartphone. For these people, mobile devices may be their primary (and perhaps even their first) way to access the internet.
  • Web applications will have to be more context-sensitive, adjusting themselves to the screen size and device with which they’re being accessed.
  • They predict that customers’ lives will be run on mobile, with people fearing not being connected due to low battery power, being out of signal range, or losing their device. In order to stay connected, mobile devices will be augmented with the use of wearables.
  • Poor experiences will be punished by customers: this is business 101, but with so many apps and services vying for consumer attention, it’s a buyer’s market, and only those apps and services that provide a consistently good experience will thrive.
  • They predict that analytics will be indispensable as customers expect mobile apps and services to customize themselves to meet user needs.

Read Netbiscuits’ predictions

TechSpot’s 10 mobile tech predictions for 2014

Netbiscuits were concerned with mobile software in their 2014 predictions, while TechSpot is all about mobile hardware. Their predictions cover mobile devices and their underlying technology.

  • 64-bit (1)While it’s not clear what advantages a curved display gives to a smartphone (perhaps it’s a better fit to one’s face), it’s a way for a vendor to differentiate their devices. We call these sorts of things “feature spam”, although some consumers may go for it. Expect more phones with large curved OLED displays in the same vein as the Samsung Galaxy Round and the LG Flex.
  • Like ReadWrite, TechSpot predict a move towards 64-bit mobile devices. They do note that while iOS is 64-bit ready, much of the libraries that make up Android aren’t, and they expect the Android transition to 64-bit to be slow. Given the relative pokiness with which Android user upgrade operating systems, we expect to see even more Android fragmentation, but now with a 32/64 bit divide along with the fragmentation coming from all those Android versions and skins in use.
  • One area in which Nokia’s Lumia series of Windows Phone devices stand out is with their excellent cameras, especially the Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel sensor. Expect to see other mobile devices race to catch up with this very impressive spec.
  • 1080p displays on smartphones already look like paper, but TechSpot have observed that Samsung, LG, and other vendors are working on 1440p displays for smartphones. They predict that many vendors will start showcasing smartphone displays better than 1080p. As they put it: “We’re hesitant to say that including a display on a phone with a resolution beyond 1080p won’t provide any benefits, after many people said the same going from 720p to 1080p.”
  • They predict that Windows RT will see even less interest. It makes sense: with Windows 8 and the upcoming Windows 9 being able to run on tablets for just a little more money, why wouldn’t you go with the OS that runs the less-loved “Windows Store” apps and Windows Desktop apps too?
  • This one’s so obvious that it barely qualifies as a prediction: LTE everywhere.
  • As mobile devices become gaming platforms themselves, Techspot predict that graphics chips on mobile devices will reach console quality this year. The term “console quality” is a bit vague, but perhaps it’s best understood as “providing graphics as least as good as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, if not better”.
  • This may be a byproduct of the current economic situation or emerging markets picking up on smartphones and tablets, but they expect that mobile device vendors will continue to address the price-sensitive market and offer less expensive phones.
  • Battery technology development is slow work, and it’s expected that we’ll have to make do with our current lithium-ion batteries as no new battery tech is expected this year.
  • Techspot predict that more mobile operating systems — most or all of them some kind of Linux derivative — will appear this year. They also predict that these newcomers will not see much success as Android and iOS battle to entrench themselves while Windows Phone, now free of any threat from BlackBerry, looks to solidify its distant-third-place position.

Read Techspot’s predictions

CIO’s 10 mobile tech predictions for 2014

We’ve saved the best-pedigreed predictions for last: CIO’s, which were put together by talking to industry analysts and mobile industry C-level executives. As we said earlier, the true value in these predictions isn’t their accuracy, but the way they let us see what’s top of mind with the people who influence our industry.

  • smartphone-and-tablet-salesCIO predicts that smartphone and tablet sales will outpace PC sales, citing the IDC figures stating that they expect to see smartphone and tablet sales dwarf PC sales by 250% and PC spending drop 6% this year. Factors driving this include the fact the current mobile device development cycle sees vends putting out a new flagship device every 12 to 18 months, and the fact that for most purposes (and especially general office work), PCs have been on a “good enough” plateau for the past half-dozen years.
  • They predict that the Android/iOS battle will continue this year, with iOS maintaining a 2-to-1 value per unit advantage over Android, while Android will continue with a 3-to-1 device volume presence advantage over iOS. Windows Phone will have to increase developer interest “by 50 to 100 percent” in order to remain a contender.
  • They predict that the amount of video viewing that people do on mobile devices will match that on PCs for the first time, and start to rival viewing on TVs and DVRs. Expect video to comprise the lion’s share of mobile bandwidth starting this year.
  • Just as PoS (point-of-sale) machines underwent a transformation from cash registers to PCs, they’re now undergoing a similar transformation from PCs to mobile devices. While there are a number of vendors who build mobile device-based PoS systems, IDC predicts that 2014 will be a year of consolidation, as the market matures and makes the transition of one with many players trying to stake their claim, to a smaller number of larger, more stable vendors.
  • CIO cites research from electronic payments firm ACI Worldwide, who say that banks will start truly embracing mobile technology, with providing updates not just to mobile devices but wearables, mobile person-to-person payments, and offering “mobile-only experiences” to their customers.
  • We think that this is a bit premature, but CA Technologies CTO John Michelsen says that tablets will usher in “the true death of the PC” this year. Michelsen says that this is the year that CIOs and IT will start developing enterprise apps for mobile first, and then adapt them for the desktop…”when necessary”. We may not agree on the timing, but we agree with the metric: the true death of the PC will have taken place when mobile development is the norm and desktop development is the afterthought.
  • This prediction is so different from the prevailing wisdom that we couldn’t help but notice it: that SMS will steal the spotlight from apps in 2014. This comes from Steve French, OpenMarket’s VP of Product Management, who says that this app craze will blow over and that “more enterprises in 2014 will increase usage of SMS, especially given consumer and employee familiarity with it.” By that logic, even more people are familiar with telephone voice communication, and that voice should be the big comeback kid, not SMS.
  • CIO quotes Stoke’s CEO Vikash Varma in their prediction that LTE security will improve this year, as a response to “more intense cybercrime focus on mobile networks and a rising incidence of hack, such as eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks and packet insertion.”
  • They predict the integration of wearables, gamification and mobile payments, which makes sense: the combination of “always on” (in more ways that one), painless payments, and fun makes for a pretty “frictionless” way to extract money from people’s wallets.
  • 2014 is the year that mobile and digital currencies go mainstream, with more checkout counters accepting PayPal and Bitcoin, and ubiquitous mobile devices paving the way for digital currency.

Read CIO’s predictions

this article also appears in the GSG blog


The good, bad, and weird numbers behind Windows Phone

Windows Phone floating in the sky over some trees: "I Want to Believe"

How’s Windows Phone doing? It depends on which numbers you look at. On one hand, a recent report from Forbes says that the Q3 2013 numbers look promising. On the other hand, TechCrunch is reporting that Nokia, who account for 93% of Windows Phone sales, reported a drop in sales during 2013’s Q4 period, the holiday buying time when a drop in sales suggests that something’s gone wrong.

The good numbers

24 countries where windows phones outsell iphones

Map by Yours Truly, built upon Yoel Natan’s map. Click the map to see it at full size.

One of the good numbers that Windows Phone can boast is that there are 24 countries where Windows Phone outsells the iPhone. They’re pointed out in the map above and listed in alphabetical order below, along with their World Bank GDP ranking based on figures from 1990 to 2012 (out of 190 countries):

Country GDP rank Notes
Chile 36 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Colombia 30
Czech Republic 50 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Egypt 39 “Next Eleven” country
Ecuador 62
Finland 41 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Greece 42 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Hungary 57 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
India 10 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Italy 9 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Kenya 86
Kuwait 55
Malaysia 34 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Mexico 14 A MINT and “Next Eleven” country
Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Nigeria 37 MINT and “Next Eleven” country
Pakistan 43 “Next Eleven” country
Peru 49
Poland 24 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Saudi Arabia 19
South Africa 28 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Thailand 31 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
Ukraine 51 Windows Phone is in 2nd place here
United Arab Emirates 32
Vietnam 56 “Next Eleven” country
Windows Phone is in 2nd place here


The Forbes article says that if you don’t count Italy and Finland, Windows Phones outsell iPhones in “poorer nations” where Apple’s prices are prohibitively expensive. It would appear that in Forbes’ estimation, with its current financial woes, Greece is now a “poorer nation”, lumped in the same basket as Kenya.

It should be noted that nearly a quarter of these “poorer countries” have been designated up-and-comers by the financial industry, either as MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey, a designation popularized by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill, who coined BRIC) or “Next Eleven” (another term created by O’Neill). The MINT and “Next Eleven” countries are seen by economists as having a high potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century, with promising outlooks for growth and future investment. They were selected based on criteria such as economic stability, quality of education, open trade and investment policies, and political maturity and stability. In other words, they’ll play a larger role in the way the world works in the days to come, and they’ll definitely influence technology. These countries will be the next marketplace battleground for mobile vendors, and right now, it’s anyone’s to win.

Windows Phone shipments (Forbes reports it as sales, but the IDC report says shipments) grew 156% from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013. That rate is three times Android’s and six times iOS’ growth in the same period. Nokia — and once the acquisition is formalized, Microsoft — owns the vast majority of these sales: 93.2%, and most of these were for low-end models like the Lumia 520 and 521.

The bad numbers

nokia lumia sales

Graph by The Verge. Click to see the source.

Nokia Lumia’s fortunes are Windows Phone’s fortunes, what with Nokia accounting for nearly 95% of Windows Phone sales. Nokia Lumia sales have been climbing steadily from Q3 2012’s nearly 3 million to 8.8 million in Q3 2013; sales have doubled from 2012 to 2013.

Strangely, sales fell by .6 million during the holiday quarter of Q4 2013, a period when they should go up. We’ll see over the next couple of quarters whether this is a momentary hiccup or the start of a general downward trend (BGR calls it a “collapse”, but I think it’s too soon to tell). These slightly disappointing numbers will be the last ones that Nokia’s phone division will do so as a part of Nokia; next time, they’ll be doing so as a department of Microsoft.

mobile advertising traffic share q2 2013

Graph by Opera. Click to see the source.

Another set of bad number for Windows Phone is its poor mobile ad revenue numbers, which are even worse than Symbian’s and BlackBerry’s. BGR points to Opera’s (the browser company) Q2 2013 State of Mobile Advertising report, which says that Windows Phone accounted for just over a quarter of a percent of mobile advertising in 2013’s second quarter; it accounted for 0.35% of ad revenues generated on Opera’s 425 million user, 60 billion impressions/month mobile ad network.

This is bad news for the Windows Phone platform, as many developers make money by giving away their apps for free and using in-app ads to generate revenue. This may be keeping developers away, which in turn keeps apps away, and the availability of apps is a factor in people’s smartphone purchase decisions.

The weird numbers

Now that we’re at the start of 2014, it’s time to look again at some old predictions on where Windows Phone will in 2015, which is now just a year away. Here’s Gartner’s, in which they predicted that by 2015, Windows Phone will be the number two mobile OS, with just under 20% of the market:

Here’s IDC’s prediction for 2015. Like Gartner, they predicted that Windows Phone would be the number two operating system, but they said that it would have just over 20% of the market. I’d point to their report, but they’ve since taken it down (here’s a BGR article that quotes it):

And finally, here’s the most way-out-there prediction: the forecast by Pyramid Research. In May 2011, they predicted that Windows Phone would “establish its leadership in 2015”:

pyramid research prediction

As a point of comparison, here are StatCounter’s mobile OS stats as of this writing:

statcounter mobile os stats

Click the graph to see the source.

It’s a good reminder to always temper any analyst predictions you read with some common sense.