People just have different buying characteristics:
- Price based buying, when a contract is up for renewal these buyers will shop for the best deal and take the offered phone for granted. This for long was the domain of Nokia (except in the US) offering cheap symbian based feature phones but recently it's being taken over by the boat loads of cheap Android phones coming from asia. Great phones, great price making them a great deal!
- Feature based buyers, always on the look out for a phone with heaps more and more powerful features than the previous phone. It's about 16 core phones with a terra byte memory, 24 Mega pixel camera and a 5 inch 2 zillion color screen. Judging on the 500 new features in the next update of Windows Phone it's a market that Microsoft is trying to steel away from Android. Unfortunately every week a stronger, faster, better and even more powerful device hits the market. What to do, buy now or wait for the next release?
- The emotional buyer that sees the phone more as a fashion lifestyle device and is mainly interested in the looks. A market once created by Nokia (once again) with the colorful and fashionable clip-on front covers. A phone was no longer a device to keep in your pocket until you needed to make a phone call, it was something that needed to be shown off. The Apple iPhone is the current top choice in this segment and maybe future Nokia-Microsoft phones might enter this area too.
- The non buyer that instead of buying their own phone relies on a phone supplied by their employer. The primary domain of RIM and the blackberry.
Now we know the buying behavior we can also predict the movement of the various segments. There will always be a significant group of people that lets the price makes their decision, however with growing wealth in the world this segment might get smaller. Once smart phones have become a real commodity nobody cares about features, because they are expected to be there. Of course new features will be invented, but it becomes more of a niche segment. The emotional driven decisions will grow, because style and individualism will continue (at least for a while) to be a differentiating factor in a globally leveling society. The non buyer over time will disappear, because the consumerization of IT continues and people want to make their own decisions for a lifestyle device.
Based on this we could say that Google Android will dominate the price war category, Microsoft takes the feature niche market and might take some of the emotional market that will be dominated by Apple. This leaves RIM in the dark.
BTW: Who knows why we like to refer to phones as edibles: Black (blue) berry, Apple, Mango, Cupcake, Ginger bread, etc...
Image: Adam Jones