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  • Writer's pictureSlashData Team

The 100 million club: the bigger picture of mobile software

[Research Director Andreas Constantinou, discusses the latest update to VisionMobile’s 100 million club, and the bigger picture that emerges from our research, including de facto standards and software that’s truly mass-market]

We ‘ve just released the updated version of our 100 million club: the watchlist of software companies whose products have been embedded on more than 100 million mobile handsets.

[update: the latest edition of the 100 million club is here]

In this H1 2008 update we ‘ve identified 25 software products from 23 companies which have shipped on more than 100 million handsets cumulatively as of June 2008. The watch list  provides the basis for three key observations (especially in comparison to our 2007 update):

– Firstly the 100 million club is a testament to the commercial and technological complexities inherent in the mobile industry; there are over 6 billion handsets having been shipped up to June 2008 and around 1.2 billion handsets estimated to be shipped in 2008. Yet our research shows that only 4 software products have reached the 1 billion deployment mark, 9 products have exceeded the 500 million mark and 25 products in total have shipped in more than 100 million handsets. Considering that there are 250-300 companies that license embedded software products – not to mention the circa 30,000 mobile software developers – this is clearly a tough market in which to achieve scale. Indeed, the revenues and developer mindshare are migrating from the pre-load to the post-sales phase of the handset lifecycle, as we ‘ve covered in an earlier article (mobile software is dead.. long live mobile software).

100 million club preview

(click for the download page)

– Secondly, the results of the research point to the de facto standards that are emerging with regards to software components. Adobe’s Flash Lite has been embedded on 723 million handsets as of June 2008. Adjusting for seasonal variations, Flash Lite is being deployed on over 500 million handsets per year in 2008 – phenomenal numbers and close to challenging the penetration of Java ME implementations which are generally estimated to around 80% of the global sales base. On the other hand, browser shipments are slowing down (see earlier article on Bye Bye Browser). The Openwave (now Purple Labs) browser was shipped on 180 million devices in H1 2008 and Opera Mobile shipped on just under 20M handsets in that same period. The de facto standards here are under the radar for the time being; WebKit (which should make it into the 100 million club in H2 2008 thanks to Nokia’s S60 and S40 pre-installs) and Opera Mini which saw over 95 million downloads in total as of August 2008. Nuance is also a company to watch, given that it tops our 100 million club with a clear margin to the second runner, and is expanding across multiple forms of text input technologies.

– Thirdly, the watch list points to some surprising observations on mass-market software. The industry talks too much about smartphone software – Symbian, S60, Windows Mobile and Android – yet these are overshadowed by the volume deployments of feature phone operating systems. Mentor Graphics’ Nucleus and ENEA’s OSE have been deployed on well over 1 billion handsets, in many cases as the single OS powering both the applications and the modem stack. Nokia’s S40 has been embedded on an estimated 730 million handsets, while Qualcomm’s BREW has been shipped on an estimated 469 million handsets in total. Both S40 and BREW expose a large part of the device capabilities to software developers and force into question the term ‘open OS’ which is typically associated with Symbian and Windows Mobile.

All in all, the 100 million club lists 25 products which have shipped on more that 100 million handsets as of June 2008, grouped into five product categories: Application environments: Adobe Flash Lite, Aplix Jblend and Esmertec Jbed. Browsers: ACCESS Netfront, Opera Mobile, Picsel File Viewer and the Purple Labs (ex Openwave) browser. Middleware: Beatnik MobileBAE, BitFlash Mobile SVG, Ikivo SVG Player, Nuance VSuite, NXP Software’s LifeVibes MxMedia, PacketVideo CORE, Red Bend vCurrent, Scalado CAPS and TAT Kastor. Operating systems: ENEA OSE, Mentor Graphics Nucleus, Nokia S60, Nokia S40, Open Kernel Labs OKL4, Qualcomm BREW and Symbian OS. Input engines: Nuance T9 and Zi eZiText.

For a detailed discussion of the common traits of the companies listed in the 100 million club see our 2007 update of the watch list. Note that the 100 million club is based on an original article by Morten Grauballe.

We have excluded ARM, InnoPath and Sun from the watch list as they were unable to disclose exact shipment numbers for their products, and Teleca’s Obigo browser which has been discontinued since May 2007.

Warm congratulations to the vendors who have succeeded in crossing the 100 million handset mark!

– Andreas


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