Does anybody else have the feeling that this week’s launch of BlackBerry 10 doesn’t really matter? It’s not for anything that Research In Motion is or isn’t doing with its long-awaited and overdue handsets, but rather because mobile devices are on their way to becoming commoditized.
With smartphones, it’s Google that’s driving the trend. As with virtually every area of its business, the company isn’t so interested in selling things to consumers as it is in getting them online and using its services, with the money coming from the ads it serves them that way. That’s why Google is selling the Nexus 4 in North America for $300 without a contract, while in the developing world it’s moving smartphones for just $50. It’s also why Android has more than three quarters of the world’s market share for smartphones. If Google knew the first thing about actually selling stuff to consumers, the constantly sold-out Nexus 4 would be an even bigger deal than it is.
Neither the Nexus 4 nor those African phones are as high powered as most of the “hero” devices being sold in advanced markets, but for many users, they’re good enough. With Google plying this very different agenda, smartphone prices have only one way to go: down. Read the rest of this entry »