On Christmas Day, some 6.8 million iOS and Android devices were activated -- a new record.
Before the iPhone hit, the mobile platform space was dominated by RIM, Windows Mobile, Symbian and WebOS. But since 2006, RIM’s market share has plunged from 37 percent to 10; Windows Mobile from 37 percent to 3; Symbian from 9 percent to 1; and Palm’s WebOS from 17 percent to 1.
The third player in the “retailification” of mobile is Amazon, which ¬– despite being based in Seattle Washington -- deliberately opened its tablet development lab less than one mile from Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley. The obvious reason for this is that Amazon wants to poach Apple for hardware talent, and wants to be within commuting distance for the engineers they successfully steal.
So as the market transitions from a low-margin hardware business to a massively profitable retail sales racket, control of the mobile industry is moving from everywhere to the center of Silicon Valley.
Another phenomenon discovered probably by accident is that users can get sucked into mobile eCommerce platforms by means of affinity with other products.
Many of these iPad users got there through a process of one-thing-leads-to-another. Most started out as iPhone users who also used Windows PCs. By the time the iPad came along, they had developed trust and affinity for Apple.
Google Wallet users are arriving by means of affinity developed for Google around Google Search, Gmail and other online services that made people feel warm-and-fuzzy about trusting Google with their money.
I also believe that Google+ will prove to be a gateway drug to mobile eCommerce.
Recent data suggests that Google's social service is adding more than 600,000 users per day. The service is still in its infancy, yet is growing an order of magnitude faster than Facebook, Twitter or any other social network ever did.
Google is integrating other services, such as Gmail, Search, Reader, YouTube and many others at an unprecedented clip. All Google Roads lead to Google+. And soon enough, I believe, Google+ will lead users to mobile eCommerce -- not only on Android devices but also on iOS ones as well.
Although there are far more smart phones in the world, and all web sites including eCommerce sites get more mobile traffic from phones rather than tablets, it's on tablets where the majority of actual mobile purchases are taking place.
And in this sense, iPhones and Android phones are serving as gateway drugs to respective iOS and Android tablets, which is where the serious money is being spent.
Likewise, Amazon pushed hard to make its original line of eBook readers popular, and to get lock-in through user investment in Kindle books. And the book-only Kindle is serving as a gateway drug to the Kindle Fire, from which everything on Amazon can be purchased -- even books!
Why is this important? Because companies that don’t have a wide range of products and services that gain user familiarity and trust will be placed at a huge disadvantage in the mobile eCommerce space. It’s going to be a winner-take-all market.
These three trends point to radical change in the mobile space. Phones and tablets are becoming a point-of-sale business controlled by Silicon Valley companies that gain user affinity via products that have nothing to do with mobility.