Chapter 1: The Mobile World

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Buy it here Cover of the Mobile Web Handbook

The Mobile Web Handbook by Peter-Paul Koch. Published by Smashing Magazine GmbH.
ISBN 978-3-94454093-1

Peter-Paul Koch
Design and illustrations
Stephen Hay
General editor
Vitaly Friedman
Technical editor
Stephanie Rieger
Copy editor
Owen Gregory
Further editing
Patrick Lauke, Max Firtman, Vasilis van Gemert
Markus Seyfferth

Chapter 1 contains a general overview of the mobile world, focussing on operators, device vendors, and OS vendors.


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Links and additional information

Much of what I know about the mobile world comes from Tomi Ahonen’s invaluable blog Communities Dominate Brands. This blog is required reading if you want to understand the mobile world. Though opinionated and sometimes a bit long-winded, Tomi is a stats hound who won’t rest before he has statistical backing for his theories. In the process he uncovers information that isn’t readily available elsewhere.


A good example of the power of operator subsidies: the Chinese operators will likely reduce their subsidies because it costs them too much, and HTC and Samsung will likely suffer for it.

The fundamental problem of operator subsidies is explained in this article: consumers don’t appreciate the true cost of their devices any more. Let’s remember that something similar happened when people started to expect everything online to be free: nowadays people don’t want to pay for information or services, but are also annoyed at ever-more-pervasive ads. Although ads are something that won’t occur in smartphone sales, something else that is equally annoying might.

An interesting case study of the Spanish mobile market after Telefónica, and later Vodafone, phased out operator subsidies. Initially the operators took a hit when sales went down, but things stabilised pretty soon.

Device vendors and hardware

What is a smartphone?

My market share category keeps track of the various market shares; mostly browsing share, but occasionally also sales and installed base market share.

Tomi Ahonen notes that something fundamental is shifting among device vendors: Samsung is losing its dominant position from about Q2 2014 on. Its sales market share shrank from 31% to 25%. This lost share was mostly picked up by Chinese vendors.

In the same article we see that Apple’s sales market share crashed from 15% in Q1 to 12% in Q2. This is perfectly normal: consumers know that September will bring a new iPhone model, and they refuse to buy the older model, causing Apple’s sales to go down. This happens every year and is nothing to worry about.

OS vendors and software