Wild cards in mobile platforms
ABI declined to share forecasts of growth by software platform, in part because many wild cards are in the deck. One of the biggest ones, Microsoft's Windows Mobile 7, is expected to be released late this year, supported by new handsets from HTC.
Burden said he still has concerns about how well Microsoft's panel-based user interface will scale for users that have large contact lists. "It could get confusing, and Microsoft as big as it is will have a hard time keeping up with the pace of releases of the open source community," he said.
For its part, HTC was been riding the wave of Android growth to date, leaping from sales of 3.3 million to 5.4 million smartphones in the latest quarter. However the company's focus on high-end handsets may also prevent it from capturing the new growth at the low end, Morgan said.
Among the other wild cards, it's not yet clear what Hewlett-Packard will do with the WebOS acquired with Palm. Similarly, plans are unclear for how Nokia will use MeeGo co-developed with Intel or how Samsung will evolve its Bada platform.
Separately, ABI released a new report projecting Apple's iOS and Google's Android will account for 78 percent of all mobile application downloads in 2010, with iOS taking the lion’s share, about 52 percent.
"Downloads from other platforms, such as Blackberry’s App Store and Nokia’s Ovi Store remain sluggish, hampered by a lack of variety and fragmentation among both manufacturers’ many devices,” said wireless research analyst Bhavya Khanna in a press statement.
Average selling prices for mobile apps are declining as Apple, Google and others focus on free and low-cost apps to attract users to their handsets. Making money will become a difficult proposition in a market that is expected to peak in 2011, with annual sales of just under $8 billion, said Khanna.