The Smartphone Wars in 2013: Bold Predictions on iPhone, Android, Nokia and Microsoft

I cover mobile technology and the “smartphone wars” in large part because of the scope of this multi-trillion-dollar market. But also because of the destructive power of these devices.   Smartphones, for example, are altering social relationships, changing work, impacting how we learn. They are the ‘second screen’ for watching television and have created a generation that doesn’t care at all about radio, nor will ever see the inside of a Blockbuster. The smartphone is profoundly altering retail. Stores can track our movements via the smartphone, they can send us personalized coupons in real-time as we walk down aisles. We can snap a picture of a product, from inside the store, and find out in an instant if we can get it cheaper somewhere else.

Already, I use my smartphone to measure my stress, my heart rate, and to track how many miles (or not) I walk each day. It doesn’t work well, yet, but I can take a picture of my food and receive nutritional information of what I am about to eat (or not). In a few years, perhaps we will be able to analyze our blood, or determine on the spot if we have had too much to drink, say, using our smartphone screens.

Nearly every industry, every field of endeavor, is being touched by smartphones. They are the new personal computers. The winners of the smartphone wars will therefore not only be wealthy, but have a profound societal impact far beyond their sales numbers. With that in mind, here are my bold predictions for next year for the smartphone wars:

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  1. Google will rename its giant Motorola division Nexus.
  2. Google will make numerous promises to the government of China, some public, some secret, that allows them to fully return to China, the world’s largest smartphone market – and a market where Android dominates but Google’s services on Android barely exist.
  3. Apple will release two new iPhones next year. One will be the iPhone 5S. The other will be a much larger device, like the Samsung Galaxy Note or “phablet”.
  4. Apple haters will love to point out how the “iPhone Note” doesn’t offer “true” multitasking or multiple “windows” – to watch video and text at the same time, for example. They miss the point. Apple’s OS is designed for focused activities, which is far more productive.
  5. Realizing it simply cannot continue as an independent company, Nokia will be acquired by Microsoft.
  6. Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, will let it be known that Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, is first in line to replace him when he retires.
  7. Across all relevant measures, Apple’s iPad will dominate the tablet landscape. The most sales, the most profits, the most ad clicks, the most online purchases, the most web surfing – more than any competing tablet, tablet OS, or individual smartphone line.
  8. Because of this, Google will build its various services – Maps, Email, Calendar, Google+ et al – first and best for iPad.
  9. With every purchase of the Microsoft Surface, Microsoft will offer a free coupon for a “PC” version of Office. This will not help sales of either.
  10. Apple will settle and/or drop all significant patent lawsuits regarding iOS, iPhone and iPad. Everyone on the planet can see how Android wholesale copied iPhone and iOS, down to the app icon and rounded corners. This does not matter. The costs of the suits and the potential awards, right or wrong, are such that Tim Cook will instruct his many legal teams to bring closure to the “thermonuclear war”.
  11. Apple will sell more iOS devices in 2013 – iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch – than Microsoft sells Windows 8 licenses (all flavors – desktop, tablet, smartphone). The rapid irrelevance of all-things-Microsoft in the personal computing space will be shocking.
  12. Hoping to become relevant in mobile, Yahoo will acquire Twitter.
  13. Facebook will not offer a ‘Facebook Phone’ or Facebook Phone OS.
  14. Amazon, however, will offer its own smartphone line, based on its fork of Android. This will be available to start in the US and sales/distribution patterned after the original but abandoned vision Google had for Nexus.
  15. Google will sue Amazon for ‘harming’ their Android ecosystem.
  16. There will be no Apple Television.
  17. Siri usage will grow 10X. Siri continues to get better and it poses a legitimate threat to the future Google.
  18. Apple will not license Siri, not yet, but will actively work with multiple car companies in 2013 to begin incorporating Siri into their vehicles.
  19. Samsung will sell the most smartphones, followed by Apple.
  20. iPhone will make more profits than the entire rest of the smartphone industry.
  21. Samsung will continue to earn over 90% of the profits in the Android ecosystem.
  22. In a pique of desperate foolishness, Blackberry will sell off what we all think of as Blackberry, probably to a communications company in Africa that has global aspirations. The actual Blackberry company – RIM – will use the proceeds to continue development and marketing of what we now call Blackberry 10. This is a doomed strategy. The world does not want Blackberry 10. However, millions still want the ‘old’ Blackberry with the great physical keyboards and BBM service.
  23. There will be more than 1 billion active Android devices in use. There will be more than 500 million active iOS devices in use. I suspect that by the end of 2013, Android and iOS will have a combined install base of 2 billion.
  24. Through aggressive marketing, price cuts and sales commissions, Windows Phone will achieve 6% market share in 2013.
  25. One company, probably not Apple, will design and market a smartphone specifically to those persons age 70 and older.
  26. That Steve Jobs – Ashton Kutcher movie will bomb.
  27. South America will be the region with the highest growth in smartphone adoption.
  28. Google will commission a multi-million-dollar study hoping to understand why Android customers use their Android phones so little, compared to iPhone users.
  29. Jolla will remain irrelevant.
  30. Google profits will peak. The smartphone is the computer. Smartphone ad revenues are no longer a supplement to PC ad revenues, but a destroyer of them. Google, however, does not and will not earn as much from mobile ad revenues, and profits will therefore suffer. Their profits will peak in 2013 (on an inflation adjusted basis). By 2014, revenues (and profits) from PC ads will begin to drop precipitously.

Right or wrong, the smartphone wars are the defining tech battle of our age. This market will prove far bigger, far richer, far more impactful than the ancient PC wars of the previous century.  Share your thoughts below on what you predict will happen to the smartphone industry in 2013.

Author: Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at

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  • Don

    Interesting predictions. I would disagree with most of your Apple predictions.
    Android tablets continue to increase in market share gaining over 50% in tablets for the first time.

    The Surface continues lacklustre sales however Windows tablets gain a significant market share.

    Apple settles all patent disputes with Google/Motorola and Samsung. Releases the first version of iTunes for Android.

  • ToniMaroni

    Steve Jobs will resurrect and from there on Apple will have more followers than the Church.

  • Brian S Hall

    Despite the various screen sizes, responsiveness, hardware configurations and OS gaps across Android, I think iTunes on Android is a good idea.

  • Pete

    Apple have some balls, make an iTunes app for Android, I well better use an iPhone but actual do like itunes

  • Lina Stein

    - People are getting tired of Apple’s entrapment and bulky “all look the same” products, which are carried by every so called hipster, young or old.
    – Google becomes smart and is limiting its free version of Android in China since is cant earn money on its OS in China. Only Chinese companies are taking advantage of Android, not visa versa.
    – Nokia succeeds in turning around and proceed making innovative well designed smartphones and phablets.
    – Microsoft starts making many surface tablets, also surface xbox game consoles, and WP8 will gain traction since all hardware eventually will be touch controlled.

  • vasras

    “bold predictions”

    So you decided to shoot with a shotgun, to score at least one hit? LOL :)

    My takes:

    1) iOS will peak even more. 5S will sell well, but not gain market share anymore.

    2) Android will continue to dominate

    3) WP will continue to fail and get less than 4% global marketshare.

    4) Nokia will bleed more, cut more.

    5) MS still won’t buy Nokia

    6) MS will come out with their own WP phone outsourced to Foxconn or some other for mfg

    7) People will still think stupidly that WP8=Windows8=Windows8RT. An all will continue their lackluster sales.

    8) It’s more of the same in HW front: up to 2GHz A15 quad-cores, full HD screens, more RAM, more apps, more megapixels on cams, more of everything. No new super innovations or breakthroughs.

    9) Due to the whole global economy slowing down, smart phone growth won’t be as good as 2011-2012.

  • Brian S Hall

    iPhone and Android will extend their reach, and the “breakthroughs” will be on enhancing and deepening the benefits of their respective ecosystems. I should have included that above, though it’s less a prediction.

  • Ed_Luva

    Hmm, I say Nokia fires Elop following continued abysmal performance. His replacement takes Nokia to Android and quietly puts WP8 on the back burner like everyone else has.

    (2) Apple continues to fade due to lack of innovative initiative, but still makes great devices for loyal fans and new buyers.

    (3) RIM enjoys great success with BB10, models with physical keyboards and VKBs sell well.

    (4) Google dominates.

  • Yehat

    Lina, you’re a genius, honest.

  • Brian S Hall

    If by “great success” with BB10, you mean crappy, then we agree.
    My review of Nokia suggests they simply can’t make the margins they require by going Android. But even though I don’t believe it, a provocative prediction could be that they adopt Android for all their low-end, low-margin stuff (like the Asha line).

  • Brett Nordquist

    “Android will continue to dominate”. Well, unless you’re talking about web usage, online purchasing or profit share. Apple makes products that attract better customers. Harsh but true.

  • zviera

    Apple is going to follow a BB steps 5 years ago. No innovation and losing market share deeply in 2013, because of not any digitizer and active pen tablet. Many eyephone and android users will switch to BB. Mrokia will find the China and gain the market shares.
    Everybody will gain the market shares except the apple. Stock will drop to $320, which is the real value.

  • zviera

    Well, apple can keep this malware for themselves.

  • JDSoCal

    Cockroaches outnumber humans on this planet, but “dominate” might be a stretch.

  • JDSoCal

    Lina, can I have your contact info so I can fwd my worst enemy to you so you can manage his stock investments?

  • JDSoCal

    Dumbest thing I have heard in an idiotic thread. Why would Apple do this? iTunes makes no money.

  • JDSoCal

    Jesus H Christ, BSH, you have some dumb fucking readers.

  • chrisjenx

    Check your facts “Everyone on the planet can see how Android wholesale copied iPhone and iOS, down to the app icon and rounded corners.” It’s been proven time and time again, Apple is not the originator of most of its ideas.
    But I agree hopefully these silly lawsuits that waste time, money, effort and do no good to creativity and improvement of these platforms will stop.

  • Ittiam

    What I would like to see

    * Apple would launch a watch companion for iPhone (done right) and Samsung would immediately follow. Apple would also launch a ‘Note’ copy
    * Nokia would fire Elop and get a new guy (poached from Google?), who would bring about the second fastest turn-around in the tech industry (first is ofcourse Steve’s comeback) by embracing Android
    * Play store would continue to grow so rapidly that its revenues will become comparable to iTunes
    * US and UK will be the last major bastion for Apple. In other markets Android will dominate
    * Google’s profits will intermediate bottom next year owing to rapid shift to mobile. Then the profits will start rising again, owing to rapid shift to mobile

  • Jessica Darko

    I think it’s really hilarious when apple haters say that Apple has no innovation when all of the competition are still copying Apple’s device from 5 years ago! When android releases its post-touch model, and if it is as different as the iPhone in 2007 was from Android (a blackberry ripoff then) and other phones were…. THEN you can start talking about Apple lacking innovation.

    Right now, it just seems pathetically desperate… as if you think you can project onto Apple your own sides faults by simply mindlessly claiming it over and over and over again.

    It just makes you look stupid (if we believe you’re sincere) or desperate (if we don’t.)

  • Jessica Darko

    I think it’s hilarious that you say “it’s been proven time and time again” when it’s never been proven once. You confuse desperate claims for apple haters for “proof”. The courts disagree, and really, anyone whose honest disagrees.

    There can’t be that many of you who weren’t old enough to know what a mobile phone was in 2007, can there?

  • Jessica Darko

    iOS dominates mobile phones, globally, right now. You can see this in the web statistics, and in sales statistics. You can’t refute this because you cannot prove that any specific number of android devices have been sold. Samsung, Google, et. al. don’t say, and when Samsung was forced to reveal it in court, the results turned out to be very pathetic (despite people, at the time, claiming that android was “winning”.)

    You guys are just making shit up hoping it will be true one day.

    Android isn’t even a smartphone OS, let alone “winning”.

  • Jessica Darko

    Hey, don, show me SEC filings from any android tablet makers which gives them, cummulatively, even %25 share of the tablet market.

    You guys keep claiming marketshare, but nobody will go on record as having shipped all these devices.

    You know why?

    Your market share numbers are simply made up.

    You’re desperate for a replay of the “Windows monopoly” (which itself never happened, given that Windows never had more than %80 of the *operational* installed base)…. so you guys just claim to have the market share and count on other apple haters or android zeolots to “back you up” by repeating the assertions.

    Apple tells us every year in SEC filings how many iOS devices they’ve sold.

    If android is doing so well, why won’t any manufacturers reveal it formally? Hmmm?

    You’d think they’d want to brag…. certainly you guys are bragging with made up numbers…. so, prove it.

    Or admit Android has less than %25 tablet share.

    In fact, I think it is Windows all over again– Apple has %80 of the tablet market or more.

    Think I’m wrong? Prove it!

  • Jessica Darko

    How can android dominate when nobody is selling any android devices worth mentioning publicly? You guys are so fond of marketshare, but on the basis of legitimate reported marketshare, iOS has %100, because no android manufacturer will go on the record (to the SEC) saying how many devices they’ve shipped.

    I guess you think this means you can make up whatever numbers you want with impunity, but in reality, you’re wrong.

    So, put up or shut up.

  • Jessica Darko

    Ouch! Good one.

  • Jessica Darko

    And sales too. Apple has %100 of the smartphone and tablet markets when it comes to devices shipped according to SEC filings (near as I can tell… no android manufacturer will risk perjury by putting a figure down in black and white.)

  • chrisjenx

    Just google it.
    Mmm Apple hater ;) I use a MacBookPro, I own an iPad/iPod, I develop all platforms :) and have Android/Apple/Windows devices. Your judgment is very disingenuous.

    The biggest issue, is that so many ‘patents’ are invalid, the entire patent system is flawed, two people can apply for the same patent, and you can patent something which someone did years ago.

    Read around, if you have ever worked with/talked to anyone who actually works in the industry you will understand where I am coming from. If you choose not to accept another persons point of view, then so be it.

  • Don

    Hi Jessica,

    These aren’t facts these are predictions for next year. But they are based on current trends.

    According this article that quotes ABI research, they see the same trend.

    “Apple continued to win out in terms of tablet market share this past quarter, according to the latest figures from ABI Research, with a 55 percent share of all shipments during the period. That’s a lead it has had since 2010 when the iPad was introduced, but it’s also the slimmest lead it’s ever had, and represents a dip of 14 percent versus the previous quarter. At this rate, Android could overtake the iPad for tablet share sometime next year, something which seemed unlikely or even impossible in 2010 and 2011.”

    I do see the Windows monopoly playing out again. Unless Apple changes its ways then it will. Those that disregard history are doomed to repeat it. Microsoft will be the main competitor in the future.

  • zviera

    Thanks God, Samsung didn’t copy apple , so I can enjoy my galaxy Note II with

    comfortable 5.5″ screen and digitizer and active pen for my business needs.

    I still wouldn’t call it an innovation, but new technology in the new age, because I have used Toshiba e830 with resistive screen and stylus and CF GSM modem card 10 years ago, still sitting in my shelve as reminder of good old times with companies like iPAQ, Toshiba, Psion, Casio, Sharp Zaurus, Sony CLIE PEG-UX50 , which is still beautiful …..without apple sheep.

  • Don

    They would do it for the same reason they do it for Windows. They should have done it years ago and they would have dominated.

    Amazon makes money. They sell their devices at cost to make the money on selling electronic content. If Apple can’t figure out how to make money from it then others will.

  • Sami Kallio

    iTunes on any platform is a bad idea (including my MacBook)

  • Sami Kallio

    I agree with you but Google would have hard time to limit Android. You have to remember Android is a fork of Linux which in turn is GPL licensed software.

  •ágyi/100001770630008 Atty Halmágyi

    Point 19 sounds good! :)

  • Ittiam

    I think the web statistics you are referring to refers to US only… which is what I said… US and UK are strong holds of Apple…

    Regarding sales statistics, Tim Cook himself has said that they are just getting started in countries like India, where subsidy model for phones does not exist. Handset subsidy is key component of iPhone business model…

    Anyways Apple is struggling to keep up the demand serving its existing markets… So its fine that it does not sell much in others

  • Xavis

    Ok I am done with this site!

    It is insulting to waste my time reading this kind of abomination articles. The so called “author” is either a troll (and a big one) or was hired to cause drama and get more hits due to controversy.

    Reading articles about Apple products, I don’t have a problem with, but trying to cheaply increase visibility with trash journalism is unacceptable. I will miss some of the content for sure, but I am not going to endorse such petty tactics by continuing visiting the site.

    It’s a shame really, it gives no justice to some of your other authors.


  • Brian S Hall

    Exactly what are you so upset about? This is my list of predictions for next year. Your rage seems completely unjustified.

  • JDSoCal

    No, actually, Amazon does not make money. Amazon lost $274 million last quarter. Apple made $8.8B. I’ll stick with Apple’s model, thanks.

  • ratnok

    This is the biggest iCult troll article I have ever seen- and I’ve seen a lot. I could blast so many of the lies in this article, but it would give me carpal tunnel. I’ll just blast one and never return to this site: Android does NOT have “app icon rounded corners.” That is actually one of the only things I don’t like about Android.

    Have fun preaching to the deluded iCult. The rest of us will pay attention to unbiased viewpoints on competitor sites.

    Take care.

  • ratnok

    Hilarious that he had no response. Nice! By the way, I’m typing this on my iMac.

  • Robert Miller

    One prediction for 2013, it just gets better for Nokia all year long.