Smartphone Market Success or Failure: 10 Critical Factors

News Analysis: Smartphones continue to gain popularity. But only certain devices attain the highest level of popularity and profitability. Read on to find out why feature set matters so much in smartphones.

Apple's iPhone has been a downright blockbuster hit since its release in 2007. But it has also been flanked by several other devices-including the Motorola Droid X, the HTC Evo 4G and RIM's many BlackBerry models-that have enjoyed similar success over the past couple years.

At the same time, there have been countless products released that have failed miserably. In one way or another, the devices didn't live up to consumer or enterprise desire, and they sat on store shelves. Exactly what caused those failures isn't always easy to pinpoint. But there is undoubtedly a formula nowadays that helps determine the success or failure of a smartphone.

Read on to find out the 10 factors thathelp determine a smartphone's chances of success in today's rapidly changing mobile landscape.

1. Hardware design

If the iPhone has taught the mobile market anything, it's that hardware design means everything. If a device lacks a compelling design, consumers won't pay any attention to it. Hardware design changed rapidly after Apple started selling the iPhone. Almost immediately, more large-screen, slim devices hit store shelves. Along the way, those companies that failed to offer compelling designs were left behind.

2. The operating system

Consumers and enterprise customers want to know that the operating system they will be using is reliable. That's precisely why iOS and Android continue to be some of the top picks for customers around the world. And it's also why RIM's BlackBerry operating system is tops in the enterprise. Vendors need to keep in mind that the operating system is what users will interact with most. If a smartphone is running an outdated OS or the software just doesn't work as well as it could, customers will go elsewhere.

3. Application availability

When Apple launched the App Store in 2008, the company forever changed the mobile market. Now, consumers and even some enterprise customers expect to see a growing applications marketplace available on all the devices they own. That's precisely why Google continues to woo developers and why Microsoft is so concerned about getting more programs into its applications marketplace on Windows Phone 7 devices. Apple's App Store, which has over 350,000 apps right now, demonstrates that you can never have too many applications if you want to build a successful smartphone platform.

4. The vendor

When it's all said and done, customers need to know that they can trust a respective company. That's why unknown firms have trouble gaining traction in the mobile space, while well-known companies easily attract customers. Of course, building a reputable brand that consumers can trust is difficult. But as firms like RIM, Apple, Samsung and Motorola Mobility have shown that the company that's well-known and trusted will win out.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...