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Market Share Volatility in a Fast Growing Market

The smart phone market continues to grow quickly. The market for the operating systems on smart phones illustrates one of the patterns you will see in a fast growing market.

In order to see these patterns, we will use the Customer Buying Hierarchy. We will evaluate the reasons for market share volatility using the Customer Buying Hierarchy. Market share volatility is market share that moves from one supplier to another. (See “Audio Tip #26: Introduction to Step 6 of the Basic Strategy Guide” on StrategyStreet.com.) This market share movement may happen because new customers enter the market, where all competitors may compete for the customer, or because customers simply change their suppliers. The Customer Buying Hierarchy (CBH) holds that customers buy: Function, Reliability, Convenience and Price, in that order. (See “Audio Tip #95: The Customer Buying Hierarchy” on StrategyStreet.com.) New Functions or lower Prices dominate the causes of market share volatility in fast growing markets.

The emergence of the Apple iPhone, with the Apple operating system, illustrates the impact of new Functions. The Apple operating system virtually exploded on the market and probably created the consumer interest in smart phones. Apple was able to gain a quarter of the smart phone market very quickly on the basis of its many unique Functions, the result of the thousands of apps written for the operating system.

More recently, the growth of the Android operating system illustrates the second major driver of market share volatility in high growth markets, low Prices. The Android operating system is growing very quickly now, taking share from the Research in Motion, Apple and Microsoft operating systems. What is its advantage? It’s free. The handset manufacturers and the cell phone service providers like an inexpensive operating system. So, it turns out, do many customers. The Android operating system is now grabbing market share by the handfuls. There is no let-up in sight.

Posted 10/18/10

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