Handset Country Share Tracker

A vital tracking tool for helping companies measure the success of competitors and partners in their local markets.

December 8, 2010 13:12 Alex Spektor
In recent years, the titans of the handset industry have been surprised by the success of newcomers. First, Apple – a computer vendor – shook up the smartphone market by storm, taking Nokia’s profit crown in the process. Then, Google – an advertising/search firm – brought to market a new mobile operating system, quickly overshadowing historic leaders RIM and Microsoft. Now, Google’s Android has also become the fastest-growing major smartphone platform, having shipped more than twice as many handsets in the first eight quarters.

Cumulative Shipments, First 8 Quarters

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Google’s successful growth has been enabled by strong support from its many partner vendors. As the first Android handset maker, HTC long enjoyed top market share, steadily broadening its portfolio across protocols (including hot “4G” technologies like HSPA+ and WiMAX), global carriers, and retail price points, staying ahead of Android competitors Motorola and Samsung. Historically, Samsung’s smartphone share had been disproportionate to its successful position in the overall market, and we had long commented on the matter. However, starting in Q3 2010, Samsung became the world’s largest Android vendor. Samsung accomplished this by launching an all-out assault across the globe with its Galaxy S family of handsets. For example, in the fickle US market, where each carrier has demanding compliance and customization requirements, Samsung launched a Galaxy S phone with each major carrier. Samsung’s share of the global handset market has tripled since 2001, when it was already a third-ranked player. Given that historic show of determination, the vendor’s leap to first place in Android smartphones should not at all be surprising. Expect Samsung to expand this leadership position in 2011 and beyond, riding Android’s coattails to huge smartphone volumes. -Alex Spektor Samsung Overtakes HTC to Become World's Largest Android Vendor in Q3 2010 Global Smartphone OS Market Share by Region: Q3 2010

June 4, 2010 19:06 Neil Shah
The global handset industry continues to grow and fragment. Due to platform facilitators like MediaTek, manufacturing a 2G cellphone is easier than ever. These trends have led to the emergence of a long tail of dozens of microvendors, mostly from China and India. Numerous microvendors have benefitted from the surging demand for low-cost 2G phones in rural and suburban markets. According to our Handset Country Share Tracker (HCST) report for Asia, leading microvendors Micromax and Tianyu are ranked among the top 6 brands in their domestic markets of India and China. What have been the main reasons for the microvendors' growth? • OEM-partnered low-cost handset solutions; • Strong ultra-low- and entry-level portfolios at very competitive price-points; • Innovative features for local needs and tastes, such as 30-day standby battery (important feature for regular electricity deprived rural markets), torch-light, theft tracker, multimedia player, video call, AM/FM Radio and dual-SIM; • Extensive retail distribution footprints; • Aggressive advertising and brand promotions; The microvendors have gone after first-time and second-time buyers and emerged with some success. However, key questions that arise are -- how many microvendors are successfully selling and how have they originated? Is there any major differentiation between their offerings? How are the microvendors positioning their brands? What are the microvendors doing in order to compete at the next level, such as 3G smartphones? Thus, starting in Q1 2010, we are now actively tracking an additional 25 emerging microvendors every quarter. These top 25 microvendors have captured a combined 4% global marketshare. Micromax and Spice top our rankings, which include other vendors from diverse industries such as consumer electronics and personal computing. We expect the long tail of Asian vendors will remain active for the foreseeable future, as they focus their efforts on a next wave of emerging 3G handset growth in 2011. Our published Microvendors report for Q1 2010 is available to download for clients here.

April 14, 2010 17:04 Alex Spektor

After months of industry-wide speculation about Microsoft’s “Project Pink,” the software giant recently unveiled two phones: Kin One and Kin Two. Manufactured by Sharp (the maker of most T-Mobile Sidekick phones, in partnership with Danger, whom Microsoft purchased in late 2008), the phones will ship with specs found on many of today’s smartphones: capacitive touchscreens, QWERTY, high-megapixel cameras, gigabytes of flash memory, Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometers – the list goes on. Yet, the Kins are not true smartphones, as there is no application support. Rather, the Kin family of products consists of cleverly targeted feature phones.

While the smartphone segment is growing steadily, the wireless industry is certainly not done with feature phones, which we expect to account for approximately two-thirds of handsets sold in North America this year. Earlier this year, AT&T announced intentions to give significant attention to the mid-range, messaging-centric feature phone category, which the operator calls Quick Messaging Devices (QMD).

At Verizon Wireless (who, along with Vodafone in Europe, will soon carry the Microsoft phones), the Kin will make an interesting replacement to aging handsets like LG’s enV series. In a way, the Kin family is part of VZW’s answer to AT&T’s QMD category. Expect VZW and Microsoft to back a heavy advertising campaign when the phones come out, promoting the novel user experience and social networking functions. With a low retail price and some innovation on data plan pricing (see the Nokia Nuron smartphone, which requires just US$10/month for unlimited data at T-Mobile USA), the two Kin models could drive strong volumes for the carrier.

 

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For Microsoft, who recently painted themselves into a high-end corner with hefty hardware requirements on Windows Phone 7, the Kin family represents an interesting platform framework to get closer to the youth segment.

The high-tier Windows Phone 7 will be a natural handset upgrade path for today’s Kin user, as both platforms are forming common elements. While the short-term goal with the Kin family is to expand the addressable market by bringing messaging/social networking services through a robust framework, the long term goal is to own the consumer by highlighting the Microsoft value proposition to him/her early on.

Either way, Kin provides an interesting glimpse into Microsoft’s understanding of the future handset market, where feature phones will rely heavily on the cloud. (Like its Sidekick predecessors, the Kins store user data and content on company servers.) Add to that Windows Live service and Zune content integration, and Microsoft can be seen as gradually ramping up its strength on the multi-screen index.

-Alex Spektor


January 11, 2010 22:01 David Kerr
Afte the inevitable wave of irrational exuberance has come the equally inevitable correction and flow of negative comments regarding Google Nexus One.
  • We are now seeing a huge rebound of criticisms about customer service, implementation and execution, moaning and complaining for existing t-mobile customers who have to pay more than a new customer to get a cool device and strong complaints from developers about availability of SDK and support.
  •  Naturally, the questions about Google's ability to execute on direct sales are being raised but these shall pass very quickly in our view.
Within our wireless team we had divergent opinions from network centric, application focussed and device driven analysts but ultimatlely we arrived at the following key perspectives:
  • Consensus is that Nexus will be successful by high end tier Smartphone levels (single digit volumes in 2010 but upside potential when it rolls out beyond TMO in US and to more open markets in Europe). Nexus is likely to sell more through operator channels than direct overall. Handset volume though is not the metric by which Google will measure Nexus success nor should operators as Nexus sales are a means to an end.  If Google is successful and Nexus ends up driving usage and value for operators, they will support it with subsidies.  Otherwise, operators can passively watch Google evolve its own-branded offering with little to lose. Tier One handset vendors (SAM, LG) may have the most to lose as Google’s marketing muscle and brand coupled with compelling devices and experiences will be a strong competitor for Operator slots, subsidy dollars.
  • Handset revenues and profits are a nice to have for Google. Key to their success and long term ambition is too boost the mobile browsing ecosystem. More open devices capable of browsing/search/maps from Google or others is positive for Google.  Google needed to update and get close to parity in terms of an engaging, fun, easy browsing UI with competitive links to key apps like maps, media etc and this device achieves that goal. Google is great at creating a buzz and the media is ready to talk about something other than Apple.
  • Google Nexus and indeed the whole Android approach is not about controlling/owning the user (contrast this with Apple). Google’s key metric is advertising revenue. Google's vision is well publicized: the browser is how they will deliver services, even on mobile, and apps are a stop-gap measure as far as Google's strategic vision is concerned. Google is banking on HTML 5 as their solution to fragmentation but we believe they are drinking too much of their own coolaid here and underestimating the importance of apps. Google’s key goal is to increase eyeballs and advertising.
  • Some key elements that have not been addressed which we believe are key in Google’s future evolution and will be key to watch relate to Voice and what Google does its Gizmo5 acquisition to push Google Voice into a full VoIP proposition. This is where Telcos should be most worried and where we have yet to see all the pieces positioned on the battlefiled.

January 6, 2010 14:01 nmawston

The Google HTC Nexus One smartphone with Android 2.1 was unveiled in the US on Tuesday 5 January, 2010. It will initially ship in the US, UK, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore. The HSUPA handset ticks most of the right technology boxes, including a 4-inch touchscreen, multi-tasking and a powerful 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The phone has a handy voice-recognition feature, which can be used for controlling text fields, and it will be a key differentiator. A user can quickly write SMS and email messages simply by speaking to the handset. Only time will tell just how accurate and reliable the voice-control solution actually is. Why has Google gotten into the handset business? Google wants to champion a flagship user-experience and limit fragmentation for Android, while simultaneously driving up its global user-base for future mobile advertising revenues.


Exhibit 1: Google Nexus One


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Some downsides: first, the Nexus One lacks a hard QWERTY and multi-touch, which may be an issue for some segments. Second, the handset's style and design are a little ho-hum and me-too. Third, the retail pricing, at US$179 postpaid and US$529 prepaid unlocked, is not as competitive as some might have expected from a company that is often associated with super-low-cost business models. And fourth, the Nexus One is initially being launched with T Mobile, which may lack the marketing clout of its bigger US rivals such as AT&T.

An interesting development is the opening of a Google-hosted online store, at www.google.com/phone, which will offer an online retail channel through which consumers in the US can buy a prepaid or postpaid Nexus One. A customer must register on the site (useful for Google to control the end-user), choose a phone model, pick a data-plan from T Mobile, then Google will deliver the phone directly to their home. In effect, Google has become a handset distributor and retailer. This is unchartered territory, and it remains to be seen whether Google can compete effectively with the likes of Apple and Amazon. The announcement is certainly good news for the online handset distribution industry. Online handset distribution, via firms such as Amazon, currently accounts for 1 in 12 of all shipments worldwide. With Google's huge marketing clout and its heavily visited PC search engine, online handset distribution is going to see a major uplift in activity this year. Google just made online distribution a hotter topic for 2010.