Handset Country Share Tracker

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

July 12, 2013 22:59 Neil Shah

There is a rising wave of flagship smartphone launches from OEMs almost every fortnight in last eight months. This is as a result of intense competition and dramatic spec-wars to out-differentiate each other (thanks to Android) have reduced the overall product lifecycle/refresh-cycle/launch-cycle for major OEMs to almost 7-9 months.

Consumers in developed markets such as USA or Europe consumers are locked into two-years on postpaid contract. Rising demand for premium flagship models in these highly subsidized markets have challenged operators’ profitability which have forced some of them to elongate the early upgrade window back to 24 months. This has led to immense frustration among consumers which almost most of them missing at least one product refresh cycle.

To capitalize on this trend T-Mobile USA on July 10th 2013 announced its new & revolutionary “JUMP” program which allows its customers to upgrade to the latest smartphones twice every 12 months and without any contracts, however the customer has to enroll in this program at start for $10 a month. What this means is we could see a move which will help T-Mobile differentiate, improve consumer stickiness and thus reduce churn with less shackles to upgrade to their new favorite device. We also believe that this might kickstart “upgrade cycle wars” in USA and will not only accelerate ‘new’ handset ‘replacement cycle’ a boon for OEMs but also ‘second hand/used’ handset market, for companies like Gazelle, eBay and ReCellular selling recycling and refurbising devices.

Here is the snapshot on how the “handset upgrade” landscape looks like across big four carriers:

 

Source: T-Mobile 


June 13, 2013 17:49 Neil Shah

According to latest research from our Handset Country Share Tracker service, Apple registered its record high marketshare in the Japanese smartphone market. Apple was the top supplier in two out of three Japanese operators during the quarter. Sony was one of the fastest growing smartphone OEM capturing sceond spot as Xperia Z became one of the best selling smartphone models during the quarter.

Domestic brands such as Fujitsu, Sharp, NEC, Panasonic faced tough competition from the growing clout and shelf share of foreign brands, thanks to the global coverage, mindshare of popular sub-brands and flagship models such as Galaxy, Optimus, One, Razr and others.

Meanwhile, NTT Docomo remained the top smartphone operator benefitting from the rising wave of its Xi branded LTE smartphone sales whereas Softbank and KDDI (au) continued to compete closely for the second spot.

   

ResearchJapan Smartphone Vendor Marketshare by Operator: Q1 2013 (Link)


April 18, 2013 00:54 Neil Shah

HTC China recently announced its new Dual-SIM mid-tier Android smartphone E1 in April 2013. But unlike the sea of mid-tier Android smartphones, HTC is differentiating this device by offering online buyers in HTC eShop to "customize" the E1's specs such as color, memory size or camera megapixels, thus, a "made-to-order" device.

On entering the eShop page for E1, users are presented to input their "Birth Date" & "Gender" using which the HTC eShop's algorithm spits out a suggested configuration (case color, memory size, camera megapixels) as a part of the online customization experience. Users are obviously free to choose or tweak their own configuration as well.

This though is a basic customization effort but a very interesting and novel step from HTC to differentiate from other Android OEMs especially in markets such as China where Android dominates with 9 out of 10 smartphones sold. We expect to see more "customization" efforts from OEMs this year to make the smartphone buying experience highly engaging and also the device to be bought to truly match user's requirements making it more personalized and differentiated. 

 


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 12, 2010 15:04 Neil Shah
Verizon Wireless in the US is pressing hard to get its hands on the Apple iPhone. Its CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, has reportedly told Apple that it wants to stock the iPhone sooner rather than later. Why would Verizon Wireless want the iPhone? Well, it would surely love to break AT&T’s exclusive for the iconic device. Verizon would be keen to solidify its data ARPU and improve the company’s churn outlook by stocking the popular iPhone. And with next-gen models like the HTC EVO 4G WiMAX starting to appear at Sprint, Verizon needs to remain at the cutting-edge of data-centric handsets and services. If (if) Verizon Wireless were to stock the iPhone in 2010 to 2012, should it be optimized for CDMA or LTE connectivity? Of course, timing is king. Should a Verizon iPhone be launched in the second half of 2010, then it would definitely be a CDMA-only version, because Verizon’s LTE network will not be fully commercialized. How about an LTE version in mid-2011? Well, our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service forecasts LTE handsets will make up just 1% of total shipments in the United States next year. Launching an LTE iPhone in 2011 would be a huge marketing coup for Verizon, but it would be entering a niche immature market, so we think this approach is too high a risk for Apple -- as a historical benchmark, Apple’s first WCDMA iPhone in 2008 did not launch until WCDMA volumes were approaching some 10% of the nationwide total. Therefore, we believe a launch-date of 2012 or even 2013, when LTE will be more established, is a more realistic option for a Verizon Apple LTE iPhone. If an iPhone arrives at Verizon before those dates, then it will almost certainly be a CDMA-only version. - Neil Shah

March 22, 2010 21:03 Neil Shah
With Q3 FY 2010 financial report released this week and the outlook is still gloomy for Palm, it is being titled as a candidate for a “potential” buyout. But the future is in its own hands, and for the company like Palm it still has enough potential to weather out of this state and see some sunlight. There are some key areas where Palm has to rework its strategy. Palm has a good product line with likes of Palm Pre Plus & Palm Pixi Plus, and powered by a striking Linux core webOS platform enabling an intuitive UI covering all the basic traits to suit the targeted North American market. But still it’s unable to leverage on this appealing product line. The major issue for this lacklustre performance is due to its competition against the smartphone giants- Apple with a richer user experience and sea of applications, Samsung & LG growth with their manufacturing strategy customizing to satisfy mobile operator’s market segments, Blackberry with strong enterprise growth as well as remarkable entry into consumer segment, and the growing entrant Google with its open Android Platform. It is clear that Android, Mac OS X, Blackberry will dominate the North American market and Palm will be a secondary priority for the operators in spite of an innovative webOS platform. Based on the latest results, roughly half of the Palm’s shipments are in carrier channels struggling to sell through and the pressure is likely to increase further as Apple iPhone and Android begins the next innings with major software and hardware revisions in the following quarters. Perhaps Palm need to embrace growing platforms like Android, where operator and consumer interest is on the rise. By developing cross platform interfaces and services such as the Synergy, Palm can still provide a unique user experience on top of Android without betting the farm on webOS. Also, with positive outlook on HTML’s growth and adoption in mobile phones, from the applications development point of view Palm is at an advantage in leveraging its HTML/CSS written webOS in an opportunity to create new revenue vistas through mobile web browser based applications easily which may attract the operators participating in the recently announced “Wholesale Applications Community” at GSMA World Congress in Barcelona. Palm should also keep an eye on in incorporating the evolving wireless technologies (ex: TD-SCDMA, HSPA+, LTE) to expand and diversify its future offerings. So, Palm should for now go with the flow instead going against it and incorporate newer platforms like Android in its portfolio by 2011 instead of pushing the sole struggling webOS devices and thus come up with unique selling propositions satisfying the consumers & operator’s needs. Palm should also focus on striking strong long-term operator relationships especially GSM operators with a well thought and executed go-to-market strategy,and clawback out of this deteriorating situation. Thus, there will not be any need for “Palm” reading, as it will control its own future. - Neil Shah