Wireless Device Strategies

First to market each quarter with the most accurate and detailed data on handset strategies. The industry’s most timely, consistent and accurate tracking of device vendor KPI metrics, as well as handset market sales and shipment forecasts.

August 22, 2013 08:22 woh

Our WDS (Wireless Device Strategies) service has recently updated its global mobile phone enabling technologies (ET) report. It is part two of a three-part series of reports that covers almost 40 technologies integrated into cellphones, from A to Z.

The part one (A to E) report forecasts major enabling technologies from accelerometers through to DivX, DLNA, Dolby, dual-SIM and email, while the second part (F to M) is dealing with technologies ranging from FM Radio through to GPS, HDMI, Miracast and Music / MP3.

This extensive datamodel, available to clients, is forecasting 6 regions from 2004 to 2017: North America, Central & Latin America, Western Europe, Central & Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa Middle East.


July 17, 2012 14:24 Alex Spektor

Samsung, the world's largest handset vendor, has acquired the mobile division of CSR, a UK-based chipset maker. CSR's portfolio includes key technologies for mobile device connectivity, such as Bluetooth and WiFi, including the emerging 802.11ac standard. The US$310 million purchase brings two primary benefits to Samsung:

  1. The vertical integration of components to improve its supply chain, optimize BOM costs, and introduce a point of differentiation. Samsung already makes many of its own components, such as displays, flash memory, and application processors;
  2. The strengthening of the device vendor's patent portfolio to help with IPR battles. Samsung and rivals like Apple have been in courts around the world over patent infringement issues.

Samsung is strengthening its component assets for Bluetooth, GPS and WiFi, which should eventually strengthen its handset designs. If Samsung has great displays and great chips in-house, then that’s going to be a solid basis for technology differentiation and supply chain control that can give Samsung devices a competitive edge. Of course, in the longer term, Samsung may end up juggling too many component balls at once, and a sprawling components portfolio could potentially become a negative rather than a positive if they don’t keep things under control.


December 21, 2011 16:30 Alex Spektor

The impending avalanche of NFC phones, which our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service projects to grow at an average of 67% per year over the next five years, has everybody thinking about contactless payments. With all the buzz around Google's soft-launched Wallet service and the US carrier joint venture ISIS, which should roll out in 2012, it makes sense. Indeed, the simple fact that money is directly involved in this particular application of NFC rightfully encourages the whole wireless value chain to think about potential revenue opportunities.

However, there is one often overlooked application for NFC -- intelligent device pairing. The idea is simple: instead of inputting PINs, passkeys, or even 26 hexadecimal digits to pair two wireless devices, the user simply "taps" two NFC devices together. The concept can be applied for any pairing event, regardless of which enabling technology, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, is used to make the actual connection.

So far, only one handset vendor has actively promoted NFC for this application. Nokia's latest NFC-enabled handsets and Bluetooth headsets can be paired together using this very concept. Unfortunately, the latest Windows Lumia devices are not yet in this category, as Microsoft has not yet added NFC support to its platform. Nevertheless, Nokia's attention to NFC tech is a positive sign for the vendor's future portfolio. Nokia's strategy holds two key benefits: it future-proofs handsets, getting them ready for mobile contactless payment services once they eventually roll out, and it improves the usability of a typically cumbersome process.

Chip supplier Broadcom, whose interests span Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC has also recognized this useful application of the emerging tech, and we expect its chipsets and middleware to help device vendors think beyond mobile payments as they develop their NFC smartphones and tablets.

Alex Spektor
Wireless Device Strategies


December 16, 2011 15:18 Alex Spektor

Analysts from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service attended the recent 2011 Broadcom Analyst Day held in New York City, where the semiconductor firm highlighted its recent successes in the wireless chipset space and outlined a strategy for further growth.

Broadcom's major revenue growth driver so far has been the proliferation of its "combo chip" wireless connectivity solution, providing enabling technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC. The solution, Broadcom claims, gives them a typical ASP of US $6-8, which provides a healthy contribution thanks to Broadcom's strong marketshare. Moving forward, Broadcom is seeking revenue uplift from going after the combination baseband/applications processor/GPU market, which together with the wireless combo chip would yield to Broadcom a per-handset ASP of US$12-30. Indeed, Broadcom are already well on their way, and according to our Handset Component Technologies team, Broadcom broke into top-five smartphone AP chip supplier rankings during Q3 2011.

The first phase of Broadcom's long-term plan targets the low-end smartphone market, where Broadcom claims that its solution delivers better performance, dollar for dollar. In particular, Broadcom is targeting cost-sensitive Indian and Chinese microvendors, which are small individually but, according to our Wireless Device Strategies service, together represented about 1 in 10 handsets shipped worldwide during Q3 2011. Going after the low-end smartphone segment, we believe, is a wise decision. Indeed, according to our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, more than half of all smartphones will be priced below US$200 wholesale globally in just a few years.

The second phase of Broadcom's long-term plan will be to target the emerging LTE market. Indeed, we expect well over 100 million LTE phones to be sold during the next two years. Coupled with the technology's significantly above-average ASPs, makes it an attractive market for Broadcom to target.

Ultimately, the success of Broadcom's long-term strategy depends on their ability to gain design wins with microvendors and megavendors alike. The recent success of the Broadcom-powered Samsung Galaxy Y is an early indicator that initial momentum is in the right direction.

Alex Spektor
Wireless Device Strategies


December 14, 2011 11:28 nmawston

Strategy Analytics forecasts worldwide HTML5 phone sales will surge from 336 million units in 2011 to 1 billion units in 2013. HTML5 has quickly become a hyper-growth technology that will help smartphones, feature phones, tablets, notebooks, desktop PCs, televisions and vehicles to converge through cloud services.

We forecast worldwide HTML5 phone sales to hit 1 billion units per year in 2013. Growth for HTML5 phones is being driven by robust demand from multiple hardware vendors and software developers in North America, Europe and Asia who want to develop rich media services across multiple platforms, including companies like Adobe, Apple, Google and Microsoft. We define an HTML5 phone as a mobile handset with partial or full support for HTML5 technology in the browser, such as the Apple iPhone 4S.

We believe HTML5 will help smartphones, feature phones, tablets, notebooks, desktop PCs, televisions and vehicles to converge in the future. HTML5 will be a pivotal technology in the growth of a multi-screen, 4G LTE cloud that is emerging for mobile operators, device makers, car manufacturers, component vendors and Web app developers. With its potential to transcend some of the barriers faced by native apps, such as cross-platform usability, HTML5 is a market that no mobile stakeholder can afford to ignore.

However, despite surging growth of HTML5 phone sales, we caution that HTML5 is still a relatively immature technology. HTML5 currently has limited APIs and feature-sets to include compared with native apps on platforms such as Android or Apple iOS. It will require several years of further development and standards-setting before HTML5 can fully mature to reach its potential as a unified, multi-platform content-enabler.

The full report, Global HTML5 Handset Sales Forecast, is published by our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, details of which can be found at this link: http://www.strategyanalytics.com/default.aspx?mod=reportabstractviewer&a0=6901.


November 14, 2011 12:04 Alex Spektor

In a recent report from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, we published that superphones will be the world's fastest growing sub-category of wireless handsets this year. Global superphone sales will grow 200 percent in 2011, driven by popular models such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation, increasing fifteen times faster than the overall handset market's growth rate of 13 percent.

Superphones are a relatively new sub-category of wireless handsets that first appeared on the global market in 2009, initially leveraging the now-obsolete Microsoft Windows Mobile platform. Superphones today integrate high-level operating systems like Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone with supersized displays of at least 4 inches and superfast processors of at least 1GHz.

Superphones are driving super growth in the handset market. Consumers and operators like the richer experience of larger screens and faster processing speeds that can be delivered by superphones, for applications like Web browsing, gaming, and watching HD video. Samsung is currently the world's leading superphone vendor due to the success of its Android-powered Galaxy S2 model, and Samsung has been aggressively leveraging this leadership to attack rivals with much weaker superphone portfolios such as Nokia, Blackberry and even Apple.

Alex Spektor
Wireless Device Strategies


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


March 17, 2010 23:03 bjoy
High-end mobile handsets have more in common with the consumer electronics industry than they used to. Music, camera and GPS segments are some of the early examples that have lost increasing ground to the mobile industry. As the industry converges further, more use-cases and functions will be bundled on high-end handsets and crimp the growth of other consumer-electronic segments such as portable gaming. Retailers are closely watching the evolution of cellular devices and treading the waters carefully. Connectivity will of course be common across multiple device categories, whether it is your 65-inch Plasma TV or internet-enabled table clock – and for the most part, this is a new learning experience for major main-street retailers. Connectivity adds another dimension and requires additional training for their customer representatives – initial set up, configuration, billing, activation, rebates and contract obligations are areas where retailers need to climb up the experience ladder. Some interesting trends from the buoyant US market: Best Buy is betting its future growth on high-end smartphones and emerging connected devices such as 3G laptops. Smartphones are just the launch pad for Best Buy’s broader strategy in taking an early position in the evolving connected terminals space. Wal-Mart is embracing a different route that is aligned with their low-cost mass-market philosophy. The no-frills service plan StraightTalk, developed in conjunction with TracFone, was a big success during the last holiday season. The business is changing in the online channels as well; Amazon launched is beta program last year and connected devices are often sold at significant discounts than through carrier-direct channels. On one hand, third-party specialist retail channels will expand operators' addressable markets to new segments. Operators do not have all the necessary assets to tap the long tail of emerging 3G device segments or new service plans that are aligned more with the consumer electronics industry. In this scenario, retailers are the operators' friend. On the other hand, dilution of operators' direct channels will be a threat for operators' control, and without proper checks in place, the thousands of existing operator stores in the US will soon become much less important. In this scenario, retailers will gain more distribution power and become the operators' foe. - Bonny Joy

March 10, 2010 05:03 Alex Spektor
No, I did not misplace my BlackBerry. This blog post is not about the “Find My iPhone” feature or any other innovations in device recovery. Rather, I would like to lament my disappointment with the general lack of true intelligence in so-called smartphones. Named so for their advanced (PC-like, Wikipedia suggests) capabilities, smartphones trump ordinary phones with their ability to tie in new services, run applications, and browse the real Web. But should being PC-like be the ultimate aspiration for handsets? After all, phones have a key advantage that not even the lightest of netbooks can have – phones are always with their users and, as such, they know a lot about them.
  • Using GPS and accelerometers, the phone can know where you are and whether you are moving.
  • With knowledge of your calendar, the phone can know if you are busy and whether it should interrupt you.
  • By monitoring your behavior, the phone can guess how you will behave next time a similar situation arises.
Privacy advocates and conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one, of course. But their fears can be assuaged with feature opt-in and with clear, published documentation of what data are stored and shared. Mobile context awareness is nothing new. Academics have been talking about it for over a decade. But, outside of downloadable (i.e., not truly integrated) apps and some barebones functionality (such as the “Automatic” ringtone profile on some WinMo phones, which goes to vibrate during scheduled meetings), there still is not a whole lot of context awareness in smartphones. Platforms like Android allow you arrange your widgets across multiple home screens. Powerful? Yes. You then have to flip through the home screens until you find the one with the right widgets. Smart? Not really. Why can’t your phone – knowing whether you are at work, on a train, or at home – give you the right home screen on its own? And switch wallpapers. And change the vibrate settings.

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This example only scratches the surface of the possibilities out there. Vendors looking to differentiate on open platforms such as Android or Symbian have a terrific opportunity in building a robust context-aware user experience. Tomorrow, this stuff will be table stakes. But today, we are still waiting for somebody to lead the way. Handsets are loaded with power: processors, sensors, round-the-clock connection to services. But where is the intelligence to tie all of this power together? Maybe we should call them powerphones until they start doing something smart. -Alex Spektor