Wireless Device Strategies

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March 4, 2015 18:00 nmawston

Strategy Analytics' devices team (WDS service) is this week on the showfloor at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 -- the world's largest tradeshow for the wireless industry -- in Barcelona, Spain.

We blogged previously here on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

These are the "big three" events that caught our eye on Day 4 (Wednesday 4 March):


1. 5G Phones : The mobile industry loves a good buzzword and there is plenty of talk about the next big one -- 5G. We expect 5G handsets and tablets to be soft-launched in 2018 and hard-launched by 2020. South Korea, Japan, Scandinavia and the US will lead the way for early introductions. Real devices and networks are years away, of course, but the planning for 5G is taking place right now and it is gathering pace at the proposed 5GPP standards body and among major companies like Ericsson, Orange and Samsung. What will first-generation 5G smartphones look like? Expect them to be expensive, heavy, short on battery life, with lightning data-speeds and ultra-low latency. The industry's vision calls for 5G cellular, "5G WiFi", "5G IoT networks" and "5G satellites" to be meshed together as one seamless network -- it is clearly a very ambitious roadmap, and the complexity of it strikes us as very high. That can surely mean only one thing for 5G in the coming years -- arguments and delays!;

2. Tizen OS : We trialled Samsung's Z1 cellphone this week, which incoporates the new Tizen OS for emerging markets like India. We can report that software usability is good and the speed of the user-interface is very fast for what is an entry-to-mid-tier device. We think Android users will find it easy to learn Tizen and make the switch if they want to (the UI looks "familiar"). In short, the software is very good. By contrast, the hardware still needs some improvement. For example, we found the camera quality a little lackluster and the formfactor slightly ho-hum;

3. Ubuntu OS : BQ of Spain is making its presence felt at MWC by carving out an early niche with its Aquaris E4.5 handset with Ubuntu OS. We must say, this device surprised us (in a positive way). The menu-system is intuitive and the UI is easy to learn. Mass-market consumers will like it. However, we found the Aquaris E4.5 is let down by its modest formfactor design and weak camera functionality and BQ obviously has some extra work to do on the next-generation Ubuntu models.


That completes Day 4.

Check back tomorrow for the final Day 5!


March 3, 2015 20:00 nmawston

Strategy Analytics' devices team (WDS service) is this week on the showfloor at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 -- the world's largest tradeshow for the wireless industry -- in Barcelona, Spain.

We blogged previously here on Day 1 (Sunday) and Day 2 (Monday).

These are the "big three" events that caught our eye on Day 3 (Tuesday 3 March):

1. FUJITSU IRIS (EYE) AUTHENTICATION : The Japanese company has developed an iris-authentication system for smartphones and tablets. You look at the smartphone screen, your eye gets read instantly, and the smartphone self-unlocks. The system uses an infrared LED to map the iris and an infrared camera to capture the image. This is an alternative security mechanism to fingerprint-recognition, already used widely in Apple and Samsung devices. However, iris-recognition will remain a niche feature for now, due to cost, battery and usability issues -- but it is a potential differentiator for premium smartphones when the technology matures in 2016, particularly among enterprise users.

2. BLACKBERRY DUAL-CURVED TOUCHSCREEN PHONE : The Canadian vendor introduced its mid-range Leap LTE touchphone, and spoke of reviving its high-end Porsche Design handset -- but it was talk of a dual-curved touschscreen smartphone for the second half of 2015 that pricked up our ears. Blackberry, for almost a decade, has lagged badly behind rivals for mobile-display quality. Its cellphone screens have been (and still are) too small, too dull and lacking good usability. But if Blackberry can deliver a large, rich, dual-curved-display smartphone (or smartwatch) in the second half of this year, it will put Blackberry right back near the forefront of smartphone innovation. Given its past record, we remain skeptical that Blackberry will actually be able to pull this off -- but if they can, we may find Blackberry surprising to the upside for the first time in a long, long time.

3. CASH BY OPTUS SMARTWATCH : Optus -- Australia's second largest operator -- will launch commercially a proximity-payment solution for smartwatches in the second half of 2015. The goal is to replace cash and credit-card micropayments in retail stores under AU$100 (US$80). The prototype smartwatches on display today -- made by ConnecteDevices of Hong Kong -- work with Apple or Android smartphones and use NFC chipsets. This is an interesting move by Optus to shape and control an emerging mobile-payments ecosystem. In a world where most major carriers simply sit on their hands and wait for third-parties to deliver the innovation, we applaud Optus for taking charge and experimenting with its own smartwatch-payments solution. 


That completes Day 3.

Check back tomorrow for Day 4!

Innovative ... Optus created the proof-of-concept smartwatches with Hong Kong firm Connec


March 2, 2015 20:00 nmawston

Strategy Analytics' devices team (WDS service) is this week on the showfloor at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 -- the world's largest tradeshow for the wireless industry -- in Barcelona, Spain.

We blogged yesterday on Day 1 (Sunday).

These are the "big three" events that took place on Day 2 (Monday 2 March):

1. HTC ONE M9 : The new flagship M9 offers an aluminum-unibody, 5-inch screen and Android Lollipop OS (which some wags have labelled "Lolliflop", due to weak sales). The formfactor is thin and pretty and the hardware specs are suitably premium, such as 3GB RAM and a Qualcomm octocore CPU. The M9 will be launched commercially worldwide in Q2 2015. HTC's slick smartphones have long been popular among critics and device testers... but they are rarely popular among mass-market consumers. Can the M9 reverse this trend and strike a chord with mass-consumers? In our view, probably not -- because HTC's brand has lost a lot of its shine in recent years -- but the M9 does give the vendor a good tool in its arsenal to stabilize the struggling ship this year;

2. MICROSOFT LUMIA 640 / 640XL DUAL-SIM : The 640 and 640XL are two of the world's first dual-SIM LTE smartphones to be launched commercially in H1 2015. This is an impressive technological feat -- especially when we recall how Nokia (now Microsoft) was one of the last major hardware manufacturers to deliver 2G or 3G dual-SIM phones in the 2000s and 2010s. Along with WP8.1 and dual-SIM 4G capability (mostly for emerging markets), Microsoft will also give buyers US$69 of complimentary access for one whole year to Office365 in the cloud. The US-Finnish vendor is quietly improving the quality of its hardware, software and services, as it seeks to make Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Phone 10 the mobile industry's "third ecosystem". But while its products are markedly better, there are still questions about Microsoft's limited retail distribution channels in China, the US and other major countries;

3. LG URBANE LTE : The South Korean company has launched almost 20 new products at MWC this year. But the Urbane LTE stands out most because it is one of the world's first LTE smartwatches and because it uses LG Wearable Platform for its OS (not Android Wear). Adding 4G to smartwatches -- without making the formfactor too thick -- is technologically complex right now, due to component immaturity. And LG is taking a bold step by dimissing Android Wear for its top wearable model in H1 2015. LG is obviously attacking the global smartwatch market very aggressively this year, and -- along, with Huawei and Xiaomi -- LG is "one to watch" in wearables throughout 2015.

That completes Day 2.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3!


March 1, 2015 20:00 nmawston

Strategy Analytics' devices team (WDS service) is this week on the showfloor at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 -- the world's largest tradeshow for the wireless industry -- in Barcelona, Spain.

These are the "big three" events that took place on Day 1 (Sunday 1 March):

1. SAMSUNG GALAXY S6 / S6 EDGE/ GEAR VR : The South Korean giant launched two new flagship LTE Android smartphones for the first half of 2015, the S6 and S6 edge. Both are premium models, with 5.1-inch screens, and they will launch commercially worldwide from April, 2015. We have trialled the devices and found them sleek and user-friendly. Better hardware comes in the form of a glass body, dual-curved display, more internal memory, a Gear VR virtual reality headset accessory, wireless-charging, and fast-charging (10mins of recharging delivers up to 4 hours of battery life). Better software comes in the form of Samsung Pay (magnetic strip or NFC) and a more-secure Samsung Knox. The S6 is a significant improvement over the previous S5. Is it an iPhone killer? No, not yet, but it has closed the quality gap on Apple;

2. ALCATEL ONETOUCH IDOL 3 : The Chinese-French company introduced two new flagship LTE Android handsets for 2015. They will launch commercially worldwide from May / June, 2015. The mid-range model carries a 4.7-inch screen. The higher-tier model uses Cat-4 LTE and sports a 5.5-inch screen, like Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. Alcatel has partnered with JBL, MixVibes, Technicolor and FotoNation for stronger sound and richer visual effects. These devices are an important part of the vendor's "Step Up" strategy to raise volume and profits. They will help Alcatel (and TCL) to maintain their established position as a top-ten handset maker;

3. HUAWEI WATCH / TALKBAND N1 / TALKBAND B2 : This was the most-striking wearables product-launch on the first day of MWC. Huawei has clearly been working hard behind the scenes to develop smartwatches and fitness bands. The Chinese vendor will introduce the Talkband N1, Talkband B2 and Watch globally in the first half of 2015. The B2 Bluetooth fitness band is compatible with Apple iOS 7.0 and above, while the Watch works with the Jawbone health platform and delivers an attractive, 1.4-inch, circular display with 40 customizable watchfaces. This is a strong start from Huawei -- expect them to quickly become a top-ten wearables player this year.

That completes Day 1.

Check back tomorrow for Day 2!


February 17, 2015 12:48 nmawston

Mobile World Congress (MWC) takes place in Barcelona, Spain, between Sunday 1st to Thursday 5th March, 2015.

MWC is the world's most influential tradeshow for the mobile industry.

Our WDS (Devices) analysts will be on the showfloor -- click here if you would like to meet us at MWC.

These are the "top five" companies and themes we recommend visiting at the event next month:

1. Wearables -- The hottest topic in mobile right now. The booths from LG, Samsung and Alcatel will display multiple swartwatches across multiple price-bands. There is unlikely to be an "Apple Watch killer" at MWC, but it will be fascinating to see how next-gen features and apps are evolving (e.g. health, fitness, email alerts, etc.);

2. LTE / LTE-Advanced -- There will be hundreds of 4G / 4.5G phones on show. At the higher-end, Samsung's flagship "S6 / S6 Edge" with a funky screen and Android / Microsoft apps will be the model to watch. At the mid-range, check out Huawei or Microsoft (Nokia). At the entry-level, we expect Alcatel to showcase competitive designs;

3. Chinese / Indian Brands -- Many will focus on the fashionable brands of today, such as Lenovo and Xiaomi. But our research indicates their best days of growth are pretty much over. Instead, we recommend visiting the emerging brands of tomorrow, such as OPPO, Micromax or Vivo. Their LTE models are quietly building a solid fan base;

4. Ubuntu -- This UK-based, open-source smartphone platform is trying to break the stranglehold of Android, by offering low-cost software and innovative "scopes" (apps). So far, reaction to Ubuntu has been mixed. MWC will be a great chance to handle the actual, new Ubuntu models from device makers, Meizu China and BQ Spain;

5. Acer / Microsoft Smartphones -- Windows Phone holds a tiny 3% share of the global smartphone market today. Microsoft badly needs new hardware vendors (beyond the Nokia takeover) to adopt its ecosystem in 2015. Help may be coming in the form of Acer, which is desperate to shift from PCs and laptops to tablets and smartphones. We expect Acer to introduce one or more WP handsets at MWC. We expect pricing to be competitive.

Our device analysts will be presenting, meeting and researching at MWC 2015. Please check back here every day -- from Sunday 1st to Thursday 5th March -- to read our daily blogs from the showfloor in sunny Barcelona. 



February 14, 2015 06:10 lsui

According to the latest report -- Value Share : Handset Revenue, Profit and ASP in Q4 2014 -- from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, Apple and Samsung together captured a huge 96% share of all global handset industry profits in Q4 2014.

Apple alone generated 88% of industry profit, significantly up from 70% one year ago, driven by strong performance of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In contrast, Samsung profit share dipped to 8% in the quarter.

Leading Chinese vendors also made improvements. Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO were among the top 10 most-profitable handset vendors worldwide in Q4 2014.

Additional data and analysis can be downloaded by clients here.

 


January 29, 2015 01:43 khyers

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global mobile phone shipments grew 7 percent annually to reach 515 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014. It was the first time worldwide mobile phone shipments have passed the half-billion-unit threshold. Apple was the star performer, capturing a record 14 percent marketshare, due to strength in the US and China.

Global mobile phone shipments grew 7 percent annually from 481.5 million units in Q4 2013 to 515.0 million in Q4 2014. It was the first time worldwide mobile phone shipments have exceeded a half-billion units in a single quarter. Smartphones accounted for 7 in 10 of total mobile phone shipments during the quarter. The 7 percent growth rate of the overall mobile phone market is being driven by healthy demand for 3G and 4G models across Asia, Africa and the Americas. Handset shipments reached 1.8 billion units globally in full-year 2014, an all-time high for the industry.

Samsung dipped 19 percent annually and shipped 95.0 million mobile phones worldwide, capturing 18 percent marketshare in Q4 2014. Samsung is facing intense competition from Apple, Huawei and others in the fast-growing, big-screen phablet segment across China, United States and Europe. Apple soared 46 percent annually and shipped 74.5 million mobile phones for a record 14 percent worldwide marketshare in Q4 2014. Apple’s new iPhone 6 portfolio with larger screens is the key to its success. Apple fans have been waiting years for outsized iPhones to arrive and demand for Apple’s expensive models has been exceptionally high.

Microsoft shipped 50.2 million mobile phones worldwide in Q4 2014, down 23 percent from 64.8 million a year earlier. Microsoft is experiencing decent growth in smartphones, but its core feature phone lineup continues to struggle. Lenovo-Motorola finally merged officially to capture 5 percent handset marketshare and become the fourth largest mobile phone vendor worldwide in 2014. China, Brazil, India and United States will be among the main countries targeted by the enlarged group in 2015.

Other findings from the research include:

  • LG had a relatively robust quarter, with volumes in North America notably active; 
  • A long tail of second-tier brands continues to build momentum beyond the top four mobile phone brands. Key emerging challengers in mobile phones worldwide at the moment include OPPO, Vivo, Lenovo, Xiaomi and others. They remain important players to monitor.

Exhibit 1: Global Mobile Phone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q4 2014* 

 

Global Mobile Phone Vendor Shipments (Millions of Units)

Q4 '13

2013

Q4 '14

2014

Samsung

118.0

451.7

95.0

405.0

Microsoft (Nokia)

64.8

252.4

50.2

199.7

Apple

51.0

153.4

74.5

192.7

Lenovo-Motorola

19.1

63.6

24.9

93.6

Others

228.6

763.9

270.4

919.3

Total

481.5

1685.0

515.0

1810.3

Global Mobile Phone Vendor Marketshare (%)

Q4 '13

2013

Q4 '14

2014

Samsung

24.5%

26.8%

18.4%

22.4%

Microsoft (Nokia)

13.5%

15.0%

9.7%

11.0%

Apple

10.6%

9.1%

14.5%

10.6%

Lenovo-Motorola

4.0%

3.8%

4.8%

5.2%

Others

47.5%

45.3%

52.5%

50.8%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

 

 

 

 

Total Growth: Year-over-Year (%)

9.4%

6.6%

7.0%

7.4%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Apple Becomes World’s No.2 Mobile Phone Vendor in Q4 2014, is published by the Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, details of which can be found here.

*Numbers are rounded. The term “Mobile Phone” is defined as smartphones plus feature phones combined.


 


January 22, 2015 07:53 PLin

Browsing the Internet is more important than ever to handset users, developers and operators. There is not just a battle for operating systems taking place, but also a war for Web browsers.

Our latest report, Global Handset Browser Marketshare in 2014 -- from our  Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) research service-- tracks global mobile browser marketshare for all mobile phones shipped worldwide during 2014, including Opera, Safari, Chrome and others.

The report is available to download here to clients.


January 9, 2015 06:25 woh

This year's CES trade show in Las Vegas is coming to an end, with many stories and 'wow' experiences created across a lot of displayed consumer, automobile and mobile products. Our analysts from WDS (Wireless Device Strategies) research service are in Las Vegas to watch and experience those thrilling products the whole this week.

You can read our daily blogs from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 along with pre-blog.

These are three key trends and important device models that our analysts have identified at the event on Day 4 (Thurs):

1. Various Operating Systems for Smartwatches to be Showcased during CES 2015: While the global smartphone industry is dominated by two major OS's, Android (from Google) and iOS (from Apple), which many people dub them as 'two-horses races', it is likely that we are going to see some more various operating systems in global smartwatch industry, on top of Google (Android Wear) and Apple. Tizen, on which Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear S from Samsung are built upon, is already capturing the number one market share in global smartwatch shiments in Q3 2014, and Samsung is expected to enlarge its Tizen ecosystem for their wearable strategy. The second cadidate is WebOS on which LG is building its 'G Watch R' device customized for its smart car partner, Audi. Undoubtedly LG is one of strong champions of Android Wear based smartwatch, so it is still not clear whether LG will sell WebOS-based versions to the general public. The third candidate is a customized Alcatel own proprietary OS implemented on their Alcatel One Touch Watch. Strikingly, this Watch product is speculated to be compatible with all the major smartphone OS's such as Android, iOS and WindowsPhone. Android device vendors are using smartwatches as a new inflexion point to try to break free from the shackles of Android. 

2. Dozens of Price-Friendlier LTE-Capable Smartphones to Flood the Hall: 4G LTE-capable smartphones have been regarded expensive until the end of 2014, but we are seeing more and more OEM's displaying price-friendlier 4G LTE smartphones, priced below US$400 to $450 retail, at CES 2015 from Samsung, Huawei, TCL-Alcatel, Lenovo, ZTE, ASUS and Acer. A growing number of users from developed to developing countries don't want to spend much money to buy 4G smartphones, but as they are hungry for faster LTE services, device vendors are targeting to tap into this market as another high-revenue generating chance. Samsung didn't launch the new smartphones this year at CES 2015, but is showcasing less priced Galaxy A3 and A5 than premium Galaxy S and Note series, and TCL-Alcatel is unveiling its new lower-priced 4G smartphones dubbed Pixi 3 (4.0/4.5/5.0 inch) and the new line of POP 2 line-ups in three different sizes. Huawei displays Budget LTE Handset Honor 4X in the CES 2015 with 3,000 mAh battery. Also Lenovo is unveiling an affordable LTE smartphone, A6000 at CES 2015, which will be available in India later this month. ZTE's new phablet, Grand X Max +, will be hitting the US market at US$199, and two Taiwanese vendors, ASUS and Acer, are unveiling mid-priced 4G smartphones, ZenFone 2 and Liquid Z410.

3. Struggling, but still Powerful Vendors: Blackberry's showcased Passport looks good with the stonger support of Android applications, and this vendor is gearing towards IoT and BBM monetization. HTC is quite bullish about 2015, and is expected to focus on flagship leadership, Desire family, software, services and connected productsMicrosoft is segmenting their target markets into three areas, from high-end to affordable to first, and they are ready to release the appealing products for each segment. Sony didn't bring its new Xperia Z4 to the general publich here, but as this Japanese vendor is focusing on smart home during CES 2015, we believe that Sony will try to gain more traction in mobile space with upcoming Xperia Z4 and the  SmartWatch 3 launched at CES 2015.

This has been the daily blogs from CES 2015, and we look forward to seeing you again at CES 2016 in wonderful Las Vegas.

 


January 8, 2015 02:38 woh

It's already halfway through the official four-day schedule of CES 2015 trade show in Las Vegas, the US, and several analysts from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service are pounding the floors across the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) and adjacent hotels to check out the new trends and products, and also to directly have face-to-face meetings with many clients/prospects/journalists.

Our earlier blogs from Day 1 and Day 2 can be viewed here and here.

These are three key trends and appealing handset / smartphone models we have identified at the event on Day 3 (Weds):

1. Smartphones and Smartwatches to Control the Smart Home,  Smart Car, IoT and Smart Everything: Smart Home and Smart Car are getting in force this year at CES 2015, with many concepts and products introduced by consumer electronics companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and TCL, and car makers such as BMW, Toyota, Audi, Hyundai and Volkswagen,  and chipset companies such as Qualcomm, nVidia and Intel. By manipulating a Samsung Gear S and LG G Watch R, drivers can park their cars automatically. Also smartphones can remotely send several wireless commands to smart home appliances such as washers, robot cleaners and refrigerators to control and monitor them. As machine-to-machine connectivity is becoming important in Smart Home, Car and IoT spaces, smartphones and smartwatches will play a crucial role to centrally manage these complicated systems. The smartphone is your "hub".

2. Microsoft to Revive the Feature Phone with Nokia Brand: It is very uncommon to see feature phones during the trade shows recently, but Microsoft unveiled the Nokia 215, which is known as one of the most affordable Internet-ready, entry-level phones yet. Nokia 215, a smartphone-like feature phone with popular apps and services such as Facebook, Twitter, Opera mini and Bing pre-installed, pictured below, is offering a battery time of up to almost a month in standby mode after just one charging session. Available only for US$29 retail, Microsoft will be sure to target emerging market such as APAC and African countries in which many people are still eager for even 2G connecitivity.  Microsoft is not giving up on the feature phone segment and believe that there are three categories of customers to target with this kind of trusted, ultra-affordable feature phone: 1) 1st phone buyers, 2) feature phone loyalists and 3) people looking for a second phone that is smaller and less valuable.

3. Dual-Edge Bending Display To Be Available Soon: LG Display, one of the biggest smartphone display-panel providers, is showing its Active Bending display for selective customers in Las Vegas. This new prototype has a 6.0 inch Plastic OLED display that folds over the "two-sided" edges of the device, which is different from the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge with a one-sided bent display. It is speculated that Samsung is working on a dual-edge, curved Galaxy S6 at the moment, and it woudn't be a suprise if Xiaomi and LG would also release their new flagships equipped with this display in limited volume in 2015.  The question is, how smartphone vendors are making the users want this innovative device, as there are arguably few practical or appealing users cases so far. So, if more useful use-cases are to be created with this sort of dual-edged display, we believe that this segment can create a huge market opportunity as consumers remain hungry for technological differentiators.

Please check back here, every day, to our blog page, for further blogs and daily updates from Las Vegas.