Wireless Device Strategies

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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.

 


October 2, 2014 18:55 nmawston

According to new research from our WDS (Devices) service, Blackberry is planning to launch a fresh wave of unconventional cellphone designs in 2015. The recent Passport model -- with its square formfactor and touch-keyboard -- is "step 1" in Blackberry's multi-step roadmap for visually differentiated 4G phone models next year. Blackberry knows it MUST "do something different" to stand out on retailer store shelves -- and making eyecatching hardware is one way of doing that. However, there is a very fine line between "quirky good" and "quirky bad" for cellphone design. At the moment, Blackberry Passport -- which we forecast will ship 1 million units worldwide in 2014 -- hovers right in the middle between those two boundaries of good and not-so-good. Blackberry still has not yet wowed us -- but the company is thinking along the right lines.

More analysis of Blackberry Passport and the vendor's device strategy for 2015 can be viewed by clients here.


September 18, 2014 11:50 nmawston

At a recent event in London, UK, Motorola outlined its plans to re-attack the Western European cellphone market in the second half of 2014. The vendor is launching four new flagship products -- two phones, one Bluetooth headset and a smartwatch. However, some products, like the Moto 360, are far from perfect, and Motorola clearly has some way to go to fully recover in the European arena. Additional analysis of Motorola's European prospects in 2015 can be downloaded by clients of our WDS (Devices) reserach service here.


September 12, 2014 16:10 nmawston

Apple finally caught up with the rest of the mobile industry this week -- the first phablet was launched way back in 2011 -- and announced its new "iPhone6 Plus" phablet with a 5.5-inch screen, 1080p HD resolution and 401 ppi.

Our WDS (Devices) research service forecasts Apple iPhone6 Plus is now entering a huge global phablet market that will reach 300 million shipments in 2014.

The iPhone6 Plus will launch commercially worldwide in September 2014. We expect North America, Western Europe, Japan and China to be its largest markets. Its worldwide pricing will be in the premium-tier.

The iPhone6 Plus will have a slightly better camera / HD video (hardware and software) and be powered by Apple's A8 chip (faster graphics, enhanced battery life) and M8 coprocessor.

As expected, the iPhone6 range contains LTE Cat 4. This will enable faster data access for advanced apps, such as real-time gaming. There will also be VOLTE for crisper voice calls (but it may hit battery life), quicker 802.11ac WiFi data access, and the ability to make voice calls over the WiFi network (many mobile carriers will dislike that feature).

There are now 1.3 million apps available in the Apple App Store, so the ecosystem for Apple iPhone remains strong. Apple is partnering with developers, like Gameloft and Disney, to deliver console-quality mobile games. Apple deserves credit for pushing ahead with its mobile gaming strategy, because our research indicates games are the world's most popular mobile app.

Health apps now play a key role in iOS 8. For example, the iPhone6 portfolio will measure physical activity, like your number of steps. There is also a barometer for height sensoring. None of these are new features, and plenty of other vendors, like Samsung, already have similar features in their smartphone portfolios. In the bigger scheme of things, Apple today is no doubt optimizing its iPhone portfolio for the upcoming wearables industry that is emerging tomorrow.

Overall, the iPhone6 Plus is "as expected" and there are few surprises (most of the features and apps were already leaked). The iPhone6 Plus is a solid phablet that will quickly sell tens of millions units worldwide during the rest of this year. Rivals, like Samsung, LG, Motorola and others, will be getting a few restless nights of sleep in the coming months.


September 9, 2014 18:49 nmawston

After years of speculation, Apple finally unveiled its hand today in the mobile payments industry. It is launching Apple Pay, which is a mobile wallet feature for the new iPhone6 / iPhone6 Plus portfolio.

As expected, Apple Pay combines an NFC phone with a secure NFC element, dynamic (changing) security codes, TouchID fingerprinting, Passbook, and ties it all in to the millions of credit cards the company has on file inside iTunes.

Apple Pay will start in the United States in October 2014. The US is the world's largest credit card market, so it is no surprise to see this is their first target. Some of the rest of the world, such as the UK, will follow by 2015.

Partners include most major banks and payment networks, such as Citi, Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard and Amex. Several big stores are onboard, including Subway, Nike and Staples. However, our WMS (Media) service estimates that just a modest percentage of all retail stores in the US can currently accept Apple Pay -- that will be an early barrier to uptake.

Rivals, such as Softcard and MCX, will be very worried by this new development from Apple Pay. Some US operators, like T Mobile, may be upset by Apple encroaching on "their" mobile payment territory.

Apple is now entering a huge NFC phone market that our WDS (Devices) research service forecasts will reach 500 million units in 2014.


September 9, 2014 18:11 nmawston

Apple finally caught up with the rest of the mobile industry today and announced its new "iPhone6 Plus" phablet with a 5.5-inch screen, 1080p HD resolution and 401 ppi.

Our WDS (Devices) research service forecasts Apple iPhone6 Plus is now entering a huge global phablet market that will reach 300 million shipments in 2014.

The iPhone6 Plus will launch commercially worldwide in September 2014. We expect North America, Western Europe, Japan and China to be its largest markets. Its worldwide pricing will be in the premium-tier.

The iPhone6 Plus will have a slightly better camera / HD video (hardware and software) and be powered by Apple's A8 chip (faster graphics, enhanced battery life) and M8 coprocessor.

As expected, the iPhone6 range contains LTE Cat 4. This will enable faster data access for advanced apps, such as real-time gaming. There will also be VOLTE for crisper voice calls (but it may hit battery life), quicker 802.11ac WiFi data access, and the ability to make voice calls over the WiFi network (many mobile carriers will dislike that feature).

There are now 1.3 million apps available in the Apple App Store, so the ecosystem for Apple iPhone remains strong. Apple is partnering with developers, like Gameloft and Disney, to deliver console-quality mobile games. Apple deserves credit for pushing ahead with its mobile gaming strategy, because our research indicates games are the world's most popular mobile app.

Health apps now play a key role in iOS 8. For example, the iPhone6 portfolio will measure physical activity, like your number of steps. There is also a barometer for height sensoring. None of these are new features, and plenty of other vendors, like Samsung, already have similar features in their smartphone portfolios. In the bigger scheme of things, Apple today is no doubt optimizing its iPhone portfolio for the upcoming wearables industry that is emerging tomorrow.

Overall, the iPhone6 Plus is "as expected" and there are few surprises (most of the features and apps were already leaked). The iPhone6 Plus is a solid phablet that will quickly sell tens of millions units worldwide during the rest of this year. Rivals, like Samsung, LG, Motorola and others, will be getting a few restless nights of sleep in the coming months.


September 2, 2014 17:28 nmawston

IFA, one of the world's largest mobile and consumer electronic industry tradeshows, and several satellite events, will take place this week in Berlin, Germany, between Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 10th September, 2014.

Interest in IFA has been sluggish in recent years, but this year's event has something of a buzz about it. Analysts from our WDS (Devices) research service will be attending the event and pounding the show floor to bring you the latest updates.

We highlight three major trends that you MUST prioritize to explore at the IFA show:

1. Wearables: Numerous hardware makers are keen to get their smartwatches and fitness bands into the global market before Apple's rumored iWatch / iTime juggernaut arrives in the coming weeks. We recommend visiting the booths of Samsung, LG, Sony and Motorola to view their latest smartwatch models. We believe Samsung will focus partly on fitness, LG and Motorola on design, and Sony on Japanese-centric features like waterproofing.

2. Phablets: If 2015 is the year of the smartwatch, then 2014 is the year of the phablet. The global market, particularly across Asia, is being flooded with them. Samsung's Note 4 will be the highlight of IFA and the main mobile show in town. Can Samsung wow enough to outshine Apple's imminent new iPhone 6 portfolio? Will big-screen phablets cannibalize small-screen tablets next year?

3. Motorola: Expect to see an increasingly confident Motorola touting its new products. With Lenovo's money and momentum behind it (subject to various regulatory approval), the Motorola team looks very motivated right now. We expect to view the updated G2 and X+1 smartphone models at competitive pricepoints, as well as the fashion-centric 360 smartwatch with a rounded face. Europe rivals, like Wiko France, will be looking nervously over their shoulders.


August 11, 2014 11:39 nmawston

According to new research from our WDS (Devices) serviceworldwide mobile phone shipments grew +6% annually in Q2 2014. Asia and Africa Middle East were the world's fastest-growing regions, with LG, Alcatel-TCL and Lenovo all significant contributors. Huawei registered its best-ever single quarter in terms of handset volume shipments, while Alcatel recorded its second-best ever quarter and best Q2 ever. This published report, available to clients, details quarterly mobile phone marketshare for the world's top 30 vendors in North America, Central & Latin America, Western Europe, Central & Eastern Europe, Africa Middle East and Asia Pacific.


July 30, 2014 23:06 lsui

According to the latest Global Handset Subsidy Forecast by Region & Country : 2011 to 2020 report from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, global handset subsidy spending by mobile operators reached a peak in 2013. Subsidies will lessen from 2014 onwards as carriers tighten further their subsidy budgets.

Some major operators in tier-one countries, such as AT&T US or China Mobile, are trying actively to reduce handset subsidies. This means global handset subsidies will slip both in volume and value for the foreseeable future.

The US remains the largest subsidy country by value, while China will overtake the US to become the biggest subsidy country by volume in 2014.

Our extensive report, published here, provides worldwide handset subsidy forecasts by 6 regions and 2 key countries from 2011 through 2020. Subsidized handset volumes, average subsidy per subsidized handset, as well as total subsidy spend are included. Further breakdowns by device-type (smartphone vs. non-smartphones) and by subscription type ( prepaid vs. postpaid) are included, as well.


July 30, 2014 22:34 lsui

According to our latest Q2 2014 Huawei Insight Report, from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, Huawei's global mobile phone shipments jumped an impressive +60% annually during Q2 2014, well above the industry average growth rate. For the first time ever, Huawei become the world's 4th largest mobile phone vendor, surpassing LG and closing in on Apple.

Huawei maintained strong momentum in the smartphone market, where its shipments grew +81% YoY, more than three times above the industry average. Huawei strengthened its position as the world's third largest smartphone vendor this quarter, with a marketshare at record levels.

Huawei made huge progress in the global 4G market this quarter. Its worldwide LTE handset volume share tripled from last quarter. Leveraging its own chipset platform for vertical integration, Huawei is becoming more sophisticated and it is well-positioned to grow further in the 4G segment during H2 2014.

More analysis of Huawei can be viewed by clients here.