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.

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 6, 2015 08:32 PLin

According to the latest report ‘VENDOR SHARE: North America Handset Vendor Marketshare: Q4 2014from our  Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) research service , mobile phone shipments improved by +27% annually to a record high in North America during the fourth quarter of 2014. Apple's new and bigger iPhone models dominated the quarter, while ZTE, LG and TCL-Alcatel each made strong annual gains. LTE volumes continued to grow robustly, driven by Apple, Samsung, ZTE and others.

Our extensive report contains quarterly handset shipments and marketshare by 2G / 3G / 4G technologies for the top 20 vendors in the USA and Canada from 2004 to Q4 2014. It is a valuable tool for all stakeholders who want to track the influential US and Canada markets. The report is available here to our paid clients.


November 20, 2014 14:12 khyers

Global shipments of handsets grew by 8% year-on-year in Q3 2014, propelled by a rapidly expanding LTE market in Asia and North America.  Apple led the LTE category, with its newly introduced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, while Lenovo ranked first in TD-SCDMA, even as that category shrank.

The report Vendor Share Global Handset Market by Technology Q3 2014 provides worldwide quarterly handset shipments for more than 30 vendors by nine major 2G, 3G and 4G protocols.  Clients of our Wireless Device Strategies service can access the report here.

 


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.


October 1, 2014 12:27 nmawston

According to a new report from our WDS (Devices) research service, global LTE handset sales will grow a huge +500% between 2013 and 2020. From 2018 onwards, 4G will make up the majority of handsets sold worldwide. Our extensive report forecasts LTE handset sales from 2010 through 2020, including sales by type, category and mode. Specific categories include LTE-Advanced, LTE-Broadcast, LTE-Direct, VoLTE, LTE Cat 3 through 10, FD-LTE and TD-LTE. The report is a valuable tool for handset vendors, component makers, software developers, operators and other stakeholders to support their high-growth 4G planning activities.


September 22, 2014 19:40 khyers

Shocking few, Apple’s newest iPhones broke records for first weekend sales, despite being available in fewer markets in 2014 than last year. Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus went on sale the weekend of September 19, going on to sell more than 10 million units. While thousands of customers lined up at carrier stores and Apple’s own retail stores in cities across the United States, Europe and select other markets around the world, supplies were limited and customers were left waiting as in-store stocks of iPhones quickly sold out.

Apple sold more than 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones this past weekend, a million more than were sold during opening weekend in 2013 when the iPhone 5S and 5C went on sale, and double the number of iPhone 5 handsets sold in the first weekend in 2012.  Despite having more devices on hand than ever before, many stores reported selling out of their stock, with waits of more than a month for the iPhone 6 Plus reported for many markets.  With demand for the iPhone at all-time high levels it is clear that Apple will have a blockbuster quarter in the upcoming holiday shopping season, and is likely to report higher-than-usual sales in Q1 2015 once the iPhone begins to go on sale in China.

Strategy Analytics tracks Apple iPhone and other leading vendors by model in our  Handset Country Share Tracker service and by country and protocol in our Wireless Device Strategies service , which are available to clients. The reports are vital tools for tracking the share and health of leading vendors across the globe.