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.

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.


August 4, 2010 23:08 nmawston


Blackberry has finally introduced its much-awaited OS 6 upgrade with the launch of the Torch 3G smartphone. It will initially be sold exclusively at AT&T in the USA in August 2010, giving the operator an alternative to the iPhone. OS 6 employs a Webkit engine, HTML5 support and universal search. The Torch is a QWERTY slider with a 3-inch HVGA+ touchscreen optimized for messaging and media prosumers. Can the Torch outshine Apple? Is it an Android killer?




Well, the external design is a little unexciting. It looks not dissimilar to the Palm Pre. The hardware-list ticks the right boxes for a premium handset -- with 802.11n, 5MP camera, and so on -- but the 624MHz Marvell processor might be perceived as sluggish compared with the emerging tide of 1GHz superphones. The software-list looks good, with Flash, HTML5 support and Webkit for developers. The Webkit-rendered browser will compress data traffic, benefitting AT&T's stressed network. RIM has opened up the platform a little for a better developer environment. Data services are prosumer-friendly and consumer-friendly and primed for email, Internet-browsing, social networking, instant messaging, maps, WiFi geolocation, universal search, RSS feeds, media playback, Blackberry World and PC tethering. No head-to-head videophony, though.

Navigation of the UI is delivered through 3 main interfaces; touchscreen, trackpad and hard-QWERTY keyboard. Our brief trial of the handset in New York recently found the user-experience to be generally satisfying with a responsive touchscreen and good discoverability for apps and services. Retail pricing will be set initially at US$199 postpaid with a two-year contract. This is just in the sweetspot zone for high-end users, and it indicates AT&T will be subsidizing the Torch to the tune of roughly US$200 per unit.

So... are OS 6, Blackberry World and the Torch an Android killer? No. The overall package of hardware, software and services lacks a true wow factor. The Torch helps RIM to close the gap on Android models and iPhone, but it does not overtake them. Is the Torch a Blackberry savior? Maybe. Torch 1 is a solid step in the right direction to stemming churn by upgrading its touchphone portfolio. Torch 2 and Torch 3 will need to be even better, though, with improvements like a 2GHz processor, because the consumer-enterprise handset market in the US has become hyper-competitive and the Torch will not be a leading light for long.


July 16, 2010 21:07 Alex Spektor

Those following the “Antennagate” saga no doubt tuned in to reports from the press conference held by Apple earlier today.

clip_image002As Apple explained during the event, many other phones potentially suffer from a similar issue. Putting on my electrical engineering hat, I have to say I believe it – to an extent. A user’s hand (or ear or cheek) all impact the environment “seen” by the phone. Antenna engineers work carefully to direct signals away from such sources of interference. However, there should be no reason why the left-handed “deathgrip” scenario is unaccounted for.

The smartphone vendor announced that while its “18 PhDs and scientists” work on studying the problem further, Apple would issue free protective cases (of both the Apple-made “bumper” variety and the third-party kind) to all iPhone 4 buyers.

So, why all the negative press?

It appears that consumers and the media alike have a love-hate relationship with successful electronics firms. We love to use their products, but also love to find faults in them. (Google and Microsoft come to mind.) The antenna issue has put the first major dent in Apple’s armor since the original iPhone launched in 2007. To find a fault with a company this successful is a rare occasion, and it often makes for catchy headlines.

The iPhone still offers best-in-class usability for data services. However, the vendor will now need to fix the growing perception that its voice-call capability is sub-optimal. As Apple loses heartshare, it may not stop the die-hard fans from purchasing a device, but it may impact on-the-fence buyers. Given that Apple relies on essentially a single SKU, consumers holding off on making their buying decision can have a quick impact on volumes (without other SKUs to absorb the impact).

Unlike previous years, when Apple’s competition was lackluster, this summer brings compelling Android-powered alternatives from vendors like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola.

So far, we believe that the negative impact on marketshare has been negligible. After all, Apple has already shipped 3 million of the new handset since launch. Furthermore, according to Apple-provided stats, only 0.55% of iPhone 4 users have called to complain about the antenna problem.

However, while the figure is pretty low in percentage terms, it still comes out to about 17 thousand people. The sooner Apple can bring that number to zero (the vendor hopes that consumers will accept the free bumper solution) the sooner it can curb the loss of heartshare and the potential long-term impact on the iPhone’s otherwise gold-plated brand.

iPhone 4 Insight

Smartphone Sales by Country Forecast

-Alex Spektor


July 6, 2010 15:07 nmawston

 

Steve Ballmer and Microsoft have shut down the Kin social phone project, due to weak sales. An understandable decision; we estimate the Kin captured less than 0.1% of the US handset market in Q2 2010. At least 8 major reasons caused its downfall:

1. Clumsy sub-branding with "Kin";
2. An unattractive handset formfactor that did not wow young users;
3. An unexciting set of features and consumer media;
4. Suboptimal finger-based touchscreen user-experience;
5. Poor marketing of its automated cloud-storage backup service;
6. Mixed integration of the UNIX-Java Danger acquisition;
7. Weak reception from US developers, who couldn’t run downloadable apps or use Flash;
8. High handset and data-plan costs at Verizon Wireless.

This is a long list of failure points. The Kin joins several mobile and portable product flops from Microsoft, such as Courier, Zune and Pocket PC. Will Microsoft and its handset partners learn the lessons of the Kin for Windows Phone 7 in 2011? They will need to, as Microsoft's global smartphone OS marketshare is near a record low.

Reasons 2, 3 and 4 should be Microsoft's and its device partners' priorities. Good-looking touch-smartphones with fun consumer media services and a slick UX will attract developers and persuade tier-1 US carriers to throw subsidies in their direction. Add in Reason 5, the automated cloud backup for data, which was one of the Kin's few differentiators, and Microsoft's prospects will look brighter. And if they could bring the popular Xbox sub-brand and services to the table, then Microsoft's prospects may look even brighter still.

But Microsoft will have to move with urgency, because rivals like Apple, Android and MeeGo are not standing still. If Microsoft struggles to deliver in any way on WP7 in 2011, then I believe it will eventually have to buy its way into the mobile market. Smartphones will soon outsell PCs and mobile is too big a market for Microsoft to ignore. Who do you think Microsoft should buy in software or hardware? And why? Leave your suggestions in our Comments box.


June 11, 2010 18:06 Alex Spektor
Bluetooth profile implementation in handsets is a pretty dry subject. But with Bluetooth capability available in six out of every ten handsets sold worldwide this year, the subject is an important one for product planners. clip_image002Even the savviest consumers likely only know to look for a few key profiles when buying a phone. A2DP is one that has received some attention, as it allow the delivery of stereo music to Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth-capable vehicles. According to our latest forecast, A2DP support will be found in three-quarters of all Bluetooth phones sold this year. Another profile, AVRCP, was designed to allow Bluetooth devices to remotely control each other. The Bluetooth SIG’s example is an outdated scenario, where a PC controls a supposedly Bluetooth-capable VCR. However, where AVRCP really shines is as a companion to A2DP. A common usage scenario is in the vehicle, where a consumer can listen to music through the speakers (A2DP) and change tracks via the car’s controls (AVRCP). I can say from personal experience that at least one user was delighted to learn that he could advance tracks streaming to his BlackBerry’s Pandora client via the car’s steering wheel. The potential impact on stickiness is quite powerful when a handset feature can delight a user. PBAP is a profile that still has fairly low penetration around the globe (the highest is in Western Europe, by the way), but it will experience strong growth in the coming years. The profile allows the transfer of phonebook data to other devices (e.g., to an in-vehicle display). Carmakers, such as BMW, Ford, and Nissan, are increasingly supporting PBAP in their vehicles, and this trend should give long-term uplift to the profile’s penetration in handsets. Not all profile implementations were “created equal,” however, and simply having a profile does not necessarily mean that it will work as expected. Apple, for example, supports AVRCP on its iPhone, but it does not support audio track advancement, which is surprising for such a media-capable device. The inconsistency of implementation among vendors can be a disappointment and a point of frustration to users. The lack of consumer awareness of Bluetooth profiles and their benefits remains an issue for the technology, largely because of cryptic, unmarketable names. Perhaps key industry players could rally toward using more intuitive names (e.g., “In-Car Audio Control”) to help illustrate use cases and engage consumers. Ultimately, we expect handset vendors to prioritize the profiles that drive stickiness and can be directly associated with carrier ARPU. This can mean simply enabling in-vehicle calling with profiles like HFP or even, ultimately, helping to link the phone to a multi-platform connected device framework. Bluetooth Phone Sales by Profile -Alex Spektor

June 7, 2010 21:06 nmawston
The Apple iPhone 4 and iOS4 finally arrived today. After months of leaks, there were no major surprises about the hardware, software or services. There are up to 100 improved features, of which 9 were prioritized by Steve Jobs at launch. They include a pixel-dense 3.5-inch “retina display”, Apple A4 processor, bigger battery, 802.11n WiFi, gyroscope, 5-megapixel rear camera, front-facing camera, HD video-capture and multitasking. All packed into a thin 9mm formfactor. Apple iPhone 4 becomes reality. Phones, Mobile phones, Apple, iPhone 4, WWDC2010, iPhone 3GS 0 Services were front-and-center. Apple continues to favorably position its brand as an enabler of fun media for young-at-heart consumers. There is iBooks for reading, iMovie for film-editing and iAds for advertizing. The most ambitious move is FaceTime, a head-to-head videophony service using the front camera. The service has a catchy sub-brand, so it is off to a good start. But videoconferencing has been around for years and never really gotten off the ground outside Japan, so it will be interesting to see whether the iPhone ignites demand among western consumers or businesses. Two-way webcamming, via sites like Skype, is not uncommon among PC users, so it may be possible to transfer some of those usage traits to the mobile. FaceTime will initially be available only over WiFi, because operators’ 3G networks are not fully ready to cope with the potential spike in data traffic. Many of the iPhone’s weaknesses remain. Despite the hype, Apple is not flawless. There is still no support for popular Flash software. The iPhone’s closed ecosystem and apps-approval process are not ideal for some developers. And the handset’s expensive pricing makes it heavily reliant on operator subsidies. Overall, the iPhone 4 is another step forward. It raises the smartphone and services bar a little higher. Apple has done just enough to maintain its leadership in design, UX and consumer content. Nokia, RIM, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, LG and other OEMs still have some catching-up to do.

June 4, 2010 20:06 David Kerr
sa photo dk

 

 

 

The inevitable movement to tiered pricing which started with Verizon Wireless acknowledging its plans to do so for LTE and has been accelerated with the much anticipated data plan announcement by AT&T this week.  So, what next?

    • Will we see significant priced based competition for mobile data among the top US operators?
    • Will we see significant movement in share of adds for AT&T as iPhone wannabees are tempted by a plan of only $15?
    • What impact will lower data plans for smartphones have on AT&T’s Quick Messaging Devices and Verizon Wireless equivalent?
    • How long before we see family data plans and shared usage across multiple devices?

The move by AT&T is a smart play to extend the smartphone momentum as the low hanging fruit of Apple aficionados, multimedia techies and style seekers willing to pay top dollar has been significantly penetrated.

There is no doubt that the iPhone remains the coolest device on the marketplace and the end to end user experience remains easily the best in class. So, reducing the TCO to attract the next 20% of customers to a paid data plans while educating customers about data usage levels and managing the traffic risk is very smart business in my opinion.

The lower price points will help AT&T maintain its current leading share of smartphone users and may be attractive to casual social networkers

  • Although the 50 photos allowance is not exactly generous! For casual messenger, and social network status checking and moderate email the new DataPlus plan is quite attractive overall and will likely attract a portion of customers who would otherwise opt for a Quick Messaging Device from AT&T or a competitive offering from Verizon Wireless.

I do expect to see some modest price competition among the big operators

  • with T-Mobile most likely to drive prices lower given their need for scale and to protect their predominantly youth centric customer base. but also expect an increasingly strong Verizon Wireless handset line up to compete strongly.

The impact on Quick Messaging Devices is in my opinion likely to be modest

  • as a traditional qwerty remains overwhelmingly the input of choice for heavy messengers in the US although there is definitely room for lowering the $10 mandatory data plan on featurephones

Family data plans and data plans which allow access across multiple devices are in the pipeline

  • but will probably not make an appearance until 2012+ as part of LTE offerings.

From a device vendor perspective, the move to lower priced iPhone plans is likely to put further pressure on vendors like LG who have yet to make a credible offer in this space as well as RIM who will find more competition in the consumer space.

The lower pricing on data plans will be music to the ears of ambitious new entrants like Huawei, ZTE who plan to bring mass market priced devices to the US & Europe. The lower TCO of smartphones as a result of downward pressure on service prices boost their addressable market.


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.

May 7, 2010 17:05 nmawston

The big two Chinese vendors, Huawei and ZTE, have initially focused their handset activities on emerging markets, such as ChIndia, Africa and Latin America. Enabled by MediaTek, Qualcomm and Via chipsets, the two handset brands have achieved solid shipment growth in GSM and CDMA since 2007. Both vendors will ship tens of millions of units in emerging markets this year, mostly for low-end prepaid users, giving them a base for scale and buying power. This is phase 1.

Phase 2 of their growth targets mature regions, such as Western Europe and the US. ZTE and Huawei are using their success in emerging markets as a springboard to attack developed markets. The Chinese rightly believe carriers are king in developed countries, and they are quietly partnering with a growing number of the biggest players to deliver carrier-branded hardware. Vodafone recently unveiled 8 new Vodafone-branded models across low-, mid- and high-tiers for its European markets, 6 of which are manufactured by ZTE and Huawei. For example, the Vodafone 845 3G touch-smartphone with Android 2.1 is built by Huawei. The Vodafone 547 EDGE touchphone is made by ZTE. In the US, Huawei made the popular mid-tier Tap touchphone for T Mobile. Carriers like the cost-competitiveness and flexible customization offered by the Chinese brands, and they are useful alternatives to the European, American and Asian vendors such as HTC.

Phase 3 will eventually require a more-complex five-pronged strategy to defend against existing or potential new competitors in the operator-branded handset industry such as Sagem or  Foxconn. Huawei and ZTE will need to upgrade their companies’ competences in:

1. branding;

2. industrial design;

3. portfolio management for build-to-plan products;

4. software usability;

5. content and services.

For now, both Chinese vendors are happy to provide 3G handsets mostly as a delivery tool for operator services. For example, the Vodafone 845 from Huawei is optimized for Vodafone 360 services. But ZTE and Huawei will arguably struggle to sustainably differentiate their own brands on pricing and hardware alone. Developing a software and services (S&S) strategy beyond hardware will therefore become an important value-add for Chinese vendors to attract and retain affluent users in mature regions. An S&S strategy will subsequently open up opportunities for Chinese services brands to partner with ZTE and Huawei to showcase their products in new markets abroad. We have a Google phone and a Microsoft phone; how about a Baidu phone?


February 17, 2010 03:02 bjoy
With the launch of Google Nexus, the term superphone started to make its rounds through the blogosphere. There is no single definition for the superphone, but in its simplest terms it stands for devices that are built to render Web 2.0 services to its full potential along with an array of sensors and hardware bells and whistles. So what’s next? Well, if you ask me, I would drop the “phone” from smartphones and superphones and coin a new category called the “Super-Smart”. In an increasingly connected world, platforms are not going to be confined within the realm of phones, regardless of whether or not they are smart or super. And this goes well beyond the Web 2.0 services or Application Store fronts, where Android and Apple have taken the lead. The next evolution in device platforms will leverage content, hardware and services from a full range of connected terminals and services, whether it is hardware, software or web based frameworks.  Two of the main announcements from MWC 2010 have embraced this approach: Windows Phone 7 Series wp-7-v1.bmp The new platform is a huge leap from the previous Windows Mobile versions. Microsoft has reengineered the platform with an intuitive user experience, but what really stands out is the fact that Microsoft has put serious efforts into tying all their consumer brands and services through the mobile platform – some of which have been long ignored in the mobile context, such as the Xbox and Zune services. At least in theory, the Windows Phone 7 series have great assets in touching many aspects of the consumer life: Xbox (entertainment), Zune (media), Windows 7 (computing), Bing (Internet) and Sync (Auto). On the flip side, the biggest challenge for Microsoft in the near to medium term is passing the form factor/emotional appeal of the device, a huge task for its OEM partners to overcome. Intel and Nokia team up to form MeeGo meego-v1.bmp Intel and Nokia have merged their Linux based Moblin and Maemo platforms to form “MeeGo”. In theory, the partnership between the mobile and computing giants is aimed at facilitating a development ecosystem that spans across media, connected homes, and in-vehicle use cases through the MeeGo framework. To begin with, Maemo had some success in showcasing its potential with the Nokia N900, while Intel’s Moblin has been a non-starter without any commercial launches. The new MeeGo platform is a step in the right direction by pooling the resources to build a compelling platform ecosystem, but it is late to the party. But it is clear that Nokia is making a commitment to this “super smart” device class, which is in itself affirmation of this emerging product class. As it has been in the past, the winners in this expanding ecosystem will not be counted by the assets or potential it offers, but how effectively they can turn the endless possibilities to a few realities – and for now Apple and Android ecosystem is well ahead of Windows Phone 7 and the MeeGo platforms. But one thing is sure – the future of platforms is beyond super or smart phones, and the suppliers that fail to embrace this approach will soon be irrelevant. - Bonny Joy