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.

January 5, 2015 22:00 nmawston

Following the pre-show blog of what to expect by our WDS (Devices) analysts at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, this is a summary of our "top three" findings for the mobile industry from the showfloor (pre-opening) on day one (Monday):

1. Sony SmartWatch 3: A stainless steel version of the pioneering smartwatch (first launched in 2012) will be introduced commercially worldwide during February 2015. Its timing is clearly intended to counter the rival Apple Watch, due in a window between February and May. However, whether consumers will warm to Smartwatch 3's slightly unattractive hardware design remains open to question;

2. Samsung Milk VR: A content-delivery system optimized for the company's Gear VR headset. It offers much-needed content for the virtual-reality device, such as videos. VR headsets remain niche, of course, but this will help to make them more attractive to early adopters worried about a lack of available services.

3. LG G Flex 2: A curved Android smartphone with Snapdragon 810 (an industry "first") to be launched commercially worldwide in H1 2015. The banana-like, curved formfactor (pictured below) will standout on store shelves and make handling it in the palm of the hand more tactile. One compromise, though, is that the 3000mAh battery is NOT removable, which may upset some consumers.

Back tomorrow for day 2!

CES 2015: LG G Flex 2 hands-on - Sexy curves 2


January 5, 2015 14:40 nmawston

According to our WDS (Devices) service, global Bluetooth headset sales will grow 14% during the next five years. Mono headset volumes are slipping in developed regions, but there are continued signs of growth in some emerging markets like China. The stereo Bluetooth headset category is rising steadily -- but competition from corded headphones remained intense this year. Despite fierce rivalry and market fragmentation, Plantronics, Jabra, Samsung and Motorola are still the "big 4" Bluetooth headset vendors that dominated the global industry in 2014. Our extensive report -- available to clients here -- forecasts worldwide Bluetooth headset sales by region, for mono and stereo, in-box and after-market, from 2001 to 2020. It also contains global Bluetooth headset marketshare for the world's 7 largest vendors in 2005 to 2020. The report goes on to forecast global Bluetooth speakerphone sales by region and attach-rate from 2008 to 2020.


November 10, 2014 17:03 nmawston

According to our WDS (Devices) service, LG, of South Korea, grew its global mobile phone shipments by +19% YoY in Q3 2014, the highest level for three years. Volumes were bolstered by solid demand for its premium- G3 and low-mid-tier L-series III products. Now that LG’s strategy of focusing on the G series flagships in North America and elsewhere is paying off, LG MUST turn its attention to the China and India markets where it continues to lag. Additional analysis of LG in the global and regional mobile phone market can be downloaded by clients here.


October 22, 2014 11:31 nmawston

Unconfirmed rumors are arising yet again in the mobile industry that Lenovo of China will soon try to purchase part or all of Blackberry in Canada. Such rumors have been around for 2+ years, of course -- but the sound of the drumbeat has recently gotten louder again.

Why would Lenovo be interested in Blackberry? Our WDS (Devices) service indicates there are at least three main reasons. They are:

1. Deeper distribution among global carriers and companies;
2. Good OS software for phones and cars (e.g. BB10);
3. Mature mobile security software.

Should Lenovo try to takeover Blackberry? In our view, it would be a risky move. First, the Canadian government may forbid a partial or full merger, due to security or economic reasons. Second, Lenovo today is already struggling to close the deal on its loss-making Motorola takeover. And third, Blackberry is showing signs of financial stabilization right now -- for the first time in years -- Blackberry executives may no longer want to rollover and just "give up".


October 22, 2014 10:15 nmawston

Qualcomm, one of the world's largest component makers, is starting to promote 4K content and 4K video-recording for cellphones in 2015 (e.g. see page 7 of this published Qualcomm report). Device vendors and component builders are keen to sell more 4K phones next year because the integrated technology can differentiate their brands and raise average selling prices. Consumers are certainly interested in 4K phones, but relatively high costs, limited 4K content, and slightly confusing marketing ("what is 4K") are challenges for the category in the near-term. A forecast for global 4K phone sales by region through 2020, from our WDS (Devices) service, can be downloaded by clients at this link.


October 10, 2014 13:50 nmawston

According to a new report from our WDS (Devices) research service, worldwide handset manufacturing and assembly continue to polarize around a handful of production locations, such as China, Vietnam and Brazil. Our extensive report -- published to clients here -- tracks cellular handset manufacturing (production) by 6 regions and 10 countries from 2001 to 2013. The report is a valuable tool for handset vendors, component makers, IPR owners, software developers, operators and other stakeholders to monitor global cellphone production by country.


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 19, 2014 16:22 nmawston

Sony, of Japan, has a proud history of innovating revolutionary gadgets. It released the Walkman portable music player in the 1970s, and the PlayStation games console during the 1990s. But for smartphones in the 2010s, Sony's Xperia range has not fared quite so well. The vendor's global smartphone ranking has drifted from 6th to 9th in the past three years. The Sony Group this month wrote down billions of US dollars in its financials, partly as a result of the lackluster phone division.

What can Sony Mobile do to recover its mojo in smartphones?

Our WDS (Devices) research analysts recommend 3 simple but effective actions for Sony Mobile in 2015:

1. Expand distribution. In the US, China and India -- the "big 3" markets -- Sony needs to regrow;

2. Rebrand Xperia. Develop a new sub-brand for a new portfolio;

3. Target prepaid phones, not just postpaid. It is working for ZTE and others.

Above all, Sony Mobile must get its skates on. Xperia must NOT become "Ex-peria".


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.