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.

May 13, 2013 23:13 Neil Shah

Global handset shipments dipped 1% annually during the first quarter of 2013. Developed and emerging markets slowed, but Asia remained the world's fastest-growing region.

Samsung, Lenovo and Coolpad registered the highest global growth rates, starting the year on relatively positive notes. While Samsung maintained the pole position as the largest handset supplier worldwide, Chinese brand Coolpad (also known as Yulong Coolpad) entered the top 10 rankings for the first time surpassing HTC, BlackBerry and Motorola due to rising demand for its 3G/4G handsets in China, parts of Asia and expansion in US market.

Samsung with robust demand for its Galaxy handsets led in most of the regions globally followed by Nokia meanwhile Blackberry became a top three player in Africa with reasonable demand for its handsets in Nigeria and Middle East. Meanwhile LG also registered impressive performance and growth moving up in the rankings globally and in multiple regions.

Latest report from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service details quarterly handset shipments and 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. Historical data by quarter from Q1 2004 to Q1 2013 are also included.

VENDOR SHARE: Global Handset Market by Region: Q1 2013

March 29, 2013 17:58 Neil Shah

There have been interesting developments in last one year in terms of definition of mobile platform and who are jumping into platformize their offerings. Mobile phone market has become exceedingly app-centric enabling smartphones to grow as fast as the new generation LTE mobile networks. While 2012, was all about Apple's iOS platform dominance with greater challenge and scale by Google's open Android platform, 2013 is going to be the breakout year for multiple platforms. We will see birth and re-birth of almost 6 platforms from Mozilla's Firefox, Canonical's Ubuntu, Jolla's Sailfish and Linux Foundation's Tizen to Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10.

This next wave of newer platforms have atleast three goals in common:

1. To challenge the Android-Apple duopoly

2. To enable true & seamless multi-screen convergence, app stores and services

3. To leverage Linux & HTML5 and build a lighter web-centric OS to target the next billion feature phone users.

This provides a glimpse of a trend that players in internet industry are beefing up their web-centric assets to build the next generation platforms. Mozilla has beefed up its browser Firefox to a whole new HTML5 based platform, Amazon has transformed its web based service platform into a mobile product with Kindle Fires and Google is also doing the same with its browser Chrome in developing Chromebooks. Expect more and more players such as Opera (+Skyfire), Facebook, Twitter, Nokia's Here to beef up their platforms into search, social, comunication and service centric "independent mobile" platforms.

Web has decided that two platforms are enough and there is no room for third, fourth or 'n' number of platforms and it might be right to some extent. However, there are always disruptions in works which will redefine the paradigm of how we will communicate on the move, with each other and with the physical world using these newer platforms andnewer devices form-factors (e.g. Google Glass).


Current Future Mobile Platforms Disruption

February 19, 2013 20:29 Neil Shah

HTC the world's ninth largest smartphone vendor and seventh largest Android vendor, today announced its new flagship Android superphone HTC One. The cutting-edge smartphone is the Taiwanese vendor's effort towards unifying its Android smartphone sub-branding as "One" series and targeting a coordinated one-device-multiple-carrier launch strategy like Samsung's Galaxy or Apple's iPhone offerings. 

HTC is going full force with its newest flagship launching it on more than 185 distribution partners globally for the first time which should help vendor generate some scale and boost revenues. Though we estimate the big launch at the end of Q1 2013 will come with big marketing budget and might dent the short-term profitability. Performing well in four markets USA, China, UK and Japan will be the key to HTC's revival from the current downturn.

HTC's new superphone is certainly a potential Samsung Galaxy SIV and Sony Xperia Z competitor in terms of design, specifications and enabling technologies around camera, UI baked in.

HTC sports a gorgeous 1080p Full HD 4.7-inch display resulting in the industry highest 468 ppi resolution (43% more than iPhone 5 Retina Display) running the latest 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB RAM and 32GB/64GB storage configurations. The device apart from industry leading specs incorporates industry's first full unibody aluminium design with curved back and dual front stereo speakers with amplifier and Beats Audio technology. In terms of enabling technologies, the superphone tick marks all the boxes including LTE, 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, DLNA, MHL and InfraRed to enable TV control taking HTC one step closer towards its multi-screen ambitions.

However, this is an interesting strategy by HTC to go with a 4.7-inch superphone as the new flagship rather than a 5-inch+ fast-growing phablet form-factor as a flagship model as adopted by some of its competitors such as Samsung, Sony, Huawei and ZTE.

In addition, HTC has revamped its popular HTC Sense UI with a content-rich live tile-like experience and its camera experience with "Ultrapixel" technology. HTC infact incorporates only a 4MP camera  BSI sensor with an aim to end the megapixel wars and focus on real camera technology with pixel size of 2.0µm, 1/3" sendor enabling low-light photography in addition to OIS, HDR Video and 'HTC Zoe' feature for a continuous shoot and videopic - user-generated content to compete closely with Nokia's PureView and Cinemagraph technologies.

Looking at the overall announcement, HTC has got its product and distribution strategy on track, though the "marketing" strategy remains the key on whether it could rise above the powerful Galaxy & iPhone brands in US & Europe and compete with Huawei, Lenovo and Coolpad in China market to capture lost mindshare.



February 19, 2013 02:02 Neil Shah

According to the latest research from our Handset Country Share Tracker service, smartphone shipments in China grew 75% YoY to reach a record all-time-high level becoming the world's largest smartphone market in terms of volumes ahead of USA by a huge margin. More than two in three mobile phones shipped in China are now smartphones.

Lenovo and Huawei were number two and number three ranked smartphone vendors hot on Samsung's heels to fight for the number one spot. Meanwhile, Coolpad, Xiaomi and Tianyu climbed up in our smartphone rankings.

Android + Apple iOS were the top platforms capturing a record 99% share of the total smartphones shipped in China in Q4 2012. We estimate this is the peak level for the combined share of the two platforms as the refreshed Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Sailfish and others will try to recapture share to challenge this duopoly situation.

China Smartphone Vendor and OS Marketshare: Q4 2012

The above report contains quarterly vendor and OS marketshare for handset and smartphone shipments in mainland China from Q1 2009 to Q4 2012. A forecast by smartphone vendor for Q1 2013 is also included. The report is a valuable tool for stakeholders wishing to size the China market, the world's largest by volume.

January 25, 2013 02:56 Neil Shah

According to the latest research from our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, global mobile phone shipments grew a modest 2 percent annually to reach 1.6 billion units in 2012. Samsung was the star performer, accounting for 1 in 4 of all mobile phones shipped worldwide last year.

Ongoing macroeconomic challenges in mature markets like North America and Western Europe, tighter operator upgrade policies, and shifting consumer tastes were among the key reasons why global mobile phone shipments grew just 2 percent annually to reach 1.6 billion units in 2012. Fuelled by robust demand for its popular Galaxy models, Samsung was the star performer, shipping a record 396.5 million mobile phones worldwide and capturing 25 percent marketshare to solidify its first-place lead. However, Samsung’s total volumes for the year fell just short of the 400-million threshold.

Nokia’s global mobile phone shipments fell 20 percent from 417.1 million units in 2011 to 335.6 million in 2012. Nokia faced tough competition from Samsung in developing markets like China, while Apple and others ramped up the pressure in developed regions such as Western Europe. Nokia’s dual-SIM feature phones, Asha touchphones and Lumia handsets have been performing well, but this was not enough to offset a slump in demand for the company’s aging Symbian smartphone platform last year.

Apple shipped a record 135.8 million mobile phones worldwide in 2012. Apple delivered 46 percent annual growth last year, which was bolstered by solid demand in North America and Asia. Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5 in Q4 2012 was a success as volumes ramped up in dozens of countries worldwide, but negative media coverage of the model’s new integrated maps service and supply chain challenges cast a slight shadow over the launch.

ZTE captured 5 percent share of the global mobile phone market in 2012, as its shipments fell minus 8 percent from 2011, partly because of heightened competition in core markets like China and Western Europe from rivals such as Coolpad and Samsung.

The summary of the report is available to view here.


Exhibit 1: Global Mobile Phone Vendor Shipments and Market Share in Q4 2012  [1] 

Global Mobile Phone Shipments (Millions of Units) 

Q4 '11 


Q4 '12 





































Global Mobile Phone Vendor Marketshare %

Q4 '11


Q4 '12





































Total Growth Year-over-Year %






1 Numbers are rounded. The Total in the data-table does not include grey phone shipments.




January 8, 2013 09:06 Neil Shah

Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) team is at CES this week.

Some key announcements from fast-growing companies at CES floor on Day 1.


Huawei stunned the industry launching two cutting edge premium phablets adding fuel to the already hot phablets war:

5.5 inch Huawei Ascend D2 & 6.1 inch Huawei Ascend Mate (world's biggest phablet) featuring its home-grown HiSilicon quad-core processors and rising on software experience curve adding its refreshed Emotion UI with host of enabling technologies such as DLNA, NFC, HDMI, waterproof, Huawei Air Sharing.

Huawei is well positioned to attack Asian and Europe markets for relatively cheaper but premium flagship Android phablets compared to competition.

Huawei Ascend D2

Huawei Ascend Mate



Sony Mobile Communications after integration into parent Sony separating from Ericsson almost 11 months ago is starting to quickly rise on Android experience curve. Sony Mobile was the third largest smartphone OEM at the end of Q3 2012 and the Japanese OEM will try to maintain this momentum moving into 2013 taking share away from HTC and others.

In light of this, Sony today announced its first flagship phablet Sony Xperia Z featuring a quad-core processor and sporting a FULL HD display, waterproof, a very advanced 13-MP camera capable of great shooting low-light images similar to Nokia Lumia 920 Pureview camera as well as the first smartphone to capture HDR Image and Video. Sony Xperia Z will compete against Samsung Galaxy Note II, LG Vu 2, Huawei Ascend Mate and other flagship phablets in coming months. The Go-To-Market strategy will be the key to the vendor's success.

Sony also announced range of NFC based accessories from stereo NFC-Bluetooth headphones to NFC Speakers and NFC based interaction with other Sony consumer electronics products branded under "Sony One Touch".


Voxx International

Voxx International has been steadily growing its accessories business and leadership over the past few years leveraging many of its brands such as AudioVoxx, Voxx, Klipsch, RCA. Voxx International today had series of announcements for accessories as well as appcessories from docks, headsets, bluetooth speakers, clock radios, wireless charging stands in home, automobiles, outdoors all cleveraging smartphones and different enabling technologies such as Bluetooth, Near Field Audio (NFA), Wireless Charging (Qi), Near Field Communication (NFC) and WiFi.

This is one of the key vendors shaping up its dominance in mobile accessories space worth keeping an eye on.


Soundflow Audio System (NFA)



808 Wireless NFC Headphones

October 11, 2012 18:09 Neil Shah

Sprint, USA's third largest carrier confirmed today its in advance talks with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint. This particular investment would mean Softbank could gain major control over Sprint in USA.



But there are some key questions this would raise from devices perspective : What does this mean to the handset OEMs? How will this development affect the handset portfolio at Sprint?

Sprint has been the third largest handset supplier/seller in USA according to out latest Handset Country Share Tracker research. More than half of the handset sales is dominated by Apple and Samsung at this moment, however, Sprint has a history of embracing Taiwanese (e.g. HTC) and Japanese (e.g. Kyocera, Sanyo) OEMs granting a generous shelf-space. Sprint is the only US carrier where Japanese OEMs command more than 10% sales share. If Softbank's investment in Sprint goes through then we could see this share to possibly increase further and remark the entry of Softbank's current various Japanese OEM partners such as Panasonic, Sharp and Fujitsu in this important high-value US market. Thus, this is certainly good news for Japanese OEMs which have struggled in past to successfully expand beyond Japanese shores.

October 11, 2012 15:35 Neil Shah

Global handset sales will reach 1.6 billion units in 2012, and consumers will have a wide variety of handset types available for purchase.

Bigger screen size complemented with powerful processors and high-speed 3G/4G and beyond network capabilities have made these superphones and tablets high demand devices for content consumption (iPhone) and slowly shifting towards creation (Galaxy Note).

Thus, postpaid or mature mobile phone users are upgrading to phablets, superphones, and smartphones, while prepaid consumers are upgrading to feature phones and smaller sized / mass-market smartphones. The phablet and superphone are high ASP, high profit smartphone sub-segments which look especially promising as a super-high-growth market, which we forecast to expand over 300% between 2012 and 2017, bolstered by the recent addition of Apple iOS devices to a long list of Android- and Windows Phone-powered superphones.

The report below forecasts global handset sales by type from 2003 to 2017, and it identifies which categories will grow at above-average rates during the next five years. Types of devices covered include phablets, superphones, smartphones, smart feature phones, standard feature phones and basic phones.

Handset Sales Forecast by Type: Phablet, Superphone, Smartphone, Feature Phone & Basic Phone


Superphones & Tablets

April 11, 2012 19:12 Neil Shah

Nokia today announced its preliminary first half outlook for 2012 and as expected the near term performance is going to be disappointing. Nokia is in the middle of a major transition of product, culture and clock speed but should not be written off just yet. Wall St has inevitably overreacted to the short term without recognizing that the major impact of Nokia’s US renaissance will not hit until Q2 and Q3.

Nokia shipped a modest 83 million handsets globally in Q1 2012. The global volume-share has dipped to an estimated 22% in Q1 2012 from 41% during the iPhone launch year of 2007. Furthermore, the value metrics have disappointed as the cost and price erosion from the sunsetting Symbian volumes and heavy promotion of  Windows Phone Lumia series diluted the operating and gross margins  generated by the “high-value and high-profit” smartphone segment. The 12 million smartphone shipment volumes might be more than many of smartphone specialists globally but not enough scale to mint revenues and profits for a firm with operations as big as Nokia. We estimate Nokia’s smartphone marketshare to dip to roughly 8% in Q1 2012.

On the other hand, Samsung with a record profitable quarter is well positioned to surpass Nokia in the first half of 2012 as the leading handset vendor in terms of volumes for the first time ever in handset industry.

Samsung with its low-cost sub US$150 Android (Galaxy Y) smartphones and US$300 above premium superphones (Galaxy S2, Note) is attacking Nokia at top, whereas, Asian handset vendors such as ZTE, Huawei, Micromax and Karbonn are attacking Nokia at the bottom, basically engaging in a price-war lowering Nokia's dominance in feature phone segment in markets such as India, China and Latin America. Nokia is definitely stuck in a pincer movement here.

For Nokia, the decline in Symbian is happening faster than it (but not analysts) expected at the hands of Android and the vendor is eagerly waiting for the cross-over point when Windows Phone sales overtake Symbian which we expect to happen in Q4 2012.

For a giant company such as Nokia, the shift to a completely new strategy, 18 months old Windows Phone platform and positioning afresh successfully in the minds of consumers was going to be challenging especially against the four+ year old maturing Android and Apple platforms. While an important and difficult transition phase for the vendor was expected this year, we expect Nokia to hold the fort in its strategic partnership with Microsoft to catapult Windows Phone to become the third largest ecosystem and Nokia the third largest player in the smartphone race.

Nokia alone has already shipped more than three million Windows Phone handsets in four months with almost three models just across 36 launch markets globally out of 190+ markets where Nokia is present globally, to strengthen its position as the number one Windows Phone smartphone vendor.

Windows Phone 7x limitations in terms of including advanced components, technologies to the smartphones have been pulling back the much needed growth and traction for Nokia and Microsoft. We expect this to change with the next big update this year in terms of Windows 8 coupled with the growing developer support, appstore growth and growing distribution reach for Lumia handsets courtesy of Nokia’s broader distribution reach and prevalent brand awareness. Furthermore, Nokia’s new Lumia 900 and 710 smartphones are receiving positive reviews, sales traction and stronger drive period carrier support in USA. The USA is one of the most important smartphone markets in the world and it will set the tone for Nokia’s and Microsoft’s push for 2012 as a breakout year for  the Windows Phone ecosystem. 

In the near-to mid-term, Nokia will  continue to struggle to get the balance between legacy Symbian and Feature phone businesses and smart phones for the next generation right. The US market results for Q2 and Q3 will provide critical indicators of how successful Nokia will be while transitioning from even the most updated Symbian OS needs to happen even faster in BRIC markets. Overall, a tough but not entirely unexpected quarter for Nokia but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.


February 26, 2012 19:53 Neil Shah

Its a Sunday with a day away before the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2012 kicks off in sunny Barcelona, Spain, and, we have already seen LG, Fujitsu announcing top-line high-spec smartphones. LG took two steps ahead with its aggressive LTE multi-core smartphone strategy targeting high value developed markets launching its latest quad-core LTE superphone LG Optimus 4X HD powered with NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor sporting a true 720 HD IPS display running the latest Android 4.0 ICS.

The quad-core play was on the cards from the Korean & Japanese vendors at MWC 2012, but the biggest surprise of the pre-MWC announcements has been by Huawei, the world's sixth largest handset vendor. The fast growing Chinese vendor has been looking forward to extend its portfolio up in the high- to premium-tier segment with cutting-edge high-spec handsets challenging big boys such has Samsung, LG and HTC in smartphone race. This intent was depicted today as Huawei unveiled premium-tier handsets under its new Diamond Series : Huawei Ascend D Quad, Ascend D quad XL, Ascend D1 building upon its "Ascend" sub-branding with earlier promising announcements of Ascend P1/P1S at CES 2012 last month.

To add to this, the vendor's new lineup is powered not by NVIDIA, TI or Qualcomm's solutions but surprisingly by its home-grown K3V2 quad-core 1.2GHz/1.5GHz processor. The vendor claims it to be the world?s fastest quad core smartphone and features a proprietary power management system which provides up to 30% in energy savings. The Ascend D series scores high with top-notch specs and design to make it top-selling Android portfolio and compete on par or maybe higher with bigger Android vendors:  

  • Fast Processor: 1.2/1.5GHz K3V2 quad-core Processor
  • Operating System: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Large High Resolution Screen: 4.5-inch 720p HD screen
  • Form Factor: 64mm narrow and 8.9mm slim slate  
  • Radios: HSPA+, LTE 
  • Camera: 8MP Rear Camera with 1080p HD Video Recording, 1.3MP Forward-Facing Camera
  • Battery: From 1670mAh to 2500mAh battery


Image Credits: Huawei

Huawei, thus has learnt quickly from its competitors in key areas such as powerful sub-branding (Ascend), slimmer design and bigger battery, multi-core chipsets, hint of vertically integrated play (in-house chipset design)  in producing a premium offering.