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.

April 2, 2014 12:01 sbicheno

After suffering a number of setbacks in the wake of the global economic crisis, the global handset market is set to maintain healthy growth in 2014.

Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service forecasts global handset sales will grow by 7% in 2014. Growth will mainly be driven by developing markets, with Asia Pacific, Central & Latin America and Africa Middle East forecast to the main contributors. The five largest country markets will be: China, India, United States, Brazil and Indonesia.

In many developing markets a significant proportion of the population do not yet own a mobile phone. You can now get good feature phones for very low prices and the entry price point for smartphones is getting lower by the day, so it’s easier than ever for people who earn little to get into the mobile phone market. 

February 26, 2014 17:55 sbicheno

Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service is attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

This is a summary of some of our main findings from Day 3 (Wednesday):

Enabling technologies caught our eye on day three of MWC 2014. Qualcomm launched three new Snapdragon SoCs: the 610, 615 and 801, which are aimed at the high and premium smartphone price tiers, with the LTE support you expect from Qualcomm, but Mediatek is hot on its heels with the launch of the 64-bit MT6732 which also supports LTE but is targeted as the “super-mid” segment. Meanwhile Intel’s mobile push is showing no signs of slowing, with the launch of the Moorefiled and Merrifield 22nm SoCs.

The chip giants were also racing each other to release LTE-A Cat 6 news, with Qualcommm in partnership with Samsung, SK Telecom and KT conducting live demonstrations and Intel announcing its first Cat 6 modem.

The theme of human interface innovation that we observed at CES earlier this year has continued in Barcelona, with Synaptics and CrucialTec among the companies demonstrating fingerprint sensors, among other things.  Meanwhile Google’s Project Tango prototype smartphone maps your environment merely by tracking your movements.

February 25, 2014 18:09 sbicheno

Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service is attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

This is a summary of some of our main findings from Day 2 (Tuesday):

Our attention was mostly caught be lower-priced smartphones on day 2 of MWC 2014. In addition to the low and mid price-tier smartphone announcements from Mozilla, Huawei and Nokia previously, several other major handset vendors played their mass-market hands today.

LG complemented the launch of the G Pro 2 phablet with the F70 and F90 Android smartphones that are designed to bring LTE to lower price bands. Lenovo went one better with the launch of three smartphones: the S660, S850 and S860, which will address a range of price-points.

Alcatel, meanwhile, maintained its rapid rate of handset launches, with the Alcatel Onetouch Pop Fit standing out as it has a tiny 2.8-inch screen and is aimed at the currently niche fitness smartphone market.

And BlackBerry has been quick to learn the lessons from the launch of the Z10 and Q10 by announcing the first fruits of its partnership with Foxconn. The Z3 is an all-touch smartphone designed specifically for the BlackBerry stronghold of Indonesia, while the Q20 will be a combination of the traditional QWERTY handset design with the new BB10 OS in a lower-priced package.

February 24, 2014 16:15 sbicheno

Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service is attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

This is a summary of some of our main findings from Day 1 (Monday)

has a rich history of announcing major strategic initiatives at Mobile World Congress and the clear highlight of day 1 was another such bombshell. Nokia announced the Nokia X, X+ and XL: a family of smartphones running Android Open Source Project (AOSP) software, rather than the Windows Phone platform, on which all its Lumia smartphones are based. Since one of the main reasons for adopting Windows Phone three years ago was to enable differentiation from Android devices, this is quite a significant U-turn by Nokia, and is made especially intriguing as it comes just weeks before the acquisition of Nokia’s devices division by Microsoft.

The stated aim of the launch is principally to enable entry price-tier smartphones, with the Nokia X having an estimated wholesale ASP of US$85. Nokia is positioning these new smartphones as a bridge between the Asha and Lumia families. The other theoretical primary benefit to end-users is access to Android apps, although since the Lumia X family will not have access to the Google Play store, this will require developers to resubmit their apps to the Nokia store.

The other most prominent device launch of the day so far has been from Sony, which bravely decided to launch a smartphone and a tablet sharing the same name. The Xperia Z2 is the new flagship Sony smartphone, although with its 5.2-inch screen it’s actually a phablet, and continues its predecessor’s focus on waterproofing and imaging. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is a 10.1-inch device that claims many of the qualities - waterproofing, thinness, screen quality - of its smaller sibling, hence the naming scheme.

The other big device announcement of the day is from Samsung this evening, when it is expected to unveil the Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone. We will update this post as soon as the details are made public.

UPDATE: As expected Samsung launched the Galaxy S5 this evening in Barcelona. Since its predecessor was one of the best-selling smartphone models globally in 2013, Samsung has gone for an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach to the Galaxy S5. The look, feel and size appear very similar to the S4, but Samsung has ensured it matches the innovations of flagship smartphones from competitors such as Apple and Sony by introducing a fingerprint scanner and making the device waterproof.


February 23, 2014 21:01 sbicheno

The annual celebration of all things mobile is upon us once more and Strategy Analytics devices team will be blogging their first impressions daily. While Mobile World Congress doesn't officially start until tomorrow, handset vendors often look to beat the rush by making their announcements on the Sunday, and this year will be no exception.

Chinese telco giant Huawei was one of the first out of the starting blocks with the launch of the Ascend G6, which aims to bring the popular P6 design and 4G connectivity to the mid price-tier. Huawei has also launched a couple of tablets and unveiled its foray into the wearables market, which is set to be a major theme of this year's show, as is the mid price-tier smartphone segment, which is where we forecast a large chunk of handset sales to come from in the near future.

Firefox OS will be hoping to be part of that growth story, with smartphones focused on the mid and low price-tiers, and Mozilla announced a new reference phone - the Firefox OS Flame - today, in a bid to boost its ecosystem. Meanwhile Microsoft is renewing its efforts behind Windows Phone with the launch of version 8.1 which will allow lower priced smartphones to be built on the WP platform.

We expect there to be further announcements on Sunday and, of course, over the course of the week. We are especially looking forward to seeing what major vendors such as Samsung, Nokia, Sony and LG have up their sleeves. With all vendors producing hardware of a high standard, differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some novel hardware initiatives, such as bendable screens or modular handsets, make an appearance at the show.

Stay tuned for our daily update of the latest news from the show floor as MWC 2014 commences in earnest tomorrow.

Update: Mozilla also announced a partnership with chip-maker Spreadtrum on Sunday to target the US$25 wholesale ASP smartphone price point. Samsung launched the Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch, which runs on its own Tizen platform, rather than Android as the previous version had, and LG launched the G Pro 2 phablet.

November 12, 2013 17:57 sbicheno

Global handset shipments reached 420 million units during the third quarter of 2013, up 8% annually. Asia, North America and Central & Latin America were the world's fastest-growing regions, with Samsung, Apple and LG driving volumes higher. Coolpad, Lenovo and Alcatel registered the highest global growth, as the rise of the Chinese vendors continued, but Samsung achieved the impressive landmark of becoming the leading handset vendor in all global regions for the first time. Subscribers to Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Strategies service can access the full breakdown of global handset shipments, split by vendor and region, here.

September 19, 2013 18:19 sbicheno

The feeling prior to Apple's recent launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c was that the tech giant needed to introduce a cheaper phone if it wanted to exploit the rapid growth in smartphone shipments in developing markets and keep growing its global handset market share. But Apple decided instead to launch a colourful iPhone variant that is slightly cheaper than the top-of-the-range 5s, but still a premium-priced product.

The big question of how, if at all, this unprecedented fork in the iPhone product roadmap will affect overall apple handset shipments is addressed by a newly-published Strategy Analytics report: Global Handset Shipments Forecast by Vendor by Quarter: 2000 to 2014. In this report we forecast the quarterly global handset shipments of the top 11 vendors through to the end of 2014. Subscribers of our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service can use the report to anticipate fluctuations in the global handset market and inform their near-term planning.

September 3, 2013 16:29 sbicheno

The US$7 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices business by Microsoft marks the culmination of a period of painful transition for the former handset market leader, presided over by CEO Stephen Elop. When he left Microsoft to become the first non-Finn to run Nokia many wondered if he would eventually move back the way he came and so it proved.

For Nokia this marks an exit from the handset market it had so struggled with since the dawn of the modern smartphone era, as Symbian, MeeGo and Windows Phone all struggled against the might of Android and the Apple iPhone. For Microsoft this has the look of a forced defensive move, brought about by the threat of its main handset partner either defecting to Android, being acquired by another company, or going bust.

But as is so often the way with mergers and acquisitions, the deal itself does nothing to solve the problems facing both companies. The future of NokiaSoft will still depend on Windows Phone becoming seen not just an alternative, but an upgrade over Android and iOS, and Microsoft will have to spend a lot more money on development and marketing for that to happen.

The full report - Microsoft Buys Nokia Devices in Bid to Stay Relevant in the Post-PC World - is available to subscribers of our Wireless Devices Strategies (WDS) service here: http://tinyurl.com/nt4tbl3

July 31, 2013 18:07 sbicheno

ISIS - the mobile wallet joint-venture from US mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile - has announced its US rollout later this year. The venture is a long-awaited attempt to standardize the nascent mobile payments industry, currently fragmented by multiple, competing initiatives and standards.

While establishing consensus among the multiple stakeholders required to establish a viable mobile payments network is a significant undertaking, the timing of this launch likely owes as much to the spread of NFC-enabled handsets as anything. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a leading technology for enabling mobile device-based payments as it allows the exchange of data merely by touching or swiping a device over an NFC touch-point.

In the Global NFC Handset Sales Forecast by Region: 2004 to 2017 report, Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service forecasts the proportion of NFC-enabled handsets sold in North America will more than triple in 2013, up from around a tenth in 2012, and will jump once more in 2014. NFC phones have reached a tipping-point, and now is the time to fully exploit their capabilities.

February 15, 2013 16:48 sbicheno

Samsung, the world’s number one mobile handset vendor by volume, has launched a new series of ‘smart feature phones’ called REX, which is a direct challenge to Nokia’s Asha range, focusing primarily on developing markets.

According to our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, while Samsung currently dominates the smartphone market along with Apple, traditional market leader Nokia remains a force in the market for phones that have entry-level app and internet capabilities, but don’t run a branded mobile operating system, which are defined as ‘smart feature phones’. This is thanks to the launch of the Asha series, which we estimate topped 9 million units shipped in Q4 2012, a little over a year after its launch.

The new Samsung REX series is a similar proposition to Asha, with four touchscreen devices (the REX 60, 70, 80 and 90) running basic apps, sporting ‘always-on’ dual SIMs, and offering web access through Opera Mini. Retail prices should range from US$80-120, and India will be the primary target market, with other Asian and South American countries soon to follow.

This is a shrewd, albeit inevitable move, by Samsung, which was never likely to give Nokia a clear run at the huge smart feature phone market. With smartphone penetration in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea entering a mature phase, emerging markets - especially the BRICs - will be the engine of handset growth in the coming years.

This move heightens competition for the first time mobile internet user and will spur further innovation and price competition. Others are sure to follow, especially those who have yet to hit the mark in smartphones.