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 14, 2015 06:12 nmawston

According to our WDS (Devices) research servicevoice-over-LTE technology offers operators a more efficient way to deliver voice calls and rich data to mobile customers while promising users better-quality voice-connections through services like HD Voice. VoLTE mobile phone sales are on the cusp of taking off globally, after several years of limited deployments in various regions around the world. Strategy Analytics forecasts worldwide VoLTE handset sales will grow by 113% annually in 2015, led by the Asia Pacific and North American markets. More analysis can be downloaded by clients here.


April 1, 2015 12:39 nmawston

According to our WDS (Devices) research service, several hundred million mobile phones will flow through "closed" operator channels worldwide during 2015. Some regions are dominated by operator-led channels, while others are dominated by retailer channels. Notably, China is seeing significant changes in distribution flows at the moment. Our extensive report -- available to clients here -- forecasts global handset distribution flows by 8 channels for 6 major regions and 3 key countries from 2012 to 2020, including North America, Western Europe, Latin America, China, Japan and India. The forecasts can be used by handset vendors, vehicle makers, apps developers and others to identify the main regional channels where mobile phones are being sold, and whether operators or retailers are winning the distribution wars.


March 31, 2015 15:05 nmawston

Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) research team visited the "big 3" mobile industry tradeshows in the first quarter of 2015. They were:

1. CES in the US;
2.
MWC in Spain;
3. Baselworld in Switzerland.

Our published report -- available to clients here -- outlines the main conclusions and takeaways from those three important events. Our analysis includes major disruptive developments in the handset, smartphone and wearables markets, such as fingerprint readers and faster battery charging for pocketable or wearable devices.


March 30, 2015 13:02 nmawston

According to a new report from our WDS (Devices) service, several hundred million mobile phones will flow through "closed" operator channels worldwide during 2015. Some regions are dominated by operator-led channels, while others are dominated by "open" retailer channels.

Notably, China is seeing significant changes in cellphone distribution flows at the moment.

Our extensive report -- available to clients here -- forecasts global handset distribution flows by 8 channels for 6 major regions and 3 key countries from 2012 to 2020, including North America, Western Europe, Latin America, China, Japan and India.

The forecasts can be used by handset vendors, vehicle makers, apps developers and others to identify the main regional channels where mobile devices are being sold, and whether operators or retailers are winning the distribution wars.


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 2, 2015 14:30 nmawston

According to our WDS (Devices) research service, global LTE mobile phone revenues surged +78% annually during Q4 2014. The 4G category is the fastest growing part of the mobile phone market today. Apple remained the world's largest 4G handset vendor by revenue, followed by Samsung and Sony. Chinese brands OPPO and Huawei jumped into the top-10 vendor list, with surging LTE volumes and higher ASPs. Our extensive report -- available to clients here -- provides quarterly global LTE handset shipments, wholesale (transfer) pricing, and revenue metrics for 20 major vendors from Q1 2011 to Q4 2014. The report is a vital tool for monitoring the financial health and tiered marketshare of leading LTE brands such as Nokia, HTC, BlackBerry, Samsung, Apple and others.


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 25, 2015 10:33 PLin

Mobile World Congress (MWC) takes place in Barcelona, Spain, between Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th March, 2015, and several major announcements are expected on Sunday 1st March.

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 in-person at MWC.

Following our pre-show blog of what to expect by company and topic at MWC, this is a summary of our "top 3" mobile devices / smartphones we recommend you go see at the event:


1. Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge: Rumored to be a 4G LTE Android flagship model with glass body, metal frame and 5-inch S-AMOLED display. Galaxy S6 Edge may also feature a curved or double-curved display. Both of the models are rumoured to support wireless charging and multiple memory-sizes of 32 / 64 / 28 GB.

2. HTC One M9: A rumoured new flagship model of its predecessor, the One M8. It looks set to be a 4G LTE Android 5.0 Lollipop handset with metal-unibody case. The new device should run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 Octa-core processor and feature a 5-inch 1080P display, plus 20-megapixel rear-camera.

3. LG Magna/ Spirit/ Leon/ Joy: LG has pre-announced four new mid-range handsets, just before MWC. Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy run on Android 5.0 Lollipop and 1.2GHz or 1.3GHz quad-core processors with 5.0-inch, 4.7-inch, 4.5-inch and 4.0-inch displays, respectively. All four models will be available in LTE and 3G versions.

Looking at the multiple upcoming models from LG, HTC and others, it is fair to conclude Android Lollipop will be playing a bigger role at MWC, following its lackluster launch and consumer-reception in recent months.