Wireless Smartphone Strategies

The industry’s most comprehensive set of critical market statistics and qualitative analysis, tracking and reporting on smartphones.

December 11, 2013 15:28 woh

It has recently been reported online that Nokia has been developing a smartphone, codenamed “Normandy”, which is based on the Android platform. We are not in a position to either confirm or deny these rumours, but if there is anything to them they would mark a remarkable change in strategy for Nokia, which committed 100% to Windows Phone as its sole smartphone platform almost three years ago. So we thought it would be interesting to explore the viability of such a move and ask why Nokia might consider it.

From one perspective, it fully makes sense that the Finnish vendor is trying to build its own Android devices to regain its losing market share in the low-cost handset segment, currently dominated by a lot of Android vendors including Samsung. Under the current circumstances Android is capturing more than 80% market share of all smartphones shipped during Q3 2013 identified in our published report from Wireless Smartphone Strategies, while even Nokia's Asha smart feature phone line-up, designed for low-tier handset markets, is being squeezed by increasingly cheap, but still app-rich Android devices. 

Our smartphone model tracking report for Q3 2013 forecasts Nokia's lower-priced WP-based Lumia 520 to be the most popular Nokia-branded smartphones, outselling most Asha-branded phones. This indicates that Nokia still has some market influence in the low-cost smartphone market with the appealing UI and Windows ecosystem in both emerging and developed markets. It’s possible that Nokia wants its "Normandy” to replace the role of Lumia 520 in the lower-tier markets, based on the low price, well-established Android ecosystems and Nokia's established skill in selling handsets.

Of course this is all speculation on a product that may not even exist, and even if it does it’s hard to imagine Microsoft continuing to develop an Android handset after its acquisition of Nokia’s devices business is complete. But as a vertical handset player Microsoft does need to find a way of increasing its smartphone market share. A if it’s struggling to scale Windows Phone down into the lower price-tiers it needs to find an alternative.


June 19, 2012 19:21 David Kerr
 

Yesterday Microsoft held an event in Los Angeles where they announced the Surface, a self-branded tablet device that will be available in both ARM and x86 versions. The device features an impressive build quality in an attractive form factor as well as some interesting features. We believe the Surface will resonate well with the enterprise community and help Windows 8 OS garner interest, developer attention and market share.

Microsoft has learned well at the PR altar of Apple and executed perfectly at this ?secret? launch. Microsoft has not just imitated Apple but has potentially even outdone Apple in terms of attention to detail on the covers, keyboard, perimeter venting, digital ink and that?s all before you even talk about the device applications and features.

Given the anemic progress of Android vendors (Samsung aside) in tablets and the terrible historical track record of Microsoft?s Oems in tablets, introducing a competitive product which showcased the ability of Window to compete in the category really was in the critical path.

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First impressions are of a device which has seen millions of man hours (ok maybe not quite that much) dedicated to not just designing a product but placing a market in the tablet market which has not but surely will cannibalize the PC market at some point.

Microsoft is smart to have showcased both the RT and Windows 8 Pro versions and to provide a roadmap and a challenge to its existing OEMs to match that!

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An event that lived up to the hype and expectations, what a surprise. Well done Microsoft. The Surface announcement do not materially impact our forecasts for tablets by OS as this was already factored into our thinking.

Clients to our Tablet and Touch Screen Strategies service can read more about our take on the Surface tablets here


January 5, 2012 10:58 sbicheno

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas, USA, from Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th January, 2012. There will be dozens of major and minor announcements vying for your attention, but here are three trends we recommend to look out for at the show:

 

1. Windows Phone LTE handsets

While the main mobile event of the year -- MWC -- occurs a mere six weeks afterwards, CES tends to feature a number of major handset launches of its own -- especially those with a strong focus on the valuable US market. This year, the Windows Phone ecosystem plans to revitalize its assault on the US market with a raft of LTE handsets to counter Android 4.0, Apple iOS 5 and BB10.

A hotly tipped 4G model is the successor to the Nokia Lumia 800, Nokia’s first flagship Windows phone, which was not launched in the US. Instead, Americans could get the opportunity to see what may be Nokia’s first ever superphone, perhaps an enhanced Lumia 800 with a larger screen and LTE, which could be called the Lumia 900 or simply the Nokia Ace. It is important that Nokia gets its sub-branding right for the American market, so we will be watching this one closely.

Elsewhere, HTC should be ready to launch its own LTE Windows Phone devices, while rumors indicate Samsung’s contribution to that market may also be imminent. Sony Ericsson, despite being a launch partner for Windows Phone 7, has been conspicuous by its absence so far. That might be about to change, however, if the ‘tile’ theme for its official pre-show teaser (below) is anything to go by.



 
 Source: Sony Ericsson



2. Intel Medfield devices

Despite initial hype, we’ve seen few LG Windows Phone launches in recent quarters. Two years ago LG was a lead OEM partner for Intel’s Moorestown mobile chip. Unperturbed by the absence of that chip in the broader marketplace, rumor has it that the successor to Moorestown -- the 32nm Medfield chip -- could soon make its public debut inside an LG handset.

After keeping a low mobile profile in 2011 (excluding the Infineon purchase), we expect Intel to make a bigger noise about Medfield at CES this year. While it remains to be seen whether the chip giant has managed to crack the handset market, we would be surprised if Intel didn’t significantly raise its profile in tablets, with the anticipated launch later this year of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 possibly its best opportunity yet.

But the loudest Intel-related noise may well come from ultrabooks -- the ‘thin, light and fast bootup’ notebook platform designed to serve the market demand suggested by the popularity of the Apple MacBook Air and iPad. While not all of the ultrabooks will feature 3G chipsets, they are being positioned as ‘ultra-mobile’ devices, so that would eventually seem a natural feature for many to have.

 

3. More smartphone-to-smart-TV convergence?

2012 is the year that many major players will have a fresh crack at smart TVs. Google’s first effort last year ran out of steam pretty quickly, while Apple is publicly treating TV as nothing more than a hobby. However, we expect both companies to renew their focus on the living room in 2012, and where better to make a statement of intent than CES?

Given the expected overlap with their mobile platforms -- Android and iOS -- it stands to reason that Google and Apple will look for ways to more closely integrate your mobile device with your TV. Not only does this increase the functionality for end-users -- for example, by using the device as a remote control for media streaming -- but potentially leverages the existing commercial relationship into new product areas. Apple will not be formally present at CES, of course, but Android hardware partners we recommend investigating at the show include Samsung, LG, Sony and even Vizio.



March 10, 2010 05:03 Alex Spektor
No, I did not misplace my BlackBerry. This blog post is not about the “Find My iPhone” feature or any other innovations in device recovery. Rather, I would like to lament my disappointment with the general lack of true intelligence in so-called smartphones. Named so for their advanced (PC-like, Wikipedia suggests) capabilities, smartphones trump ordinary phones with their ability to tie in new services, run applications, and browse the real Web. But should being PC-like be the ultimate aspiration for handsets? After all, phones have a key advantage that not even the lightest of netbooks can have – phones are always with their users and, as such, they know a lot about them.
  • Using GPS and accelerometers, the phone can know where you are and whether you are moving.
  • With knowledge of your calendar, the phone can know if you are busy and whether it should interrupt you.
  • By monitoring your behavior, the phone can guess how you will behave next time a similar situation arises.
Privacy advocates and conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one, of course. But their fears can be assuaged with feature opt-in and with clear, published documentation of what data are stored and shared. Mobile context awareness is nothing new. Academics have been talking about it for over a decade. But, outside of downloadable (i.e., not truly integrated) apps and some barebones functionality (such as the “Automatic” ringtone profile on some WinMo phones, which goes to vibrate during scheduled meetings), there still is not a whole lot of context awareness in smartphones. Platforms like Android allow you arrange your widgets across multiple home screens. Powerful? Yes. You then have to flip through the home screens until you find the one with the right widgets. Smart? Not really. Why can’t your phone – knowing whether you are at work, on a train, or at home – give you the right home screen on its own? And switch wallpapers. And change the vibrate settings.

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This example only scratches the surface of the possibilities out there. Vendors looking to differentiate on open platforms such as Android or Symbian have a terrific opportunity in building a robust context-aware user experience. Tomorrow, this stuff will be table stakes. But today, we are still waiting for somebody to lead the way. Handsets are loaded with power: processors, sensors, round-the-clock connection to services. But where is the intelligence to tie all of this power together? Maybe we should call them powerphones until they start doing something smart. -Alex Spektor

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