Wireless Smartphone Strategies

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

May 12, 2010 15:05 Alex Spektor
From a total handset volume perspective, not much has happened in a year in North America. Indeed, our findings show that the region’s growth during the first quarter of 2010 has been flat on a year-over-year basis. But, if we look closer, we can actually observe a lot of movement within, as smartphone specialists face off with traditional vendors. South Korean vendors Samsung and LG have carved out a nice spot at the top of the market, controlling nearly 50% of volumes last quarter. But, while Samsung continues chugging forward—the vendor surpassed 30% market share for the first time ever—LG should be concerned. After many quarters of strong growth, the vendor is now more than 4 percentage points below its peak market share. Without doubt, its essentially nonexistent smartphone portfolio is to blame here. image Astonishingly, Motorola has remained in the top four despite 12 consecutive quarters of annual declines. However, this time around, Motorola finally yielded the #3 spot to North American neighbor Research In Motion. Of course, Motorola’s Android portfolio is ramping up quickly, with all-time-high smartphone volumes. But, as the vendor continues to shed featurephones from its portfolio, we expect further reduction of volumes. Despite moving up in ranks, RIM has not been seeing stellar domestic performance either. In fact, while everyone around them has been moving up or down, RIM has been standing still. The vendor’s North American market share has been essentially flat for six consecutive quarters. RIM has been (quite successfully) focusing on expanding internationally, but that has come at the cost of stagnation at home. A significant portfolio refresh (more touch?) will be necessary to shake things up. Nokia once again traded places with Apple, losing the #5 spot in our rankings. But, actually, for Q2, my money is on Nokia retaking fifth place. Partly it’s because Apple’s shipments will see a lull in anticipation of the next-generation iPhone. But I also see a lot of potential for the Nokia’s Nuron phone on T-Mobile USA, which offers innovative (read: affordable) smartphone data pricing. In the long run, however, Apple is much better positioned for growth in America, having essentially defined the smartphone experience for the market. Q1 2010 North America Vendor Share -Alex Spektor

April 22, 2010 22:04 bjoy
The Q1 2010 results season are upon us, and Apple reported yet another stellar performance, shipping 8.8 million iPhones globally. This is the best iPhone performance the company ever had outside the fourth quarter.  Typically the iPhone sales are the strongest in during the back half of the year. The third quarter stands to benefit from product refreshes and the fourth quarter from holiday sales. The record first quarter sales is really promising, the upcoming OS 4.0 along with a likely hardware refresh this summer will boost the second half sales even further. The AT&T results the following day shed some additional light on Apple’s performance. The Apple iPhone is still the breadwinner for AT&T, even after nearly three years of launch. Check this fact: AT&T activated 2.7 million iPhones during the quarter, and one third of the activations came from new subscribers, which is higher than the total post paid net-adds reported by the carrier. The impact of the iPhone becomes more obvious if we consider the fact that this is despite the competition from a growing smartphone line-up under the AT&T portfolio, including Android, RIM , and Symbian devices. So who is buying the iPhone these days? After all, the device has been in the market for several quarters now. The early adopters and early majority are already iPhone subscribers (read youth, prosumers etc). The tail end of the demographics, which are the late majority and the laggards (typically the 55+ age group) are the next wave of opportunity for Apple and AT&T. innovation-curve.jpg Innovation Adoption Curve; Chart Source: Google The tail-end of the market is always a difficult proposition for companies as they are often hesitant to embrace new solutions, even if the product or service on offer enhances the quality of life. The word of mouth through family and friends is a major driver for smartphone adoption among seniors, and for this to occur, the product should have a large installed base and be in the market for a very long period. The iPhone in the US is at a distinct advantage in this respect as it enters its fourth year this summer - and perhaps that is already showing in the most recent AT&T results. - Bonny Joy

March 22, 2010 21:03 Neil Shah
With Q3 FY 2010 financial report released this week and the outlook is still gloomy for Palm, it is being titled as a candidate for a “potential” buyout. But the future is in its own hands, and for the company like Palm it still has enough potential to weather out of this state and see some sunlight. There are some key areas where Palm has to rework its strategy. Palm has a good product line with likes of Palm Pre Plus & Palm Pixi Plus, and powered by a striking Linux core webOS platform enabling an intuitive UI covering all the basic traits to suit the targeted North American market. But still it’s unable to leverage on this appealing product line. The major issue for this lacklustre performance is due to its competition against the smartphone giants- Apple with a richer user experience and sea of applications, Samsung & LG growth with their manufacturing strategy customizing to satisfy mobile operator’s market segments, Blackberry with strong enterprise growth as well as remarkable entry into consumer segment, and the growing entrant Google with its open Android Platform. It is clear that Android, Mac OS X, Blackberry will dominate the North American market and Palm will be a secondary priority for the operators in spite of an innovative webOS platform. Based on the latest results, roughly half of the Palm’s shipments are in carrier channels struggling to sell through and the pressure is likely to increase further as Apple iPhone and Android begins the next innings with major software and hardware revisions in the following quarters. Perhaps Palm need to embrace growing platforms like Android, where operator and consumer interest is on the rise. By developing cross platform interfaces and services such as the Synergy, Palm can still provide a unique user experience on top of Android without betting the farm on webOS. Also, with positive outlook on HTML’s growth and adoption in mobile phones, from the applications development point of view Palm is at an advantage in leveraging its HTML/CSS written webOS in an opportunity to create new revenue vistas through mobile web browser based applications easily which may attract the operators participating in the recently announced “Wholesale Applications Community” at GSMA World Congress in Barcelona. Palm should also keep an eye on in incorporating the evolving wireless technologies (ex: TD-SCDMA, HSPA+, LTE) to expand and diversify its future offerings. So, Palm should for now go with the flow instead going against it and incorporate newer platforms like Android in its portfolio by 2011 instead of pushing the sole struggling webOS devices and thus come up with unique selling propositions satisfying the consumers & operator’s needs. Palm should also focus on striking strong long-term operator relationships especially GSM operators with a well thought and executed go-to-market strategy,and clawback out of this deteriorating situation. Thus, there will not be any need for “Palm” reading, as it will control its own future. - Neil Shah