Wireless Smartphone Strategies

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

September 18, 2014 12:03 nmawston

According to new research from our Country Share Tracker (CST) service, the Xiaomi Redmi was the world's 4th best-selling smartphone by volume in Q2 2014. The impressive performance (re)confirms how big the China market has become, and how powerful the Chinese brands are becoming (e.g. Huawei, Lenovo, TCL-A, ZTE, etc.). More analysis and data, of global smartphone shipments by MODEL for Q2 2014, can be downloaded by clients here.


January 17, 2014 19:33 nmawston

According to our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, the global Tizen smartphone installed base will be a niche proposition in 2014 / 2015. Can Samsung get the new mobile operating system off the ground in places like Japan and Western Europe? Can it avoid a "Bada 2.0" scenario?

This extensive published report, available to clients, forecasts global smartphone sales, by 14 operating systems for 88 countries worldwide, from 2007 to 2018. Almost every major country worldwide is covered, including the United States, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and others.



July 10, 2013 02:41 woh

NFC smartphones have reached a tipping point in 2013 and volumes will surge an impressive 156% this year due to the stabilized NFC ecosystem generation efforts made by device makers, mobile carriers, chipset companies and relevant parties from banking/credit card/security. Most new LTE smartphones will launch with NFC in the future, led by key players such as Samsung, LG, Blackberry, Sony, Android, GSMA, NXP, Broadcom, G&D and Visa.

This report published by our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, available to our clients, contains forecasts for global NFC smartphone sales in 6 major regions, including North America, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, Central & Latin America, Central & Eastern Europe and Africa Middle East, from 2004 to 2017. The report also forecasts worldwide NFC smartphone sales by installed base, as well as analysis of the technology's drivers and adoption challenges.


September 5, 2012 18:56 srobinson

Nokia announced the imminent arrival of two new Lumia smartphones at it's New York event today. The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 devices integrate many of the things that Nokia and Microsoft having been working on during the last 18 months, including Windows Phone 8 operating system, wireless charging, PureView imaging technology and software to deliver some cool camera effects.

In brief, the key hardware specs of the Lumia 920 are:

- DISPLAY: A 4.5-inch display with a capacitive "Super Sensitive Touch" touchscreen interface that can be operated with/without gloves (utilising Synaptic's ClearPad Series 3 technology). The display delivers "PureMotion HD+", which Nokia claims is the best smartphone display technology around, combining greater than 720HD resolution with a very fast refresh rate. It also includes sunlight readability sensors and smart polarisers that change the colours and tones of the display to make it readable in direct sunlight.

- CAMERA: An 8.7MP CMOS sensor with Carl Zeiss optics, combined with Nokia's PureView imaging technology that first appeared in the 41MP Nokia 808 device a few months ago. The Lumia 920 takes excellent photos and HD video even in poor lighting conditions thanks to two key innovations: firstly an aperture of f/2.0 which allows an enormous amount of light to be captured and allows the use of a large silicon sensor in a thin form factor; and secondly floating lens technology that provides image stabilisation and allows the shutter to stay open longer without creating blurred images. Nokia claims that the Lumia 920 captures 5 to 10 times the amount of light that other cameraphones capture. The key to the image stabilisation feature is tiny springs that are mounted on the whole camera module, not just on the lens.

- BATTERY: The Lumia 920 is powered by a massive (for Nokia) 2000 mAh Li-Ion battery, but the main innovation here is the integration of wireless charging using the Wireless Power Consortium's "Qi" standard. This is a big boost for Qi and the WPC as Nokia brings other partners to the market too, including Virgin Atlantic and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, who will have charging stations in their business lounges and coffee tables respectively. This will hopefully propel Qi forward to create a single standard, increasing compatibility and reducing fragmentation in the wireless charging landscape.

- PROCESSOR: Qualcomm's 1.5GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, MSM8960, is at the heart of the Lumia 920. It's a low-power, high-performance processor built on the leading-edge 28nm process node, delivering a stutter-free user experience and long(er) battery life. The modem in the MSM8960 supports 5 LTE bands and 4 HSPDA bands. Qualcomm's stranglehold on the Windows ecosystem is now in its third year of exclusivity.

- MEMORY: 32GB NAND Flash. Nothing sensational here and no memory card slot despite WP8 now supporting removable memory. Also, only one memory capacity option, unlike some of Nokia's competitors who offer higher memory capacity options for an extra $100, over 90% of which is pure profit. Has Nokia missed a trick here?

The Lumia 820 has some subtle differences:

- DISPLAY: 4.3 inch AMOLED display with 480x800 resolution, compared with the Lumia 920's 4.5-inch IPS-TFT with 720x1280 resolution.

- CAMERA: Same resolution 8MP main camera, but an aperture of f/2.2, compared with 8MP f/2.0 on the Lumia 920.

- BATTERY: A smaller 1650mAh battery. Still with wireless charging, this time in an exchangeable shell!

- PROCESSOR: Same.

- MEMORY: 8GB embedded NAND FLASH plus a microSDHC card slot supporting up to 32GB external memory, compared with the Lumia 920's 32GB and no slot.

The Lumia 920 is the culmination and integration of technology that has appeared in multiple Nokia devices recently. It takes the best of the Lumia 900's large display size, with the aesthetically pleasing curved display on the Lumia 800 and the incredible camera technology on the Symbian-based 808 PureView and mixes them up with some cutting-edge new image stabilisation camera technology, 4G LTE support, NFC, wireless charging and of course Windows Phone 8 .... Not bad Nokia!

Read the first impressions from our User Experience Practice of the Lumia 920's appeal to smartphone users here - Will Consumers Switch OS to get a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8?

- Stuart Robinson


May 7, 2010 17:05 nmawston

The big two Chinese vendors, Huawei and ZTE, have initially focused their handset activities on emerging markets, such as ChIndia, Africa and Latin America. Enabled by MediaTek, Qualcomm and Via chipsets, the two handset brands have achieved solid shipment growth in GSM and CDMA since 2007. Both vendors will ship tens of millions of units in emerging markets this year, mostly for low-end prepaid users, giving them a base for scale and buying power. This is phase 1.

Phase 2 of their growth targets mature regions, such as Western Europe and the US. ZTE and Huawei are using their success in emerging markets as a springboard to attack developed markets. The Chinese rightly believe carriers are king in developed countries, and they are quietly partnering with a growing number of the biggest players to deliver carrier-branded hardware. Vodafone recently unveiled 8 new Vodafone-branded models across low-, mid- and high-tiers for its European markets, 6 of which are manufactured by ZTE and Huawei. For example, the Vodafone 845 3G touch-smartphone with Android 2.1 is built by Huawei. The Vodafone 547 EDGE touchphone is made by ZTE. In the US, Huawei made the popular mid-tier Tap touchphone for T Mobile. Carriers like the cost-competitiveness and flexible customization offered by the Chinese brands, and they are useful alternatives to the European, American and Asian vendors such as HTC.

Phase 3 will eventually require a more-complex five-pronged strategy to defend against existing or potential new competitors in the operator-branded handset industry such as Sagem or  Foxconn. Huawei and ZTE will need to upgrade their companies’ competences in:

1. branding;

2. industrial design;

3. portfolio management for build-to-plan products;

4. software usability;

5. content and services.

For now, both Chinese vendors are happy to provide 3G handsets mostly as a delivery tool for operator services. For example, the Vodafone 845 from Huawei is optimized for Vodafone 360 services. But ZTE and Huawei will arguably struggle to sustainably differentiate their own brands on pricing and hardware alone. Developing a software and services (S&S) strategy beyond hardware will therefore become an important value-add for Chinese vendors to attract and retain affluent users in mature regions. An S&S strategy will subsequently open up opportunities for Chinese services brands to partner with ZTE and Huawei to showcase their products in new markets abroad. We have a Google phone and a Microsoft phone; how about a Baidu phone?


February 1, 2010 19:02 nmawston

February is here. And that can only mean one thing: Mobile World Congress (MWC). The world's largest wireless trade show takes place in Barcelona, Spain, from Sunday 14th to Thursday 18th. In between eating, drinking and sitting in the sun, I might even do a little work. Which handset players will be important and who should I go visit?

Nokia is a good place to start. Nokia will stage an off-site event called Connecting People. Connecting People is its longstanding theme to connect people and places with devices and contextual services. Nokia will no doubt unveil a new handset model or two, but we don’t expect anything seismic because Nokia will not want its products to get overshadowed by the noise of MWC.

Samsung will be about Bada, the vendor’s new platform which sits on top of a proprietary or Linux kernel. We recommend demoing its new Bada phone, to see if it matches up with Android, Apple and Symbian devices for usability and richness.

LG, like Samsung, will have a big stand at the show. LG is keen to reposition as a credible smartphone player for 2010 and there will be heavy promotion of its Android and Microsoft portfolios. LG is expanding (belatedly) into content and there should be a display of its 3-Screen 3-Way Sync converged-application service for smartphones, netbooks and TVs.

Qualcomm will be found in several smartphones and smartbooks using its high-speed 1GHz Snapdragon processor. The chipmaker will show its roadmap for the next wave of 1.3GHz (8X50A) and 1.5GHz (8X72) Snapdragons, available for commercial launches of devices over the next 6 to 18 months.

The much-hyped Google Android HTC Nexus One will be on show. However, the handset will be of less interest than the business model. I’ll do some discreet research and see if we can get more color on Google’s underlying plans for its direct-to-consumer online distribution strategy.

We will see a few HSPA+ and LTE demos this year. The dongle players, such as Huawei and ZTE, should have such devices on their stands. This will be a double opportunity to see how next-generation technologies are progressing, while examining how the emerging Chinese brands are performing.

That is a partial snapshot of who I will be visiting. How about you? Let me know by clicking on the Comments link.


January 13, 2010 16:01 Alex Spektor

As usual, this year was a fairly quiet one for mobile phones at CES. Hot consumer electronics products, like ultra-thin 3D TVs, e-books, tablets, and netbooks, all overshadowed phone announcements from the likes of Palm, LG, and Motorola.

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But one bit of important news came from an event that was held in parallel with CES. At the AT&T Developer Summit last week, the big news centered on the impending rollout of Qualcomm’s Brew Mobile Platform across the carrier’s messaging phone portfolio – complete with an app store (AT&T App Center) and “standard” 70-30 revenue sharing. AT&T’s target is 90% Brew MP penetration on mid-range featurephones by end-of-2011.

So, who benefits from the AT&T announcement?

Clear winners

  • US Carriers: Presumably, the most compelling apps would be data-enabled, so the development would drive data plan take-up. Verizon Wireless is already requiring a data plan on a number of its messaging phone models, and is rumored to expand the policy to more non-smart devices.
  • Developers: Improved revenue sharing, a unified platform, and a well-supported SDK make developing apps for multiple devices easier and potentially more profitable.
  • Qualcomm: Prior to this announcement, we were predicting the slow demise of Brew. Although it avoided the fragmentation issues of Sun’s Java ME, the relatively closed nature of Brew caused it to have narrow penetration. Breaking in at AT&T is an important win, though convincing Western European operators will remain a challenge.

Mixed impact

  • Consumers: Apps on phones mean a more powerful device, but if a consumer is ready to buy apps and pay for data, why not get a smartphone, which (after subsidy) is unlikely to cost much more? And what about consumers who might not want a (potentially required) dataplan?
  • Device vendors: A new platform can help vendors with smartphone-weak portfolios compete better, but also means more R&D work, further compliance testing, and potentially longer development cycles.

Strategy Analytics forecasts that 45% of the world’s mobile phones will have application store capability by 2014. While smartphones will account for a large chunk of app store-enabled devices, the fast-growing categories of touchscreen and QWERTY handsets are becoming the leading featurephone categories to embrace the app store business model.

Brew MP on AT&T’s messaging devices and other similar developments all point to the blurring of lines between smartphones and their less-capable featurephone cousins. While benefits of this activity extend to all involved parties, they do so to varying degrees. It remains to be seen how AT&T’s relationship with vendors, consumers, and developers evolves as a result.

-Alex Spektor


January 6, 2010 14:01 nmawston

The Google HTC Nexus One smartphone with Android 2.1 was unveiled in the US on Tuesday 5 January, 2010. It will initially ship in the US, UK, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore. The HSUPA handset ticks most of the right technology boxes, including a 4-inch touchscreen, multi-tasking and a powerful 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The phone has a handy voice-recognition feature, which can be used for controlling text fields, and it will be a key differentiator. A user can quickly write SMS and email messages simply by speaking to the handset. Only time will tell just how accurate and reliable the voice-control solution actually is. Why has Google gotten into the handset business? Google wants to champion a flagship user-experience and limit fragmentation for Android, while simultaneously driving up its global user-base for future mobile advertising revenues.


Exhibit 1: Google Nexus One


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Some downsides: first, the Nexus One lacks a hard QWERTY and multi-touch, which may be an issue for some segments. Second, the handset's style and design are a little ho-hum and me-too. Third, the retail pricing, at US$179 postpaid and US$529 prepaid unlocked, is not as competitive as some might have expected from a company that is often associated with super-low-cost business models. And fourth, the Nexus One is initially being launched with T Mobile, which may lack the marketing clout of its bigger US rivals such as AT&T.

An interesting development is the opening of a Google-hosted online store, at www.google.com/phone, which will offer an online retail channel through which consumers in the US can buy a prepaid or postpaid Nexus One. A customer must register on the site (useful for Google to control the end-user), choose a phone model, pick a data-plan from T Mobile, then Google will deliver the phone directly to their home. In effect, Google has become a handset distributor and retailer. This is unchartered territory, and it remains to be seen whether Google can compete effectively with the likes of Apple and Amazon. The announcement is certainly good news for the online handset distribution industry. Online handset distribution, via firms such as Amazon, currently accounts for 1 in 12 of all shipments worldwide. With Google's huge marketing clout and its heavily visited PC search engine, online handset distribution is going to see a major uplift in activity this year. Google just made online distribution a hotter topic for 2010.