Wireless Smartphone Strategies

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

April 22, 2015 20:24 nmawston

Following Day One at the global Huawei Mobile analyst event in China, compared to the first day where there were a lot of keynote speeches, Day Two events were separated by a couple of different tracks ranging from consumer business, enterprise business, enabling ICT transformation and SDN, through to digital business innovation. Our analysts from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS)service joined the consumer business track.

As stated in our Day One blog, "connection" is the keyword for this event. In its consumer business, Huawei plans to give consumers a “smart life” in the future with solutions of wearables, smart homes and vehicle-mounted devices for the connected person, connected home and IoT, by centering on smartphones to create a consistent user-experience. Huawei has cooperated with various wearable partners such as Tencent, Baidu, Codoon, Jawbone, Google, Myfitnesspal, Auto Navi and Boohee. It also partners with Mercedes and Audi in vehicle-mounted devices.

For wearable devices, Huawei currently provides two products: Talkband B2, which is released in China on April 22nd and begins to sell on April 23rd, and its predecessor Talkband N1. Huawei will also launch (slightly delayed) its Watch in the third quarter of this year. There will be three colors of Huaweil Watch: gold, silver and black, with 40+ watchfaces. It is a full-circle outlook, with a 42mm diameter, Sapphire crystal cover, 1.4-inch AMOLED display with 400x400 screen-resolution. It will be sold outside China first due to the well-known Google (Mobile Services) issue in China.

As smartphone products will still be centric to its consumer business, Huawei will still pay a lot of attention to this segment in the future. Huawei targets more than $40 billion revenue and 15% marketshare for its global smartphone division in 2019. Huawei will maintain its dual-brand (Huawei and Honor) smartphone approach, but it plans to reduce its number of products and focus on technical innovations to improve product competitiveness and sales volume of single models.

Huawei plans to grow its revenue of the smartphone segment from overseas to be over 60% in 2015 and higher in the future (currently around 50%). To achieve this goal of global development, it will continue investing in global retail stores, promoting the Honor brand outside China, and enhancing Huawei’s brand image and global influence by high-end marketing, Internet marketing and emotional connections.

To be sure, 2
014 was a banner year for Huawei and it has kept on doing very well in the first quarter of 2015. Will this momentum continue into 2016? It will depend on its "connection" with the whole ecosystem.

April 21, 2015 08:48 lsui

 There are over five hundred analysts and media worldwide attending Huawei's 12th Global Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, China, today. Our analysts from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service also joined the event.

The key theme of Day One is about the corporate overall performance review and strategy outlook. Looking in the rearview mirror, 2014 was a banner year for Huawei. Financially, company overall-revenue increased +21% YoY to RMB 288.1 billion (US$46 billion). Company overall-profitability also improved, with 9.7% net profit in 2014, up from 8.8% in 2013, mainly thanks to a streamlined organization and management structure, as well as improved average selling prices (ASP).

The operator business still made up the lion’s share (67%) of overall group revenue, but consumer (26%) and enterprise (7%) divisions have been growing faster in 2014. The consumer business group (smartphone, dongles, and other products) posted RMB 75.1 billion (US$12 billion) revenue in 2014, up 33% YoY, leading the pack among all three business groups.

Geographically, China contributed to 38% of total revenue in 2014, up from 35% in 2013, mainly thanks to the uptake of 4G LTE in China. Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America also saw healthy growth. In contrast, its North America performance remains lackluster and saw a decline last year.

For the smartphone business, in which Huawei ranked the third largest smartphone vendor by volume worldwide in 2014, according to a report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, Huawei reiterated its commitment to the sector but indicated it will continue focus on profit rather than scale. Compared with the two industry giants Apple and Samsung, the operating margin on Huawei's smartphone business is still quite slim, so there is scope for growth. Our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service tracks the world's top-16 smartphone vendors by value and profitability on a quarterly basis in this extensive report.

Moreover, Huawei outlined some initiatives to upgrade the service-driven platform for its smartphone products, including building up offline-service networks, building a full-service online platform in key cities across 100+ countries, as well as establishing an operational excellence center (OEC) to realize synergy across online and offline channels.  We look forward to more details in the Day Two session tomorrow.

Connection is the keyword for this event. “Open road to a better connected world” is their slogan and can be seen everywhere at this event. We understand it refers to the connection between Huawei and customers, between consumers and service / product providers, between people and people, and between IoTs, etc. In the Consumer business, will Huawei extend into a more cross-product connected ecosystem, from its current smartphone and dongle-focused product lineup? How will Huawei execute its service-driven platform to provide consumers with full-lifecycle services? Please stay tuned for our Day Two blog.



March 20, 2015 10:00 PLin

Breaking news today -- March 20th, 2015 -- that Peter Chou, the CEO of HTC in Taiwan, has stepped down from his position. He is replaced immediately by Cher Wang, co-founder and chairwoman of the smartphone maker. Peter Chou will remain at HTC, in a face-saving move as the head of its Future Development Lab, to lead new product innovation.

This executive transition today is, of course, NOT a surprise. It really should have happened two years ago when HTC's global handset marketshare had already halved and the downward spiral for the company was in full swing. HTC’s global smartphone shipments fell -2% YoY in Q4 2014 -- in a total market growing +31% YoY. This was the vendor’s twelfth straight quarter of global volume declines and it continues to lose traction in the valuable North America and China regions.

Where does HTC go from here?

To recover growth in 2015, HTC plans to launch more mid-range smartphone models in key territories like Taiwan, and to expand into tablets and wearables. However, a more diversified product portfolio will take resources and time to develop -- time and money that HTC simply does not have in its current weakened state.

We recommend HTC's best option is to find a white-knight merger partner. One that can bring stability and investment for R&D, marketing and enhanced retail distribution. Possible merger partners for HTC could include Microsoft (scale), Huawei (ambition) or Xiaomi (internationalizing).

For more analysis and forecasting of HTC and its future outlook, please visit our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service here.

January 27, 2015 05:26 lsui

Motorola has recently announced to reenter China by launching Moto X, Moto G and Moto X Pro, three smartphone models, on Jan 26th, 2015, in Beijing. More than one year has passed since Motorola previously completely pulled out from the world's largest smartphone market in the second half of 2013.

Moto X and Moto Pro target the premium-tier segment, and Moto G, one of Motorola's best-selling models in 2014, eyes the mid-tier segment. Motorola will work closely with online retailers to sell the three phones, including Jingdong, T-Mall etc.

Motorola believe their key differentiators are full technology enablement (e.g. supporting China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom for all 3G and 4G technologies), a "pure" Android UI, as well as customized service / software offerings. However, there are already many full-technology-enabled models from ZTE and other local vendors available in China at the moment. Those latter two models from Motorola will find it hard to stand out from rivals.

Reintroducing Motorola-branded phones to China will dilute Lenovo's shift up-tier and also its online intiatives. Lenovo has the Vibe sub-brand targeting premium-tier segments, and it has just set up an online sub-brand and division -- Magic Factory -- in H2 2014. For Lenovo and Motorola, it will be a challenge to balance and manage these multiple brands in such a crowded Chinese marketplace this year.

Moreover, it remains to be seen whether Chinese consumers still value the Motorola brand and whether they will embrace a "new" Motorola. For us, this looks like a risky move by a struggling Lenovo desperate to re-jazz its fading smartphone growth at home.


January 22, 2015 07:47 PLin

According to the latest report, Global Smartphone Sales Forecast: Offline vs. Online -- from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) research service -- the distribution of smartphones through online channels will grow an above-average +21% worldwide in 2015. North America, Western Europe and China are especially active, and those regions are experiencing a Golden Age for online smartphone distribution.

Our report forecasts global smartphone offline and online distribution flows for 6 major regions and 3 key countries from 2007 to 2020, including North America, Western Europe, Latin America, China, Japan and India. The forecasts can be used by smartphone vendors, vehicle makers, apps developers and others to identify the main regional channels where smartphones are being sold, and how rapidly online channels are emerging alongside, and in some cases displacing, offline distribution. The report is available here to clients.

October 30, 2014 10:49 nmawston

Lenovo and Motorola confirmed today, Thursday 30 October 2014, that the US$2.9 billion deal to merge their smartphone divisions has been approved and wrapped up. Two have become one.

According to analysis from our WSS (Smartphones) research service, the "big three" ADVANTAGES of the merger include:

1. Increased scale. Higher volumes can equal lower costs. Lenovo captured 5% marketshare of global smartphone shipments in Q3 2014, while Motorola captured 3% marketshare of global smartphone shipments in Q3 2014. Together, they now hold 8% share of the worldwide smartphone market;

2. Deeper distribution channels. Lenovo and Motorola together can now sell smartphones, tablets and wearables in more countries and in more retail stores, operator stores, online stores, or PC channels;

3. Bigger marketing / R&D budgets. Lenovo and Motorola together can potentially spend or borrow more to fund extra marketing and R&D activities.

The "big three" DISDVANTAGES of the merger include:

1. Lenovo is slowing down. Lenovo's rapid smartphone growth of recent years is now coming to an end, due to fierce competition from Xiaomi and others. Based on our data, Lenovo's global smartphone shpiments annual growth rate has more than halved from +74% YoY in Q3 2013 to +30% YoY in Q3 2014;

2. Motorola is losing money. Motorola continues to make hefty financial losses, due to a relatively large cost-base. Based on Strategy Analytics data, Motorola has NOT made a profit for 4 years;

3. Smartphone mergers usually take several years to integrate. For example, TCL-Alcatel, a Chinese and French merger, took around 5 years to stabilize and sustain growth.

Clearly, Lenovo and Motorola have strong tailwinds -- such as 8% global smartphone marketshare and two well-known brands. But Lenovo and Motorola also face major headwinds. Lenovo's golden era of easy smartphone growth is coming to an end, while Motorola continues to lose money. Merging these two firms next year will NOT be as easy as many expect.

October 20, 2014 15:20 nmawston

According to a new report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, Blackberry captured 1% smartphone share worldwide in Q3 2014. The company’s hardware division is finally on the cusp of returning to profits for the first time in three years. Cost cuts (e.g. outsourcing) and improved BB10 designs -- like the Z3 and Passport models -- are driving the vendor’s enhanced performance. Additional analysis can be viewed by clients here.

October 2, 2014 23:21 lsui

According to a new report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service -- Global Smartphone Sales by 17 Technologies : 2007 -2017 -- HSUPA / HSPA+ will be replaced by LTE as the world's most widely used smartphone air-interface technology in 2015.

We forecast 4G technoligy to account for 38% of total global smartphone sales in 2014, rising to 45% in 2015. Moreover, LTE-Advanced will entend into more markets from 2014 onwards.

China will surpass USA to become the largest LTE smartphone market globally in 2014.


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.

September 15, 2014 22:47 lsui

Google unveiled three new smartphones based on the previously announced Android One program at an event in New Delhi, India, on September 15th, 2014.

The 3 new models are the Spice One Dream UNO Mi-498, Micromax Canvas A1 and Karbonn Sparkle V. They are all based on the Android One platform (KitKat) and come with the Google Play Store preinstalled.

Our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service forecasts Android One to account for 1% of global smartphone sales in 2014. It is a niche-but-growing program for superphone vendors to target the "next billion" users in emerging markets.