Wireless Smartphone Strategies

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

September 20, 2014 06:20 lsui

According to the latest report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services: Global Smartphone Sales Forecast for 88 Countries : 2007 to 2020, global smartphone sales to grow at 13% in 2015, offseting the slow down in feature phones.

Asia Pacific will remain the growth drive, accounting for 54% of global volumes in 2015. China and US will remain the largest smartphone sales countries by 2014, making up 43% of global volumes. India will suparss US being the second larget market by 2019. Central Latain America and Africa Middle East will see a strong smartphone growth by 2020 and play as a new growth engine for global market.

World's top 20 countries will account for 80% of global smartphone volumes in 2015, up from 75% in 2007.

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.

September 9, 2014 22:28 lsui

As expected, the newly launched Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus did NOT contain many surprises, as some features (size and NFC etc.) had already leaked before. However, there are a few things missing that caught the attention of analysts in our WSS (Smartphones) research service:

1. No 32GB version for both models. Now, 64GB has filled the position of 32GB, and Apple futher extended this with a 128GB version. Apple is not the first vendor to launch a 128GB version (e.g. Meizu MX3 128GB), but we believe the cheaper 16GB version will still make up a big chunk of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus volumes. Meanwhile, the 64GB and 128GB models will, of course, help Apple to maintain a higher-pricing position;

2. The rumored sapphire crystal display did not come true with the new iPhones. Instead, Apple adopted it into the Apple Watch, a small-screen device. We suspect manufaturing capacity might be a key reason for Apple not adopting a sapphire display in its new iPhones;

3. Not LTE Cat 6 powered. The iPhone 5 and 5s were powered with LTE Cat 3 chipsets, and some expected new iPhones to have Cat 6, the most advanced 4G chipset, allowing 300Mbps downlink rate. However, it has ended up that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus only support 150Mbps Cat 4 category;

4. Camera function did not make a major improvement. Since the iPhone 4S, Apple has not significantly enhanced the camera function. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus still feature an 8-megapixel camera, and it is not supporting 4K video-catpure. Apple is lagging here on these tech specs;

5. China (mainland) is not on the first 9-country list. Different from last year, China is NOT on the first 9-country list at launch. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available in US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong on September 19th, 2014. We suspect China clamping down on the iPhone in the government sector may have caused the change. This could become a serious challenge for Apple.

September 3, 2014 01:33 lsui

According to a new report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service -- Value Share : Global Smartphone Revenue and ASP by Vendor by Price-Tier : Q2 2014 -- Lenovo became the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume in the entry-tier category in the second quarter of 2014. This is a first for the company.

However, we note the vast majority of Lenovo's smartphone shipments are generated in its home market of China. Outside China, Lenovo remains a tiny second-tier smartphone brand at the moment.

More analysis of Lenovo and smartphone shipments by price-tier can be viewed by clients here.

August 8, 2014 06:03 lsui

According to the latest report from our Wireless Smartphone Strateiges (WSS) services : Global Smartphone Vendor Marketshare by Region : Q2 2014, Chinese brands take 6 of top 10 spots. Samsung and Apple take the top 2 positions, while Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi take the rest 3 spots in our top 5 list. Coolpad, ZTE and TCL-Alcatel rank No. 7, No. 8 and No. 10 respectively.

Xiaomi, TCL-Alcatel, Huawei and Motorola were the star performers among top brands this quarter, growing way above the industry average rate.

Chinnese vendors now account for an impressive 6 of top 10 spots in our global smartphone rankings. We are moving into the "Chinese decade".

June 10, 2014 15:50 lsui

At the breakout session today -- in ZTE's annual analyst event in China -- the keywords are online channel and voice interaction.

Like many other Chinese vendors, ZTE has emphasized the critical role that online distribution channels play in branding equity enhancement. For instance, all of its three 4G models recently launched focus on online channels by working with big Chinese e-tailers, such as JD and T-Mall. ZTE targets that 20% of total smartphone sales this year will go via the online channel. Interestingly, offline and online is not completely exclusive. In contrast, as we have seen from Xiaomi, ZTE also tries to leverage online resources to do branding, and blur the boundary between the two to bring more online models to offline channels to generate volumes. For example, it plans to open up over hundreds of Nubia physical stores this year to enhance the penetration into offline channels.

ZTE showcased more voice-recognition usages today, such as voice-print unlocking, voice navigation, etc. ZTE claims the voice-recognition rate has improved to over 90% with its own technology by working with Nuance and other technical partners. Moreover, it will adopt more voice-interaction functions by integrating it with ZTE's own UI-MiFavor 3.0 later this year.  We like the idea very much, but it remains to be seen how users / consumers will embrace it or not -- the industry might need a more influential American player, such as Apple, to make voice-recognition adoption more widely available.

Something missing today from the session was the topic of LTE-Advanced -- it was not really covered. It is also surprising that ZTE confirmed they will adopt their own chipset mainly in modem products -- rather than their own smartphones -- in the short term, making us suspect it might still need time to improve and optimize the chipset products for cellphones.

June 9, 2014 13:47 lsui

Over 100 industry and financial analysts attended ZTE 10th Analyst Event today in Shanghai, China this week. Our analysts from the Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) and Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services also joined the event.

Under the new management team and organization structure, ZTE outlined its handset business performance and new drivers to fulfill its growth target. The key word is smart 2.0, which ZTE defines as a user value driven platform allowing more interactions between users and providers. ZTE targets to be the enabler of smart 2.0 and position itself as “AFFORDABLE PREMIUM”. However, we think this alone is not good enough to differentiate it from other Chinese players, such as Huawei and Coolpad.

ZTE targets to sell 60 million units of smartphones worldwide in 2014, from over 40 million units one year ago. Moreover, to improve profitability, ZTE has been cutting SKUs dramatically since last year, which means the company has to deliver more hero models to fulfill the volume growth target. The three newly launched 4G models in China market, Grand SII, Red Bull v5, and Star 1, although they have achieved encouraging pre-order volumes, we think it is going to be challenging for ZTE (and others) to really stand out in such a crowded market. Also sub-branding fragmentation is another issue ZTE needs to address.

ZTE is focusing on voice recognition technology and believes it will be a key element behind Smart 2.0. We have tried the voice interface function with the newly launched Grand SII -- it worked well to unlock the phone. However, almost all smartphones support basic voice recognition technology at the moment, and it remains to be seen how ZTE will differentiate and dramatically improve the accuracy and user experience.

The new initiative on the channel side is to build up a C2C platform called “Weipinhui” (Westore). It is an innovative platform allowing anybody to sell ZTE phones via an APP called “westore”. The idea is to leverage the peer-to-peer influence to deepen and diversify e-commerce channels. It is now available on Android and iOS platform in China. No actual sales volume via this platform have yet been disclosed at the event.

June 4, 2014 23:00 lsui

In the newly published report : BRIC Country Smartphone Revneus, ASPs and Price-Tier Forecasts : 2009-2020 from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services, we forecast mobile smartphone revenues to grow 16% worldwide during 2014. At the same time, the four BRIC countries combined -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- will all grow at rates well above the global average. Led by China, BRIC countries will generate 36% of global smartphone revenues in 2014.

Among the four countries in 2014, China will experience the highest revenue & ASP growth rate, propelled by the decrease in ultra-low tier market and the increase in other higher price range segments. Meanwhile, we forecast China will surpass the US to become the largest smartphone market in revenues this year. 

Among BRIC countries, India is the second-largest market behind China in volume and value terms, taking approximately 3.4% of global smartphone revenues in 2014, and growing to 6.2% by 2020.

April 24, 2014 16:23 lsui

LTE, branding and retail-point expansion are the three keywords for Huawei's global smartphone business in day 2 at its annual analyst event this week. Our smartphone team is attending.

LTE is the most important growth driver for Huawei's 80 million smartphone target in 2014. China, Western Europe, as well as other emerging markets, will play a determining role in its global LTE landscape. Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service tracks global LTE phone volume and value (wholesale revenues and ASPs) on quarterly basis in this report.

Branding enhancement is an on-going project for Huawei over the past few years. Shfiting from product-centric to consumer-centric is their highlight for this year.

Open-channel retail-points have been playing an increasing role during Huawei's transition from a previous ODM / operator-centric business model to an OEM / own-branded business model. This year, Huawei will further solidify its global retail presence by setting up more branded shops, display zones and tables worldwide. The online channel for phones is burgeoning in China at the moment, however, we will not see a quick take-off of e-commerce in many emerging markets elsewhere very soon, so physical retail stores will maintain their critical role in both operator channels and open channels. Huawei's commitment on retail expansion is, in effect, a practical way to fulfill its global growth target this year. This published report, from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, forecasts smartphone sales by 7 channels for 6 regions and 3 major countries (China, India and Japan).


April 23, 2014 09:50 lsui

There are over three hundred analysts worldwide attending Huawei's Global Analyst Summit, held from April 23 to 25 in Shenzhen, China. Our analysts from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service also joined the event.

The key theme of day one is about the overall corporate performance review and strategy outlook. Clearly, operator business still makes up the lion’s share of overall revenue, but the enterprise business and consumer business have been growing faster in 2013. Geographically, China contributed to 35% of total revenue in 2013, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America also saw healthy growth. In contrast, North American performance remains lackluster and posted year-over-year decline last year. Company overall profitability improved.

For the smartphone business, in which Huawei ranked the third largest vendor worldwide in 2013, according to this report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) service, Huawei reiterated its commitment to the smartphone business but indicated it will shift focus from volume growth towards sustainable growth and profitability. Compared with the two giants Apple and Samsung, the operating profit margin on Huawei's handset business was still quite slim in 2013. Our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service tracks the top 12 handset vendors' value and profitability figures on a quarterly basis in this report.

Looking forward, Huawei's consumer business needs to identify its own way to fulfill its growth target, rather than sometimes copycatting other players’ strategies (e.g. Xiaomi’s online distribution, or Samsung’s vertically integrated model, etc.). To avoid a price-war and further improve profitability, it seems, is the keyword for Huawei's global smartphone business in 2014.