Wireless Smartphone Strategies

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

December 22, 2010 16:12 bjoy
Nokia has a healthy working relationship with Microsoft, and the partnership has been growing over the past few years. Recent initiatives include:
  • Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for Symbian.
  • Microsoft Sliverlight for Symbian.
  • The Nokia Booklet, a 3G netbook based on Windows 7.
On the organization front, Stephen Elop, a Microsoft veteran, took over the helms at Nokia earlier this year, bringing both companies closer than ever. While Sliverlight, Microsoft Office, and Windows 7 netbook initiatives are all signs of a healthy partnership, embracing the WP7 platform in its totality takes the relationship to the next level. Shifting the building blocks of your device/software/service ecosystem in favor of third parties is no small decision and will have effect on your intangible sub-brand assets such as Ovi. And that exactly is the rumor from this week, that Nokia will launch WP7 devices in 2011. While we have no official version of the story, it would be interesting to assess the impact of such a partnership in the market. On the positive side, Nokia’s industrial design, distribution and supply chain process are among the best in the industry. WP7 will gain a strong partner in Nokia to bring the best-in-class devices among Windows Phone series. But how much of an impact it will have on Nokia’s platform portfolio, positioning and regional priorities? Where WP7 sits in Nokia’s portfolio?                                        Given the base set of high-end hardware requirements for WP7, the Nokia WP7 device will be positioned in the same premium space occupied by the MeeGo platform. Will Nokia abandon the MeeGo platform in favor of WP7? Or are they going to co-exist, with WP7 focusing on the prosumer and business segments along the same lines of the S60 E-Series? Will there be any major shift in regional platform trends? USA: With an estimated 6% marketshare in 2010 (nearly all basic and featurephones), Nokia has been steadily losing marketshare and carrier shelf space in the US. The partnership is unlikely to change the competitive landscape in the US market, where Apple, HTC, Motorola and Samsung lead the operator shelves. WP7 LTE phones in H2 2011 / H1 2012 might be a potential option for Nokia to make inroads in the US. Western Europe: Microsoft will find more acceptance in carrier channels through Nokia in Western Europe. But beyond the “foot in the  door” strategy, the partnership will have to do little with the success of the platform. In emerging markets, where Nokia has the broadest reach in mid-tier smartphones, the WP7 will be not be the obvious choice for the cost sensitive segments. We believe Nokia will continue to rely on the S60 platform in the mid-tier smartphone segment. Overall, while the idea of a Nokia WP7 device looks like a big win for Microsoft, it’s unlikely to change the prospects of Nokia or WP7 in the smartphone department. Nevertheless, Nokia needs to raise its profile in the US, and this would be a step in the right direction, but it will need step-changes in distribution and subsidies. But for the most part, it’s going to be just another partnership for Microsoft and Nokia – you’re only as strong as your weakest link. - Bonny Joy

October 12, 2010 04:10 David Kerr

sa photo dk

At CTIA in San Francisco last week, away from the fanfare around LTE rollouts and the next dozen tablet devices (ok, I exaggerate a little), Sprint had an announcement which will have significantly higher impact on mobile broadband adoption and revenues: Sprint ID. 

Sprint ID promises to up the ante on personalization and ease current feature phone users into the smart phone ranks.

Sprint ID offers instant personalization along key themes/packs where the operator has done the heavy lifting of identifying and group related applications of interest to different persona from wallpaper to ringtones to apps. While the one click marketing line is not quite matched by reality given pesky little things like accepting terms and conditions etc, Sprint ID is a significant breakthrough in my opinion as:

  • it broadens the market appeal of Smart phones to current feature phones users with a simple to understand offer in a range of device price points including the critical $49 and $99 levels.
  • it tackles one of the biggest weakness of all app stores: discoverability of content and simple personalization.

Three handsets were featured at launch of Sprint ID: Sanyo Zio™, Samsung Transform™, LG Optimus S™. These three devices cover key price points in the Sprint portfolio and provide customers with a range of form factors, industrial design and brand to meet their tastes. Interesting to note that both LG and Sanyo retain the right to put their own packs on their handsets as well. This is a big win for LG as its Optimus S™ will be available for under $50 with contract giving the vendor a much needed boost in the smartphone space. Samsung meanwhile continues to shine at Sprint occupying the lucrative $149 spot with its Transform™. All three devices of course require a Sprint Everything Data plan.

However, for me the more significant impact is that operators and oems are finally realizing that customers don’t buy phones or services or apps… what they really want are positive experiences

… be that socially connected, sports, education, health and fitness, fashion etc. This is something that our User Experience team has been evangelizing for the last 7+ years. Whether its 80k apps on Android or 250k on Apple store or 10K on RIM, one common experience has been exasperation at the huge waste of time, energy and emotions in finding ANYTHING!!! Which happens first, eyes glazing over or fingers cramping with so much scrolling? Either way the net result is often a disappointing experience which the early smart phone coolaid drinkers have learned to live with.

Newbies to the smart phone arena, will certainly have less tolerance and spend less time to personalize their device and enable applications. Sprint ID is well tailored to the next wave who are taking tentative steps into the smart phone space

 

David Kerr

dkerr@strategyanalytics.com


September 10, 2010 20:09 bjoy
Android sales have already surpassed the iPhone and with each passing day, its building further momentum with new announcements and launches. The launch of the Huawei Ideos, a mid-tier (<200 USD) device with Android 2.2 is yet another milestone in the Android evolution as the platform now extends its reach to new segments traditionally occupied by the feature phones. Most, if not all, major operators have at least one Android model in the portfolio. The platform also has broad support from the vendor community, with major names under its banner. One question at the top of OEM and Operators is how my Android is different from your Android. Look at the Android portfolio in the US market. Aside from the glossy hardware specs and discounting the differences between the base version releases - Android 1.X/2.X – it’s hard to spot any differences beneath the skin. OEMs ability to differentiate is largely limited to the user interface layers. The HTC Sense UI, Samsung TouchWiz and Sony Ericsson Timescape are some of the leading Android skins available in the market. Under the hood, they all share the common goal of servicing the Google’s apps and service portfolio – Search,GMail, Maps and  Gtalk to name a few.   “True” Internet? An opportunity for differentiation here is to bring the “true” internet experience to consumers by seamlessly integrating services and features beyond Google products. This is a tall task for most OEMs as it’s not always easy to develop exclusive partnerships in the content or service space – and some of the most popular non-Google services like Facebook are already integrated to the core Android base anyways. But for operators, the stage is slightly different. Check out some of the most recent announcements from Verizon Wireless: •    The Verizon Samsung Fascinate, part of Samsung’s premium Galaxy S portfolio, uses Microsoft  Bing as the standard option for Maps. •    Bing will also serve as the default search engine for the device. The Galaxy S series is available under all major US operators, but except for the Verizon version, all bear the same look and feel. I’m not going to the merits of which search or maps service yield the best results, but the fact that operators are looking beyond Google’s umbrella services will provide more choice for the consumers – however small that segment be. Skype integration is another differentiator for Verizon Android devices.  Although the Android core base doesn’t have a Google branded VoIP service yet, sooner or later the Google branded VoIP service will be part of the core Android base – especially given the recent launch of integrated VoIP service with Gmail. Replacing core Google services with alternative services will not prove to be a winning formula in all instances, but it could bring the mobile Internet experience beyond Google’s umbrella brands and provide enough service attributes to differentiate from the Google’s core base. The service element is a critical element in the product planning process and product planners should pay keen attention before deciding what should or shouldn’t be replaced from the core platform.  At Strategy Analytics, we’ve tools to support our clients in positioning products with the right combination of hardware/platform/service elements. Drop us a note if you would like to know more on how we can assist your planning teams. - Bonny Joy

August 11, 2010 14:08 Alex Spektor
It may be the exclusive iPhone carrier in the US, but AT&T is also becoming an attractive option for consumers looking to buy an Android handset. Though things weren’t always as they are today. If T-Mobile was the clear early leader in Android adoption among tier-one US carriers, then AT&T was the clear laggard. Let us quickly recap highlights from the US Android timeline:
  • T-Mobile launched the first Android phone in the world in late 2008.
  • It took approximately one year for Verizon Wireless and Sprint to bring to market their own models, in time for the 2009 holiday season.
  • AT&T began selling its first Android handset quite recently: in March 2010.
Less than six months later, AT&T will have as many as five Android phones in its portfolio. This won’t be quite as many as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, but it will put AT&T roughly on par with Sprint. AT&T will also be a leader from a variety standpoint, offering smartphones from vendors Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Dell.

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So, what are the key drivers for the ramp-up?
  • Catering to consumer tastes. Despite what Apple might tell you, not everyone wants an iPhone. Consumers looking for alternative features, such as a bigger screen, memory expansion, a more customizable UI, HDMI, etc., can find them among Android handsets.
  • Lower subsidy levels. Now that AT&T has lowered its monthly data plan rates, there is less revenue to offset the subsidy burden. Paying $200-$300 subsidy for an Android handset seems more attractive than Apple’s $400+ subsidy.
  • End of iPhone exclusivity? The Internet is always abuzz with rumors, and AT&T shifting its focus to other platforms is yet another sign that a Verizon Wireless iPhone is potentially in the works. The carrier may be strengthening its portfolio to offset potential losses once the exclusivity ends.
Regardless of AT&T’s underlying reasons, broadening the options available to consumers is a good thing for many of the involved parties. For example, shoppers get a wider selection of handsets and emerging vendors like Dell get exposure to a growing market. However, AT&T will need to be careful in managing the persistent issue of fragmentation. While developers and content providers will be happy to have a larger Android installed base for which to create applications and services, they will also be faced with the cost of addressing multiple models/processors/resolutions/etc. -Alex Spektor

August 4, 2010 23:08 nmawston


Blackberry has finally introduced its much-awaited OS 6 upgrade with the launch of the Torch 3G smartphone. It will initially be sold exclusively at AT&T in the USA in August 2010, giving the operator an alternative to the iPhone. OS 6 employs a Webkit engine, HTML5 support and universal search. The Torch is a QWERTY slider with a 3-inch HVGA+ touchscreen optimized for messaging and media prosumers. Can the Torch outshine Apple? Is it an Android killer?




Well, the external design is a little unexciting. It looks not dissimilar to the Palm Pre. The hardware-list ticks the right boxes for a premium handset -- with 802.11n, 5MP camera, and so on -- but the 624MHz Marvell processor might be perceived as sluggish compared with the emerging tide of 1GHz superphones. The software-list looks good, with Flash, HTML5 support and Webkit for developers. The Webkit-rendered browser will compress data traffic, benefitting AT&T's stressed network. RIM has opened up the platform a little for a better developer environment. Data services are prosumer-friendly and consumer-friendly and primed for email, Internet-browsing, social networking, instant messaging, maps, WiFi geolocation, universal search, RSS feeds, media playback, Blackberry World and PC tethering. No head-to-head videophony, though.

Navigation of the UI is delivered through 3 main interfaces; touchscreen, trackpad and hard-QWERTY keyboard. Our brief trial of the handset in New York recently found the user-experience to be generally satisfying with a responsive touchscreen and good discoverability for apps and services. Retail pricing will be set initially at US$199 postpaid with a two-year contract. This is just in the sweetspot zone for high-end users, and it indicates AT&T will be subsidizing the Torch to the tune of roughly US$200 per unit.

So... are OS 6, Blackberry World and the Torch an Android killer? No. The overall package of hardware, software and services lacks a true wow factor. The Torch helps RIM to close the gap on Android models and iPhone, but it does not overtake them. Is the Torch a Blackberry savior? Maybe. Torch 1 is a solid step in the right direction to stemming churn by upgrading its touchphone portfolio. Torch 2 and Torch 3 will need to be even better, though, with improvements like a 2GHz processor, because the consumer-enterprise handset market in the US has become hyper-competitive and the Torch will not be a leading light for long.


July 16, 2010 21:07 Alex Spektor

Those following the “Antennagate” saga no doubt tuned in to reports from the press conference held by Apple earlier today.

clip_image002As Apple explained during the event, many other phones potentially suffer from a similar issue. Putting on my electrical engineering hat, I have to say I believe it – to an extent. A user’s hand (or ear or cheek) all impact the environment “seen” by the phone. Antenna engineers work carefully to direct signals away from such sources of interference. However, there should be no reason why the left-handed “deathgrip” scenario is unaccounted for.

The smartphone vendor announced that while its “18 PhDs and scientists” work on studying the problem further, Apple would issue free protective cases (of both the Apple-made “bumper” variety and the third-party kind) to all iPhone 4 buyers.

So, why all the negative press?

It appears that consumers and the media alike have a love-hate relationship with successful electronics firms. We love to use their products, but also love to find faults in them. (Google and Microsoft come to mind.) The antenna issue has put the first major dent in Apple’s armor since the original iPhone launched in 2007. To find a fault with a company this successful is a rare occasion, and it often makes for catchy headlines.

The iPhone still offers best-in-class usability for data services. However, the vendor will now need to fix the growing perception that its voice-call capability is sub-optimal. As Apple loses heartshare, it may not stop the die-hard fans from purchasing a device, but it may impact on-the-fence buyers. Given that Apple relies on essentially a single SKU, consumers holding off on making their buying decision can have a quick impact on volumes (without other SKUs to absorb the impact).

Unlike previous years, when Apple’s competition was lackluster, this summer brings compelling Android-powered alternatives from vendors like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola.

So far, we believe that the negative impact on marketshare has been negligible. After all, Apple has already shipped 3 million of the new handset since launch. Furthermore, according to Apple-provided stats, only 0.55% of iPhone 4 users have called to complain about the antenna problem.

However, while the figure is pretty low in percentage terms, it still comes out to about 17 thousand people. The sooner Apple can bring that number to zero (the vendor hopes that consumers will accept the free bumper solution) the sooner it can curb the loss of heartshare and the potential long-term impact on the iPhone’s otherwise gold-plated brand.

iPhone 4 Insight

Smartphone Sales by Country Forecast

-Alex Spektor


June 4, 2010 20:06 David Kerr
sa photo dk

 

 

 

The inevitable movement to tiered pricing which started with Verizon Wireless acknowledging its plans to do so for LTE and has been accelerated with the much anticipated data plan announcement by AT&T this week.  So, what next?

    • Will we see significant priced based competition for mobile data among the top US operators?
    • Will we see significant movement in share of adds for AT&T as iPhone wannabees are tempted by a plan of only $15?
    • What impact will lower data plans for smartphones have on AT&T’s Quick Messaging Devices and Verizon Wireless equivalent?
    • How long before we see family data plans and shared usage across multiple devices?

The move by AT&T is a smart play to extend the smartphone momentum as the low hanging fruit of Apple aficionados, multimedia techies and style seekers willing to pay top dollar has been significantly penetrated.

There is no doubt that the iPhone remains the coolest device on the marketplace and the end to end user experience remains easily the best in class. So, reducing the TCO to attract the next 20% of customers to a paid data plans while educating customers about data usage levels and managing the traffic risk is very smart business in my opinion.

The lower price points will help AT&T maintain its current leading share of smartphone users and may be attractive to casual social networkers

  • Although the 50 photos allowance is not exactly generous! For casual messenger, and social network status checking and moderate email the new DataPlus plan is quite attractive overall and will likely attract a portion of customers who would otherwise opt for a Quick Messaging Device from AT&T or a competitive offering from Verizon Wireless.

I do expect to see some modest price competition among the big operators

  • with T-Mobile most likely to drive prices lower given their need for scale and to protect their predominantly youth centric customer base. but also expect an increasingly strong Verizon Wireless handset line up to compete strongly.

The impact on Quick Messaging Devices is in my opinion likely to be modest

  • as a traditional qwerty remains overwhelmingly the input of choice for heavy messengers in the US although there is definitely room for lowering the $10 mandatory data plan on featurephones

Family data plans and data plans which allow access across multiple devices are in the pipeline

  • but will probably not make an appearance until 2012+ as part of LTE offerings.

From a device vendor perspective, the move to lower priced iPhone plans is likely to put further pressure on vendors like LG who have yet to make a credible offer in this space as well as RIM who will find more competition in the consumer space.

The lower pricing on data plans will be music to the ears of ambitious new entrants like Huawei, ZTE who plan to bring mass market priced devices to the US & Europe. The lower TCO of smartphones as a result of downward pressure on service prices boost their addressable market.


May 20, 2010 21:05 David Kerr

sa photo dk

 

May you live in interesting times as the old Chinese proverb goes. Well in the information, communication and entertainment industry we certainly do. Some very interesting questions face our industry whether we look at:

  • the outcome of much delayed Indian 3G auction or
  • the battlegrounds around HSPA+ and LTE or
  • the surging Android ecosystem vs. weakening Symbian or
  • the upside potential for WebOS under it new owners
  • the potential disruption caused by mobile cloud phones and device

Every major technology advancement has lead to a massive disruption in the handset and infrastructure vendor community.

  • In 3G, Motorola’s slim myopia led to its near ruin and has provided huge growth for Samsung and a foothold in international markets for LG and SEMC.
  • On the infrastructure side 3G was expertly grasped by Huawei and ZTE leading to a new wave of M & A and a new world order which counts Nortel as a victim and seriously challenges ALU.

So how will the migration to 4G change the playing field?

  • Who will benefit most on the operator/service provider side?
  • Will Cloud Phones be disruptive in LTE?
  • Will operators find a path to realign the traffic/revenue mix with mobile broadband devices?

I would welcome your thoughts on these key questions. Also don’t forget to join our client webinar on Thursday May 27.

 

David


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?


April 12, 2010 15:04 Neil Shah
Verizon Wireless in the US is pressing hard to get its hands on the Apple iPhone. Its CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, has reportedly told Apple that it wants to stock the iPhone sooner rather than later. Why would Verizon Wireless want the iPhone? Well, it would surely love to break AT&T’s exclusive for the iconic device. Verizon would be keen to solidify its data ARPU and improve the company’s churn outlook by stocking the popular iPhone. And with next-gen models like the HTC EVO 4G WiMAX starting to appear at Sprint, Verizon needs to remain at the cutting-edge of data-centric handsets and services. If (if) Verizon Wireless were to stock the iPhone in 2010 to 2012, should it be optimized for CDMA or LTE connectivity? Of course, timing is king. Should a Verizon iPhone be launched in the second half of 2010, then it would definitely be a CDMA-only version, because Verizon’s LTE network will not be fully commercialized. How about an LTE version in mid-2011? Well, our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service forecasts LTE handsets will make up just 1% of total shipments in the United States next year. Launching an LTE iPhone in 2011 would be a huge marketing coup for Verizon, but it would be entering a niche immature market, so we think this approach is too high a risk for Apple -- as a historical benchmark, Apple’s first WCDMA iPhone in 2008 did not launch until WCDMA volumes were approaching some 10% of the nationwide total. Therefore, we believe a launch-date of 2012 or even 2013, when LTE will be more established, is a more realistic option for a Verizon Apple LTE iPhone. If an iPhone arrives at Verizon before those dates, then it will almost certainly be a CDMA-only version. - Neil Shah