Lets do some updates from the smartphone wars bloodbath battlefieds of the Digital Jamboree. As we await the final numbers from Gartner (the other three: IDC, Strategy Analytics and Canalys have already published their Q2 total count of smartphones sold/shipped) we have plenty of interesting news. Where should we start? Lets start with the Sammy..
SAMSUNG STRONG, STRONGER, STRONGEST
So Samsung believes in the exact opposite of 'only one iPhone for everyone' haha.. Did you think the Galaxy series was not diverse enough with massive screens, pico projectors, slider QWERTY keyboards and discount versions? Latest evidence? In-built TV tuner! The fifth biggest mobile network in the USA, MetroPCS has just started to sell the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, yes with built-in TV tuner. Not analog TV tuner, as US analog TV broadcasts were shut down, yes, this has digital TV built-in. And its the free digital TV type, not the subscription service (that shut down as commercially unviable in the USA). They released the Galaxy Lightray smartphones in time for the Olympics. You think this is weird or silly? Don't. More than half of all mobile phones sold in Japan and South Korea have in-built digital TV tuners already - they were introduced midway in the past decade. So again, the USA lags Japan and South Korea in handsts by what, seven years?
And while I am on Sammy, then their evil Bond-villainesque world domination plot for the Galaxy series? Now they offer to buy your existing smartphone, whatever it is, and give you money for it. You don't need to hand it in when you buy your Galaxy, they let you do your file and phone number transfers, etc, and then when you are done with the old smartphone, almost any model will do, iPhones, Blackberries, Nokias, and Samsung will accept it via online form, and send it in, they send you the money. Its not as much money as you'd earn from selling your used smartphone on eBay, but its good money nonetheless. This will no doubt further help those wanting to switch to the Galaxy but recently bought a smartphone and feel they don't want to 'waste' that investment.
ALL QUIET ON THE iPHONE FRONT
Meanwhile how's our iPhone? No news. The expectation is that somewhere in mid September we'll know about what will be in the iPhone 5. The strongest rumor suggests the screen size will grow to 4 inches, based on stories from Japan from Sharp, who is apparently contracted to manufacture the iPhone 5 screens. But nothing else really to report from the iPhone front.
BLACKBERRY 10 COMING
So the RIM news is that yes, they had actually considered going Android, but decided no. The new CEO Thorsten Heins has poked fun of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop now many times, including announcing that the Blackberry platform is not on fire. And the target date for Blackberry 10 launch is January of 2013. Cannot come soon enough for RIM. Meanwhile more turbulence at RIM, Hampus Jacobsson, a top Blackberry 10 designer leaves the company.
NOKIA NOKIA, DEAR DEAR NOKIA
And the Nokianews is of course, as expected, all bad news - or weird news. Nokia in a classic case of putting lipstick on a pig means its still a pig - they have literally released a nail polish in the pink color of the Lumia series. Yeah. After the smartphone is Osborned and dead, you now try to sell it to unsuspecting 'dumb blonde' type of women who would rather have their nail polish match their smartphone, than care that it signals they picked the wrong smartphone? I think this was a 'bold' idea that should have been killed before it got to the commercial stage, especially after Nokia heard that the whole Lumia series would be Osborned by Microsoft.
We hear that the US retail price of the Lumia 900 has been lowered again from 49 dollars to 19 dollars. AT&T who had been quoted being so excited about how supposedly well the Lumia initially was selling, has refused to give an actual Lumia series sales number - but were happy to report their iPhone sales number for Q2. That should tell us something.
And on those silly rumors we had two months ago, that somehow Windows was outselling the iPhone in China? Ha-Ha-Ha. .We have Canalys numbers now for Q2. Not even close. Not even nearly close. Not even far. Oh, and Canalys counted 2.5 million Nokia smartphone sales in China in Q2, while my estimate said 2.9 million in 'Greater China' as Nokia reports in its quarterly data. Pretty close, eh? When adjusted to report the same region, the two numbers are within 5% of each other. So whose your daddy eh? Do I know my numbers? And.. who told you first? Does this blog give you value?
Why is the Nokia market share crashing? I Told you, it is because of retail refusing to sell Nokia smartphones, ever since the Elop Effect. Global reaction against Nokia. And some of the regular readers of this blog continued to feud with me, even after Nokia CEO himself admits the retail problem. Do we need more evidence? Today Business Week reports that once again, this problem is real. A Manhattan AT&T store had no Lumia to even show a customer and never mentioned it as a choice. This, after AT&T had made the Lumia launch the biggest spending AT&T had ever used to promote a new phone model (combined with Nokia's biggest spend ever - 3x the money Nokia had previously used to luanch a new phone, and added to that, Microsoft's enormous spend to add to the lot). That was only a few months ago. Now? Jo Harlow the boss of Nokia handsets tells Business Week "I don’t want to characterize the retail sales associates as if it’s an insurmountable challenge..." Yes. Obviously it is a challenge yes. A horrible, huge, massive and global challenge yes. A very very tough climb that Nokia faces everywhere thanks to the idiot CEO. But Harlow bravely says the problem is 'not insurmountable.' Just perhaps the toughest climb in all of mobile haha..
Business Week tells us - in a major Manhattan store of AT&T - no Lumia whatsoever, and the sales guys - ignore this brand altogether. I told you, this is what is killing Nokia, the retail refusal to sell Nokia smartphones, reported in countless press stories from China to the UK; and devastatingly, from the home of Nokia, Finland to the home of Microsoft, the USA. Yes. Today. Business Week reports Manhattan AT&T store: No Lumia even on offer.
Meanwhile back in Europe, Nokia Germany is offering a 50 Euro refund check (about 70 US Dollars) - to various retail outlets including Ikea - for anyone who purchased a Lumia 800 or 900 in Germany.
In the Nokia corporate news, the story broke that Lenovo might be looking to buy Nokia - that rumor was addressed by Lenovo's European boss (but not Lenovo corporate HQ out of China) who called it laughable. Nonetheless, the Nokia share price crash stalled and recovered strongly on the rumor, which may now bring in the real vultures and start the bidding war on the dead giant. I wrote my deep analysis of who all might be interested in bidding for Nokia and what parts, and why.
In the firing department, Nokia shuts down the Qt development unit in Australia which signals that the whole Qt developer tools part of Nokia may be shut down. Again, this would be a competitive advantage for Nokia against all smartphone makers, and a strong 'ecosystem' component of a Nokia intent on winning in smartphones - but the only reason a Nokia CEO would shut down the Qt developer environment is that this is in Microsoft's best interest, not Nokia's. Remember, Nokia still in Q2 sold more Qt compatible smartphones (ie Symbian and MeeGo based) than all Lumia Windows smartphones, and Nokia's featurephones running S40 were supposed to be made compatible to Qt as well. Elop prefers to destroy and burn his platforms rather than pursue Nokia's best interests. (obligatory Anti-Elop comment here - Elop is the worst CEO of all time, has personally destroyed Nokia, and must be fired immediately)
Then to those burned platforms. Did you remember a platfrom called Symbian, which still in 2010 sold more than all iPhones and all Blackberries - combined? Which still today is bigger in global users than all iPhones and all Blackberries, combined? Which is second only to Android by installed base today? Which many call obsolete, yet delivered such a superphone that the world's biggest telecoms event, the Mobile World Congress just this Spring awarded Nokia the best phone of the event award to the 808 Pureview, a phone with such hot tech, that for example the latest edition of Windows Phone cannot even support the tech? That Symbian..
Yes, news comes from Finland that the 808 Pureview demand in Finland is far outstripping supply. Various Finnish handset outlets from network stores to independent stores say that they are in short supply or out of 808 Pureviews. Nokia's spokesperson Tapani Kaskinen told Finnish television broadcaster MTV3 that "Nokia has been very satisfied with the demand of the 808 Pureview, and that the company has not been able to deliver enough of the phones to match demand. The problem is not a component shortage or any other production issue, simply that Nokia underestimated the demand for this phone model." (translation is mine, original story by MTV3 is here in Finnish)
So what do we learn? While Nokia CEO Stephen Elop pushes the undesirable and unwanted (and now even Osborned) Lumia series, with massive price cuts, refund payments and - a custom nail polish line - his better-selling Symbian all by itself still produces highly desirable smarthones. And due to Elop's mismanagement, while Nokia smartphone unit is unprofitable, this highly profitable superphone is not being sold properly!
HTC VANISHING PROFITS
HTC has reported that they see a huge fall in the current quarter profits. So the HTC series is undesirable, has to be sold at big discounts. This while their sales are falling, while running on Android that is massively growing. How is it that Samsung can produce massive growth and profits with Android smartphones, and HTC is spectacularly unable to replicate that? It does not compute in my book..
GOOGLE 100 M ANDROIDS
And Google has passed a huge milestone. They now are activating over 100 million Androids per quarter. Even after you remove the modest numbers of Android tablets, that means that the Google Android ecosystem activates one million Android smartphones - every single day of every month, Saturdays and Sundays included. Wow. So Android has passed over 60% market share already. Truly massive!
So that is what was on my mind today, looking at the smartphone battles. I also think we are nearing the end of bothering to monitor this part of mobile, the end-game is pretty well clear, Samsung and Google have run away with the dominating positions. Apple iPhone has secured a safe second place. The rest is fought by surprisingly weak entrants to the third place, considering how strong some of them were as recently as a year to 18 months ago (HTC, RIM, Nokia, Microsoft, LG etc). So I am expecting to end the deep Bloodbath analysis series every quarter, by the end of the year. The details of the minnows of this space don't really warrant the attention.. But lets still monitor the Digital Jamboree to the end of the year and decide then..