A few quick notes that relate to the smartphone bloodbath years, that are now starting to come to a close. As I've indicated Samsung won the manufacturer wars (rather easily) and Android totally dominates the platform wars. But we have some odds and ends to report, so lets get to those
DELL QUITS SMARTPHONES
So, Dell the big PC maker who saw that the future of personal computing is the smartphone, tried its hand at making and selling Dell branded smartphones. It didn't build the dealer relationships with the carriers. It struggled and never got meaningful market share in smartphones, now it announces it will quit that business. Dell will still continue making tablet PCs which are closer to its traditional businesses of desktop and laptop PCs, also sold through the same channels and methods as traditional PCs.
FIRST RUSSIAN BRAND? YOTA
So while some big names of the smartphone space exit (HP, Ericsson, Dell) or are bought out (Palm, Motorola) we still see newcomers (like Finnish start-up Jolla) and now the first-ever Russian made smartphone brand is set to debut, called Yota. They plan a dual screen smartphone, one screen traditional touch screen for inputs and outputs, but the other, an electronic paper screen that can be used to read ebooks and such publications without major drain to the battery life. And interesting play as a hybrid. Lets see how it fares. First phones expected around Q3 of 2013. Good luck Yota.
And PS, as of the BRICs already China, India and Russia have their own smartphone domestic manufacturers, where is the Brazilian domestic smartphone maker? Cannot be far behind I think.
SCREEN RACES - NOW SIX INCHES
So mine is bigger than yours? After the Samsung Galaxy Note, now Sony is upping the ante and will introduce a massive 6 inch screen smartphone in the Xperia line. It will have full 1080 display resolution ie 1920 x 1080 pixels for supersharp display. It'll be run by a Quad-core CPU and feature a 13mp camera, 32GB of internal storage and - of course - a microSD expansion card slot for more memory storage.
HUAWEI EVEN BIGGER
And if 6 inches is not big enuf for ya, the world's third biggest smartphone maker, Huawei, is rumored to soon release a smartphone with a 6.1 inch screen..
HOW MANY NOKIA LUMIA 920 SOLD?
For those still interested in the former smartphone giant called Nokia, who has fallen to 10th in the Top 10 of smartphones (being number 1 only 24 months ago, and at the time, twice as big as its nearest rival) - there is rampant speculation of what the newest Lumia series, now with Windows Phone 8, might be doing in terms of sales. There is typical over-hype by Nokia and Microsoft executives promising ridiculous levels of sales success, but as this is the first quarter the new handsets are out, we don't have data to go by. Until the first tidbit came out a few days ago. An outfit called AdDuplex has mapped out the top 10 most used Windows Phone based smartphones. I have never heard of these guys before and can't say anything about their credibility but the overall numbers do look reasonable for Windows Phone 8 installed base and its distribution.
AdDuplex finds 7 out of the top 10 devices in use today to be made by Nokia, and two by Samsung and one by HTC. The only new Windows Phone 8 based Lumia is Lumia 920, which they find is used by 3% of all Windows Phone users worldwide. That would mean, that in the first month or so of its sales, Lumia 920 has achieved adoption by about 900,000 users globally. If we give it another month for the end of the Quarter, ie Q4 the Christmas Quarter of 2012, then Lumia 920 might be in the hands of about 1.8 million Nokia smartphone users worldwide. Nokia will have sold more than that 'into the channel' (meaning some are in stores waiting to be sold, or en route from factories to warehouses or warehouses to stores) - then a total Lumia 920 sales level of maybe 2M to 2.2M is reasonable. Toss in some of the Lumia 820 sales, and total Q4 Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 based smartphone sales could be 2.5 million.
If you think that is impressive, just remember, two years ago, when Nokia introduced the latest software version of Symbian, called S^3, it sold 5 million total units in the Christmas Quarter and 4 million of those were of the then-tops flagship phone, the N8. Since then the industry has grown in size by more than 2.5 times, so for the Lumia 920 to do 'reasonable' level of what Nokia brand and sales and distribution is capable of, it should sell 10 milllion units this quarter of Lumia 920 alone and another 2.5 million of the Lumia 820, for a total of 12.5 million new Windows Phone 8 based Lumia smartphones. That is what Elop should be doing even in his sleep, if he was competent as a CEO (not doing the stupid exclusive deals, not doing the idiotic design compromises, not offering top features that Nokia customers want, and pricing the range to be successful, etc etc etc)
Also a Piper Jaffray survey of 800 US consumers finds that the interest in all Windows Phone based smartphones in Microsoft's strongest market, the USA, is down almost a quarter from 8.7% of smartphone buyers interested in it in September to 6.5% now. Remember the USA accounts nowadays for only in in 5 smartphones sold (China is 50% bigger as a market than the USA) and this is Microsoft's backyard. The TREND is again WRONG WAY for Windows Phone. Do not expect Windows Phone miracles if its best market sees an erosion of demand as the new Windows Phone 8 devices appear on the market. This is not a good sign.
I hope we'll see Kantar release new numbers in the next few weeks (their last numbers came out just before Lumia 920 had launched), that might give us a more familiar measure, but this AdDuplex outfit does suggest Lumia 920 has not taken the Windows Phone world by storm (so far) and is consistent with those who expect very poor total Nokia smartphone sales for Q4. Stay tuned, as more data comes in, I'll be reporting it..
BLACKBERRY 10 SHOWS HOPE
There are some good early signs for RIM. The large corporate clients are notoriously reluctant to ditch major IT investments on any temporary fads, ups and downs in smartphone fashions for example. Blackberry had done the hard work to land in over 80% of the largest US corporations and government entities, and that work is paying off. Now there are good signs that some US government agencies are pre-testing the Blackberry 10 OS and seem willing to continue using RIM's platform for their smartphones into 2013. A good example is the Immigration and Customs agency that will pilot BB 10 from January. Don't count Waterloo out of the smartphone races just yet..
FIFTY DOLLAR SMARTPHONE
The $50 US dollar smartphone is now a reality in Africa. In Kenya for example Huawei's lowest cost Android smartphones have sold 300,000 units. (And I have to make this point once again on unsubsidised price for American readers. Your iPhone 5 that you 'buy for 179 dollars' in reality costs 650 dollars, you are just paying a forced 24 month intallment payment plan on the remaining 471 dollars that AT&T collects for Apple on your behalf - plus interest, of course. The real cost of the iPhone 5 is 650 dollars. That is what I am talking about here, not the gimmick pretend-price of the up-front fee you are charged on a phone linked ot a contract. I mean unsubsidised price. Same for that 50 dollar Lumia 920 - its real cost that AT&T pays to Nokia is about 750 dollars, you the consumer are paying that full price hidden in your monthly payments of the contract price. I always talk 'real price' here on this blog, the unsubsidised price - and YES, there are true unsubsidised Android based smartphones that cost 50 dollars)
Yes, Huawei (did I mention, the world's third largest smartphone maker already, by this time next year they will be bigger than Apple as the second biggest smartphone maker behind only Samsung) sells those 50 dollar ultra-cheap Android smartphones in Africa. Yes, in Kenya Huawei's lowest-cost phone has taken about 20% market share of the smartphone market already. Expect this pattern to rapidly spread to Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania etc..
AND MY PHONE BOOK 2012
For those who need more data and stats and facts about the handset industry from dumbphones to smartphones, market shares, operating systems, regional splits, features of the installed base, etc, see my TomiAhonen Phone Book 2012.