A few interesting tidbits from the smartphone wars that caught my eye. First off, this is awesome great news. HMD has officially confirmed that the Nokia-Carl Zeiss optical camera lens partnership is back and that HMD will create flagship Nokia Android smartphones that will use Zeiss optics. That is fantastic news. Not that an average consumer might even 'notice' the difference of Zeiss glass vs generic plastic on a mobile when shooting pictures - it is the principle of the excellence implied with partnering with an iconic camera lens specialist like Carl Zeiss. That means that Nokia Android based flagships will have great cameras and that HMD will make a focus area in the camera, something that Samsung used to do (Sony Xperia still does) and Apple explicitly does not do. It helps create differentiation for HMD/Nokia and hopefully it also revives the development in camera tech in our pocket. If HMD invests in Zeiss as a partner, they won't then pair that with a rubbish camera sensor or meek other specs. This is great news. The first Zeiss-glass flagship won't necessarily be the most awesome cameraphone ever - although it is likely to be one of the better ones currently - the NEXT gen Zeiss-glass Nokia, a year later - THAT could be a superphone. This is great news.
Then in the area of really bad news for iFans. Samsung is reporting they have had a great quarter. Both their chips unit and their smartphone unit has had strong sales and strong profits. Some analysts are already suggesting that for the quarter, Sammy may report bigger profits overall than.... Apple. That would be a big ouch in iLand. Wot? iCompany is not iNvincible? And lets be clear about this - the Samsung number would be driven by its chips side, but a solid smartphone contribution would help. Apple is facing its 'down cycle' in its annual sales - likely a bit worse this year because for some reason, they didn't bother to release the 'spring iPhone' model that they did last time. So the iPhone sales this quarter overall would be possibly down more than usual. And the other iBusiness? I recall that Macs, iPods, iPads, iWatches - sorry Apple Rubbishes, etc were mostly down already earlier... so we could see a rare 'disappointing' quarter from the iEmpire. If so, that would be bad timing if the Korean boys are having a great quarter..
Hey, talking about bad news for the iBoys. Huawei. I am pretty sure in a few years Huawei will pass Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker. That rank of being third is a tricky place and nothing is certain in this type of race but Huawei is doing pretty well there and has reported a long series of steady growth, globally, not only inside China. So they are not victims of the whims of market success in just one country. If you looked at Huawei growth Q1 2017 vs Q1 2016, they are up by about a quarter units in sales, in a year. Now.. lets move that quarter-sized growth to the next two quarters, this just-ended Q2 and the current quarter Q3. That would put Huawei in the rough scale of 40 million units per quarter (about 33M last year this time). And then guess what iPhone sales levels woudl be like? Last year Q2 April-June quarter, Apple sold 40.4 million iPhones !!!! And in Q1 2017 vs Q1 2016, Apple iPhone was down 1%. The could be smack center at 40M units now. And that is just about where Huawei seems to be headed now also. It will be neck-and-neck for Q2 and Q3. We might see the first single quarter where a rival snatches second place from Apple in smartphones, pushing Apple to third ranking. Of course we know on this blog, that this is temporary, due to the strong cyclical sales pattern of iPhones (down in summer, up for Christmas) so for the full year statistics, Huawei is not (yet) challenging iPhone but this year might be the first 'sign' that Huawei is really coming. For one quarter they might be past. And even if they end up not quite matching Apple, if the numbers are close - expect some opportunistic tech analysts to skew their math just enough, that they can claim Huawei ahead - so they get all the headlines that Apple is falling, Apple is falling... And that would be quite big noise in iTown, wouldn't it. A colossal iCollapse. In particular if that squares with an actual decline in iPhone sales vs last year, plus declining market share in iPhones (expect iPhone market share to be around 11% in Q2 vs 12% same quarter last year); coupled with Samsung's sudden profit bonanza. We could have a summer of iDespair in iCupertino. Some might even dare say, Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs haha..
But hey, we do have other news too. HTC. Remember that company? The company that launched the world's first Windows based smartphones, and the company that was the first 'biggest Android maker' until Samsung bothered to get serious with Android? HTC which once was the world's third largest smartphone maker? (But I thought HTC was dead?) No, they aren't quite dead yet, even though they have been trying real hard. Well? This quarter for once in a very very long while, the Taiwanese smartphone maker is reporting INCREASED sales. Woot? That is amazing news, for a smartphone minnow. They still are outside the Top 10 (outside the Top 20 even) but hey, they are not dead, and they reported growing sales. Good for them!
I will have the Q2 data for you once all the numbers are out, that will be around mid to late August, but many analysts will give Top 5 numbers before that, so we'll start to see how the picture shapes up already in a few weeks when the first of the analysts start with their news. Could it be that Huawei gets temporarily the second place ranking? That would be something...
(PS the blog seemed to have some issue with comments past few days, am sorting it out. We should always be open for comments...)