News by admin on Monday December 22, 2014.
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The smartphone market is starting to feel like a two horse race. No, it's not the Apple and Samsung show anymore, but it is increasingly feeling like Chinese companies versus everyone else. Typically it is thought that if a device is to be successful it needs to be a global success, such as the iPhone and the Galaxy S3. However, Chinese companies are showing that if you are big in China alone you can really disrupt the industry, just ask Xiaomi.The scramble is on and China (India too) presents a new frontier that every smartphone brand wants a piece of, but the global market is still important and many of the biggest brands come from outside China. So, we are going on a whistle stop tour of some of the biggest companies by country and seeing how they coped in 2014. Canada The land of the maple leaf may not be a tech hotbed, but Canada is of course famously the home of Blackberry. Once one of the biggest names in the business, 2014 has been a year of finding a new path and walking it for the company formerly known as RIM. There have been ups and downs, and last week's third quarter earnings call shows that this is still very much a company in transition. However, being in transition is better than the state of Blackberry in 2013 and with new products (Classic and Passport) on the market and growing enterprise monetization, there is hope for the company in 2015. China There are numerous established companies in China; ZTE, Huawei, and Lenovo being obvious examples. However, it is hard to look past Xiaomi in 2014, and this year has belonged to the company founded just four years ago. Xiaomi has rocked Samsung and become a major force in the smartphone world, but as a company the brand will be looking for ways to make more profit in future years. Other Chinese up and comers such as Meizu (high spec'd flagship busters) and Oppo (quirky) have also established themselves at least in name outside of China. Lenovo has laid down billions of dollars to buy Motorola and it will be interesting to see what the company does with its new toy. And finally, we would be remiss not to mention OnePlus and the OnePlus One flagship killer, a handset that talks the talk and walks the walk, but has had a difficult year. Let?s hope OnePlus can overcome its teething problems and make its products more readily available in 2015. Finland 2014 was the year we said good-bye to Nokia as a mobile phone making entity. Microsoft bought the devices division of the company and killed the branding on future devices, meaning a company that once utterly dominated the mobile space is no longer making smartphones. Nokia lives on though with some stellar software (Z Launcher, HERE Maps) and a decent Android tablet. The company says there will be no new smartphones in the future, but we think that Nokia will come back with a smartphone in 2016... mark those words. Finland has not been left without a smartphone company though. Jolla is small, up and coming and interesting, we will be watching what the company does with its devices and Sailfish OS in 2014 with interest. It is also worth mentioning that Microsoft still runs the Lumia smartphone division from Nokia's old Espoo headquarters, so there is still a major smartphone presence in the country. India India is interesting, because it is the next China. Smartphone brands are rushing to get into the country because with over a billion people (a lot of whom are moving into the middle class), India is the next major market. Manufacturers in the country will be looking to become the Xiaomi of India and companies like Micromax and Karbonn are leading that race. Both are prominent sellers in the country and are cutting into Samsung's large market lead, while both are also operating on a model similar to Xiaomi. Japan Japan has such a rich history in consumer electronics that it has become a market to itself. In other words, what happens in Japan does not necessarily marry with global trends (case in point, the iPhone has lost massive market share, while holding steady in other regions). Devices in the country can go from flagship to outright bizarre, but high end offerings from major brands are typically extremely good. However, while handsets like the Sharp AQUOS Crystal are very good, most Japanese companies have struggled to be major players in the smartphone market. Sony is the exception, the 10th biggest smartphone company in the world, we could probably make a decent argument for the company deserving to be higher than that. The Xperia devices are never anything but well-made and well equipped, but one gripe could be that they lack a certain showbiz. The stunningly competent Xperia Z3 is a perfect example of that and in 2015 we will be looking for Sony to take the next step (similar to LG this year) and make something that really stands out. South Korea South Korea is home to the biggest smartphone company of them all, Samsung. However, this has been a year where the company's dominance has been severely tested and the strain has started to show with profits tumbling and market share falling. Samsung faces an extremely important 12 months and 2015 could go a long way to proving whether the company can continue to dominate or whether the decline will continue. One thing is certain, Samsung's slip has become more than a unique blip and the next year will show whether the company can recover from changing and demanding market trends. As for Samsung's output, it has ranged from excellent (Galaxy Note 4) to boring (Galaxy S5) and in that respect we are excited to see the company's new smartphone strategy in action. While Samsung's year has been troublesome, compatriot LG has enjoyed perhaps its most productive period in the smartphone era. The LG G3 flagship established the company has a genuine contender at the flagship side of the market, while the brand has diversified with more devices and filled niches. The result has been record sales, but Chinese companies like Xiaomi now threaten LG?s growth, 2015 will show whether the company can build on its success. Taiwan We would find it hard to argue if someone said to us that device for device HTC makes the best smartphones on the market. Across its flagship (One M8) and lower end (Desire) ranges, the company makes consistently sexy smartphones. It is a mystery why HTC is not doing much better, with each quarter bringing predications of losses. The last two periods the company has turned a profit and 2015 will be important if the company is going to build in key markets like the USA and China. ASUS goes under the radar a lot, and many people probably think the company is a bit part smartphone company. However, with its ZenFone range the company scored a hit this year, with the three solid budget handsets shifting 8 million units between them. Add that to the company's other offerings such as the PadFone then 2014 has been a big year for ASUS. Expect a new ZenFone in January and ASUS to build on its success next year. United States At the moment, Motorola's streamlined range of smartphones manages to be consistently excellent. There really isn't a poor device in the range, and in the DROID Turbo the company has one of the standout smartphones currently on the market. With near stock Android running on its smartphones (full stock if one considers the Nexus 6), if you want a smooth software experience Motorola should be one of your first ports of call. Change is afoot for the company in 2015 as its sale to Chinese giant Lenovo from Google has recently been completed. Lenovo plans to use Motorola to drive its interests in western markets, but the company promises Motorola will remain an independent entity. Apple's success story shows no signs of ending as the company blitzed the competition with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. From a technical standpoint the devices are arguably not as fresh as some other handsets on the Android platform, but boy does Cupertino know how to sell units. Records tumbled and despite not having dominant market share it is hard to argue that Apple remains the company to beat. Every other company here would kill (we mean that) to have Apple's margins, profit, and sales figures, and for that reason you can expect more of the same in 2015.