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.
One of the surprise smartphone hits of 2014 has been the ZenFone range (ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6) by Asus. The Taiwanese company launched the affordable but quality handsets at CES at the start of the year and since then they have sold 8 million units worldwide. Asus will launch the sequels at the 2015 CES event in two weeks' time and plans to sell 15 million units in 2015. The company has issued the first glimpse of the new ZenFone with this teaser.
Samsung's first ever Tizen based smartphone has been in the pipeline for some time, starting as a high end device that was cancelled and then a lower end handset. That budget option has been close to launch a number of times and has been delayed, this month being the latest setback. However, Korea Economic Daily is now offering a new date for the Galaxy Z1 (SM-Z130H), with the device not pencilled in for January 18, 2015.
The Sony Pictures hack has caused earthquakes throughout the movie industry, shaking the business and probably having ramifications that will be felt for months. However, Sony's other businesses have largely been untouched, although that has changed this past weekend as an internal email leaked online revealed details about the upcoming Xperia Z4 flagship, a new wearable, and how much Sony will pay James Bond to use its gear.
The BBC's recent expose on working conditions in Chinese factories employed by Apple to build its products has put the company in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Cupertino insists it has the best working practices in the industry, and while Apple is under scrutiny right now there is little doubt that other companies are guilty of similar. The company has responded to the report with a bullish attitude to the content.
Sony has always had a considerable presence at CES, the yearly Las Vegas based trade show that in 2015 will be taking place between January 6 and January 9. However, CES is more of a consumer electronics show and smartphones have not featured in Sony's launches in the past, at least not flagships. However, the company is reportedly set to launch the Xperia Z4 as the event in two weeks' time, perhaps leaving the PC game and slowing down its TV output has given Sony space to fill at the event.
Morgan Stanley is a massive investment firm, so when the company looks at a market it does so with plenty of care. In the world of tech their predictions are normally bang on the money, which is why I tend to believe their latest guides for iPhone performance through this current fourth quarter, which happens to include the Holiday Season.
Samsung's new strategy does not seem to include releasing fewer smartphones as the Korean company has another handset in the works. We've had the Galaxy A series (launched), the Galaxy E (coming), and the Galaxy U (cancelled), so how does the Galaxy J sound? Well, we are going to find out soon enough as the Korean company is prepping such a device that is showing up at the moment with the model number SM-J100.
Apple's manufacturing process and labor treatment has been questioned in a new report by the BBC. Current affairs and scandal expose show Panorama has found that factories used by Apple are home to poor working conditions. While some will immediately say it is not directly Apple's fault, it is worth remembering that the company has promised to protect workers interests and has even openly boasted about how much better Apple is than other companies in this regard.
The Amazon Fire Phone is already a legendary device, but its status in the mobile world is for all the wrong reasons. Amazon, a company used to huge success with retail and even with hardware (Kindle Fire tablets) was well poised to join the smartphone bandwagon. However, the company got a lot wrong in delivering a solid device, but one that did not have flagship specs, was loaded with gimmicks and gateways to Amazon's sales pages, had a flagship price tag and was a carrier exclusive.