Another year, another prediction. Before I move to discussing the things that I believe will take place in the smartphone space this coming year, I think it is more than appropriate to take a look back and see what was said about 2012 and how accurate, if at all, those predictions turned out to be.
For anyone who follows the smartphone market year 2012 is going to be very interesting – maybe the most interesting yet. We will see big announcements such as iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. Followed by new platforms such as Windows Phone 8, Blackberry 10 and Meltemi. Not forgetting the push for new technologies such as NFC. Patent wars are far from over and are likely to intensify next year. Whether the Motorola purchase is enough for Google to fight back the numerous law suits remains to be seen. 2012 is also the year when Nokia is finally ready to start its fight back (better late than never I guess), which is guaranteed to disrupt the status quo. Regardless of how accurate my predictions, or should I say educated guesses, turn out to be one thing is for sure; we will have one interesting year ahead of us.
It turns out that 2012 wasn’t actually that interesting after all. Blackberry 10 was pushed to 2013, Windows Phone 8 was delayed and Meltemi was killed. Contrary to my predictions patent wars didn’t escalate in 2012 nor did NFC become anymore mainstream than what it was a year ago. Nokia’s fight back didn’t really take of due to delays and production issues. iPhone 5 was launched but didn’t quite become the hit everyone was expecting it to become. Interestingly Samsung Galaxy S III did become a hit despite it being pretty boring, complex to use and big. Yet, it was the flagship device on most carriers over the world, which seems to have helped.
Note: Star rating indicates how well I assume the company has succeeded of the year at the end of 2013. Yes, I do understand that the end of calendar year is not necessarily the end of Q4 for most companies but in this case it doesn’t really matter. My predictions are not based on financial analyses or figures of the company but rather my own perception and gut feeling. Don’t take my ramblings too personally. Happy reading!
RIM | * (2012 *)
RIM is still in deep trouble whether they publicly acknowledge it or not. I still believe that RIM will not have a future without joining either the Android or Windows Phone camps. RIM’s typical customers have moved on to iPhone and businesses are likely better of with Windows Phone. BB10 OS and leaked devices look nice but is “nice” enough? At this point RIM’s only hope is to wish something major to happen inside the Android universe that would make Android manufacturers to shift their focus to BB10 OS.
Opportunities: Joining Android or Windows Phone ecosystems. Licensing BB10 OS to other manufacturers and hope for a miracle.
Threats: Putting too much expectations on BB10. Having no plan B in case BB10 fails.
HTC | ** (***)
I predicted and wished that HTC would increase their efforts on Windows Phone. That did not happen. Yes, they introduced two new Windows Phone 8 devices but it still doesn’t seem like they are taking it seriously. This is really a shame. HTC is now in a very difficult spot. On Android Samsung is crushing them and the situation on Windows Phone with Nokia is not a lot better. Something major would need to happen in order to HTC to move forward.
Opportunities: Niche Android devices. Windows Phone ecosystem.
Threats: Samsung becoming too dominant inside the Android ecosystem. Loosing WP opportunity to Nokia.
Samsung | ***** (****)
Samsung seems to be pretty much the only company that has managed to turn Android to their benefit and into a success. Regardless of the fact that Google is now controlling Motorola, Samsung has managed to capture Android and make its Galaxy line of devices synonymous with Android. How long can Samsung keep up their success remains to be seen.
Apple | ***** (*****)
Apple will continue to dominate the smartphone market as it has done so far. If not anymore in pure market share but definitely in profits and in mindshare. I’ve been talking about iPhone fatigue for a while already and there are finally some signs that the broader audience, media and analysts are starting to see this as well. As predicted the iPhone 5 was a big hit but it seems that many, Apple included, were expecting much more. iPhone 5 S is sure to follow later in 2013 and I would not be shocked to see a cheaper iPhone mini on the market by Christmas holiday shopping season.
Opportunities: iPhone mini.
Threats: Resting on laurels. Loosing media’s poster child status. Loosing the cool factor.
Nokia | *** (***)
Nokia and its partner in war Microsoft are investing all they got in to Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 seems to be what Windows Phone 7 should have been. We are seeing very encouraging signs from various market places. There is clearly a lot of interest towards new Lumia devices and many still seem to trust the Nokia brand and are curious about Lumia. Yes, there are positive signs but the change is slow. I am expecting Nokia to be a healthier company at the end of year than what it is today. Windows Phone market share will improve but I am not expecting the overall market situation to change. Positive thing is that Asha devices are selling really well.
Opportunities: New innovations. Smartphones at lower price point. Windows Phone.
Threats: Windows Phone. North-American market.
The other guys | **
I wrote this a year ago and interestingly it seems to be as much relevant now as it was back then:
There’s no fight without a black horse and in this fight there are three. Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo!. Facebook is for sure working on a mobile device of its own and if we are lucky it could be announced some time in 2012. Amazon has hinted that it might be interested in developing a smartphone, which would be a natural continuum to its Kindle line-up. Yahoo! on the other hand has not shown any interest but I don’t think it would be impossible to see them announce something in these lines that would surprise us all. After all they need to do something and sooner the better.
I am most looking forward to what RIM will introduce and how it will be received. I’m also pretty fed up of waiting for the inevitable iPhone mini and Facebook Phone, so please, lets see these in 2013. Besides these bigger players there are now countless little fish in the bond as well. What role will Firefox OS, Jolla, Tizen or Ubuntu play in all this remains to be seen.
What do you think? Please do share your views and predictions below.