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2006 Wrap Up. 2007 Predictions. (Part 3)

29th December 2006

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 HTC logo HTC remain the market leader in Windows smartphones, and during 2006 they decided to "step out of the shadows" and market devices under their own name. This bold move led to a falling out with some previous partners, notably O2 and i-mate, but in our view the time was right for HTC to carve out its own identity.

Expect HTC to consolidate its place in the Windows mobile markets, challenging both midrange business phones and edging into laptop territory with higher end devices.

RIM (BlackBerry)

 BlackBerry logo In commercial terms, the BlackBerry range has been a phenomenal success in corporate and business markets. The release of the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 as a consumer device shows that RIM are determined to break out of the business-only niche and grow their market share. The Pearl is certainly a very impressive phone, and it has the right combination of technology and brand recognition to be at least a limited success.

The rumours are that RIM might switch the software platform of the BlackBerry handhelds from their in house OS to a Symbian based solution during 2007.

BenQ Mobile

 BenQ logo The disaster that was BenQ-Siemens is too complex to explore fully here, but essentially BenQ-Siemens made the mistake of trying to produce too many handsets too quickly, without due regard to the quality of what they were selling. This is in contrast to Sony Ericsson who took a different approach when they were formed - they concentrated on a small number of handsets which they made the effort to get right.

Although technically speaking, BenQ is still a licensee of the Siemens name, it's unlikely that this will continue in 2007 as pretty much all of the ex-Siemens arm of the business has been closed down.. and there are issues still to be resolved in the German courts. The BenQ part of the company was always very weak, and it is highly unlikely that BenQ mobile will be around by the end of the year.

Update: BenQ Mobile filed for bankruptcy as we were going to press, although it is possible that the German operations may be sold on.


 Sagem logo It's no secret that Safran, the parent company of Sagem, is looking to offload its loss making mobile phone business. In many ways, Sagem is in the same boat that Siemens was in a couple of years ago. Although it has been rumoured that Motorola is interested in Sagem, it's hard to say how Sagem would benefit Motorola at all.. although the Sagem product range is much improved as of late.

One way or another, Sagem will almost definitely not last to the end of 2007 in its current form.


 Sharp logo Once the technological leader in Europe, Sharp have pulled back from the marketplace somewhat with a range of so-so handsets that haven't made much of an impact. It used to be that Sharp was two years ahead of the competition in a lot of features.. for example the Sharp 902 sported a QVGA screen, 2 megapixel camera with optical zoom, MP3 player and expandable memory more than two years ago.

In Japan, Sharp is still way ahead of most of the competition. We understand that Sharp haven't exactly ruled out importing one of their high end handsets from Japan, but there's no confirmation either. During 2007 Sharp will either try to reassert itself, or possibly withdraw from the European market. Certainly, their current strategy doesn't seem to be working.


 Toshiba logo Toshiba are more-or-less in the same position as Sharp, having introduced a range of high-end handsets a couple of years ago which didn't sell too well (although we liked them). The current Toshiba range is unimpressive, but there are definite indications that we might see higher specification Toshiba phones during 2007, which will be a welcome sight.

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