2008 Wrap-Up. 2009 Predictions. (Part
31st December 2008
Samsung's market position remains strong, and some
efforts have been made to make their range less confusing with a new
naming convention and also the new "BizBee" sub-brand for Windows Mobile.
There have been some great handsets
during 2008 such as the i8510, the Omnia, Pixon and Soul. Samsung are
the only mainstream manufacturer to support dual-SIM phones, and their
vast product range covers almost every imaginable market niche.
Samsung supports both Symbian and Windows Mobile devices plus its own
proprietary operating system. Next year we expect to see Android
handsets too. But although the i8510 is possibly a better Nokia than a
Nokia, Samsung's Windows handsets look a bit dull compared to HTC.
problem we see for Samsung is image. They have made some really great
handsets this year, but even the best of them seem a little dull. Take
the Omnia, for example - it's a great phone but it simply isn't as
exciting as the iPhone. To be fair, Samsung have tried to create more
"buzz" around their products and we can only assume that they will keep
trying during 2009.
2008 was certainly the year of the touchscreen as far as LG was
concerned. A combination of stylish handsets and good marketing have
helped to secure a strong market position. In particular, the Secret,
Renoir and Cookie handsets are worth noting.. although the new KS360
could well be a very different type of handset that will enjoy some
Despite having a good 2008, there could be some
problems in store during 2009. LG's market share is largely based on
midrange fashion phones which could be hit by poor market conditions.
Although LG also have plenty of cheaper phones, they don't have the
brand recognition of other rivals. LG's efforts in the smartphone
market are virtually zero, but perhaps we will see an Android handset
later in 2009.
LG have done well to carve themselves a particular market niche, but that niche could be under threat.
HTC have received a lot of press attention during 2008 for
handsets such as the Touch HD and Touch Diamond, plus the
HTC-manufactured T-Mobile G1 and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1. Despite this,
HTC are a relatively small company concentrating on the upper end of
Apart from the G1, all of HTC's phones run Windows
Mobile which makes them a key partner for Microsoft. HTC have also put in some considerable effort to improve the Windows Mobile interface
with their TouchFLO software, giving HTC a very strong position in the
Our big question about HTC is this: why did nobody buy
it when they had the chance? You could see that HTC's products would
fit in nicely with the product ranges of some of their competitors. Out
of the traditional "big five" manufacturers, only Nokia and Samsung are
really putting up much of a fight in the smartphone market so if one of
the three others acquired HTC it could certainly strengthen their
positions. The problem is that HTC has grown so large and money is so
tight during 2009 that the opportunity has passed. Give it a few more
years, and perhaps HTC will end up buying one of the big five instead?
Research in Motion (BlackBerry)
Something of a media darling at
the moment, RIM broke into a new market with the 9500 Storm.. but to
very mixed reviews. But RIM have also expanded their more "traditional"
ranges with new handsets in the Curve and Pearl ranges, plus the 8220
A little like HTC, there are no direct competitors to
RIM.. but for different reasons. Despite progress in the consumer
market, RIM is still a company that sells heavily to corporate
customers who want to use the BlackBerry push email solution. As you
might expect, BlackBerry devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server
are designed to go together. As a result, partly through inertia, and
partly because RIM's products are pretty good, corporate customers tend
to stick with their BlackBerry set-ups.
Perhaps the main
threat to RIM comes from Microsoft and their push email support for
Microsoft Exchange servers. Of course, Microsoft don't make handsets -
but there is an enormous choice of compatible devices from different
manufacturers.. and not just on the Windows platform either.
bottom line is that increased competition for corporate customers means
that RIM must target small businesses and consumers in order to grow.
The 9500 Storm was an attempt at this, whether or not it succeeds
remains to be seen.