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2010 Wrap-Up. 2011 Predictions, Part III.
31st December 2010
Offering only a handful of new releases during 2010, the future for this joint venture is looking pretty grim. Their flagship XPERIA X10 smartphone is not competitive with market leaders, and you have to poke around their range quite a lot to find anything with consumer appeal.
There are some promising rumoured announcements for 2011, including a "PlayStation phone" and an even bigger and more powerful XPERIA smartphone, both running Android. But perhaps these products should have been launched during 2010 rather than 2011.
We don't think that Sony Ericsson will survive in its present form past the end of 2011. Perhaps a strategic partnership with another manufacturer may help, or it is always possible that the joint venture will be dissolved. It would be hard to see the loss of Sony Ericsson as a particular tragedy for consumers.
Samsung trimmed down its operating system commitments during 2010, concentrating on Android, Windows Phone 7 and their own Bada operating system. This more focussed approach seems to be paying dividends, and Samsung caused a stir with their iPad competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Bada is never going to take over the world, and although sales of Bada handsets have been strong, in the main Bada smartphones are replacing Samsung's old range of touchscreen feature phones which always sold well.
Definitely a manufacturer to watch in 2011, Samsung are increasingly the only manufacturer that can compete at all levels of the mobile phone business, from cheap prepay handsets to high-end smartphones and tablets that exceed even Nokia's capabilities.
Korea's other major phone manufacturer has struggled in 2010, especially in the highly profitable smartphone sector where LG is traditionally a weak player.
However, LG is promising to make huge investments next year and the announcement of the world's first dual core smartphone, the Optimus 2X, promises to put LG back on the map in this market sector.
One of the major supporters of Windows Phone 7, LG is poised to do well if Microsoft can make a success of their new operating system.. but that is a big "if".
LG needs to properly define its long-term strategy in 2011 if they want a hope of keeping up with arch-rivals Samsung.
RIM / BlackBerry
RIM's worldwide growth in 2010 has been impressive, mostly down to an aggressive expansion in new markets and forging new relationships with carriers.
Technical innovation has been pretty thin on the ground, with the Torch and Pearl 3G handsets being the most significant developments. Clearly RIM are sticking with what they are good at with their product range, but we suspect that RIM's growth is really a bubble that is at risk of bursting if they continue to develop new devices at such a slow rate.
However, RIM's upcoming Playbook
tablet introduces a completely new operating system that will
eventually find its way onto BlackBerry smartphones, so perhaps there
is something more interesting that we'll see much later in 2011.
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