Which Of The Top Eight Mobile Phone Manufacturers Can Go The Full Fifteen Rounds?
At Unlockworldwide.com we were fascinated by the data and opinion in the Phone Arena blog published this week by Daniel P. We thought our customers might be interested in a synopsis. The eventful third quarters results confirmed trends seen in Q2, where the Samsung’s Smartphone success was confirmed and losers like Nokia and Motorola showed promise of a reversal of fortune.
Following the resignation and subsequent death of Steve Jobs the markets confirmed that both events were factored in. Although Apple missed analyst’s earnings expectations but still squirreled away $5B operating profit on the iPhone alone. Although results were 20% down on Q2 it exceeds the combined profits of ALL competitors. Yes, we said Apple’s profit line is greater than the sum of the other seven!
Wow. We admire the iPhone but is it THAT much better than a Droid?
Yes, it’s pretty… but most of us proceed to stick it inside a rubber case to protect our huge investment …. And that case is anything but pretty. So?
Samsung more than confirmed its emergence as the industry’s next darling, becoming the world’s leading Smartphone manufacturer with a Q3 volume exceeding even Apple. Equally or more importantly its profit margin grew to a satisfactory 17%, becoming greater than that of rival HTC.
Daniel P considers the Samsung range to be a “a well thought out product mix” that, fuelled by the popularity of the Samsung Galaxy SII, combined with in house production of features like Super AMOLED Plus display and the Exynos chip, suggest continuing control over product cost.
Samsung also standardized naming of its Smartphone’s under the Galaxy brand identification. With the Galaxy II scheduled to hit US markets in time for Christmas, Q4 augers well.
Taiwan’s most successful brand performed well in Q3 and the high margin Sensation 4G helped place HTC ahead of RIM in the profit league for the first time. Whether the $300M investment in Dr. Dre headphones will increase the sales of Sensation XL, the Sensation XE or HTC Rezound remains to be seen. The Hood may prove our skepticism wrong, AGAIN.
What was dramatic were shipped products to the huge Chinese market, with the HTC Wildfire S entry level Android. That’s a statistic we admire although HTC surprised us with a caution on Q4.
After a year, which offered little innovation, Research In Motion assailed the market in late Q2 with the first BlackBerry OS7 handset, scheduled for distribution by as many as 225 carriers worldwide.
The late launch of the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 barely affected year end financials, and Q3 results, although defended by RIM’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie, have been viewed as lackluster. RIM are have fallen to fourth in the profitability stakes in just two quarters of trading.
Nokia were pleased to lose LESS money than analysts predicted, and it was only marginally profitable on its cell phone business. A strategy involving up to 20% discount on its Symbian range helped drive up volume at the cost of profit. The good news is that Nokia preserved its status as No.1 mobile phone manufacturer by volume of sales.
With products such as Symbian Belle and Nokia 701 in the market and claims of cutting edge features such as brightest screen, the forthcoming Lumia 800 Windows phone will be blitzed across the media. That may herald improved sales for Nokia but the marketing cost may muddy the bottom line.
Divorce is expensive and Sony’s recently reported alimony settlement to Ericsson may weigh heavily on next quarters numbers. The combo ended its marriage on a slight profit but on very flat earnings.
Most introductions took place early in the year such as Xperia Arc, Xperia Active (rugged) and the well-received Xperia Ray (compact and handsome but not rugged).
However, the alliance is not expected to launch anything innovative; leaving us to speculate that Sony and Ericsson are keeping their powder dry for life on the singles circuit.
Motorola saw a smaller loss in Q3, helped by the launch of the Droid Bionic, the first dual core phone with LTE connectivity and $300 price tag. They have followed this with a brash attempt to regain cult status by calling their forthcoming super slim Kevlar bodied LTE phone the DROID RazR.
Daniel P thinks that Moto has its Mojo back. At unlockworldwide.com we admit to refusing to throw, give or donate our beloved RazR V3.; even though it sucked functionally.
But it’s Google’s announcement of a $12.5MB agreement to buy Motorola Mobility that stirred enthusiasm and sent share prices soaring. What will it mean to Motorola? What will it mean to the competition? Opinion is divided and we can only hope that Google know.
Q3 was not kind to LG. The quarterly loss was tolerable but the operating margin declined further which does not auger well in the near term.
The problem facing the third largest manufacturer (volume) continues to be the public perception that they are dull and unsophisticated. Disappointing because in reality LG have some decent credibility on paper. They were first to offer a dual-core phone, first with a 3D capable handset, and for some considerable period the brightest screen marketed.
Recent developments from LG include the first phone with genuine HD screen, a 4.5” on the Optimus LTE. All clearly major achievements that the public for some reason elects to ignore. That, regrettably, is discouraging for LG.
After all, Apple only have to suggest a minor iPhone feature and the public clamor to press $ into the profit column. If only LG had Steve Jobs.
And in the Fourth Quarter
It’s quite possible that one contender may have flagged enough to retire in Q4. But Motorola, HTC, Blackberry, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Apple, LG, and Samsung will have to keep battling it out for smart phone supremacy.
But we shall probably see more of the same but with possibly less drama. After all, at unlockworldwide.com we believe that Steve Jobs may have retired more than once but his demise ended an era.