Posts tagged with ‘smartphones’
Thompson has a great post cataloging why Samsung is stuck in the pincers between sustainable high-end smartphones (Apple), and the inexorable appeal of lower-cost smartphones to those who are price conscious. Read the whole thing.
But I thought this one section — about the stupidity of analysts — is dead on:
Software Matters – For years analysts treated all computers the same, regardless of operating system, and too many do the same thing for phones. I personally find this absolutely baffling; you cannot do any serious sort of analysis about Apple specifically without appreciating how they use software to differentiate their hardware. The fact is that many people buy iPhones (and Macs) because of the operating system that they run; moreover, that operating system only runs on products made by Apple. Not grokking this fact is at the root of almost all of the Apple-is-doomed narrative (which, by the way, is hardly new).
Software-based differentiation extends to apps. While a fully-fleshed out app store is table-stakes, for the high end buyer app quality matters as well, and here iOS remains far ahead of Android. I suspect this is for three reasons:
- The app store still monetizes better, especially in non-game categories
- iOS is easier to develop for due to decreased fragmentation
- Most developers and designers with the aptitude to create great apps are more likely to use iOS personally
None of these factors are likely to go away, even as Android catches up with game-based in-app purchases and as iOS increases in screen size complexity.
Ultimately, though, Samsung’s fundamental problem is that they have no software-based differentiation, which means in the long run all they can do is compete on price. Perhaps they should ask HP or Dell how that goes.
In fact, it turns out that smartphones really are just like PCs: it’s the hardware maker with its own operating system that is dominating profits, while everyone else eats themselves alive to the benefit of their software master.
Maybe Tizen is the shovel that Samsung could use to dig themselves out of the hole?
The Emerging Foundation For The Future Of Work
Benedict Evans has a great piece that confirms what many have been saying: smartphone adoption is an enormous game changer:
Benedict Evans, iPads and tablet growth
[…] the smartphone explosion is putting the internet into the hands of far more people than ever before, and it’s alway there. If you’re watching TV and want to know about an actor or a product, do you go upstairs and turn on your PC, walk across the room to pick up a tablet, or just pull a smartphone out of your pocket? The declining relative utility of the PC is reflected in a slowing replacement cycle (you don’t replace the one you have) - the tablet has yet to make the sale in the first place, outside the initial wave of adopters.
Compounding this, the smartphone explosion is accompanied by an apps explosion. There are thousands of amazing apps on iPad (and very few on Android tablets, which is why the balance of use between the two is so skewed), but the smartphone opportunity is so much bigger that it attracts much more attention: there are more of these devices, some use cases make much more sense on them (such as Instagram) and some only make sense on them (such as Uber, Hailo or Lyft). So the smartphone experience now is very rich.
The charts say it all. We are in a smartphone world, and it will change everything from top to bottom, and those impacts are only being hinted at, with the first changes showing up in the decline of the old ways: PC sales and desktop software sales, including use of web-based apps that are designed for browser use. We are starting to see the rise of the new ways, like the explosion of phone-friendly messaging apps, for personal and work use.
There is a revolution about to happen, a new era of computing based on increasingly powerful smartphones, ubiquitous connectivity, and context-driven apps that leverage the information latent in our actions and connections.
Expect that 50% of existing enterprise software companies will not be able to make this transition, despite being well-capitalized and running on millions of computers. At least half of the winners in the next 10 years will be startups, many that don’t exist yet.
Context-driven cooperative work tools on smartphones is the emerging foundation for the future of work.
If people had to give up sex, alcohol, smartphone, or coffee for a week, what would they pick? Men 18-34 are least likely to say sex, women of the same age group prefer their smartphones.
Jean Louis Gassee, The Next Big Thing: Big Missing Pieces
Camera companies are doing little to stop phones from eating their lunch
When will camera companies realize they are in a world that defines their products as smartphones you can’t talk on?
Amazon is entering the smartphone market, which is better called ‘palmtop computer market’. No work on the operating system, but the ‘kindle phone’ might follow the pattern of the Kindle: an open source version of Android mobile OS, redesigned to support the kindle phone.
But if they go that route, it’s hard to see how they’d stand out from the mazillion other android mobiles out there.
We are spending less time talking on phones than ever, and more time using them for other things:
Phone Calls Now 5th Most Popular Smartphone Activity - Paul Sawyers via TNW
According to O2’s ‘All About You’ report, which was based on a survey involving 2,000 people, we spend around 2 hours a day on average using our smartphones, which also includes other activities such as testing, emailing, reading books and taking photographs.
“Smartphones are now being used like a digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’, replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops,” says David Johnson, General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK. “While we’re seeing no let-up in the number of calls customers make or the amount of time they spend speaking on their phones, their phone now plays a far greater role in all aspects of their lives.”
O2 commissioned the report to mark the launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the all-singing, all-dancing device that looks set to cement the Korean mobile manufacturer’s position at the forefront of the smartphone market. The report also found that smartphones are replacing other possessions including alarm clocks, watches, cameras, diaries and even laptops and TVs as they become more intuitive and easier to use for things beyond calls.
- Over half (54%) say they use their phones in place of an alarm clock
- Almost half (46%) use their smartphone instead of a watch
- Two-in-five (39%) use their phone instead of a dedicated camera
- Over one quarter use their phone instead of a laptop (28%)
- One in ten have gotten rid of a games console in favour of their smartphone (11%)
- Perhaps indicative of where things are moving, one in twenty smartphone users have switched to use their phone in place of a TV (6%) or reading physical books (6%)
My iPhone is my favorite reading device, now. It’s my only alarm clock, and only camera. I still use my MacBook Air extensively, however. And I don’t game at all.
I feel like Elmer-Dewitt is writing an alternate reality scifi novel in this piece, where he makes it sound like Microsoft is still the worldbeater company of the last century, and Apple is the tiny upstart:
Phillip Elmer-Dewitt via Fortune
With Apple (AAPL) expected to introduce a new iPhone in conjunction with the scheduled release of iOS 6 this fall, the stage is set for a holiday face-off between these two long-time rivals in the battle for second place after Google’s (GOOG) market-leading Android smartphones.
Once again, Microsoft will be trying to stretch its lead on the desktop by taking a version of Windows into the mobile device marketplace. Apple, meanwhile, will be playing into its strength in devices that operate smoothly together in an easy-to-use software ecosphere.
Let’s clarify things:
- Apple is the dominant player in smartphones. The iPhone revolutionized the industry, and Android (which is primarily Samsung) is ahead on unit sales, but Apple is catching up.
- Yes, Samsung has sold more units: 43M to Apple’s 35M, with Nokia a distant third at 11.9M (mostly Symbian) and falling fast.
- Samsung and Apple together get about 90% of all the profits in the smartphone market.
- Apple posted record sales of the iPhone in q1’12, with 35M units sold and $24.4B in iPhone profits for the quarter, up from $10B a year before.
- Microsoft is the provider of some Nokia phones, but Windows 7 is a tiny, tiny blip.
I don’t really see what Elmer-Dewitt is up to, but Apple is the clear market leader in the high profit laptop >$1000 sector. Who cares if Dell or no name manufacturers are selling bazillions of $450 laptops with $15 of profits?
Apple has the money and vision to create amazing products, and that’s not from selling badly designed, low-cost phones, laptops, or tablets.
And I am sure that Microsoft would love to perceived as going head-to-head with Apple. I think Windows 8 — what I have seen of it — looks cool, and might develop into a viable platform. But the characterization of Microsoft and Apple as side by side in the starting blocks for a race against Android is simply fiction, not analysis.
MWC 2012: Microsoft and Nokia et al. need to step up
The MWC in Barcelona 2012 is almost over. Phone vendors are pushing Android devices everywhere. Low-end, high-end, mid-end and experimental phones are all running Android. Except for the Symbian based Nokia 808 with its 41 MP camera sensor. The biggest Windows Phone 7 introductions at the MWC were two budget oriented devices, the Nokia Lumia 610 and the ZTE Orbit.
There is nothing wrong in going after a wider audience by covering more price points; it’s just that there are no high-end WP7 devices to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, the Nokia Lumia 800 is a nice phone. But so is the even better spec’d iPhone 4 from 2010. Windows Phone 7 devices are lagging behind with relatively low spec’d screens, processing power and lack of front facing cameras (on most phones). High-end WP7 phones barely match mid-end Android or iOS devices.
In order to succeed, computing platforms need momentum and network effect. Users/buyers attract more developers to push out great apps which attract more buyers which attract more developers etc etc. How do you get that momentum going? Well it’s hard, but the first thing you need is hit products. Hit products such as the iPhone 3G, the HTC Hero (in Europe), the original Motorola Droid (in the US) and the Samsung Galaxy S. Devices that eat their way into the consumer mindshare. It is great to have lower-end devices available as well. As a complement. But it’s the hit products that get the ball rolling. Windows Phone 7 had a late start in the race of modern mobile operating systems and Microsoft and device vendors need to push even harder than the competition in order to catch up. In my mind, the system is almost there; just give a device geek like me a reason to buy into it.
Windows 8 needs a hit phone, or it’s dead.
Keith Teare, Google, Facebook, Privacy — And You
There is a big structural problem for both Google and Facebook as they contemplate the product consequences of consumer reactions to their product roadmap. In a centralized platform it is incredibly hard to create easy-to-understand controls that give each user the ability to control, at a granular level, what they share and who with. Grand policy shifts, like that which came out of F8 and which we are now seeing from Google, tend to assume all users are the same and will want the same thing.
In reality, users are more complex. I might want to save a private video to a personal storage space one moment, share something with a select group of friends another moment, and broadcast something to the world five minutes later. The web services infrastructure that both Facebook and Google are based on does not easily permit such fine grained control for users without also imposing serious effort. As we all know, that leads users to stick with the default settings most of the time.
So, despite good intent by the teams at both companies, one-size-fits-all decisions are the norm.
Mobile to the rescue?
Structural problems usually require structural solutions. What it seems consumers are asking for is a world in which we all know what we are sharing and who with — but where we don’t have to do a huge amount of work to achieve that. Google Circles seems to be a nod in this direction as are Facebook’s groups. But neither is really easy enough or sufficiently integrated into the flow of the products to really solve the problem. Both require a huge management overhead.
As I argued earlier this week in “Google, Look Out Behind You!“, the spread of smartphones may be part of the solution here. Hundreds of millions of consumers are now carrying around connected still and video cameras with lists of contacts in the address book, often already organized into meaningful groups. Decentralized decision-making is very easy when there are decentralized software clients under the unique control of each user. The ability to be private one moment, selectively share the next and then publicly broadcast a few minutes later is easy to achieve in this decentralized software architecture. And service providers can never become bad actors — simply because they do not own our information or the full social graph. The cloud becomes a means of delivering messages to the phones and the place where we store our media. But it’s not the place we need to trust to make decisions about what gets shared and who with.
So, Keith broadly paints a picture — users being forced into an oversimplified social architecture by Google and Facebook in which groups (or circles, which are a slightly different take on groups) are the mechanism of sharing — and hints that the problem is intractable for web-based social tools.
The answer is smartphones, he suggests: our personal devices, which we already use in myriad ways to connect with and share with others. He must believe — without saying so explicitly — that the solution lies in observing what we share and with who on our smartphones, and to refine that natural body of information into a bottom-up determination of who’s who in our world.
Imagine a Venn diagram of dozens — or hundreds — of sets of friends, where any friend could be in zero to all the sets, and all the sets are constantly in flux. And without us having to create all the scaffolding for it to work.
Obviously, Teare is not content to wave his hand at this: he’s started a company to actually build the solution:
Keith Teare, Seed and Series A Funding
just.me is a new architecture built on top of the mobile, and particularly the smartphone, ecosystem. It doesn’t take the web as its starting point, it takes the highly personal and ever-present mobile Internet as its starting point. As such it is focused on defining a new consumer software experience, not replacing an existing one. It is also focused on the freedom that comes from placing social tools on a device the consumer fully controls, and not building a big cloud service that owns or acts on the consumers data. We don’t know all of the questions this gives rise to yet, never mind all of the answers. But we are really excited about building on this new ecosystem and learning with users as we go.
I’ve been suggesting that the next wave for social networks is the social operating system — where exactly the problems that Teare is talking about are solved by building social primitives into the foundation of our online experience — but Teare is pushing at a transitional step, based on the mobile device as the logical point of leverage in the transition to the next generation of social tools.