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US market sell-through drops 10% YoY in 4Q18 • Counterpoint Research
<p>Research director Jeff Fieldhack stated, “We saw the same trends in 4Q as we saw during the whole year. Holding periods continued to creep longer. Upgrade percentages during the quarter were down and could be down as much as 3% on the year. Phone churn continues to be impressively low and was under 1% at three of the four major carriers. Lastly, carriers were more disciplined in their marketing spend and focused on EBITDA margins over winning net adds at all costs. These all contributed to lower smartphone sell-through numbers.”

Fieldhack added, “Prepaid did not consume the number of handsets in 2018 it consumed across 2017. Prepaid used to have a holding period well under one year. Today, holding periods are closer to postpaid holding periods due to the higher quality of devices. Devices with large displays and batteries, with lower-cost mid-tier processors, are the workhorses within prepaid. These devices have the longevity of higher ASP postpaid devices. In addition, the evolution of the refurbish and repair ecosystem makes it easier for consumers to either purchase a high-quality used device or repair a current device. We estimate the US absorbed almost 11.5m refurbished smartphones in 2018. These are meaningful numbers of consumers deciding not to buy new.”</p>


Then again, Apple had 47% of the market there, according to Counterpoint. Samsung was next with 23%. The biggest grower? You probably won't guess.

<img src="https://www.counterpointresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Press-Release-Jan29-OEM-Deltas.png" width="100%" />
us  oem  apple  samsung  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Are China’s smartphone OEMs falling behind Apple on features upgrades? • Barrons.com
Shuli Ren:
<p>according to Ken Hui at Huatai Securities, a mainland Chinese brokerage, smartphone manufacturers in China are struggling to sell phones that cost more than 3,000 yuan ($440), and they have started to remove expensive features such as dual cameras.

Hui’s bearish outlook does not bode well for Sunny Optical, which has rallied over 50% this year.

And it is not just dual cameras –  Chinese OEMs are foregoing 3D glass, waterproofing, and haptic technology too as they preserve margins. While Hui has a Sell rating on Sunny Optical, he has a Hold position on haptics supplier AAC Technologies, which has gained 19.5% this year. Haptics, or feedback technology, on smartphones enables the user to feel a tactile sensation when interacting with an application.</p>


Notable that after Huawei's headline-grabbing 3D Touch-style phone launched ahead of Apple's 6S in 2014, there hasn't been a sign of haptic Android phones. Too expensive, too little benefit. (Apple, meanwhile, has broader plans for haptics.)
apple  smartphone  china  oem  haptic 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Android OEM death watch: Sony, HTC, and LG edition • The Verge
Vlad Savov:
<p>If Android OEMs were just that, original equipment manufacturers, their jobs would be much simpler and easier. But in the modern smartphone world, it’s not enough to just design and build new gadgets to a high spec; you have to power them with your own tailored software, you have to support them with updates and security patches, and you have to price them enticingly, too. Not everyone has been doing a particularly good job of this, and as the ranks of Android OEMs continue to swell, escalating competition might push some familiar names out of the game altogether.</p>


This is a great piece; I've been compiling my Q2 2016 smartphone scorecard - who's making money, who's not - and Savov hits the mark. These companies are in trouble.
android  oem  profit 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Has the "affordable" smartphone let us down? • Android Police
David Ruddock:
<p>Who’s to blame for the promising ZenFone turning into a bloatware-ridden pile of bugs languishing on Lollipop, seven-plus months since Marshmallow was released? What’s the reason Alcatel’s relatively unbloated Idol 3 took nearly as long to get Marshmallow itself (mine still doesn't have it)? How did the OnePlus end up the poster child for QA issues, compromise, poor customer service, and slow updates? Why did it take deliberate public shaming to get Motorola to update the Moto E, and even then, not in every country? How did Motorola end up being sued for $5 million over poor warranty support? Why did HTC decide not to renew its promises of rapid Android OS updates on the new 10, all while pricing it at a seemingly obscene $700? Why is Sony trying to charge $550 for for what is, at best, a $400 phone with the Xperia X?

The answer, of course, is money. It has nothing to do with companies “hating” customers. It’s not about whether or not they “care” about you - no multi-billion dollar corporation does, and it’d be silly to assume they did. It’s just dollars and cents. How many customers will I lose by not updating this phone? How much money will I save? How much damage will my brand sustain? How much bloatware do I need to put on here to make this product financially viable? Where can I cut costs on support and reduce warranty claims?

…I have come to think my faith in the cheap smartphone has been largely misplaced. Perhaps it was naive to assume that companies whose business model is to make money on the physical product they sell - and not the things you do with it - wouldn’t be so short-sighted. But they’re proving to be just that.</p>


Ruddock is always good value.
android  oem 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Google steps up pressure on partners tardy in updating Android • Bloomberg
Jack Clark and Scott Moritz:
<p>Smaller Android phone makers didn’t even attempt the monthly goal [for security updates to Android]. HTC Corp. executive Jason Mackenzie called it "unrealistic" last year. Motorola previously tried to get handsets three years old or newer patched twice a year. It’s now aiming for quarterly updates, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Google is trying to persuade carriers to exclude its security patches from the full series of tests, which can cost several hundred thousand dollars for each model, according to an executive at a leading Android handset maker.

"Google has come a long way since Stagefright," said Joshua Drake, a senior researcher at mobile security firm Zimperium. But it’s still a struggle because some carriers don’t treat security as a priority, while phone makers have other incentives, such as selling new devices, he added.

Google is using more forceful tactics. It has drawn up lists that rank top phone makers by how up-to-date their handsets are, based on security patches and operating system versions, according to people familiar with the matter. Google shared this list with Android partners earlier this year. It has discussed making it public to highlight proactive manufacturers and shame tardy vendors through omission from the list, two of the people said. The people didn’t want to be identified to maintain their relationships with Google.

"Google is putting pressure on," said Sprint’s [vp of product development Ryan] Sullivan, who has seen data that Google uses to track who is falling behind. "Since we are the final approval, we are applying pressure because our customers are expecting it."</p>
google  oem  android 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
September 2012: Why Google's clash with Acer and Alibaba strains China's Android market » The Guardian
By me, back in September 2012:
<p>The search giant lobbied Acer last week to halt its scheduled press showing of a new smartphone aimed at the Chinese market, pointing out that membership of the Open Handset Alliance - the group of companies forming the device, carrier, semiconductor, software and "commercialisation" sides of the Android ecosystem - forbids Acer from making devices that offer forked, or incompatible, versions of Android.

Acer cancelled the launch abruptly, leaving Alibaba fuming publicly at Google's actions. John Spelich, Alibaba's international spokesman, told CNet that "Aliyun is different" from Android - dismissing remarks aimed at him by Andy Rubin, head of Google's mobile efforts including Android, saying to Spelich that "Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps)."

The upshot has been that Acer has withdrawn from the partnership with Alibaba, at least for now. But Digitimes, the Taiwan-based news site for the IT supply chain there and in China, says there is unease on the part of a number of ODMs (original device manufacturers) who would otherwise aim to benefit from making both Android-compatible and forked versions - the latter principally aimed at China.</p>


This point is key. To break into or out of China, OEMs needed to be able to have different sets of services in different countries. And some OEMs wanted to be able to offer forks.
android  google  oem 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Phone makers look to add-on gizmos to revitalize market » Reuters
Meanwhile, there's that event called Mobile World Congress going on in Barcelona this week. Paul Sandle notes the pressures on "traditional" handset makers:
<p>while the competition [among handset makers] intensifies true innovation has not, with the Barcelona show expected to feature instead other products that connect to phones, like all-round cameras capable of producing immersive views, new wearable devices and electronic gadgets for the home or workplace that use smartphones as a processing hub.

As usual Apple will be absent, preferring to run its own events for new product launches.

"We will see a lot of stuff around 360-degree cameras and virtual reality headsets with a smartphone," said Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst with research firm IDC. "Commodities rather than innovation", said Forester analyst Thomas Huston.

"I don't expect true innovation, it's going to be more about the specifications, the better processing power, the battery life," he said.

"What's the benefit for consumers? I think it will be very limited."</p>
oem  android 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Competition is shifting to the high end » Tech.pinions
Jan Dawson:
<p>Sony has abandoned PCs and continues to struggle in smartphones, HTC increasingly looks like it’s on its last legs as an Android vendor, Toshiba is considering spinning off its PC business, and Samsung’s smartphone business – once the poster child for success making Android phones – continues to slip. It sometimes seems as if the only vendors making Android phones and Windows PCs who aren’t struggling in some way are the licensors of the operating systems. And though we don’t have detailed financials for either company’s hardware business, they’ve both done it by focusing on selling premium devices at premium prices, and by tightening the integration between hardware and software.
What’s interesting is we haven’t seen any of the OEMs pursue this strategy. That likely reflects, in equal parts, a lack of capability and a lack of will, as these OEMs have neither the experience nor the desire to pursue the high end of the market. And yet it’s been clear for years that, while scale may be in the mass market, the margins are in the high end.</p>
oem  profit  market 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
The global handset industry is set for self-destruct » Digits To Dollars
Jay Goldberg isn't happy:
Let’s say you make a product, and you have a lot of competitors, dozens, hundreds. Prices are falling. More people are piling into the market. Now it is time for you to design a new product. Do you experiment with a radically new form factor? Let a single designer attempt to craft a finely honed product that stands out for its quality? Or do you come out with a product that is just a modest upgrade of last year’s product, with no distinguishing design or features?

Well, when you put it like that…..

Really, I am kinda dumbfounded. That handset OEMs seem to be on a path of self-destruction. I visited every major OEM’s booth and dozens of smaller vendors. I am sure I missed one or two interesting devices with some novel feature, but at some point, I can only stare at identical black, plastic slabs for so long. There is nothing new or differentiated out there, and this cannot last.

I have to admit, at one point, I almost lost my temper. A couple times actually. The industry seems to be in some very complicated form of denial. And there seem to be a couple common threads to their excuses.


His idea of a QWERTY Android phone to sweep up the disenfranchised BlackBerry users is one that keeps being put forward, but nobody is brave enough to do. Point is it would have to be enormously tall, and what happens when you turn the phone sideways? Should it be a slide-phone like the G1?
handset  OEM 
march 2015 by charlesarthur
Vertical integration of design and post-pcs » iLike.code
Nat Brown looks back at his time at Microsoft, while looking around at what's happening in smartphones:
We were helping key [Windows PC] OEMs prototype different special-purpose uses for the Windows operating system which could be sold with new high-volume consumer products under a lower licensing cost to hit the <$300 retail price point. (This effort and some of our prototyping was one contributor to the initial XBox.) I was fascinated to learn details about how much PC OEM’s had outsourced manufacturing (and some forms of the hard intellectual property design) to foreign white-label manufacturers. Some small players had literally outsourced everything but their logo, their sales staff, and their direct-mailing lists. It was clear even then that they were not differentiable and fully doomed. Others, like Dell, were still doing final customer-specific options assembly and industrial/mechanical (particularly pluggable component) design but were no longer designing much of their printed circuit boards (PCBs). The more I learned the more this seemed like a difficult-to-defend position without unique software capabilities to differentiate the clearly commodity hardware. PC OEM’s had no brand-exclusive content.


This has broader ramifications, as he explains, in the smartphone business.
pc  oem  smartphone  commodity 
february 2015 by charlesarthur
The opposite of Apple: A Mac user's weird experience buying a PC laptop >> Macworld
The inimitable Jon Moltz found the PC pretty good (and cheap), until you turned it on:
Since this was a laptop for my son, I did like Microsoft’s Family Safety feature, which allowed me to set up his computer with a child’s account and track the websites he visited and how many hours he was using each application. OS X has a similar feature that lets you access parental controls on your child’s computer from your own, but Microsoft provides a web interface and sends a weekly email summary. Family Safety actually helped me realize that some kind of adware was installed on the machine, forcing every bit of web traffic to make a call to an ad site. This either came installed on the machine or my son broke the record for getting infected, as the report indicated it was accessed from day one.

And that’s the thing about the standard PC user experience. Between the adware and crapware that’s preinstalled it’s hard to figure out what’s actually malware. Microsoft has tried to help by selling computers through its own stores that are bloatware-free and by <a href="http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/12/flushing-the-crapware-a-guide-to-reinstalling-windows-8-on-a-new-pc/">allowing OEM customers to make clean Windows installs</a> for a nominal fee.


As he says, it's puzzling there's no Windows OEM focussing on having a "Nexus"-style clean experience. (Then again, there aren't that many Android OEMs doing it are there?)
windows  oem 
january 2015 by charlesarthur
How much does Microsoft make from PC makers with Windows 8.1? | ZDNet
Mary Jo Foley on how much OEMs pay to have Windows on Intel-based tablets:
According to Microsoft OEM pricing information - a <a href="http://zdnet4.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2015/01/19/a1fc9b61-8a08-4116-a7f2-c7dbb1b8ddef/resize/770x578/ca249a0e709406cc7a70478e6432b3c1/windows81withbing.jpg">screen capture of which is embedded</a> above in this post - Windows 8.1 with Bing is listed at $10 per copy for Intel-based tablets under 9in in screen size. But after a "configuration discount," of $10, OEMs get that SKU for those tablets for free. For tablets with screen sizes of greater than or equal to 10.1in, the Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU is listed at $25 per copy, with the same $10 "configuration discount," resulting in a $15 per copy cost for OEMs.

There's another related SKU that is also meant to help stimulate the market for mobile devices running Windows. The "Windows 8.1 with Bing and Office 365 Personal" is another low-price SKU available to OEMs. Like the Windows with Bing SKU, this one also requires OEMs to set Bing search and MSN.com as the defaults (changeable by users) on new PCs. This SKU also includes a free, 12-month subscription to Office 365 Personal.


Still not cheaper than Android, and Intel chips are going to be pricier (because Intel is dropping its subsidies), which continues to make small Windows tablets a very hard sell.
intel  microsoft  oem  tablets  windows 
january 2015 by charlesarthur

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