In search of a Smartphone USP

Boring

Smartphones have become so samey that manufacturers have been searching for a USP to differentiate themselves, Android especially is suffering from this and the heavy weights are sparring as we speak.

Let’s look at some of them, starting with the King of Android Samsung, they have packed so much tech into their devices they positively bulge, there is more hardware and software innovation in a Samsung device than you can shake a stick at but, with that said they often get accused of being plastic and pretty cheap feeling from a physical perspective.

Queue, HTC and the new “One” this is milled from a single piece of aluminum and is without doubt beautiful, could this be HTC looking for their niche? Trying to be the Apple of the Android world and looking for a way to compete with Samsung.

Then we have Sony, in the past they were top of the beautiful products showcase in everything they did, Apple knocked them off that perch and so recently they went with Waterproof in their Xperia model. A useful feature for that unfortunate accident everyone dreads but a reason to choose them over another? You Decide!

Moving onto Nokia, they already have a USP or a Unique reason to NOT buy if you include operating system, for some it will put them off. Windows 8 Phone sets them apart but in an attempt to appeal they have focused on imaging, Carl Zeiss everywhere and the new 41Mp camera is evidence of that, of course Nokia have a reputation of building great devices so that helps.

How about LG, now this is a not so obvious but IMHO they have gone with cheap as their appealing factor, pack lots of hardware in a keep the price rock bottom.

How about Blackberry, they continue to hope that the legendary Blackberry experience will bring them the appeal, time will tell but perhaps they need another USP in the back pocket just in case?

Lastly we have to mention Apple, love them or hate them, you pay the money and in return they provide objects of desire that are well made and provide a slick experience, the benchmark perhaps?

In HQ’s all around the world clever people desperately try to come up with new and appealing ways to make rectangular, thin, touch screen devices more appealing over the oppositions next thin, rectangular touch screen device!

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Android and iOS account for 92.3% of the Smartphone Pie

 

 
That’s a big slice of the pie even for those with a substancial appetite, like Google.

So the Q1 2013 numbers are in and its Google domination all the way …

Of the 216 million units shipped in the first quarter of the year Google, Samsung and in fact anyone else promoting Android is onto a winner

  • Android – 75%
  • iOS – 17.3%
  • Windows Phone 3.2% (of which Nokia is 75%)
  • Blackberry 2.9%

The big news is that Microsoft have leapfrogged Blackberry to steal 3rd spot. Blackberry have slipped their share from 6% this time last year to a 2.9% this year according to IDC.

Apple have moved from 22.5% share this time last year while Android grew from 56.9%, truly stunning and thanks almost exclusively to Samsung!

Source : IDC

Are Sony onto something with a waterproof phone?

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As phone manufacturers desperately search for that USP occasionally one comes along that is worth a second look.
Today’s smartphone users are religious with their preference and making them change is only usually by something fundamental, price or a killer feature?

How many Android users bestow the virtues of their chosen platform, while the Apple fan’s are often quite smug, although deep down they feel trapped as there just isn’t a viable alternative for them, or so they think. Let’s face it once you buy an app or 2 we are all trapped to some degree.

While Apple are iOS, Samsung largely Android and Nokia are the face of Windows making someone move brands is a challenging affair, but far more possible cross the android eco-system. At least moving from Samsung to HTC does not mean you have to buy ALL your apps again!

So when yet another device running Android shows up sporting slightly different credentials we all, especially the Droider’s sit up and take notice

Queue the Sony Xperia Z and it’s USP, (drum roll) it is waterproof!

With a spec much like all the others, 5” Screen, SnapDragon quad core CPU, 13mp camera, NFC one could copy and paste these features from the vast array of devices available, except the piece de resistance… a waterproof coating

Now the science bit

Sony reckon one in 10 has dropped their phone down the toilet and with this if you do, simply rinse it off under the tap, perhaps a drop of disinfectant may be a good idea, but that may invalidate the warranty.

There are even waterproof headphones coming soon, wow this is pretty cool stuff, check your email and listen to music in the bath or swimming pool to, is there any end to where we can use our devices now?

Typical Sony! reports are build quality is excellent and the device feels good in the hand, the only complaint in the numerous reports I read were that the ports and sockets have to be covered to maintain the its waterproof’ness, a tad fiddly perhaps.

Well done Sony, good USP.

Skype on Android on BB10

20130210-232241.jpgBlackberry announce Skype on the BB10 platform and reports are circulating that it is just an Android version running in the emulation!

These reports are rather negative reporting Blackberry as cheats, the version available is allegedly the Ice Cream Sandwich iteration.

I can’t see the issue myself, in fact if it gets the apps on the platform who cares? You install an app and it works, so what can possibly be the problem, when an app is not available that’s a more annoying situation.

It makes you think that sometime along the way RIM, at the time, made the wrong decision and should have picked Google rather than purchasing QNX (April 2009)

The QNX platform behind many vehicle systems is impressive, with technology that makes it truly real time, but it’s the uphill struggle of starting from scratch when you need the community that’s the real issue.

So on the flip side then perhaps someone had an epiphany to run an Android emulation on QNX to help bridge the gap of that struggle, IMHO this is the case, after all you can’t possibly come to market with the same level of support as the existing established players, being 2 years late doesn’t help either!

BB10 is completely new to the core, it’s not compatible with the previous versions of Blackberry it uses activsync to talk email messages, unlike previous versions.

Remember if your bashing Blackberry, we need them, imagine how much innovation comes from competition.

I say Bravo Waterloo, good move with the emulation, and fingers crossed it works out for you….

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IBM 2013 Mobile Focus Areas

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IBM unveil their 2013 focus areas for Mobile. Having provided 66 deliverables in mobile during 2012 they announced the focus areas for this year , based on discussions and feedback with CIO’s.

  • Innovative Tablet Experiences
  • Providing their range of native applications across phone and tablet platforms.
    E.g., Sametime, Sametime Meetings, Traveller and Connections

  • Multi-Channel solutions for Social Business
  • IBM’s push to include other functions continues, opening up application directly to HR and Marketing for example with little or no I.T involvement required.

  • Data Loss Prevention
  • So they have been listening to CIO’s pain and have added this as a focus area, a good move as lots of companies cannot deploy Traveller for example, because it does not sit securely in a container. Let’s hope this focus will mean a positive response otherwise many will have to continue to look elsewhere. On further investigation this is more about MDM so sadly the issue remains.

    A busy 2013 for the IBM developer community and with the focus away from Lotus it will be interesting to see what happens in this new era, this is where the acquisition of Worklight should start to show through.

    The one real issue is the apparent need for a Lotus backend, which begs the question on sustainability. An interesting challenge for IBM to ensure when companies move away from on-premise email, which we all will in time, to the cloud they do not loose customers to other areas.

    If you move from on-premise Notes email to Microsoft in the cloud would you stay with Sametime or move that to, same with connections.

    Positioning the products as a family, but also as standalone is key for sustainability. IMHO

    Motorola’s fancy new Droid Razr HD

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    Motorola readies its new Droid HD Razr handset for release and are shouting about battery life as its unique selling point.
    Amusingly they celebrate it as the “All Day Phone” yes we had “All Week” phones many years ago so that’s not that impressive. Of course these phones were not smartphones and battery technology is the constraint but it shows how crowded the marketplace is that they pick out a seemingly average feature as a differentiator.

    What about the 4.7′ 720×1280 super OMALED display, the 1.5Ghz Dual Core CPU or even the 8MP camera that can shoot full HD video? Well there is the problem, much the same, if not less than the competition.

    The Samsung Galaxy S3, widely acclaimed as the best phone in the world has a quad core CPU is skinny and even has an SD card slot, oh and they say 21hours talk time, now that’s nearly a day.

    So the moral of the story is that all these high end phones are packed full of tech so it’s a struggle to part them, therefore choose on brand, operating system or price….and have a think about your requirements as you will likely be signing a 2 year contract. More of a marriage that a one night stand although some celebs have shorter marriages come to think of it.

    Also, rather oddly, the fact it has a barometer and temperature sensor is buried deep in the specification, now that is cool why aren’t they shouting about that?

    Motorola Droid Razr detailed spec

    A Samsung with an 8 core CPU!

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    Having spent the last few months telling people it’s not about the hardware and apps are everything Samsung go and try being the exception to that rule!

    When I say it is not about the hardware of course I refer to apps we can download and use, and on the one hand the most beautiful hardware device with no apps would be as good as a chocolate teapot, on the flip side I would rather a ropey dog of a handset with my favourite apps on it any day.

    Now Apple of course are churning out beautiful devices but actually they should be known as “Beautiful platforms for the consumption of content” Samsung on the other hand are attempting to appeal to everyone,

  • Those who want decent hardware (their devices look sexy)
  • Those who want apps (Play Store app availability is pretty good)
  • Techies who love specs, quad core this and 64Gb of that
  • Finally those who don’t like Apple
  • The processor will be 4 high powered Cortex-A15’s with 4 lesser A7’s wedged in there somewhere, so let’s hope they can get battery life running that little lot.

    I’ve read predictions stating it is coming in the S4, due mid-2013, and others claiming its due in a tablet, so we can safely say we don’t know.

    Read more details

    Android now powers 75% of the worlds smartphones

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    Yep, 3/4’s of all smartphones shipped globally run Android, that’s pretty impressive market penetration.
    Android Inc, founded in California in 2003 and acquired by Google some 2 years later was in the process of making a smartphone operating system that was more aware of its location and user preferences when the giant snapped it up.

    The first handset the HTC Dream aka T-Mobile G1 was released in October 2008 and from those humble beginnings they have taken 75% of the market.

    Of course low cost devices must make a reasonable amount of their share but hi-end iOS bashing devices are popular, take Samsung’s S3 for example, sells like hot cakes.

    IDC reported,

    In all, 181 million of the 136.1 million smartphones shipped worldwide in Q3 2012 ran Android.
    More Android smartphones were shipped in Q3 2012 than the total number of smartphones shipped in all of 2007, the year Android was first offered

    Apple shipped 26.9 million in Q3 this year, a 5th of the Google number which puts it in perspective, not forgetting Blackberry and Microsoft when there are only 18million remaining.

    All that at the tender age of 6!

    IDC Info

    Source:IDC

    The battle of the Mobile OS’s

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    The Redmond death grip of operating system dominance is ending…iOS and Android are already challenging this, the tide is turning, especially as we see more and more “Mobile First Developments” all the time.

    Other challengers being RIM and Symbian by sheer quantity are not looking good, as reported last week RIM Smartphone share was at 12%, a far cry from 2008 when it was at 45%!
    RIM shares have shed nearly 50% this year alone. Symbian is in decline but is predicted to level off up to 2015 (source:Gartner and IDC)

    Microsoft Windows Phone8 looks like it could end up in third place behind iOS and Android, but not if RIM can help it, but you will have to wait till early next year for BB10 which is to long, and could end up costing them dearly.

    Another interesting point is that people become locked into their eco-system, paying just a few pounds for an app is great but with 100’s we are buying it can get pricey, voting with ones feet and jumping from Apple to Microsoft for example will 1. Undoubtedly, mean you lose access to some apps totally and 2. Buying them all again? Ouch!

    As usual in the turbulent mobile world no one really knows, we can just pontificate and wait for the next fad!