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!

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

Mobile Device News

20130204-010028.jpgIt’s busy busy at the gadget end of the mobile world and although it’s not all about the bling its still our most favourite part.

So here’s a round up of the latest action,

  • Blackberry (formally RIM) release Z10 and Q10, they look great, let’s hope it all works out for them. I have to say I’m looking forward to playing with one.
  • Blackberry have also said they will release BB10 for Playbook, that lovely little bargain of a tablet, could spark a revival for the pint sized beauty, more apps would also help!
  • Samsung to launch the XCover2 S7710 builders phone, waterproof to 1m for up to an hour and pretty rugged, great if you need tough.
  • Samsung have been busy, soon we also get the Ativ Odyssey I930 Windows Phone, running Redmond’s latest release 8, can it give the Lumia’s a run for their money?
  • LG announce their Spirit 4G with all mod cons and a staggering $199 price tag. With 4.5′ screen, dual core CPU 5MP camera and running the latest in Jelly Bean, this is a bargain, I couldn’t however find any info on this device in the UK.
  • February 19th should see the launch simultaneously in New York and London of HTC’s flagship M7, this beast gets 1.7Ghz snapdragon CPU, 13MP camera and pixel density that’s off the scale at 469ppi (iPhone5 has 326ppi) can’t want to play with this one, looks great to.
  • Nokia are having better times at the moment with the Lumia’s doing well, the rumour is a 38MP Windows Phone will release this year, sounds mad but I bet the pictures will be good.
  • Ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this is the most important news I could find, lots more to come over the following weeks.

    Having hoped to be at MWC this year I got a ticket, then tried to book a fight, everything is booked solid and priced through the roof, I need to be more organised for 2014 MWC!

    I’m test driving a Nokia Lumia 820 so will write up experiences over the next few weeks, what is cool is that Nokia have released the 3D information to allow you to print your own backs, well assuming you have a 3d printer that is.

    Picture: Nokia 2650 2004 Nokia sold 35 millions of these storm trooper phones.

    BB10 goes Live

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    The cats out of the bag, finally! Thorsten Heins unveiled BB10 in a global launch from New York City this morning. We watched live from IBM Connect13 and impressed is the best way to sum up the thinking

    Firstly Thorsten shared how challenging the year had been, how risky BB10 was and he honoured his predecessors Jim Balsallie and Mike Lazaridis for all their work in helping build the future company. This new company will be called Blackberry was also announced, no more RIM, one brand globally for all aspects of the company.

    The devices then appeared from the floor on poles, gliding up slowly, the Z10 (touchscreen) and the Q10 (Physical Keyboard) It’s a difficult challenge these days to create a differentiator with hardware, rectangular, no buttons lots of screen, how different can it be? Blackberry have done pretty well here, with glass weave lightweight materials, contoured easy hold and different colours available, well we saw white.

    The Z sports a 4.2′ screen, 8mp camera and allegedly will retail sim-free at £480.

    Thorsten handed over to Vivek to deliver some demos and this is where it got good…..

  • Blackberry Flow, if you have used expose on a mac its like that, seamless switching between apps one thumb.
  • Blackberry Hub, very cool all your collaboration in one place. Email, Twitter Facebook, Linked in …. You can post tweats or Facebook updates directly from Hub, no need to switch to the apps. While watching a movie you can slide from the left to peak at your incoming messages.
  • The Smart keyboard, is able to work out what you meant to type and even learns what mistakes you make over time, rumoured to be the best touchscreen keyboard ever, type away when the word appears you want simply swipe up to accept, neat! There is the Q series with proper keyboard for those die hard crackberry fans.
  • Blackberry Balance was featured in the demo, this is already out there on existing BB devices and sits well on the new platform, it’s like having 2 devices in one, personal and work and you switch between them.
  • Blackberry Reminder, this is a new feature and allows you to save all types of content into one place, a folder for a project for example. It could be pictures, emails, bookmarks anything.

  • Many other aspects where shown and overall it was a good launch of what looks to be a great product. Available from tomorrow in the UK and not until March in the U.S, the UK consumers must feel special.

    In reflection then, is it about the device? not really no. its about the apps with 70,000 expected and 100,000 within a month, not a bad start.

    Will it save them? Lets hope so, time will tell, with Microsoft investing heavily its going to be tough for RIM and its to close to call IMHO. If it is about investment Microsoft will surly win that one so lets see how loyal the fans are, and how appealing the device is to consumers of other platforms, many of which are bored and looking for a change, and therefore a shift.

    So is patience a virtue?

    Shares in Blackberry were down after the launch.

    A big day tomorrow for RIM, the most important one in their history?

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    This was a real tweet, I liked it!

    One day to go before RIM start the journey to their survival! Here at IBM Connect 2013 you don’t see many Blackberry users, plus I have not seen a single Playbook! As we are in North America it may be slightly skewed in comparison to Europe but its bad none the less.

    BB10 devices I have seen look great, feel great and the interface is excellent, Blackberry Hub looks good so lets hope for all of us they can survive and make a comeback.

    We need RIM as they keep Apple, Google and Microsoft on their toes, we enjoy the benefits of hefty competition everyday in the devices we use.

    Attending an event tomorrow that will stream live the New York show, more to follow on this story.

    RIM loses a million subscribers in a month (ouch)

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    RIM, Research in Motion headquartered in Waterloo Canada and the company who makes Blackberry have reported 3rd quarter results, and they make miserable reading, the first decline of this significance in its history

    So in Q3 they lost a million subscribers and revenues fell by 48% to $2.7bn from $5.2bn this time last year, all this a month before the launch of the BB10 products, which RIM hopes will reverse its fortunes. This leaves them at a measly 4.3% market share compare that to iOS at 14.9% and Android at 75%!

    We believe the company has stabilized and will turn the corner in the next year,” Thorsten Heins, the chief executive, said in a conference call with analysts. “We are realistic about our competitors, but we know that customers in this industry demand and respond to innovation.”

    The new BB10 device pictured above looks great and we hope all their incentives and promotions in the developer community have paid off, making sure the must have apps are ready on day one.

    Vodafone, O2, EE and 3 have all confirmed they will be offering BB10 devices in 2013.

    BB10 run Rim’s own operating system originally known as QNX and acquired in April 2010, it was first seen on the Playbook which has had a bumpy ride but is now a good buy at c£100.

    Source : New York Times

    BBM gets a voice, but cooler still you can type and talk!

    20121211-233222.jpgRIM has added voice call capability into its popular Blackberry Messenger Application, something that should have come sooner, a theme we have seen quite a lot recently with the Canadian company.

    What is funky in this update is the ability to text chat while you talk, so speakerphone chat and text message them, or presumably someone else simultaneously. In a world where we rarely do one thing at a time this is nifty we can do even more multitasking.

    The future of this platform is still within a Blackberry only community, this doesn’t seem sustainable as people move over to products like WhatsApp so they can interact with non-Blackberry friends and colleagues. A gateway service or even opening up the platform would be great. If BBM and WhatsApp were somehow connected then users on both sides of the divide would be able to keep their favourite platform while still cross platform collaborate, come on RIM why won’t you open it up you have c60million users and you don’t want them voting with their fingers.

    This update is going to be available back to version 6 and is expected in BB10 when it finally shows up.

    RIM sets a date for BB10, about time to!

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    RIM has published 30th January 2013 for the global launch of its new platform, BB10.

    The launch will include 2 new handsets and its server platform, putting an end to the ongoing speculation as to when it would show up to the smartphone party.

    Originally due in the Summer BB10 is even missing a trip in the Coca-Cola Truck for its January debut. There has been speculation that RIM delayed as autumn is a busy time and that January will allow them to grab the headlines with a simultaneous global launch, or maybe it’s just not ready?

    Device-wise they will be launching 2 handsets, a touchscreen and a qwerty device, both top of the line and they will be introducing more budget handsets later in the year.

    Time will tell if this is the saviour the Waterloo based company is hoping for.

    RIM closed up 3.41% today