The Christmas season has seen a very interesting period of launches by some of the major smartphone vendors in the world. The likes of Apple and Samsung, both world leaders today in their own right, have brought out formidable devices that define a new standard in technology for 2014. These devices present a taste of what 2015 will bring to our markets. Hot behind their heels come a slew of China manufacturers who are coming of age. Their mature offering now redefines a standard of quality and innovation not usually associated with Chinese brands. Indeed, 2015 will definitely bring greater expectations to the hearts of consumers around the world.
Apple has managed to regain world dominance by introducing the new line of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The larger screen sizes are the result of listening to Apple users who wanted larger screens similar to the trend set by Samsung and others in the Android world. In fact, Apple sold more devices in the first few days to break their previous record speaks volumes for the fruit company. Its following of ardent consumers have returned to Apple’s fold, something that was of concern to the company in recent months. Perhaps, Apple had to be pushed back by Samsung in order to dig deep to regain dominance in style and form. By this time, we canall see that Apple is back in the game, stronger than ever, including the China and Korea markets. They listened to market feedback, gave the consumers something to be proud of as an owner of an Apple iPhone and infused technology innovation that Apple has been known by.
Samsung, on the other hand, has seen their leader position quickly eroded by the new Apple models which seems to have captured the imagination and walletshare of this exploding industry. Samsung remains the leader in the total volume of devices sold given the fact that the Korean leader has produced an incredible array of device families testing out the market with screen sizes and various combination of features and price points. By doing so, they have provided an enviable suite of smartphones to all segments of the consumer market. We have so many choices to make when selecting a Samsung device, be it a smartphone or a tablet. And they come in various colors too.
The Chinese brands are not to be written off in light of Apple and Samsung. Between these market leaders come a slew of Chinese innovations that have come of age. This Christmas, you have a real choice of Apple, Samsung and others, these being the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi amongst a few more well known names. These two brands have found their niches in the market. Xiaomi has been selling huge volumes solely via the Internet. Oppo has resorted to more traditional physical market presence with branding and dominating marketing activities in their chosen markets in Asia. But more important is that not only they are priced at least 30% to 50% lower to the equivalent products of Samsung, they have infused quality and feature combination with a value for money price. These are not qualities that one equate with Chinese brands in the recent past but Xiaomi and Oppo has shown the world that they can compete in a market segment that they so choose. They deliver quality as a very affordable price.
While the Taiwanese companies have traditionally been the big brother in Asia after Samsung, they have since been relegated to a lower rank these days. The well known brands like HTC and Asus remain interestingly strong given their high quality of production. Asus has leapfrogged over China’s Lenovo in this space with better features and lower priced models, two very key ingredients to win the general consumer market in Asia. HTC has lagged and continue on a decline that may soon see a sad state of affairs when they hit bottom unless they too redeem themselves with innovations better than the Chinese brands.
Certainly, we will see the continued surge of smartphone sales through 2015 given a resurgent led by Apple. They are also the profit leader as well. Samsung has the largest marketshare given the broadest variety of models in the market. However, their profitability has gotten a massive hit and they are regrouping in 2015 to cut down the variations and focus on what they know will drive up profitability. Xiaomi has taken the world by storm in 2014 and they are the least profitable company in the smartphone manufacturers. Their focus was to establish a position by volume which they certainly did. They also showed that they can innovate, within their own means, new and attractive products that brings a level of quality unknown to Chinese brands previously. Oppo is doing the same together with Asus. By the wayside lies Lenovo and we are all watching HTC to figure out their market response.
2015 will also see new technology introduced. Curved LED screens, more powerful processors, 2K resolutions (QHD), slimmer and lighter devices connected to watch-like devices are in the plans. We are watching to see if the battery technology will somehow catch up this year. The higher the resolution of the screens, the more battery it consumes. Perhaps a technology that allows a switching of resolution may be introduced because not all applications require such a high resolution.