Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Spillikins #90. Farewell Walkman, or Nostalgia for Players
Windows Phone 7 smartphones have been selling for a few days and in different countries now. Yet there haven't been any sales volumes estimates announced so far. Everyone seems to be keeping mum. Recall the triumphant cries following the iPhone sales. You many nod and say that that was part of the PR strategy. That is true yet why isn't there such PR for Windows Phone 7? Microsoft employees like discussing sales but in this case they don't bother counting the volumes. It is somehow similar to the KIN story, when there was a prolonged silence followed by striking figures that proclaimed a complete fiasco there. I don't think that will happen to WP7. All in all, we did see a lot of reviews appear immediately after its launch; English speaking users historically tend to like Microsoft products and have an opportunity to try them out. Yet it is an alarming symptom that I'm speaking of. Usually, if someone is successful, they wish to make as many people as possible to be aware of that fact so that their success gets perpetuated. I tried to find out how the sales were going in a few companies. Nobody seemed to be willing to answer my questions directly and the only reply was that it was still too early to make any conclusions and that the market hadn't gained the momentum. In plain English it means that the sales are not that good. One person added philosophically that they were lucky the phone was selling at all. However, let's not be drama queens as nobody expected Windows Phone 7 to make a huge splash on the market. Having buried Windows Mobile, Microsoft has to start all over. They just made their first step and there is a long way ahead of them. Let's wait and see what kind of reception the new devices will get in the U.S.
The Twitter message read "Sony discarding the Walkman player." I didn't even expect to be so nostalgic about that. My very first cassette player was a Walkman, you know. It was a cheap model and lived through my first year of university. At the second year, with my first "serious" money, I bought the most functional Walkman on the market. It featured the Dolby system and auto reverse, had a black spangled casing and even came with a remote control. It was fantastic. In the middle 90-s, I had it replaced with a Sony minidisc player. Having worked my way through the clutter of links cross-referencing each other, I came across the original news piece. It turns out that Sony is stopping the production of cassette Walkman players. Did you even know that they were still making cassette players? In other words, did you know that cassette players were still being used somewhere on this Earth? I didn't.
Travelling around South Korea last fall, I came across a tiny stall at a bus station far away from the country capital. They were selling cassettes there. And they had quite a few of them. For South Korea, where they don't strive for the latest functions and don't throw away old hardware, it was okay. Our guide seconded that by saying that it was a distinctive mark of the countryside. Why throw away stuff that is still working? Some peasant wit and thrift in action.
The first Walkman player was released in 1979. In the picture below, you can see the second model, the WM-2, launched in 1980.
The production was stopped 30 some years after that, the last cassette player leaving the assembly line in Japan in April 2010. In total, there was around 200 million cassette Walkmans produced. The figure is not that amazing for the contemporary market standards. Yet the Walkman was a pioneer of its age. I don't think the brand is going to be in any danger. That is, however, only true if we don't take into account the fact that mobile phones have adopted the player functionality and the market for the conventional portable audio players is getting smaller. Even the successful Apple products are to be devoured by hybrid devices. It looks like Apple is readying for that as there have been more and more codenames of unknown phones flickering in its computer software.
While Sony Ericsson is alive, the Walkman brand is going to be around and its traditions will hopefully be continued. But unfortunately, despite having had all the necessary prerequisites, the company is not the leader in the segment. What a pity.
Let's abstract away from the Walkman and notes of nostalgia. Last week, while having lunch with an employee of one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world, I was surprised to hear the following phrase: "We expect that phones will make our camcorders useless." It was strange to hear the notes of pessimism from a maker of excellent cameras and a lot of other hardware. Yet the pessimism was catching. It may appear that I should be happy about phones reaching another milestone. But I was egoistic enough to get upset by the possibility of the market competition going down and only a limited selection of camcorders being left. Certainly, video recording is now available in select DSLR solutions by Canon and Nikon, but they are not as handy as standalone camcorders. It is also true that consumers do not tend to buy movie cameras as often as still cameras, the reason being that they don't know what to shoot and why. Whenever I travel with both, I have a problem deciding whether it is motion video or still images that I want to capture. It is impossible to use both devices simultaneously. Do you use a camcorder? How often? How many hours of video have you recorded this year? Please share your experience with us. It will be interesting to see what the actual users think about it, and the best comments will make it to the next issue of Spillikins.
Strategy Analytics have published a report on the smartphone market as of Q3 2010. The publicly available version distinguishes between the manufacturers but unfortunately does not have separate Android data, which makes it somewhat difficult to see the whole picture. Anyway, the report appears to be quite helpful in understanding the current situation.
Take a look at the tables below.
The global smartphone sales reached 77 million units, which is 21 per cent of the total handset sales in Q3. Nokia is building up its sales persistently, reaching a milestone of 26.5 million units per quarter. To achieve this result, the company had to cut the price of its S60 smartphones and promote them more aggressively. They should also thank those customers who have been buying S60 devices to use as regular handsets without paying much attention to the accompanying terminology and promises. At that, Nokia has lost some of its smartphone market share – i.e. they had 37.8 per cent of the market last year and only 34.4 per cent today, and the trend is not a promising one. It is Android that is selling the best these days. Even the weak Windows Phone 7 will be able to eat at the Nokia pie affecting the sales and further decreasing its market share.
I hope that we will get some other reports about the OS market shares anytime soon, so that we can discuss the sales dynamics of Symbian, Android, etc.
Nokia quarterly results exceeded the expectations of analysts. Actual results turned out to be 30% higher than average forecasts. It seems to be the time for optimism, but it will be premature. Nokia continues its downsizing and around 1800 employees will be laid off soon - 550 of them are located in Finland and predominantly work for Symbian development.
Such serious cuts must be influenced by serious motivation, which is the increasingly deteriorating morale inside Nokia and attempts to stay afloat. It is aggravated by massive defection of employees elsewhere. We only see the tip of the iceberg when we learn that a certain top manager left the company. For example, last week the Head of Symbian Foundation resigned from his position. De facto it heralds that the disintegration reached even this department. While unveiling the financial results the CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop indirectly confirmed these assumptions by describing the plans to merge Symbian^3 with Symbian^4. There will be only Symbian without any number. This trick allows the current top management to back on promises of their predecessors and not to announce Symbian^4 at the end of 2010 with the plans of first handsets hitting the shelves at the start of 2011 being scrapped too.
The shrinking of Nokia's market share in the third quarter of 2010 was explained by the components deficit, though all manufacturers suffered from this phenomenon. Nevertheless, others managed to increase their market presence. I think at the end of the week we will have figures from independent research groups.
Unfortunately, Nokia cannot follow their own development schedules. The first Meego smartphone was planned for the end of 2010, but now it will be postponed until 2011. I think that the announcement will be in February with the sales starting in March and April. In terms of hardware the gadget is excellent, but its software is already outdated. Symbian revisited. I remember how Nokia people said that my criticism of was N8 misplaced and its software was almost ideal or was supposed to be ideal by the day of sales. Surprisingly, Gizmodo decided not to review the model, while PC Magazine claims that the handset is impossible to use due to Symbian^3.
Definitely, Nokia feels that it is a victim of bashing and numerous independent sources have the only idea of destroying wonderful and perfect Nokia products. I think people in the Finnish company should hear the wakeup call and face the music. Rivals are not only ready to swallow Nokia, but are raring to go. Nokia will require serious efforts to remain the market leader in 5 years time. Moreover, this hard work should start now.
Nokia mentions Qt as an important development tool. They are quite right, but to make a trench you need not only a spade, but a worker to do the job. The other day saw the release of Angry Birds for Symbian^3. It became possible just because of the game developers and had nothing to do with Nokia. As somebody tweeted this was the best thing happening to Symbian in recent years. I fully agree. I cannot see long lines of developers ready to create excellent apps for Symbian. Nokia failed to understand how it works.
To make me happy Nokia made one more reshuffle. Everything associated with OVI will be developed by one department without silly division into several fragments. Surprisingly, common sense emerged victorious here. The only downside is the lost 6 months.
Nokia is still the strong market leader with resources to create good products, but today the company is moving in the wrong direction by firing developers and thus jeopardizing its future. We will never see Symbian^4. Instead Symbian^3 will be continuously updated with new features added to the current version. It is good news for those who buy Nokia products and bad for its followers. It highlights that the company cannot develop new software within deadlines. This inability can be disguised in such a manner, which is also a way out.
Let's move on. Nokia related good news is scarce, which doesn't make me happy.
Have you expected a revolutionary Android update? It will not be available until the end of 2010 (tablets may be the first to feature 3.0 if Google decides this way). 3.0 for handsets will become a reality in February at CES. 2.3 contains not so many innovations, but the speed and stability improved. These are obvious generalizations, but this version is more important for developers rather than for users. Full details to come later this week, so in the meantime look at what Google has in the yard.
Danish company Lumigon, which has never been noticed in the phone market before launched its first Android smartphone T1. The manufacturer highlights that it is the first Android device with icePower chip from Bang&Olufsen, which was extensively used in Samsung music phones. It offers good sound. I like the looks of the model and the price of €525 is not out of this world for glass, metal body and standard Android features. This model will not make a big stir and will vanish into obscurity similarly to other niche products. Its importance is in the fact that music features are important for Android as well and Samsung may definitely pay attention to it. I hope that respective solutions from several leading manufacturers will appear in the second part of 2011.
If anybody in Lumigon reads this article feel free to send a sample for review. We will be more than happy to accomplish that.
I remember how I tortured Frank Nuovo with questions about the model and shocked him with the name I was not supposed to know. Quest will be offered in several variants – one in metal and the second with ceramic keypad. Traditionally the price depends on ornaments. A cheaper model for around €5500 will be the first to go on sale. I do not want to make a mistake with prices as this text is written in a business trip and I cannot get hold of Vertu price lists, but this handset should match other offerings and will expand the product range. Inside the phone resembles Nokia E72/E73 and is based on S60. People from Unwiredview made a good collage with its pictures, so I will borrow it from them.
The review of Constellation Quest will be published in November if I can stop the tide of business trips and review other devices. Frankly speaking I have so many gadgets to review. It is a pleasant work though.
While Nokia was fighting with the components deficit and delayed the sales of Nokia C3 (€90) Samsung created their own model for this segment. It is not merely a QWERTY solution, but the first handset with this keypad and simultaneous 2 SIM cards operation. Surely, it belongs to the DUOS lineup or its stripped down DUOS Lite incarnation. The model's number is C3222 and it has a second name - Ch@t. The unusual feature here is an optical track pad, while in other respects it is a traditional entry level model with good build as the bonus. Colors are interesting– black, white and pink. It is likely that the white model will not be shipped to Russia, but the final decision has not been taken yet. The price of $165 is adequate for the features offered and the sales will start in November. Similarly priced Nokia C3 will have good sales courtesy of strong pedigree in QWERTY segment, but this model is likely to take out a share of Nokia spoils as well. For the same price Samsung offers much more.
Guys from Gizmodo are regularly having fun. After targeting Nokia they asked people how long will SE agonize in the phone market and offered several possible answers. I recommend giving it a look, because the outcome is quite interesting.
I have grand plans for this week. I have to finish the review of Samsung 525/533 (Wave 2/2 Pro), Motorola Quench QT5 and have several business trips to get tons of news from my travels. If I succeed there will be even more reviews, but it depends on flight connections. Our team plans other reviews, so stay in touch to hear the news first.
Taking this opportunity I would like to greet you with the start of another working week. Be cheerful at least until the end of it. Good luck and take care!
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Published 26 October 2010
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