Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Spillikins #118. Samsung becomes Number 1in Europe Ц Nokia falls behind
May is a time of holidays in Russia while I am on a business trip to Blackberry World 2011. On this main RIM event I have made new friends, bumped into my old buddies and had a look at the 10" tablet the company is going to announce in the second half of 2011. We already have a few articles covering this event on our website and I recommend reading my first impressions of Bold 9900 Ц a very interesting and symbolic phone.
Every participant received a Playbook tablet as a gift and I am currently playing with it and will publish the review in about a week. This tablet is rather controversial but still interesting for regular Blackberry users Ц it is a companion device. I don't think that it will ever go on sale in Russia Ц I think it is highly unlikely. I have even made a bet with one of the company's top managers about the future of this tablet on the Russian market. But this will be a subject of another article.
The week in the US has upset my routine and practically didn't have time to take a look around. So in this issue of Spillikins we will be discussing different statistics of the market and I will also tell you about my new toy right after a bunch of news. Number one being: Samsung has announced that number of preorders for Samsung Galaxy S II is breaking records reaching 3 million handsets already. I will remind you that Galaxy S II is going on sale in Russia on May 18 and taking into account the Russian quota of handsets we can already say that the phone is a success Ц moreover, it is already in short supply.
I also want to share an observation: we are currently shifting from the market of ready devices to a market of promises. Unfortunately, many companies instead of presenting facts on technologies applied in their products and what the user gets today go on ranting about why you should buy something today and what you may get tomorrow. They feed us postponed promises that are never kept. If you are interested in this issue let me know and I will dedicate a separate article to it. Let us now get down to the topics of this issue of the Spillikins.
About a week ago Sergey Kuzmin made me a princely gift of a Jawbone Era headset. About a year ago I wrote that I cannot imagine my life without headsets because occupied hands and a phone against my ear do not predispose me to long talks. Also I cannot imagine an emotional conversation without a headset Ц how am I supposed to explain obvious things without gesticulating!?
Before the Jawbone I have been using a Motorola headset and I was completely satisfied but the first week I was using Jawbone Era I was head over heels in love with it. It is a wonderful device and we have reviewed it a long time ago. It costs about $130 in the US and a bit more in Europe.
What can I say? I am not yet sure whether my rapture will turn into frustration after in the long run but so far so good. It has a very good speaker that produces pleasant soft sound, it comes with a lot of ear tips for any ear, you can install many applications directly into the headset (it can read the numbers and the names of the callers, you can even dictate messages). This is an actual space era device. I couldn't help but share my feelings about my new acquisition Ц it is just that good and it is worth it. I am hardly ever surprised by a consumer electronics product but this one is actually amazing.
In mid-November 2010 in the Spillikins we were discussing the Sony Ericsson phone family for 2011, back then i was also talking about the expansion of the Mini series that would replace X10 Mini/X10 Mini Pro. Now they are officially announced Ц the models received the names of Xperia Mini and Xperia Mini Pro. This is a rather successful update of the previous models: the screen has got bigger Ц now it is 3" capacitive touchscreen with the resolution of 480x320. The camera is a %MPix module with autofocus and it supports HD video recording. Both phones are based on the same platform as the falling behind the release schedule Neo: a 1GHz processor which not bad for such tiny phones. These phones look attractive in their range and for girls it would be a good choice. Unfortunately, these phones are niche products and the sales of their predecessors prove it. The manufacturer will not be able to keep its quickly diminishing audience or increase sales by producing such phones.
The sales will start no earlier than September at a price relatively high for this year's fall models: about И220 for Mini and И250 for Mini Pro. If you take into account that in fall the market will see a great variety of new phones at a comparable price and with much better functionality you will understand that these two will not be bestsellers. We will probably see the last year's scenario repeat only this year Sony Ericsson will lose even more. And judging by the number of new phones announcements the sales will continue to go down for the company. This however is not relevant for the buyers Ц the phones are not bad and if their size is not an issue for you. But you should also consider what HTC, Samsung and LG will have to offer Ц they will definitely have a batter price to quality ratio.
Among the quoted features I want to comment on the preposterous integration with Facebook Sony Ericsson is now advertising. The company does not have enough developers or funds to create their own interface overlays like HTC, Samsung or LG. So they are trying to promote their ridiculous creations, in this case, integrated support for Facebook in the music player and the file gallery Ц when viewing a file you can press the Like button so all your friends can know what you opinion. This is a rather redundant feature and not everyone needs it. But Sony Ericsson is trying to show how innovative the company is Ц in a harmless and inexpensive way. Let it be, the important thing is that they don't forget to update their phones and OS versions.
The battle over the mobile phone market domination has started a few years ago; in the Spillikins August 2009 I wrote that: "the battle over the touchscreen battle is a battle of reconnaissance Ц the opponents assess each other's strengths and weaknesses. In 2011 the battle will be taken to another level Ц it will be a full-scale global conflict. Samsung will either catch up with Nokia or Nokia will remain the single leader. We have interesting times in store for us and I cannot really predict who will be the victor of this competition that reminds a lot of a real military conflict".
Unfortunately, the fate of that battle was predetermined by Nokia's convulsions in the second half of 2010: the company was ripped of arms and defenses and left for dead. It is a deliberate demolition of the company from the inside Ц this is the only explanation I can come up with. The first results of this strategy are the Q1 2011 sales in Western Europe. The IDC report has been released saying that Samsung now has the biggest sales in Western Europe. The growth of Samsung sales started a long ago and is not connected to the Nokia losses Ц Nokia's retreat just made the Samsung look even better. Dying Nokia has helped not only Samsung Ц the shares of all the other major companies have increased. Nokia has lost 10% of the market. See for yourself:
The smartphone market looks even more amusing: Nokia has lost almost a half of its share of this market which is the best indicator of the Symbian^3 sales. Nokia's only strategy on this market is low prices Ц you can cheaply replace your phone for a Nokia smartphone. This is also the only advantage of Nokia smartphones from the point of view of consumers. Even in absolute numbers Nokia's sales have plummeted by 15% - a heavy blow for the former market leader. If we take into account that Nokia has started to rapidly lose the Russian market, one of the key markets in the world, we can see that the company will probably cease to remain the leader on any market at all. This is a very sad story.
Together with the growth of the smartphone market this was highly beneficial for such companies as Samsung (744% growth), HTC (271%), and also for all the lesser manufacturers that have seen a growth of 414%. It is sad to watch such a reckless statement of Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop about the "burning platform" to cause the company's smartphone sales to plummet. The Q2 2012 results are expected to be even worse. Unfortunately, my two year old statement about a war like competition turned out to be a massacre of civilians.
I have an OVI Mail account that I almost never use. I never receive any spam since no one knows this address but sometimes it is convenient to communicate with the editors. It is simpler to handle a mail account that receives no mail than an account that gets thousands of messages daily like my primary mail account. And I was not expecting that the switch to Yahoo! which was backing the service from the start would cause any problems. As a matter of fact Nokia has dumped their subscribers without properly testing the new service. The reason is simple Ц testing takes time and money and Nokia has none. SO eventually thousands of users have encountered the consequences of these actions. Me, for example, I can log into my account and I can even see the mail there but I cannot read any of the messages. I tried using different computers and browsers but it still wouldn't work. Then it got even funnier Ц the service started telling me that I enter a wrong password, redirects me to a Yahoo! Server that does not even have my account information. The OVI Mail support page says that you can set the work of your account via a mail client which I have tried and again received a message about a wrong password. This is not exactly a pleasant user experience Ц I have lost several hours trying to solve this issue but in vain. And I know that there are a lot of people like me. So most sane people quite logically made a conclusion that from now on they shouldn't ever use a Nokia service.
The official Nokia forum lists the steps of the transition but if you read the comments you will see that people cannot get their accounts working for weeks already and make Nokia fix the bugs that shouldn't even be there from the beginning. After a while the Nokia support employees just cease to respond because they simply do not know what to do.
Now let's talk about another issue that will once again raise question about who mister Elop is really working for. Microsoft is now promoting its Bing services (search, maps). There is already an agreement according to which Nokia will provide cartographic information but have no credit at all Ц the service will be still called Bing. And it's not just maps we are talking about but also processing techniques, 3D images and so on. Microsoft will be getting all this practically for free and then distribute to its partners. And this is not happening to Nokia only. For example, at Blackberry world 2011 Steve Ballmer appeared from nowhere and declared that from now on all RIM products will be using Bing search and maps. This is only logical for RIM since the company does not have the means to create such services on its own. There are only two companies capable of providing such services today Ц Google and Microsoft.
With the release of Windows Phone 7 some services were still supposed to carry the OVI brand which would be fair. But as far as I know both the search, the maps services and the app store will be called Bing . This is what Microsoft wants and Nokia is not in a position to haggle.
In 2012-2013 the OVI brand which has discredited itself Nokia services (even the mail has been given to Yahoo!) will be gone. The only OVI service that still works is the OVI store. This is where it gets interesting Ц since Symbian smartphones will be gone the respective app store should be dropped as well. Nokia will keep the app store for S40 that will not change its name. But this will be the only case, as for the rest, OVI Store and the word OVI itself will not be mentioned in publicity or used in promotion. The experience has been recognized as a failure by the company's heads and OVI will be no more.
Have you been waiting for a new 8000? I know that many fans have been waiting for this Ц it is next to impossible to find a new Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte today Ц enthusiast will pay any money to get this rarity. Unfortunately, instead of continuing the existing tradition Nokia is trying to create new ones based on preposterous ideas. What they did was: they took Nokia C7, covered the back panel with leather, made the Home key out of a sapphire and gilded the body. That's it. this novelty will cost you about И1000 while a regular C7 costs just И350. I cannot fathom this pricing. Will this phone be successful? Definitely not. The company is apparently stuck trying to find a new image while they have completely lost the old one.
The US market is witnessing popularity redistribution in favor of Android Ц the biggest loser is RIM. Microsoft has been also losing the market though its share has never been significant.
From time to time I discuss the values of some brands in the Spillikins. While absolute values are irrelevant the changes in values are very interesting Ц they indicate recent successes and failures of companies. The assessment of the brands values by Brandz is very illustrative. The full version following the link.
The table shows that among IT companies Samsung has appreciated by 80% while Nokia depreciated by 58%, RIM has also grown a bit. High in the saddle Apple and Google continue growing. Microsoft on the other hand remains on the same level. We might argue about the methods or characters but I think the trend is shown correctly.
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Published 13 May 2011
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