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Smartphones: The Fight for No 3

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VoicenData Bureau
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There is an interesting position vacant at the top and its a lucrative one too-to occupy the third position among the smartphone makers in the world, as the top positions are already occupied by Samsung and Apple. Expectedly, they will hold these top 2 positions for a pretty good period. So the fight is no more for the top 2 positions but for the 3rd position and there some good contenders in the race, each having their strengths and weaknesses. However the time is running out for this viable position for worthy contenders like Nokia, RIM, HTC, and not ignoring LG and Sony.

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If we go by the latest comScore report, 61.5% of new smartphone buyers are picking various android devices, and 25.2% are choosing Apple's iPhone, making 86.7% reserved for these 2 platforms. It leaves very little scope for players like Nokia who uses windows as a platform and RIM with its own proprietary OS. Certainly, they would be fighting their heart out but just for 13.3% of the smartphone pie.



The Big Picture



If we look at Nokia, HTC, and RIM as the closest contenders for the #3 spot, then the recent developments do not give a comfortable picture. Nokia, who was ga ga over its collaboration with Microsoft for its Windows platform, has got a very lukewarm response for its Lumia series barring the initial phase. Worse, the company does not have any other platform, as of now, to go for in developing its smartphones.

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Clearly visible to the industry about its outcome but the Finnish company is away from using a platform that more than 70% of new smartphone buyers are buying-android. And they can no way use iOS. Past experiments of windows platform have failed and Nokia is solely relying on it. There is little hope that Microsoft can bail out Nokia from its current deteriorating situation.



However the Finnish phone company boasts of having a hardware expertise as well as having the largest manufacturing facility in the world which now needs to put a brave fight in order to beat its competitors. Innovative products focused R&D, improved customer care, quality brand campaign, and a bit of luck are what the company desperately needs now.



The Players

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Nokia, the name that was once synonymous with mobile phones in many parts of the world and in India, may not be a clear contender for number #3 spot, however being a leader of the market once, it would certainly know the insides and how to overcome its competitors. Looking at its potential, it would not be surprising to see the leader run past its competitors in times to come.



HTC, the other worthy contender and a specialist in making smartphones, has been struggling financially for the last 2 quarters. The condition is so bad that the Taiwanese firm is looking at closing down its South Korea office very soon. Moreover, in its own admission, the firm has been revising its estimates and revenue expectations, directing south. However, its latest launch, HTC One X seems to be going great guns for the firm and tech reviewers around the globe have said it to be the only iPhone killer developed so far. Many geeks even have gone a step further to say that the HTC One X is much better than the recently released iPhone 5!



No one underestimates the capability of HTC in bringing out a great product that can give a tough fight to any smartphone under the sun, but positions do not remain vacant for too long, and HTC needs to pull up its socks before it's too late. One thing that the Taiwanese company has always been lacking with its peers is the understated branding and marketing strategy. Considering that the handset maker still has some strength in it, but it remains unclear how or when it may be successful in making it to the top 3 slot. One possible escape route for the firm might be the up-and-coming Mozilla Firefox OS, which is set to make its debut next year, although any move in this direction would be a huge gamble for a company that can have little margin left for error given its current economics.

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However the Taiwanese handset maker has been growing at more than 100% for the last few years in India. High quality products, less after-sale issues, and a clear demarcation in smartphones, make the company a clear choice for most of the smartphone buyers.



Canadian tech firm RIM has always been regarded as different from the herd and it had a league of its own. But it was history. They do not have anything of their 'own' now, and the company is struggling to find out its USP, as push mail service is no more their prerogative now. Every smartphone offers that these days. The company, though, is trying too hard and exploring all routes to bring its old glory back, so far it has not yielded any desired result. Even, shaking up the top management has not bore any sweet fruit yet. Though the company tried the easiest trick to catch up with the market and to gain customer loyalty, by lowering prices, not many were impressed.



However continuing the trend of the last fiscal, its entry model devices saw huge traction. However the company has not given it up completely, RIM is also targeting the enterprise based consumers. The ability of new BlackBerry 10 devices to separate work and personal profiles will play a key role in this direction.

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Conclusion



Interestingly, the weapon for the battle of success is software, and not hardware anymore. Without software differentiation or cutting-edge hardware designs, device manufacturers must compete on scale and price, and it seems android and Apple have all the cards in their pack, with little scope for proprietary platforms. It would be interesting to see who, among the contenders, does something disruptive to capture the third position, and the question is how soon?

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