Skip to main content

Standing Out From The Android Crowd

Life as an Android OEM is pretty tough right now. Having endured (if you aren't Samsung) Samsung's dominance in the market for the last three years you now have to face the rise of the Chinese and Indian brands, who are able to deliver good quality user experiences at rock bottom prices.

So how do you stand out in the marketplace?

If you're Samsung, then significant advertising spend and positioning yourself as the anti-Apple seems to be the way to go. That and having a device at every possible market niche. The real money makers - the Galaxy S and Note lines provide value by packing in features. The Note's S-pen remains the best solution for note-taking, the S5 delivers the widest range of features in a premium Android device. And Samsung is brave enough to throw out some very niche products to see what the market will take to. The Galaxy Tab and Note have already defined new market segments, the Gear, Gear VR and Note Edge may be helping to define newer ones.

HTC and Sony have a more difficult task. Both companies are struggling with challenging financials and don't have the capability or capacity to battle Samsung above them, or the burgeoning manufacturers below them. In terms of sales both have seen falls, despite delivering some very high quality devices. HTC's decision to diversify into Windows Phone on its premium device, demonstrates how desperate it is to pick up sales. Build quality is HTC's go to market feature but it isn't enough, especially when it's best phone is hampered by its Ultrapixel camera mistake.

Sony is looking to integrate the Xperia line into its broader product range. Screen mirroring to Sony TVs, Remote Play for PS4 users and, of course use, of the Walkman branding look to make Sony's product range a consistent offering which competes directly with Apple's end to end experience. The problem here is that Sony's cachet - so high in the past - has been damaged by a series of mistakes and despite being highly regarded by people of a certain age, the Sony brand doesn't really resonate with a younger generation. Still the PS4 is selling very well, so perhaps some form of brand recovery is on the cards.

Lenovo's ownership of Motorola is interesting, I imagine that it will separate it's two brands geographically and across markets. Motorola looks to be about innovative solutions right now, even without charging premium prices for its products. With Lenovo's backing I wouldn't be surprised to see a strong resurgence of the Motorola brand and the selection of products it demonstrated at IFA shows why. Again the Motorola brand isn't strong, but name recognition is high and its dalliance in the control of Google certainly put it back onto customer's radars. If Lenovo manages the innovation/value balance well I'm sure the customers will come flying back.

Last of the well-known Android brands is LG. It has managed to post some excellent growth over the last couple of years - partially as a result of the halo effect of building the Nexus and also because of the arrival of well received handsets like the G2 and G3. It remains in the shadow of Samsung both at home and globally. It doesn't really have the innovation, quality or technical differentiation of it's bigger rival and that is something that would concern me in the long run.

Whilst the Android market continues to explode in volume it can support this wide variety of OEMs, however as Western countries reach smartphone saturation it's going to be harder and harder for these brands to remain sustainable. With developing countries fostering their own OEMs with devices tailored to local market needs, I see a global Android market that supports only two or three premium brands.

If I was a betting man I'd guess that those would be Samsung, Motorola and Sony.

That's a worrying future for those companies without the diversification to survive in a smaller, less valuable market.


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…