Strong demand for smartphones seen in 2013
Smartphone vendor highlightsSamsung set a new record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and in a single year. Its broad and deep line-up of Android smartphones, particularly the Galaxy-branded Android family, combined with sustained demand for its mid-range and entry-level models to account for the remarkable shipment volumes. 2013 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the company as its Tizen smartphone strategy takes shape. Samsung will continue to rely on Android as its primary operating system, however, as the move to Tizen will not likely take place overnight. Apple‘s record iPhone shipments in the quarter were driven by successes in Greater China, where shipments more than doubled, as well as the US, where 6.2 million iPhones were activated on Verizon alone. Interestingly, the company’s success was due in large part to older models, in particular the iPhone 4, which Apple couldn’t make enough of in the quarter relative to demand. Its sales success with the older model could portend success in higher-growth emerging markets where the company has performed well. Huawei suddenly finds itself among the top three smartphone vendors in the world, a first for the company. The company had previously been a Top 10 vendor. To reach this milestone, Huawei has courted both the mass market with its simple and inexpensive smartphones and the high-end of the market with its Ascend-branded product line. Along the way, the company has demonstrated its innovative skills, having released the world’s thinnest (6.68 mm) smartphone last year, the Ascend P1, and this year it announced the upcoming Ascend Mate, the first smartphone with a 6.1-inch display. At the same time, Huawei has brought its own software innovations, including Magic Touch, Guiding Wizard, Smart Reading, and Floating Windows. Sony‘s strategy for becoming the worldwide leader in mobile entertainment combined with its growing portfolio of high-end smartphones drove its smartphone volumes higher throughout the year. This marks a significant improvement since Sony acquired Ericsson’s stake in 2011 in the Sony Ericsson joint venture. Sony introduced its Xperia TL last quarter and recently announced the addition of the Xperia Z and the Xperia ZL, to be launched in 1Q13. ZTE maintained its spot among the Top 5 smartphone vendors globally thanks to continued international diversification efforts last quarter. The vendor also shipped more smartphones than feature phones for the first time. ZTE has grown its smartphone sales of late thanks primarily to an uptick in lower-cost smartphone sales in many emerging markets. The company has traditionally relied on sales of phones to China, where the company is based. Notable progress has been made in developed markets too.