As the smartphone market is getting crowded with more players, smartphone brands must redefine their products by differentiating new-generation models from older products to attract consumers, US-based market researcher International Data Corp (IDC) said yesterday.
Despite the market dominance of Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co, other vendors can still carve out a niche in the market by reworking existing technologies, such as near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth, to upgrade their products, the researcher said.
“Samsung has done a tremendous job at branding messaging, investing in overall marketing, commercial advertising, etc,” IDC mobile device tracker program manager Ryan Reith told a briefing in Taipei. “It really was about showing to an average person how to use existing technologies and how to optimize consumer experience.”
IDC’s latest data released yesterday showed that Samsung led the market in the first quarter, with the South Korean firm shipping 70.7 million smartphones, or 32.7 percent of the global total.
Samsung was followed by Apple’s 17.3 percent, LG Electronics Inc’s 4.8 percent, Huawei Technologies Ltd’s (華為) 4.6 percent and ZTE Corp’s (中興) 4.2 percent, IDC said.
Overall, global shipments reached 216.2 million units in the first quarter, up 41.6 percent year-on-year from 152.7 million units.
Last year, 497 million smartphones were sold around the world, jumping from 7 million units in 2009, when Apple’s iPhone started dominating the market, IDC’s tallies showed.
Reith forecast that 5-inch smartphones would become the sweet spot for vendors to enlarge their market share as consumers increasingly favor larger-sized screens.
“Smartphone brands may save cost by reducing [the number of] pixels per display. There still is room for suppliers to squeeze margins from new, lower-priced, but higher-standard products,” Reith said.
“Hardware vendors will struggle in differentiating products because only software and user experience are crucial for growth,” he added.
The researcher predicted that by 2017, 50 percent of total smartphones in the world would be priced at less than US$200, and that the average selling price for smartphones would be dragged down by low-cost Android phones to US$305.
The tablet market is likely to follow the same trend, Reith said, with users, who view tablet devices as data consumption tools rather than productivity boosters, preferring smaller-sized tablets that are easier to hold.
IDC forecast sub-8-inch tablets would account for 50 percent of total global tablet shipments this year, up from 34 percent last year.