For the sellers of smartphones and their stockholders, the numbers in this week's financial reports were all important. For us users, however, we'd just like a phone that works and has some neat features. But those crazy numbers will have some interesting effects on what we be seeing in 2012.
Prepare for Mobile War
As the mobile industry prepares for MWC 2012 where the latest smartphones, apps and operating system updates will be shown off, the pecking order for the show was shaken up with the latest quarterly numbers and sales figures from the major players.
We've already covered Apple's staggering results, which were built on massive iPhone 4S sales. They were quickly followed by main rival Samsung, who sold 36.5 million smartphones in the quarter, slightly less than Apple. Nokia limped in next with a million Windows Phone sales and a major loss. Still, if Windows Phone does take off this year, Nokia will be well positioned, and the company is being bankrolled by Microsoft to the tune of at least $250 million a quarter.
Taking Their Time
Apple's massive iPhone 4S sales means the company will be in no hurry to push the launch of the iPhone 5 (or 4G, depending on what you read) nearer. Reports out today, also suggest that Samsung's Galaxy S3 will be arriving later than thought.
This gives the likes of Nokia and others room to play in, but with the market firmly split between Apple and Samsung, it doesn't seem to matter what those rivals do, they can't really make a dent in the brand power of the leaders.
HTC is narrowing its range to concentrate on high-end smartphones, with the Hero as lead device, but it will take some effort to reach the heady heights of the market leaders. Other makers would do well to follow their lead, with Motorola Mobility floundering on flat revenue and big losses, something that won't please its new owner, Google.
Tablets: There Can Be Only One
While the big money is in smartphones, every player is looking to its tablets as a second string in the wake of the iPad's success. So far, only Amazon has got it "right" with the Kindle Fire, Motorola shipped only a million tablets last year, and may have sold as few as 200,000 Xooms. The failure of others is well known.
With Amazon's massive content market providing a comfy cushion for it to sell its devices at low cost, other players will be scratching their heads to find the right angle into the market. None as hard as Microsoft and partners who have a huge amount riding on the success of Windows 8 based tablets later in the year.
For BlackBerry, with its new management in place, the opportunity is there to make a new mark in both tablets and phones. But, from the looks of it, it lacks ready-to-go software and hardware to get in early and make a positive impression. A leaked road map shows all its activity to the end of the year where it will get drowned in the noise of the big guns firing. Worrying times indeed for BB loyalists.
Whatever your preferred device, 2012 will have more of the same drama, but expect to see more players knocked out of the market as the cream rises to the top.