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High-End Mobile Competition Heats Up for Apple, Google and Samsung – New markets to follow suit?


This week was a busy one for releases and announcements in the high-end, smart device market. Just when we were getting used to the regular industry buzz around movement away from the highest-priced, top tier, smart phones and tablet PCs, in favor of the next wave of growth through emerging and developing economy markets, we've seen a fall flurry of high-end device releases.

New device wars go big

We now have from Samsung, the Galaxy Note4 and the Note Edge smart phones along with the Galaxy Tabs line up; from Apple, the iPhone 6 and the new 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus, and the new iPad Air and iPad Mini 3 which became available for pre-orders today; and rounding out the latest high-end device releases is Google with the Nexus 6, their 6" smart phone, along with the Nexus 9, the 8.9" tablet.

For a market sector that is supposedly reaching (if not already reached) saturation, you might well be scratching your head about now (while enjoying new devices and placing additional new orders!?). Granted, we're leading up to the best time to release devices in our industry, the fall-winter holidays. So, perhaps a little thought about what's going on and what about the 10 months of forecasting growth outside of this high-end, high-priced, leading-edge market sector? Well, let's face it, these are the devices from which better margins come for the OEMs, and those people who are determined and can afford to purchase these really beautiful and fast smart devices, they're going to purchase them and demand will be (at least somewhat) created if the design and pricing are hitting close to market targets. The devices share an emphasis on the processing speed, multitasking, and visual experiences, all featuring leading edge components and among the most dynamic and visually brilliant device experiences available today – but also at prices that exclude middle and low tiered consumers.

All of the latest high-end devices (smartphone and tablets alike) hit the mark for their designed consumers. The similarities and differences can quickly be lined up and compared, such as cNet did here. From the initial market reactions, coupled with a generally positive, global consumer outlook for holiday spending this year, the devices will be a boost and a positive set of releases for these leading OEMs.

Going big – and wide

Yes, the market is absorbing (quickly!) these new high-end devices, but what does that mean for the (recently still) forecasted emerging and developing market opportunities? As Bloomberg wrote yesterday recapping the Apple October release event:

"When you create a market like Apple did, all you can do is lose share over time," Jean Philippe Bouchard, an analyst at IDC, said. "The low end of the market is just exploding."

Looking at the "low end of the market" there is an equally fierce competition going on, even though Apple is not part of that fray as much, despite IDC's well-noted warning. Google's Android 1 smartphones that sell for approximately US $100 have been on the Indian market for almost one month now. There are roughly 1 billion Android users and the attempt with Google's Android 1 is to actively be a first mover into the Indian, developing market, smartphone market place. Success is tough to measure at this point, but given the attention to both the high and low pricing ends of the smart device market from a global leader like Google, there is certain to be continued momentum.

The next set of device reveals and releases will be rolling in, and we expect to see a ramp up in cycles for middle and low end tiered devices, especially after Google's Android 1 pushed open the doors to the Indian smart phone market – there will be others rushing to fulfill the incredible volume of demand globally for these tiers. Although this week's slew of releases and announcements focused on the high-end, the positive market reactions to these devices, show that the consumer confidence for tech purchases is still there and strong. What this indicative market data tells us is that this fall OEMs, both global and local competitors, are likely to begin to increase their device roll-outs for wider market coverage, just as we've been anticipating all year.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Friday, 17 October 2014 12:30 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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