After the Mobile World Congress which was held in Barcelona last week, smartphone brands are in the public consciousness; with names like Apple, Samsung and Huawei being bandied about in the press. And it hasn’t just got the journos talking, it’s also provoked some serious banter from the big boys, as two of the world’s smartphone makers have released chest thumping statements explaining their looming market dominance.
Japanese firm Sony – who once enjoyed an impressive market share in their Sony Ericcson partnership, which has since collapsed – has proclaimed its aim to become the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer in the next year or so. Sony will release a series of phones targeting particular regions, head of mobile business, Kunimasa Suzuki has explained. This could mean a range of entry level devices for the developing world, most probably with the new Firefox Operating System.
As it stands Samsung and Apple dominate, accounting for ½ of the market; while third, fourth and fifth places go to Huawei, Sony and ZTE, respectively. But bronze prize winners Huawei have different ideas, predicting their own global takeover within five years.
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress, CEO Wan Biao proclaimed that his company could and would repeat the rise of Samsung and Apple. He told the Telegraph: "If you look back five years ago, Apple is small, Samsung is not so big. You can't see where we'll be in five years. At least top three. Maybe number one. Our philosophy is that, within any one price segment, Huawei's the best one."
Now, for a brand whose products weren’t even on sale here in the UK this time last year, this might seem like a bit of a crazy statement; but Huawei are backed by the economic might of China, their maassssive population and enormous workforce. We’re actually taking this prediction pretty seriously (sorry, Sony).
In the last year Huawei have gone from having no UK presence to making deals with all of Britain’s mobile networks and forming a partnership with TalkTalk in the creation of their YouView boxes. And this is just in the UK.
Biao pronounced that smartphones like the Ascend 1 (which has sold 1 million handsets in the last three months) and the Ascend 2 are just the beginning for Huawei. After creating a top notch, high end handset, they are aiming to gain a strong grip on the bottom end of the market – just like Sony: “The taste for smartphones is different around the world – the colours are different, the shape is different. But for the high-end models we want to have one example for the global market. For the middle tier and entry level it could be different for different regions. But for the high end it’s one. Beauty is universal.”
However Huawei’s main task isn’t just the creation of smartphones; it’s also the riddance of a nasty reputation. They are just one year into a five year transformation strategy to extricate themselves from accusations that they build spying network into their hardware. They have been dubbed a ‘national security threat’ by the US House Intelligence Committee, while the US, New Zealand and Australia have all taken special measures ensuring the firm never play a part in government contracts.
Hm, on second thoughts maybe they will have a bit of a fight on their hands getting over this stigma. But their confidence remains high: “Ours is the fastest 4G smartphone in the world,” said Biao, “Why can we have these kind of technologies? Because we come from the network side. When we develop our network side, we develop our chip set alongside it. No one else can do that; only Huawei can do that. Samsung can’t do that. And we have 10,000 research and development engineers developing radio technologies. Samsung has the technology of the display. Huawei has telecommunications.”
It's not just the Asian smartphone makers who have been getting in on the banter this week, Finnish firm Nokia have also displayed some tail-feather as they announced their plains to steal Blackberry users: "I get asked a lot about BlackBerry and what I will say is I'm very interested in BlackBerry customers," CEO Stephen Elop explained, "It's very clearly our intent to go after those customers and show them a very different, very modern and superior business experience."
Blimey, it’s like a Gorilla’s territory fight out there at the moment. A bit too much hollering and chest-banging and not enough substance, we think. But one thing’s for sure; the emphasis in the smartphone world over the coming year is certainly on the lower end of the market. About time too.
Remember if you’re looking for a new mobile or have just got yourself one, then don’t forget to recycle your old phone with OnRecycle. It’s good for your wallet and the environment, so there’s nothing stopping you!