BlackBerry is not going to bail out of the handset business, but needs to return to its enterprise roots to reverse its slide, according to CEO John Chen.
“We’re committed to the handset business and we’ll make it work,” Chen said at a media briefing Thursday in New York.
Chen’s comments about staying in the handset business clarified a statement he made earlier to Reuters, which carried a news report Thursday that quoted him saying, “If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business.”
BlackBerry’s years-long dominance of the enterprise handset market succumbed to the popularity of iOS and Android. Worldwide shipment of devices with the BlackBerry OS totaled 19.2 million in 2013, falling by 40.9 percent compared to 2012, with a market share of just 1.9 percent, according to IDC. BlackBerry was behind Android, which had a 78.6 percent market share, Apple’s iOS at 15.2 percent and Windows Phone with 3.3 percent.
BlackBerry is looking to put recent handset and OS struggles behind it and is increasing focus on enterprise services and premium handsets. Customers want the BlackBerry of old, Chen said.
There’s a problem with most of these debates. They mostly focus on the rich world, and that’s increasingly not where the action is.
The smartphone market in the rich world is maturing. The growth is in the emerging markets and, increasingly, as hardware prices go down and connectivity goes up, the growth will be coming from poor countries. Cell phone ownership (albeit of the dumbphone kind) is already very high in sub-Saharan Africa; if Google’s Project Loon doesn’t make cheap wireless high-speed internet ubiquitous some other technology will; and some time soon the equivalent of a second-generation iPhone will be as cheap in poor-country-salary hours as a cell phone is today.
As I argued in a previous column, this actually creates an opportunity for a new platform to emerge. Today, the cheapest smartphones still have limited chip and memory capacity and battery life, which means that a software platform tuned to those limitations is attractive. OEMs like China’s ZTE who are comfortable working at very tight margins and have astonishing expertise making really cheap devices have made a big priority of winning this market, while Samsung and iPhone battle it out for the high-margin segment.
All of this points to an opportunity in the way of the classic disruptive innovation model: Attack an underserved segment of the market with a cheaper, lower-featured product, and gradually eat your way up the value chain as the incumbents spend their time focusing on the premium side of the market.
The enterprise “gets” mobile now. Maybe there is no great surprise in that. After all, the smartphone really was adopted first by corporate executives in need of portable computing. The general consumer was not the one buying those clunky and early Windows-driven, antenna-popping bricks of yesteryear. And so mobility is not news to the major corporation. Among these executives, 44% said they already have an enterprise-wide mobility strategy, and another 43% say theirs is directed at specific business units. Only 11% admit they are still working on a strategy, while a mere 2% consider mobility irrelevant to their company.
But what is really interesting about the new Accenture mobility study of 1,475 executives across 10 industries in 14 countries? These guys say their companies are not only “getting mobile,” in that sort of generalized “yeah-we-have-our-eye-on-it way.” This time they are telling researchers that their interest in emerging mobile platforms is detailed and deep. What stands out to me in this report is how mobility in all its aspects, especially technologies that also will be driving mobile marketing, are of keen interest for adoption within the company.
Mobility is bigger than Big Data, that other trending buzzword of the moment, with 77% of respondents saying mobility is among their top five priorities, while analytics follows at 72%. Add to that: connected devices are third with 65%, above cloud computing (62%) and social (61%)
For Americans, cell phones are omnipresent. Many check their Facebook page multiple times a day. Access to WiFi is not a problem for most. Technology use in the U.S. has risen over the past two decades as products and service became more sophisticated and affordable.
A new Pew Research Center report provides a fascinating snapshot of how, within a remarkably short time, some developing nations are catching up – especially when it comes to mobile devices and social media. In other cases, the data are a reminder that some countries still have a technology profile that is 20th Century. Here are some of the key comparisons.
Cell phone and smartphone usage
Recent surveys at Pew Research show that 91% of American adults have cell phones and that smartphones have overtaken simpler “feature phones” in popularity. The adoption pattern of cell phones in emerging countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Chile do not look very different from America. China and Russia have even nudged ahead of the U.S. But other countries lag. In Pakistan, slightly more than half have a cell phone and in Mexico, it’s just above six-in-ten. Still, the rapid rise in cell phone ownership is quite breathtaking and might be due to the fact that many nations, unlike the U.S., have skipped landline technology and moved straight to mobile.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The smartphone market passed an important milestone in 2013 when worldwide shipments surpassed the 1 billion mark for the first time, driven by continued momentum from Android and iOS. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC)Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Android and iOS accounted for 95.7% of all smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 (4Q13), and for 93.8% of all smartphone shipments for the year. This marked a 4.5-point increase from the 91.2% share that the two platforms shared in 4Q12, and a 6.1-point increase from the 87.7% share they had in 2012.
“In 2013 we saw the sub-$200 smartphone market grow to 42.6% of global volume, or 430 million units”
“Clearly, there was strong end-user demand for both Android and iOS products during the quarter and the year,” says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand. Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most. Despite these differences, both platforms found a warm reception to their respective user experiences and selection of mobile applications.”
While smartphone market growth remained strong in 2013, it should be noted that the era of double-digit annual growth has only a few years remaining. In the meantime, handset vendors are doing all they can to capture demand while it is still present. Worldwide smartphone marketing campaigns continue to stay focused on flagship devices like the iPhone 5S, Galaxy Note 3, and the HTC One, yet research shows that consumer buying is rapidly shifting toward products with significantly lower price points.
Global mobile advertising is projected to rise 37.4 percent in 2014 to reach spending of $18 billion.
Brazil and Russia will be among the front-runners of this growing industry, as technology advances and large emerging economies stabilize. Meanwhile, mobile advertising in China and India will increase heavily due to expansion of the middle class.
Here’s an overview and some tips on mobile advertising opportunities in BRIC nations.
The number of smartphone users continues to grow in Brazil. Almost 16 million smartphones were purchased in Brazil in 2012 and another 21 million bought in 2013. It was projected that 5 million tablets would be purchased in 2013 and that about 67 million Brazilians would utilize the mobile Internet.
This evidence clearly shows the importance of implementing mobile advertising campaigns in Brazil.
When delving into a mobile campaign in Brazil, take note that the leading operating system for smartphones is Android. Android dominates the industry by making up 56 percent of the market share with Nokia following with 31.5 percent of market share.
Brazilians are receptive to mobile advertisements, according to Nielsen’s Mobile Consumer: A Global Snapshot study. Brazilians enjoy ads that: Contain geographically relevant information Don’t send them to a website out of the app. Give them access to free content. Use simple text or multimedia.
Most Brazilians use smartphones for gaming apps, social media apps, and maps.
SAN FRANCISCO — Google and VSP, the nation’s biggest optical health insurance provider, have struck a deal to offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses for Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear.
The announcement could take wearable devices, which tech analysts say are the next wave of computing, out of the realm of science fiction and into the mainstream by making them more affordable and giving them a medical stamp of approval. And it opens the door to a new level of cooperation between the health care and consumer electronics industries, which could lead to a world in which people wear or even ingest computers.
“The key business model of the year for wearables is becoming embedded into the health care system,” said J. P. Gownder, an analyst studying wearable devices at Forrester, which predicts that computers that people can ingest, tattoo on their skin or embed in a tooth are three to five years from being a medical reality.
“Selling wearable consumer electronics one-on-one to individual consumers is kind of a tough business,” Mr. Gownder said. “By embedding them into the health care system, you can reach a mass market.”
The agreement with VSP, which insures one-fifth of Americans, is also a coup for Google, which plans to begin selling Glass to the public this year. Resistance to Glass has grown from privacy fears that the devices could be used to secretly record conversations or take photos. Some establishments have banned Glass wearers, and just this month, a man in Ohio was removed from a movie theater and interrogated after wearing Glass to a movie. With traditional-style frames and prescription lenses, which Glass did not have before, the computer and screen for the device are less evident and the device looks more typical — and is available even to people who wear glasses.
Mobile device use is off the charts but marketing to users lags well behind. In Sweden, IDG has shown tech marketers how to use mobile and tap into the large audiences. Angelica Lundin explains how IDG Sweden is overcoming marketer reluctance to make mobile a part of a campaign. Lundin told IDG Communications Howard Sholkin that once advertisers try it they come back for more…