iOS claims greater share of US smartphone market compared with the UK
The UK has long been one of the more advanced mobile markets in the world, with rapid adoption of smartphones. But consumers in the US are catching up, eMarketer estimates.
eMarketer expects 65.0% of US mobile phone users, or 51.4% of the total population, to use a smartphone at least monthly in 2014. That compares with two-thirds of mobile phone users in the UK, or 53.7% of the total population. The UK will continue to lead by both of these metrics—but only slightly—throughout our forecast period, thanks to robust growth in the US smartphone market.
Among US smartphone owners, Android-based handsets are the most popular, and eMarketer estimates that they will reach 50.0% penetration this year, while iOS-based handsets continue to claw back share slowly, with 40.5% of the market expected for 2014. Both major operating systems will continue to make slight gains as BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and other operating systems continue to lose significance.
Less than one-third of consumers pay for a smartphone or tablet news app
Less than four in 10 US consumers use mobile news apps, but those who do are likely keeping them on hand to stay up to date with unexpected events.
In a December 2013 study by StepLeader, 42% of US mobile news app users said that breaking news was the most important news app category. This was the top response by a long shot—just 18% of respondents cited second-place national news—and it makes sense when one considers that mobile devices allow users to keep up with the latest news whenever and wherever they go.
But getting breaking news via smartphone apps was far more popular than on tablets, likely due to the former being more portable. More than four in 10 respondents said they used smartphone apps to get breaking news alerts, compared with just 20.0% who said the same for tablets. Instead, the larger screens were more common for reading news content—likely in a more relaxed setting—with more than half of tablet news app users saying they did so, vs. less than one-third of smartphone users.
In the last year or so, there has been a noticeable slowdown in innovations in new smartphones — with both hardware and software.
In a five-year smartphone forecast through 2018 released last week, research firm IDC noted: “It has been widely acknowledged that the pace of innovation on smartphones has slowed down, even reached a plateau. Indeed, many of the new innovations launched in 2013 appeared to be incremental improvements on a theme, and it was questionable whether many of them would have lasting value.”
With smartphone innovation flattening, the next direction seems to be making the smartphone the hub — connected via Bluetooth, primarily — to emerging technologies. These systems include smartwatches, other wearable devices and everything in the much larger ecosystem of home appliances, cars and other products that, when connected, would comprise what’s being called the Internet of Things.
While this slowdown in innovation has been widely recognized, marketers for smartphone vendors still trumpet their devices’ new features at large-scale events where the latest products are unveiled amid hype that overstates the new capabilities. Samsung, for example, hired a live orchestra to play on an elaborate stage for the launch of its Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona in late February. The event was attended by thousands. The Galaxy S5 will ship April 11.
Tuesday’s launch of the expected HTC One M8 has been preceded by online videos and plenty of hype touting a phone that has a 5-in. full HD screen (larger than the one on last year’s HTC One), two rear camera sensors for taking better photos, a Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM for greater speed.
The fact that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming cloud devices is nothing new. What is new is that we seem to be nearing the point of feature saturation on those devices. When that happens, the use of the cloud by mobile applications and providers will accelerate.
Smartphones and tablets are getting about as fast as we need them to get, the platforms are more capable, and the apps more sophisticated. My smartphone can download faster than most DSL services can, the user interfaces are easy to deal with now, and the applications equal or exceed those that we can find on a PC. Indeed, were it not for the fact that my smartphone has a 4-inch screen, I would have written this post on it.
This is not to say that mobile devices are now as good as they can ever get. Smartphone providers will keep finding new ways to enhance them. But I am saying that the mobile devices will be more difficult to improve, so the push will be on cloud-delivered systems to enhance their use.
In the run up to this year’s Mobile World Congress, one of the most interesting items was an announcement of more phones running the Firefox OS operating system. The goal of the Mozilla Foundation with Firefox OS is to make dirt-cheap smartphones for the developing world, and they have targeted prices of $20 and $25 for the smartphones — which are really more like feature phones.
To the skeptics, Firefox OS doesn’t stand much of a chance against the juggernaut that is Android. After all, Android is already free and open source. And feature phones are going the way of the Dodo bird. And the mobile platform game is all about network effects and apps, and Android has too much of a lead among developers for Firefox OS to get a foothold.
But hold on. There are a few things this narrative doesn’t take into account.
First, Firefox OS actually solves a few serious technical problems that Google is not interested in with Android. It is optimized for cheap, low-power chips, and to fit on a very small amount of memory.
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. February 26, 2014 – According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, worldwide smartphone shipments will slow to 8.3% annual growth in 2017 and 6.2% in 2018. Annual smartphone volume in 2013 surpassed 1 billion units for the first time, accounting for 39.2% growth over 2012. In the coming year, IDC expects mature markets like North America and Europe to drop to single digits, and Japan might contract slightly. Despite the high growth expected in many emerging markets, 2014 will mark the year smartphone growth drops more significantly than ever before. 2014 volumes are expected to be 1.2 billion, up from 1 billion in 2013, representing 19.3% year-over-year growth.
“In North America we see more than 200 million smartphones in active use, not to mention the number of feature phones still being used,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “2014 will be an enormous transition year for the smartphone market. Not only will growth decline more than ever before, but the driving forces behind smartphone adoption are changing. New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth.”
As mature markets become saturated and worldwide growth slows, service providers and device manufacturers are seeking opportunities to move hardware wherever they can. The result is rapidly declining price points, creating challenging environments in which to turn a profit. Worldwide smartphone average selling price (ASP) was $335 in 2013, and is expected to drop to $260 by 2018.
Singapore and Hong Kong, February 13, 2014 – After 9 consecutive quarters of explosive growth, which propelled China into the top smartphone market in the world, the China smartphone market experience its first slowdown in 2013 Q4.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, shipped 90.8 million units compared to 94.8 million in 2013 Q3, declining by 4.3% quarter on quarter (see Figure 1). Several factors drove this stumble – for one, China Mobile’s 4G TD-LTE network went live on December 18, translating into supplies of 4G handsets not able to reach the market fully until 2014 Q1. The increasing popularity of phablets and channel inventory also played a role, whereby operators cut phone subsidies on phones with smaller screens, triggering distribution channels looking to clear out those stocks.
“The world has increasingly looked to China as the powerhouse to propel the world’s smartphone growth and this is the first hiccup we’ve seen in an otherwise stellar growth path,” says Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC Asia/Pacific’s Client Devices team.
“There will certainly be future drivers to unlock further smartphone growth in China, as Apple demonstrated with its China Mobile tie-up in January, and the massive device migration to come of phones only supporting 2G and 3G networks to devices supporting 4G networks. However, we are now starting to see a market that is becoming less about capturing the low-hanging fruit of first time smartphone users and moving into the more laborious process of convincing existing users why they should upgrade to this year’s model”
Looking ahead at the prospects for the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region, with mature Asia/Pacific markets like already having hit market saturation and China growth facing more moderate increases, two trends will become more prominent.
The mobile economy is growing at a faster rate than previously expected while also showing signs of maturity, meaning there is still significant upside potential for companies in core sectors even as challenges multiply, according to a new report from Yankee Group.
The mobile economy will be valued at $3.1 trillion by 2017, which is $200 million more than Yankee Group forecasted in Oct. 2012. The quick ramp up will ensure that mobile remains the preeminent driver of technology growth for the foreseeable future, meaning all companies will need to adapt and embrace the opportunity or risk getting left behind.
“It’s important to look at a healthy cross-section of trends and metrics to really understand that we are still on the on-ramp of the mobility revolution,” said Rich Karpinski, senior analyst at Yankee Group, Boston, and co-author of the report.
“There is plenty of room for opportunity and growth, even as some markets, for instance, the U.S. mobile operator market reaching 50 percent cross-over point for data revenues, reach relative maturity,” he said.
Pent-up demand for infrastructure upgrades, capacity and bandwidth investments, and overdue replacement cycles drive IT spending priorities in 2014
Framingham, MA – February 5, 2014 – According to the new International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Book (Doc #246614), IT spending will be inhibited by the economic slowdown in emerging markets in 2014, in addition to an inevitable deceleration in the growth of smartphones and tablets. IDC has lowered its forecasts for IT market growth in Asia Pacific (including China), Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, driving down its forecast for Worldwide IT spending growth to 4.6% this year in constant currency terms (down from the previous forecast of 5%). With currency devaluation and inflation likely to inhibit business confidence in many emerging economies in the first half of this year, and with the explosive growth of mobile devices having begun to inevitably cool from the breakneck pace of the past 2-3 years, overall industry growth will dip slightly from last year’s pace of 4.8%.
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Infrastructure, Software and IT Services are Hot Spots
While overall industry growth has cooled, some areas of tech spending are heating up as businesses in mature economies including the US and Western Europe, begin to invest in overdue infrastructure upgrades and replacements. Spending on servers will increase by 3%, after last year’s decline of 4%, and storage spending will also grow by 3% this year (following a 0.5% decline in 2013). The PC market is showing tentative signs of stabilization, with improving commercial shipments in mature markets. The increased pace of hardware investment will have a positive effect on IT services revenue, which is forecasted to post growth of 4% this year (up from 3% in 2013). Enterprise software spending remains broadly strong, with growth still expected in the range of 6-7%. Excluding mobile phones, IT spending growth will actually accelerate in 2014 from 2.9% last year (excluding phones) to 3.4% this year.