Most of us know about smartphone manufacturers through the phones we use and the commercials they air. We know that Apple and Samsung are on top and that other manufacturers have great discount phones.
But few of us have any idea what goes on behind the scenes. Until now. A new report from the International Data Corporation reveals the big shake-ups that have happened in the smartphone market: Smartphone giants fell, underdogs rose to the top and by 2013, some of your favorite smartphone manufacturers may be gone from the market forever.
The news is the worst for Nokia. For a while there, it looked like its commitment to the Windows Phone OS might pay off. But this last quarter saw it drop out of the top five phone retailers in the world where it has enjoyed a place since 2004.
It’s sad really. Nokia’s been known for durable, innovative phones for decades. But the real story is the kooky decision making that got them to the bottom in the first place.
And it gets worse. Jolla — a company made up of the employees Nokia pushed to the side to help speed their trip to the bottom — may have developed a new OS that will deliver the final death blow that puts them out of business forever.
But in the meantime, the vacuum of Nokia’s downfall has left room for other ancient smartphone companies to rush in and claim their customers. And the most surprising of those upstarts was Research in Motion (RIM): the makers of the BlackBerry.
These guys managed to clock in at number 3 in the Top 5 smartphone clique with 4.3% of the global market share. It’s not much, but it’s pretty impressive considering that BB10 and the BlackBerry Aristo aren’t scheduled to come out until 2013.
But they may not be able to stay there for long. Withholding BB10 until 2013 means missing out on the big holiday shopping surge which will make or break many smartphone companies for the next year.
But BlackBerry has always been good at being a dark horse. And they may be putting all of their eggs in the business basket which doesn’t buy according to the season. Its 80 million international users still rely on BlackBerry for business use. And if BB10 is all its promising to be, BlackBerry’s corporate clientele may come through for them in the end.
And in an announcement that was news to no one, Samsung is still the number one smartphone vendor worldwide. And they continue to climb over Apple. To date, they’re selling twice as many phones as Cupertino at 31.3% of the total market share. The gap is so wide now that I can’t imagine what Apple can do to close it.
Apple struggled in the third quarter with only 15% of the market share. The iPhone 5 released in the last week and that may have contributed to their low numbers.
But post-premier sales may not skyrocket thanks to shake-ups in Apple’s corporate offices, the failure of Apple Maps and Samsung’s aggressive ad campaign. But there’s hope. In the fourth quarter, Apple will have had a chance to fix maps and redeem itself in the holiday quarter where anything can happen.
The world of smartphones is tumultuous. While we’re buying phones, execs are cutting throats and margins. And now that Apple is down for the count, it’s anyone’s game.
And the lengths smartphone manufacturers are willing to go to all mean good news for us. As the manufacturers fight, they’re pushed to make the innovations that will make 2013’s phones something that we can barely wait to see.