Samsung's curved screen stands out among holiday smartphones
By Kari Jensen
December 10, 2013
Mobile ad networks expand, consolidate to keep up
Apple iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint scanner and Samsung Galaxy Round's curved screen set them apart in an otherwise crowded year-end market.
With more than 4,000 touch-screen phones available, Apple and Samsung smartphones are expected to lead sales moving into the holidays. Both smartphone sales and application downloads will spike during this time.
"The market is so competitive that many players are intent on 'doing their own thing,'" said Neil Mawston, London-based executive director at Strategy Analytics. "As a result, marketers will have to work in the future with an increasing number of mobile computing devices that span everything from small-screen wearables to mid-screen smartphones and bigger-screen tablets.
"The global smartphone and tablet markets are very crowded, so vendors like Samsung with its curved display are using new technologies to standapart from rivals," he said. "The trend for curved screens is an important one because it is the first step on the road to bendable and rollable displays in the future.
"Marketers will need to be mindful that the smartphone and tablet markets will continue to fragment."
While smartphone and tablet markets may be fragmented, smartphone penetration will continue to grow in the next five years. As the user base grows, the volume of app downloads is expected to increase.
"Our research shows that the total number of downloads per user has remained stable, and we project this trend will continue in the next five years," said Raul Castanon, senior analyst at Yankee Group, Boston, MA. "However, we expect app sales will increase from last year because there is a larger customer base, therefore the total volume of apps downloads will increase.
"In other words, downloads per user remain the same, but the number of users has increased since last year, this means more apps downloads," he said.
Samsung Galaxy S4
The three top selling phones moving into the holidays are the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Ace, according to Josh Flood, senior analyst in mobile device division at ABI Research, London.
Apple iOS and Android phones dominate the market, according to analysts. Windows and Blackberry are also big players, but have less market share, according to analysts.
"Apple has enormous following," Mr. Flood said. "It's considered a premium ecosystem. Samsung is the biggest seller of smartphones in the world. It's renowned as the pioneer for the phablet genre. Samsung tends to do it first."
Phablet is the term some analysts use to describe larger smartphones, which resemble a cross between a mobile phone and a small tablet. Sony's Experia Z Ultra, with its 6.4-inch diagonal display, is an example.
More women tend to buy phablets because they easily fit into their handbags. "Pocketables" or smaller phones that easily fit into pants' pockets also will continue to be popular sellers, according to Mr. Flood.
About 150 million people in the United States own a smartphone, according to comScore's MobiLens and Mobile Metrix.
Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop, search the Internet, read their email and scan the news. Roughly 80 percent of iPhone owners are likely to purchase another iPhone based on their experience with iOS 7, its most recent operating system, according to InsightExpress (see story).
The growth in lower-cost smartphones has caused Apple to lose some of its original fan base (see story).
As the holidays draw near, many companies have been releasing new smartphones, some with distinguishing features.
For example, some ex-Nokia employees launched Jolla, a smartphone with a new operating system. Russia's Yota smartphone has a double screen. Samsung's Galaxy Round and some other smartphones have curved displays.
Of all the new features, the curved display is the one to watch, the analysts said. Some are waiting to see if Apple adopts it. During December, marketers will be tracking their brand's smartphone sales and app downloads.
"IPod users tend to spend money on applications," Mr. Flood said. "Significantly higher than Android users."
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York
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