The times they are a changin
At the same time, when the global handset market declines, the smartphone segment grows 42.5% YoY, showing that smartphones are no longer reserved to the most affluent technology-addict customers, but are becoming increasingly mainstream in all market geographies. As a result, the smartphone market is the one where battles are to be fought as smartphones are both more profitable than feature phones, and much more rewarding in terms of brand image.
The share of smartphones in the product mix of handset vendors is also revealing of their strategy, and leading to their positioning both in terms of marketshare and of brand image. Apple, with its handset product range limited to one product (with small variations such as memory size) delivers 100% smartphones, while around 45% of Samsung shipments are smartphones and 55% are feature phones. Over the same period, in relation with the difficulties in which the company is struggling, less than 15% of Nokia handset shipments are smartphones.
We all know companies are not eternal, and leadership positions are unstable. But, even if we understand the causes, there is some emotion in seeing Nokia, the market leader in terms of handset shipments for 14 years being displaced.