back to article Apple, HTC trim phone forecasts as markets tank

Apple and HTC may be locked in mortal patent combat, but they do agree on one thing: the world economy appears poised to slide into the crapper. Again. The two dueling smartphone makers are among the handset vendors cutting back on chipset orders from Asian suppliers, according to sources speaking to the Taiwanese market …

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Silver badge

I wouldn't just blame the economy...

All those who bought last year's uber-phone, and are still locked into a contract, aren't really going to be scratching at the doors this year for a new phone (crazed fanbois of all flavours excluded of course).

Why? Well if you have last year's iPhone4 or HTC DesireHD etc, what can't you do that this year's phone could? Ummmm... Yes, now you see the problem. Common sense has killed the sales (hence I excluded the fanbois).

There just isn't a killer feature for the new phones. So what if it can scan RFID tags, you've got to find one to scan first of all! So that's not going to do it. The webbrowser from last year still works fine, it loads up in a second, so maybe I could save 0.5seconds by spending £400 this year, then again, maybe I'll just blink instead.

I'm still happy with my Desire Z, which just sneaks into the "last year's phone" bracket. I feel no need to buy a sensation, although I have played with one, it's a nice phone, and all very pretty, but there is no "must have" extra.

In fact, barring a sudden, unexpected invention of something even Apple hasn't thought to patent, I can't see why I would need anything more than what I currently have in my pocket.

There is one big exception, it's the huge elephant in the room. The one killer feature which would make me buy a new phone... 3 days of real use from one charge... That would do it! A feat which my old Nokia N95 could do, even my N97 could do it, although that wasn't really real use, as it spent half the time crashing and rebooting!

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Anonymous Coward

You're forgetting

Those who were locked into 18/24 contracts when the iPhone 4 and generational equivilents (Androids, et al) came out and who are perhaps now ready for a new phone. My 3GS contract ended in the Spring. I'm not going to upgrade to an iPhone 4 only to see it be immediately superseded and be stuck with the 'old one' for the next 18 - 24 months.

This is the problem with contracts that are 1.5 - 2x the release cycle of mobile phones in general (smart or otherwise). Point taken about fanbois - they'll spend their way out of their contracts in order to get their hands on the latest shiney.

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Happy

@Steve Evans Re Upgrade Cycles

Like you (as we have discussed before) I am still happy with my "Z" and yes, unless one is a totally maniacal fanboy I do not see the point with constant upgrading. One ends up never having a genuine "wow" feeling because the difference (in reality) between each successive piece of kit is minor. I seem to recall that at one point (before smart phones took off) that people were upgrading their dumbphone shinys every nine months! The manufacturers must of course have thought that they were in pig heaven. Problem here is that when you have bought something high end with the capabilities of a modern smartphone (and the price) an upgrade cycle shorter than eighteen months/two years just does not make sense - financially or in terms of the improvement in the kit that you are getting for the money. The current length of contracts appears to be about right in regard to upgrades for everybody but the most obsessive fanboy (although I do not myself buy on contract). The manufacturers want you to spend 500 quid on one of their high end offerings and then expect you to treat it as if it were disposable! They would be better off taking notice of your final point - battery life. Given that the modern smartphone market has existed for about a decade it is a flaming disgrace that battery life has scarcely improved at all. BTW, it will be interesting to see what Nokia in fact manage with their first "Nokiasoft" phone, after all battery life has always been one of their major strengths.

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Silver badge

@Steve: a good rant with some valid points, but ignores the facts

HTC and Apple have several years of experience of selling handsets that are much like the handsets of a year ago. They put in their initial component orders based on that experience. In the wake of financial market turmoil they've both suddenly reduced their component orders.

Since we're talking about the two companies having changed their orders suddenly, the economy is likely to be the sole factor.

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@Arctic fox

Greetings fellow Z'er.

I wouldn't hold out much hope for the Nokiasoft. The Nokias of old managed their impressive battery life by having very low power CPUs (we're talking number crunching power, not just battery sucking power here). They could do this because they were running a very efficient OS, Symbian.

Symbian was built from the ground up in the days when mobile devices just didn't have huge powerful CPUs. Android, WinMo and IOS aren't. They're all stripped down version of big OS's.

In the world of mobile devices there are always compromises. With Symbian the compromises were almost exclusively made in favour of low power consumption, because the power just wasn't there at the time to be used! The newer OS's had the CPU power, and have used it (programmers always use everything available to them, plus a bit more). Occasionally they have actually given us something useful too.. Which we got used to, and liked.

I doubt we're going to see 3 days phones for a while, not until the "dual core" willy waving is finished and everyone calms down to let the battery technology catch up!

You can actually get quite a few days out of a DZ, I discovered this (thanks to the excessive EU data roaming charges) when I went abroad... Data off, wifi off, bluetooth off, and remember to switch into flight mode if you go into an area of no coverage (stops the radio cranking up to full power and screaming the cell equivalent of "HELLO?" all the time!). It also helps that you tend to keep phone calls short due to the roaming charges too. Best I saw was from fully charged at 6am to 92% at 9pm!

So if you just use your smartphone as a phone, everything is good... Now I just want to use the "smart" part please!

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Contracts

Do people actually still get locked into contracts with smartphones? Surely the smartest offering is with SIM-only deals and buying handsets outright? Better re-sell value (no network lock) and cheaper in the long run, no?

Haven't gotten a phone as part of a contract in about 3 years now.

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404
Bronze badge

Point of clarification: Walmart

Everything at Walmart has RFID - discovered during 'The Case of the Missing Crunchberries'. Your intrepid commentard noticed he could no longer get his fix (crunchberries) in the large-merkin economy-sized box for several months at his somewhat local Walmart Supercenter. After weeks of dead-end inquiries, a middle management drone let on that the vender in question had not complied with Walmart's RFID requirement, and until they did, would not be stocked. Shock and Horror! End result was about a 4 month wait until my crunchberries came back.

Two further points of clarification: 1. I avoid Walmart if I can after the $6.66 gallon of milk intellectual (I can do basic math) insult fiasco - they are bastards. and 2.Don't want RFID on my phone. RFID is a subject for a whole other discussion.

Just saying...

;)

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Silver badge
WTF?

At last some marketing realism

I just don't have £400+ to spend on a top of the line smartphone.

Many people are just glad to have a job and put food on the table. Buy the latest smartphone gadget? you can't be serious.

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Anonymous Coward

You'd be surprised.

At econ class this came up - the fact that during recessions, depressions even, sales of certain luxury items rises - as has lately happened for lipstick and lingerie. I hear what you're saying re absolute budgets, but, again in econ class we're taught that even people (in UK) who have zero money, and I really mean zero, still find ways to continue consuming, be they borrowing, selling furniture, doing a paper round, doing deep excavations of sofa crevices etc.

It's easy to forget, if one's struggling, that even in a recession, the majority of workers will still be in their jobs, earning money, having a disposable income, and spending.

Lastly, I hate whenever I hear someone working hard and things being painfully tight. Please don't think I'm patronising if I suggest you *properly* check if you're getting all of the income-supplementing entitlements etc you may be due.

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Happy

My nomination for word of the week

"economocalypse"

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue after 4 pints mind you...

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Silver badge
Pint

Eh, still not as good as......

"mancession"

Here's a drink in honor of all those who want to work but are stuck in long-term unemployment.

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Bronze badge

Butt.....

Will it twist and swirl? Will the Tidy Bowl man accompany things?

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Unhappy

I need to.

I skipped the iPhone 4 completely. I"m going to have to get a 5. My two year warranty died two months ago.

Thankfully it will be heavily contract subsidized......

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FAIL

Knackered.

"Lastly, I hate whenever I hear someone working hard and things being painfully tight. Please don't think I'm patronising if I suggest you *properly* check if you're getting all of the income-supplementing entitlements etc you may be due."

Hate when people say that. The old fashioned way is to do some overtime, look for a better paid job etc. - looking for extra benefits should be a last resort. Every pound taken in benefits is a pound taken out of the country / taxpayers - every pound earned is money in.

If everyone ends up claiming more and more benefits then we really will be knackered.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re "Knackered"

"Every pound taken in benefits is a pound taken out of the country / taxpayers - every pound earned is money in."

I assume that you are of course directing these admonitions at employers who pay such shit that one still needs benefits, the landlords who feed off the benefits system and of course (lest we forget) the (w)bankers, all of whom are parasites on the public purse on a scale that the average poor sod on the social can only dream about.

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Anonymous Coward

Using it more...

"The one killer feature which would make me buy a new phone... 3 days of real use from one charge... That would do it! A feat which my old Nokia N95 could do, even my N97 could do it, although that wasn't really real use, as it spent half the time crashing and rebooting!"

The difference is you (typically) use a modern smartphone much more - most people used an N95 for making calls and texts - I doubt people used it for email, browsing much. So even though a modern phone may have a much larger battery - that large screen and your extra usage drain it much quicker.

If you 'only' used it for phone + SMS I bet a iPhone would last a few days.

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Silver badge

@Using it more...

Indeed... I've just posted a reply making exactly that point further up the comments!

I did actually email and browse on my N95, but only if I didn't have any choice. It did make me an Opera mini convert though.

These days I'll pick up the smartphone and check emails/reply to them, browse for stuff, even when the laptop is on standby only a few feet away.

I can't comment on iphone longevity (beyond that they die pretty well when dropped), but my Android handset will last days if I just don't use the "smart" part!

It would just be nice if the battery technology would catch up with all the eye candy we've become used to.

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Thumb Down

N95

Well, I for one synchronized my mails to my N95 and browsed the web with it daily, plus navigation and camera usage of course -- pretty much the same usage as I put the current touch screen slab through, but 2-3 times the battery life. Very true about the screen size though.

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Gotta disagree with you there,

I'm still using my trusty N95 8Gb and on a new(ish) battery I can get a good 2 days out of a charge, and that's with calls, texts, email, web, bit of multimedia use, and a multitude of things running in the background.

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Holmes

There is more at play here than the economy

24 month contracts are actually quite new at least in the UK, three years ago the average contract was 12 months, then 18 monthers appeared and now 24 seems the norm. Phone makers don't have a reliable sales model for 12 monthly handset launches into a market running on 24 month contracts.

Also the fact is the advances made by new models are just not that great - when I replaced my HTC Hero (18 month contract) with a Desire HD (24) a little under a year ago I moved to a handset that was in a different league.

None of the new HTC models on sale now offer much more than my Desire. I've got a 4.3 inch screen, and 1GHz chip, 8MP camera, 1.5GB of system storage and Android 2.3.3. What am I missing? A dual-core chip? Forward facing camera? NFC? Don't need or want any of those functions.

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Silver badge
Pint

No, you're not missing anything.

I have a Desire HD which I purchased from that ever-reputable source, ebay. Thanks to xda-dev, I unlocked it and loaded it with a recent custom ROM, and I'm quite happy with it.

It's snappy and responsive, it only cost me £240 (obviously since it's an ebay special, no contract tied to it) and does everything I could want. My previous HTC Magic didn't. The screen was too small, and web browsing was laggy, as was attempting to run many applications.

A work colleague of mine recently acquired an HTC Sensation:- nice device, but it has the same screen size, and effectively can do everything just as well as my Desire HD. Of course, you'd pick up the Sensation now over the HD, but if you have a slightly older device (but with still very servicable specs such as the Desire HD), there really is no reason you'd want a new one.

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Holmes

It had to Happen

We have been busting our ceilings over the last few years, first the dot.com bubble then the housing bubble burst ...then we busted the world economy's debt celing and now we are going for cell phone bubble.

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Black Helicopters

Trimphone?

Blimey, when I saw the title I thought somebody had revived the old Trimphone!

As for upgrades - I am now on my third phone. The first was an analogue brick. Then a Phillips Savvy (C12) - nice phone, still popular, now some sort of Nokia with all the lettering on the case rubbed off that I picked up for a couple of quid.

I make phone calls. Tried surfing on one of those smartphone gadgets, and just can't be bothered working with such a small screen. Oh, and I have never had a contract. Keeps me anonymouse.

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Maybe not the economy

This article is jumping to some major conclusions based on rumors from Digitimes.

The smartphone market is growing fast, not so much affected by the recession (human needs: 1. Food 2. Shelter 3. Smartphone 4... )

Apple is about to execute one of its overnight global product transitions. Naturally they would have orders in place for iPhone 4 parts until they are certain of the transition date. Then they'd trim back iPhone 4 part supply from the transition date.

Google's disregard of intellectual property is leading HTC and others into legal difficulties which may see their products banned from import to major territories. I'd expect them to be cutting back supplies a little in case courts find against them in the next 6 months.

And finally, Digitimes doesn't always get their facts right.

But it's still possible the recession will deepen this winter. But how would HTC & Apple know?

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