Feeds

back to article UK mobile sales in the toilet: Down by FIVE MILLION this year

The UK mobile industry will be five million mobile devices lighter this year if a Brit consultancy's forecasts are to be believed. CCS Insights expects an eleven per cent crash in smartphones shipments and a 14 per cent dive in slabs when compared to box sales last year. Smartphone unit sales dropped 20 per cent year-on-year in …

Bronze badge

Wonder how many Moto G handsets

Were sold in that same period in the UK? Combine that with the lower end Windows phones...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Phones have much more longevity, most do what we need them to and when 'new' models are brought out they tend to add gimmicks to them. Hence manufacturers are looking further afield for profit, example 'smart watches'.

Ok so there might be a processor upgrade or faster memory but in real world use that .00009sec faster performance is neither here nor there.

As far as I can see there is no 'must have' feature that would benefit in any pipeline, so they are relying more and more on design and aesthetics to sell rather than a killer feature we all need or want.

The manufacturers have boxed themselves into a corner.

3
0
Silver badge
Linux

Re: Wonder how many Moto G handsets

Is this why Microsoft gave up on their garbage mobile OS recently and turned to Android?

1
4
Silver badge
Meh

I believe they call it market saturation. On the other hand it might just be that teh kids don't fink it cool no more.

14
0

Its simple

For Phones, more 12 month contracts so people can upgrade each year like before, or make those that do exist cheaper, no one wants a £50 per month contract. I know they have to make money but I'm sure they can squeeze a little more.

As for tablets they might be harder as you tend to hold onto them for longer, as the initial outlay is much higher. Drop the 3G/4G one as every phone can tether these days.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Its simple

Yeah, I'm on a 9.99€ a month contract now, flat data and 100 minutes and SMS (I use about 5 minutes and 30 SMS a month on average). I bought a phone outright, because the monthly handset surchage more than doubled the price of the contract and it worked out 50€ more expensive than buying the phone from Amazon.

I also don't get any carrier crud added to the phone and I get updates as soon as the manufacturer releases them.

0
0

Is this really a problem?

Do we really need to upgrade every year for a new handset that doesn't differ significantly from what came before? If no one is buying the handsets would it not make sense for the handset manufacturers to look into real innovation in an attempt to make us see that we should upgrade.

Essentially the market has reached saturation and the devices on offer are much of a muchness. Couple that with longer contracts and the expense of buying handset only and people don't really see much reason for new kit.

And do we REALLY need a new phone every year anyway?

22
0
jai
Silver badge

Re: Is this really a problem?

Not a problem for the consumer.

But a problem for the channel and highstreet sellers who were getting used to the big turnovers these past few years.

8
0
Trollface

Re: Is this really a problem?

Tough!

No really.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this really a problem?

"a problem for the channel and highstreet sellers who were getting used to the big turnovers these past few years."

They really didn't have the wit to see this coming? They really thought it would go on and on? Then their management deserve a dose of what they'll doubtless be dishing out to the workers before too long (pink slips, redundancy payments, whatever).

11
0
FAIL

Re: Is this really a problem?

"They really didn't have the wit to see this coming?"

Seems not.

Phones are getting like cars, more reliable with every iteration. My first Nokia's and Ericsson's had physical buttons and lots of moving parts to go wrong. I had to replace my Nokia 3110 because the aerial bust, 3310 because the buttons stuck, a clamshell because the connector failed etc. etc.

With a smartphone and few moving parts, the only problems I've had are a sometimes unresponsive screen. It was 4 years before I replaced my iPhone3 with an iPhone5, and I can't see me shelling out another £500 for an iPhone6 or 7, I mean how much different from an oblong with rounded edges can a phone get? I'll just move to a cheap tariff and save my money when my current deal ends, I don't need the latest & greatest just to look good as long my phone does what I want it to do.

6
0

Re: Is this really a problem?

They aren't just much of a muchness, they are good enough. What's more, you can buy a year old phone that is more than good enough for almost everybody, at a reduced price.Unless some software abuser can invent a must have app that consumes 90% of CPU cycles on an 800 chipset, that isn't going to change. Worse, Android L apparently produces a battery life and speed boost with no hardware changes.

Industry, meet maturity.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Is this really a problem?

"But a problem for the channel and highstreet sellers who were getting used to the big turnovers these past few years."

Oh dear, how sad. My heart bleeds.

I can only hope that Carphone Whorehouse, Phones4ewes and the plethora of telco shops all selling overpriced tat on the Currys model all follow the same path.

I made the mistake of wandering into a EE shop over the weekend to see what was available to replace my (not aging very well) Galaxy S2 and was surprised by the desperate selling methods being used to try and push new contracts with devices.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Is this really a problem?

"Do we really need to upgrade every year for a new handset that doesn't differ significantly from what came before?"

There you put your finger on the problem. As an early Android adopter, for the first few years every new phone was a huge upstep (upstep? is that even a word? Well, if truthiness is a word...), with new features, radical improvements to both OS and hardware and so on.

The analyst 'gurus' looked at sales from this period and rubbed their hands in that endearing 'If it's happening now, it will continue growing forever' way that market analysts do.

I just got my S5. Apart from gimmicks like the fingerprint scanner (oh, and the free Gear Neo), it's much the same as my old Note. A few OS tweaks from JB to KK, but nothing to get too excited about. Like PCs, flatscreen TVs and fridges, mobe technology has matured. In the absence of any compelling improvement over previous models, there's simply no reason to change (no longer upgrade - just change) your mobile every year.

In fact the only reason I changed at all was that my Optus contract was up, and I could get a free phone on the new (slightly cheaper) plan for zero up front. Otherwise, I had no reason to even consider changing.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Is this really a problem?

The real threat is potential disruption on the manufacturing side. People toss the 'economies of scale' buzzword around all the time, but they generally don't understand how unbelievably complex it is to make economies of scale work. It takes a lot more than simply scale.

The most important, and most difficult, part of making it all work is accurate forecasting of your supply chain needs, facilities operations, warehousing and logistics. If you're more than a little wrong your costs increase far beyond what, in this case, 5 million units would normally cost: Everything is interconnected and but you're forecasting on events anywhere from 6 to 18 months in the future.

The rarely discussed 'dark side' of volume driven, mass scale manufacturing is that losses scale faster than gains. For (ludicrously simplified) example: Based on forecasted needs, you identify a way to adjust your supply chain and save $1 for every 1000 units turned out. But something outside your realm happens and your forecasts were too high. You end up purchasing too many (part) under contract and delivery of (part) is staggered in a way that's got your warehouse overfilled, insufficient materials handling equipment and too many of the wrong staff. Your $1 per 1000 savings has morphed into a $2 loss per 1000 units. It gets even worse if you miss your next round of forecasts. The echoes can sometimes be heard, around the world, for years afterward.

Obviously, 5 million units across the entire EMS sector isn't the end of the world, for anyone. The losses will be absorbed and that'll be that. But if the issue was more widespread it's the consumers who will pay. Manufacturers and resellers won't eat big losses just to make consumers happy. They'll raise prices and consumers will have no choice but to pay more. That's an inevitable, nasty, side effect of mass manufacturing where there is no competition between the EMS players and a world where everybody but the EMS sector has scuttled their manufacturing capacities.

4
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: Is this really a problem?

Do we really need to upgrade every year for a new handset that doesn't differ significantly from what came before?

Yes, you do.

And you need to put your one-year-old, high-end handset on fleabay for £100. Where I will buy it.

Ta muchly!

Vic.

1
0
Silver badge
Holmes

From the Page household ..

My phone is a company supplied Lumia 620. Since it does all I want (and more, actually, the satnav/GPS is a bonus) I don't need a personal phone.

MrsPage has a 2 year old WildfireS. It does all she wants, expect the battery is starting to die a bit, and she'd prefer a bigger screen (as she has vision issues). So we'll be in the market, but not for anything fancy ... the MotoG is looking like the handset of choice.

What's more, I can't see myself *needing* a new phone anytime soon.

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: From the Page household ..

Well Jimmy, I hope you can play the phone shopping biz as well as your namesake.

What happens when you are given a P-45? Or the company decide to charge you more per month for their phone than the £10 deal from GifGaf that Mrs Page is on? This happened to me in a previous job. I returned the phone saying that as I would no longer be paying for their phone, I would no longer be 'on-Call' at any time. The went bust a few months after I left.

Company phones are IMHO for company biz FULL STOP. I have an iPhone. It goes into Airplane mode (or switched) off as soon as I leave work. It goes on again when I get to work. No one at work has my personal mobile number.

Get a life, turn off that company phone and don't answer Emails at weekends unless you get paid for it.

Now off down the pub. Phone is off? Yep.

11
1
Bronze badge

Re: From the Page household ..

Re: MrsPage has a 2 year old WildfireS. It does all she wants, expect the battery is starting to die a bit, and she'd prefer a bigger screen (as she has vision issues).

Was in similar predicament with a client, due to the improvements we've seen in devices, there is now a growing secondhand market, hence I replaced their Desire with a good condition Samsung Galaxy SII for under £50 and added a quality new battery (£10). The extra screen estate (and responsiveness) helps with the vision and finger issues...

Yes it's not running the latest version of Android, but for those who want a phone with a few extras, the difference isn't significant.

0
0

Too expensive. The Original iPhone was £269 and I thought that was expensive as top NOKIAs were £150. Now they must be pushing £600!

My iPhone 4 and Galaxy SIII do everything I need and will keep using them until they fall in the toilet.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"My iPhone 4 and Galaxy SIII do everything I need and will keep using them until they fall in the toilet"

My Nokia 6310 carried on working after that happened to it.

So far as I know, it still works. It certainly was in routine use (by a relative) until a year or so ago.

1
0
Happy

until they fall in the toilet

My iPhone3 went into my baby's bath, falling out my top pocket. Dried it on a radiator for 2 days and it still works 3 years later, although it's battery life is now about 1 hour.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"My iPhone 4 and Galaxy SIII do everything I need and will keep using them until they fall in the toilet."

More likely until the iPhone battery life is so poor you have to replace the whole phone.

I wonder how many more phone manufacturers will go down Apple's non-replaceable, built-in obsolescence route in order to drive sales in the future? Apple are also now doing it with laptops and their 'low-end' desktops as well. Not good for our pocket or the environment.

4
0

I'm not an Apple apologist and dislike most of their products but the iPhone 4 battery is pretty easy to replace. 2 Screws and the back slides off, the battery just unplugs and you plug in a new one. No clips, no glue no soldering, if it's a 4 rather than a 4S then they are standard screws. Not as easy as some but by no means a reason to replace the whole phone.

0
0
Silver badge

Low Risk

There's very little risk of other manufacturers following the Apple path of non serviceable products. For one thing being mildly serviceable, a battery you can swap and support for removable storage media have become market differentiators. It's risky business to screw with those sort of things.

But more importantly, manufacturers would have to raise their prices, or absorb the losses, to compensate for the costs associated with direct attachment assembly (components soldered directly to the board with no sockets). It seems counterintuitive, but direct attachment assembly isn't an across the board savings exercise if you're dealing with tens, or hundreds, of millions of reasonably complex assemblies.

Consumer electronics, even the nice stuff, is built with the shittiest components money can buy. If there's an unusually expensive component (like a high spec display) the costs will be offset somewhere else (low tolerance parts or glue instead of fasteners). What that means in production is that QA and rework are crucial to maintaining your margins.

The higher your volume, the more crucial that rework becomes. Even though the parts are cheap, it's a loser to simply scrap populated boards. If you can't fix the assembly, it's still worth partially depopulating the boards and putting components back into production. But if your high cost components are soldered to the board you've got a really expensive problem. The available solutions are defined for you by the economics of the situation, you really don't get to pick if you want to make money.

If you're punching out extremely high volumes of products with low margins it's insanity to go direct attachment. The labor to fix problems or liberate individual components is extremely expensive and razor thin margins simply won't allow tossing out populated boards. You've got to have socketed (expensive) components and get rework wrapped up super fast or lose money. On the user end of the business socketed components really do wonders for secondary markets (refurbs and reverse logistics) that solve huge inventory and logistics problems for you. Again, volume defines the scope of post primary market problems.

But if your volume is comparatively lower, and you've got big margins, the situation is reversed. It makes sense to go direct to the board. For one, it lowers parts count (no sockets), but it also let's you spend extra time on rework and component recovery. The labor at lower volumes is still cheaper than socketed components.

As far as consumer electronics go, neither way is 'better'. Both options have pros and cons on the production line and for the end user. As I said, on the production line the decision is made for you; the math isn't negotiable. For the end user there's a benefit in pricing, but swappable batteries and removable media are important to some people as well. For the end user the biggest benefit is simply choice, it's one benefit you don't get as a manufacturer.

0
0
Silver badge

@JamesPond

If you had asked I could have told you integrating technology into babies by osmosis doesn't work.

0
0
Bronze badge
WTF?

I Have Just Seen and Had An Interesting Conversation

My daughter has one of these wonder phones, all singing and dancing except that the call she had was terrible and she barely understood a thing that was being said. I pointed out that my old Nokia has voice. Her answer was that modern mobile whatevers, (they are not apparently phones) are really just expensive game blocks with a voice bit stuck on as an afterthought and she does not like calls as she can never understand what is being said! Her 'real life' consists of (anti)social sites dealing with people she has never met and will never see. Still she 'knows three generations of their family'. She just cannot have a conversation with anyone she has actually met.

Could it possibly be that the obsession with distorted reality technology is suddenly not looking so bright. When electronic representations of people are just not quite so important as real wetware should be?

I leave it to the real social anthropologists to answer.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: I Have Just Seen and Had An Interesting Conversation

Your daughter is right.

I bloody hate making/receiving calls on mobile phones and have done since I first had to start carrying the things 30 years ago. Messaging, email and all the other stuff is far more useful.

2
0

Re: I Have Just Seen and Had An Interesting Conversation

I'm quite deaf. I have a BB Q10, and the sound quality is excellent. I don't need a T-coil. It's just as good on BT in the car. My wife's Samsung is also pretty good.

In the good old days the problem was idiot phone users who used to hold the handset away from their faces so that external noise was picked up more than their voices. Now it's idiots who watch programs like The Apprentice and see people making voice calls with the phone held away from their faces. Your anthropologists might want to comment on the inability of some people to distinguish television from reality, and to realise that the people with the cameras want the victims to do things in a certain way so their gurning faces are clearly visible.

I would back any decent modern phone with its noise cancelling mics against older ones. Your daughter might need to issue her friends with a little diagram explaining that you speak into the bottom of the phone which you hold against your face.

3
0

What? wait! STOP!!!

A reasonable analyst?

Something must be wrong! I will surely wake up soon...

0
0
Silver badge

Re: What? wait! STOP!!!

There are shitloads of reasonable analysts, but like with politicians and religious sorts the reasonable ones are drowned out by the lunatics.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

My Nokia 3210 works fine

why would I want to change it ? If it ain't broke ...

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: My Nokia 3210 works fine

My Nokia 3330 (a 3310 but with luxurious WAP) gets awoken from cryo sleep every year when my family head down to the Somerset levels to live in squalor for a week. Even after 13 odd years the battery still holds throughout the 5 days, and has found itself swimming in mud on more than once occasion but still clings onto life.

Not the best comparison due to all the extra things it does, but the wife's year old iPhone 5 barely lasted a day and the only use it saw was a dozen photos or so. Furthermore she was forever without a signal whereas the ageing Finn had full bars throughout (both on O2 so the only explanation is that she's holding it wrong).

2
0
bed

waiting for a replacement for E7

If my current one fails, increasingly likely with age and abuse, I will probably just get another one as there is, as far as I know, no suitable alternative. It is interesting how the e-bay price for this phone is being maintained, so there must be a demand out there for physical keyboards.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Just good enough

I'm on my third Android handset, an HTC One X, just out of contract. All three ended up rooted and had flavours of Cyanogenmod installed.

I've resisted the shiny upgrade this time, ported my number over to a payg sim and will use the One X until the battery fails or something REALLY interesting comes to market, then go back on contract.

I had a play with a Galaxy S5 and an LG G3 at the local Three shop, both were Meh, not worth getting stitched up for 2 years.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Just good enough

For me the "stitched up for 2 years" is key. I have an S3 with CyanogenMod 11 (KitKat). Sure a slightly faster handset would be nice, 4G perhaps but it's not essential. Contract is up next month and I'm switching to another provider (as my current one felt that it was okay to bump up my contract's monthly fee mid-contract, despite being told this was Not OK by OFCOM) on a at-least-£15-cheaper 1-month rolling contract.

The money I will save on my contract costs will go in a savings account and if my phone dies I'll look around for another one bought outright with that money. Hell, could even buy a second hand S3 and new battery for not-very-much. Simples.

0
0
Bronze badge

Would you get a new camera every year?

Why would things be much different just because it has a phone attached to it?

4
0

S3

Same here just come out of contract s3 custom rom and rooted and with new battery now as bought an extended one

0
0
Bronze badge

Seems straight forward to me...

The market is saturated & overheated with tech-hype - that in combination with the current supply side economic mentality (as opposed to a demand driven one) and a lack of spending ability for a lot of people.

That, or maybe folk are just tired of feeding the monster.

0
0
Bronze badge

Value for money

Looking at the current crop, there is a massive hike in price between the latest phones and the ones that haven't been out all that long either.

Add to that the confusing model numbers and the impossible to compare but probably minor differences, with prices that are equally impossible to relate to those differences.

Then pile on the annoyance that each retailer sells a different collection of models from the same ranges.

Stir in bundles that all have totally different, and usually inappropriate, mixes of minutes/texts and data.

And then try to discern how to "upgrade".

It's a mess. And only 17 year olds are ever going to be stirred by it.

2
0

Funnily enough...

I was speaking to a friend of mibe recently about old vs new phones.

I have a Galaxy Note 3 and he has an old pre-snake era Nokia...

The sound quality on his brick is oddly enough superior to my Note 3.

My personal fave phone of all time was the Motorola Startac. It was just epic.

1
0

increase in costumer charges

Hi,

“UK mobile sales in the toilet: Down by FIVE MILLION this year”. This trend will continue together with fusions and increase in costumer charges. As a consequence of the EU removing roaming charges which made-up around 8% of the income of the mobile companies.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

What would make me upgrade?

Bigger Screen - Nope.

Faster processor. - Nope.

More Pixels - Nope.

Much much better battery life. Yes

Much much tougher. Yes

So perhaps a Z2. Waterproof, but not sure about how much tougher.

But it's disappointing that in smartphone terms 1 day to 2 days is considered good as an increase for battery.

0
0
Bronze badge

The thing is..

When you go into a shop to look at a phone you can see it has a bigger screen with smaller pixels. You can feel that is thinner and mess around with the UI to judge speed. You can't get an impression on battery life.

No-one believes the figures quoted on this the only authoritative source would be the mobile networks which can see, on average, how well all the phones do comparatively, but the relationship with the vendors is too important to them to jepordise by publishing the information.

There was a time when Carphone Warehouse put return rates in their catalogue - both faulty and no-fault found numbers but that's the closest I've seen.

0
0

Re: The thing is..

gsmarena publish battery life figures which I have found to be generally pretty good.

1
0

Apple to follow Moto's Lead

Apple could follow Motorola Moto G's lead and probably sell a new batch of iPhones with 4GB-8GB Ram and a Micro SD Card Slot to all the same customer's that already have a 16GB iPhone. And price it the same as a 16GB 5C iPhone, well if it gets desperate that is. They still have that optional extra to add to the bag of Apples.

0
0

File under...

File under "everyone already has enough crap".

1
0

Re: File under...

I have enough crap, but it takes up a lot less room, integrates better and uses far less power than the crap I used to have.

0
0
xyz

when...

...I can sit and watch F1 (Ok in Russian or German sans the "believe in better" bunch) live, get 4G at 37Mb sec, tether everything I've got, have built in satnav, take good pix, do all that email and text stuff and still be able to call my mum when I have to for no cost apart from earache, all for £28 a month inc the Nokia 925 that houses all this, in the words of the immortal Pot Noodle ads, "why try harder?"

The vast majority of users are Wayne and Waynetta Slob wanting to OMG with their friends and not Easy-Peasy Salami composing a new dirge in the back of a cab, so who really needs new shit every 4th quarter?

1
0

Around again

IIRC, the last time we were all wondering why anyone would want to upgrade their phone, was around the turn of the century.

Then, the industry invented MMS which of course requires a camera. MMS turned out to be useless, but the camera became a must-have feature and all were saved by a new round of trading up.

1
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon