back to article The Great Smartphone Massacre: Android bloodbath gathers pace

The bloodbath continues for smartphone vendors, results from the leading Android vendors have confirmed in the past week. While it’s a great time to be a buyer, in saturated Western markets, only LG can show black ink on its earnings statements. Sony, Samsung and HTC also reported and the pages were awash with minus signs, …

Anonymous Coward

No surprises

I've got a few months to go until I'm eligible for an upgrade from my S4, so I've been shopping around an I even contemplated buying my contract out early if I found the right phone.

Unfortunately instead I've discovered that using the iPhone 6 release as a cover all of the UK operators that I checked have slowly increased their contract prices for all flagships.

While the price hike isn't as sharp as the increase they've put on the 6 and 6+ from the prices they released the iPhone 5S at (between roughly 7 and 10 pounds a month more plus 100 quid down for the handset) the increase is still noticeable.

My prediction is Samsung, Sony and HTC will continue to lose heavily. At these rip off contract prices the handsets just aren't worth it and don't seem to have the appeal that an Apple device would.

My next contract is now going to be sim only, so if I'm buying an Android contract free why pay the prices Sony and Samsung charge for the handset (as good as they are compared to the TCO of a contract) when I can get something like the OnePlusOne for half the price? The networks in the UK have simply got too greedy and that will have a knock on effect to handset makers. More and more people will switch to upgrading every 3 years rather than 2 or less.

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Re: No surprises

>why pay the prices Sony and Samsung charge for the handset (as good as they are compared to the TCO of a contract) when I can get something like the OnePlusOne for half the price?

Shop around mate.

The Z3 Compact's lst price is £450, but it can be had for around £350 - sometimes less.

Try looking at this 'deals' forum:

http://www.hotukdeals.com/mobiles/deals/hot

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No surprises

I've been sim only for 3 years now. £100 on a Motorola Atrix, then Nexus 4, Nexus 5. Handset upgrade fees have added maybe a tenner a month to the overall price once trade ins are taken into account. I'm happy :)

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Sony.

A friend wanted a smartphone, sim=free of course (only mugs buy on contract). The only choice worth considering was the 32Gb Nexus5 which fit the bill perfectly, still great performance, good camera, looks fantastic, decent build quality.

Problem is, can you buy one ANYWHERE? Nope, it was a limited run by Google/LG. Where are you? If you want to sell phones, shouldn't you be filling these gaps, and making your phones more desirable, by say adding waterproofness....

it's not rocketscience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Sony.

"only mugs buy on contract"

More like only mugs buy Sim Free. It is almost always cheaper to get the network to pay for your phone via a contract than to buy a phone + a Sim only contract separately...

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Re: Dear Sony.

Can't find a Nexus 5? Get an LG G2 for the much the same money. Still considered to be a good phone.

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Mushroom

Re: Dear Sony.

What to make, how to differentiate?

Querty Keyboards dammit, clam-shell designs, Nokia-communicator style!!!

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Re: Dear Sony.

Problem being you buy the nexus5 directly from Google?

https://play.google.com/store/devices/details/Nexus_5_32_GB_Black?id=nexus_5_black_32gb

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Sony.

"Problem being you buy the nexus5 directly from Google?"

and the man from Google says (and has been saying for 4 months):

"We are out of stock. Please check back soon."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Sony.

SIM-Free:

£300 for a Nexus5 32GB, £7 a month over 24 months = £468, no contract, stop or sell on and start with something else at any time

Contract:

£50 upfront for a 16GB model, £20 a month over 24 months = £530, contracted in for 24 months.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Sony.

SIM-Free:

£539 for an iPhone 6 16GB, £23 a month over 24 months = £1091, no contract, stop or sell on and start with something else at any time

Contract:

£49 upfront for a 16GB model, £38 a month over 24 months = £961, contracted in for 24 months.

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Trollface

Re: Dear Sony.

Problem being you then have an 16 GB Iphone...

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Re: Dear Sony.

Erm, no. I spent ages (too much time, in fact) looking into this. It didn't matter which handset I chose the difference in monthly fee between SIM free and contract phone over the life of contract always amount to £70-150 more than the price of buying the outright. The days of the networks subsidising your handset are long gone - nowadays they are charging interest on the loan they effectively give you.

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Re: Dear Sony.

This is odd. Kogan AU has 32GB Nexus 5s in stock but Kogan UK doesn't. I wonder if it lets you buy from a different region?

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Re: Dear Sony.

Indeed. There is little diversity in the market, everyone just keeps on making bigger and bigger monolith shaped devices.

The Palm Pre had a great form factor, and I'd happily buy an Android that was that shape.

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Re: Dear Sony.

I'm in danger of troll feeding, however a nexus 4 or 5 sim free + sim only deal that only gives you the mins and data you actually need can be cheaper. Ask yourself how many of those perishable mins you don't use every month just to get that more desirable hardware. It's a con.

I got really angry when my granny's pay as you go mins disappeared and she started being asked to top up "every month" to get the same average cost per theoretical minute/text. She used to pay for what she used, when she used it, and a £10 top up could last her months and months. Thieving swines. Then the contracts went from 12 to 18 to 24 months. Try to find a 12m contract that isn't through a 3rd party... then give it 7 days... I guarantee someone from the actual operator will contact you and offer to swap you over to a "standard" deal that somehow saves you money... but costs more as it's for another 12 months!

When you change your computer you don't change your ISP. Why should mobile devices be any different? When did mobile operators stop selling good service and start flogging hardware? Coverage can be shocking, especially on lower tariffs. I'm hoping and praying for massive change in this space. The death of phones 4u should be a wakeup call to consumers that something isn't quite right...

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Re: Dear Sony.

Totally wrong, SIM free outright purchase has save me £100s per year by choosing the PAYG and astute used phone purchase. (get a resold "unwanted upgrade" phone and let the idiot contract payer subsidise your phone for you!)

Contract phones are a mugs game, which is why the networks push them so hard. The so called subsidy is clawed back on the monthly payments, you are subsidising your own phone. Very clever. Apparently the average equivalent APR for a contract phone is Wonga-esque.

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Silver badge

Re: Dear Sony.

"£539 for an iPhone 6 16GB, £23 a month over 24 months = £1091, no contract, stop or sell on and start with something else at any time"

That's a false comparison. £539 for an iPhone 6 with no contract costs £539. A £10 per month PAYG SIM adds £120 to the cost.

Better still, a used iPhone 6 picked up on Ebay for £450, or a 5S for £100 less than that.

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Silver badge

Re: Dear Sony.

for me with my rolling one month SIM Only deal

£539 for an iPhone 6 16GB, £11 a month over 24 months = £803, no contract, stop or sell on and start with something else at any time

your contract example

Contract:

£49 upfront for a 16GB model, £38 a month over 24 months = £961, contracted in for 24 months.

Buying the phone outright in my example makes perfect sense (not that I have any intention of replacing my Nokia 6310)

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FAIL

Re: Dear Sony.

@AC

You friend didn't look too hard. Its all over Amazon.

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Re: Dear Sony.

I love that you can't spell 'qwerty'!

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Re: Dear Sony.

Can't find a Nexus 5 to buy anywhere? Well you need to actually look and then you'll find it.

However, Google itself is apparently running down the stock since they've recently started selling their new handset - the Nexus 6 in case you haven't heard - just like the 5 replaced the 4.

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Headmaster

"Querty Keyboards"

I am guessing this is one typo that you can make only by going "out of your way" ?

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Re: Dear Sony.

yeh, then when you are halfway through your 24 month contract, they increase all your charges, or you move to where there is ZERO covrage.... LOL

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Re: "Querty Keyboards"

look more likely righty was confused with lefty... :) :P

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FAIL

Re: Dear Sony.

Really. You need to shop around on monthly costs. I pay £12.99, which over 24 months comes to £311.79, + £539 = £850.79, which is £110 cheaper than your contract deal...

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Silver badge

Profit margin

Apple make obscene amounts of profit on their handsets but people don't seem to mind as they "look the part"

Samsung are far too late to the table with the better looking Alpha and note 4 (and they're far too expensive in the UK), and Touchwiz with Knox just pisses people off. Sounds like Samsung are going down the Microsoft road of "we know best" but it will screw them in the end.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Profit margin

Samsung are far too late to the table with the better looking Alpha and note 4 (and they're far too expensive in the UK),

I read an article that predicted based on sales figures / prices of the notes 4, 3 and 2 and the iPhone 6 plus that they expect that Samsung will knock around 30% off the price by the end of January.

Their basis was they always tend to discount them around 6 months after launch and the fact that the iPhone 6 plus is killing the note 4 even in Korea will just expedite this process. I'm holding out for that hope

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Re: Profit margin

"the Microsoft road of "we know best""

Sadly for all of these handset makers, categorically the best user experience for a mobile device is provided by the above. Google and Apple have sat around polishing the back end whilst Microsoft always had a reasonably good back end, and now Microsoft have set about the UI you can tell it's a much more modern and sensible phone operating system than either of the above.

It's a sad day in IT when genuinely the best offering is from Microsoft, but credit where credit is due - and Microsoft deserve it in this instance far more than the competition.

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Re: Profit margin

BB10 provides a good experience. The keyboard shortcuts in the likes of the Q10 are very useful.

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Paris Hilton

"... Microsoft always had a reasonably good back end, "

WTF is a "backend" for a mobile phone ? Do you mean the cloud ?

Paris, coz someone has been polishing that backend...

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Re: "... Microsoft always had a reasonably good back end, "

Kernel and driver stacks.

The most unreliable element on any WinMo device was HTC's (other manufacturers are/were available) pretty but awful skin. Sony's Xperia X1 wasn't too bad for reliability, but it was still a bit of a hog. Without it though, WinMo5 was no different to WinCE2003 and even it's predecessors. It was hateful, ugly, overly complicated but rock solid.

WinPhone7 sort of fixed it, and WinPhone8 did it properly, with 8.1 and the more recent GDR1 with Cortana makes it everything every Fandroid and iLoser wishes their device could be. Just with no applications. Which is it's only significant problem.

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Silver badge

Re: "... Microsoft always had a reasonably good back end, "

>Just with no applications. Which is it's only significant problem.

Whilst those of us who like to install stuff on their phone this may be a problem, I wonder whether it really is a problem, given that many users simply use their smartphone for voice and messaging (MMS).

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Re: Profit margin

I like the Lumias, but I wouldn't buy one. The constant worry that you were missing out on apps which are available first on iOS isn't acceptable on a platform, and they are really just marketing another version of what Apple are selling by aping them to closely. There isn't the customisation of Android and they don't anything as well as Apple in the mobile front. This is why their market share is in the single digits and has even declinded recently. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Microsoft's new strategy was to dispose of the Lumia, Surface and Xbox One brands while they still have some currency. They can't keep throwing good money after bad, and those three sub brands are all doing poorly.

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For something that is going to kick around my pocket/bag for a year or so...

My Moto G 2nd gen at £150 is doing the job rather nicely.

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Alert

Evolution and extinction

One thing that you could argue is that the constant battle for survival between manufacturers is causing rapid evolution of hardware, just like species fighting over a limited food supply. So if you don't already think that Android is the superior platform, just wait a little more and see what emerges. While Apple, on the other hand, is forced to evolve to compete with everyone else, but the pressure just isn't the same, at least not yet, since they still have their niche carved out and there are no direct competitors making Apple clones.

I'll leave it to others to get philosophical about the intelligent design vs. evolution of a species debate, but the pressures are kind of the same.

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Re: Evolution and extinction

So you also believe that the competition between the various TV channels has made the content better, more educational?

Wake up, it's a race to the bottom - in two years, you can only buy crap Android phones and iPhones - because no company will want to be in a market losing money year after year.

The only reason not more Companies have signed up with Microsoft is that they know MSFT will knife them in the back rather earlier than later. Most remember "Plays 4 Sure".

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When I started in the phone business

The top names were

Motorola (35% market share)

Ericsson

NEC

and new hotshot Mobira which became Nokia.

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Gold badge

Re: When I started in the phone business

I need to get some new phones. Not that I've kept any of mine, so I can't set up a museum. But I have owned a lot of phones from companies who no longer sell them. I've had

Motorola MicroTAC

Nokias - couple of green screen ones with week long battery life

Sendo - somethingorother. Plasticky but nice.

Siemens - eletric blue candybar

Sony Ericsson P800

Motorola V3 RAZR (my favourite form factor)

Samsung - slider of some sort

Nokia - candybar w. colour screen, crap battery life and kept breaking. Worst phone I ever had

HTC Wildfire (second favourite form factor)

Nokia Lumia 710

iPhone 5 (work)

I've been a bit of a phone whore. My only loyal period was to Nokia's green screens. I didn't manage an Ericsson before they sold out to Sony, and I've not had a Blackberry yet, but I've done quite well at going through the list, in the last 20 years of use. I guess I need to get an LG and a Microsoft one, before moving on to the Chinese manufacturers.

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Re: When I started in the phone business

Oh my god, I remember putting together a service and billing system in Foxbase (who remembers that) for a Nokia Mobira service centre in Cambridge way back. It must have been 88 or 89. I always wondered what happened to the Mobira part.

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Thumb Up

Re: When I started in the phone business

If you go back between five and ten years ago then there was much more variety in physical design and features. Nokia, Siemens, Motorola and Ericsson came up with different features, form factors and designs that were much more interesting than what we see today.

Then Apple came along and designed what was basically a good looking touchscreen with an enclosure around it.. and that really is all everybody has done since.

I do own one of those flagship phone thingies. It's a OnePlus One. If they are building that and making a profit, then really everything else is completely overpriced.

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Anonymous Coward

Commoditisation

I think that the "commoditisation" level was reached with the Qualcomm 800 and KitKat. They are "good enough" for the great majority of people (in fact, more than good enough). A Chinese manufacturer can knock out an adequate product and they haven't yet built up the huge chains of distribution, marketing and sales overhead that affect Apple, Samsung and Sony. Put simply, if the typical COGS for a Western manufacturer is 50% I wouldn't be surprised if it is nearer to 75-80% for a Chinese manufacturer. Look at "One plus" experimenting with having almost no S&M overhead at all.

The bad news is that this means fewer middle class jobs, and less upper class income, in the US and Europe. But mobile phones are basically terminals, and the middle and upper class overhead really is not necessary.

When ballpoint pens came out they were exotic and expensive. Now they are nearly free. There is a small demand for expensive ballpoints made of exotic materials, but they don't write any better. The long term risk is therefore to Apple, because once things are good enough the perceived status from owing an expensive one goes down, turning the makers into niche companies.

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The title is too long.

"Re: CommoditisationThere is a small demand for expensive ballpoints made of exotic materials, but they don't write any better."

Actually there's a noticeable difference between a 7p ball point from the stationary cupboard and a nice £20 or £30 pen from the likes of Lamy. If you use a fountain pen (particularly if you’re left handed) it’s definitely worth spending that few extra quid. Never tried a Mont Blanc so can’t tell you if the silly money stuff is close to being worth that (in terms of the writing experience).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The title is too long.

"Actually there's a noticeable difference between a 7p ball point from the stationary cupboard and a nice £20 or £30 pen from the likes of Lamy."

The best things I have ever found for writing are the roller ball pens with synthetic rubber grips that cost around a pound. The 7p pens from the stationery [sic] cupboard are the equivalent of landfill Android. My comment was about the commoditisation of phones that are good enough, not ones that drop a call if you look at them funny.

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Re: Commoditisation

"There is a small demand for expensive ballpoints made of exotic materials, but they don't write any better."

Oh but they do. Give me a nice Uni-Ball, Pilot or Pentel gel pen any day of the week over the cheap, nearly free ballpoints. I am perfectly willing to, and do, pay 5-10 times the price.

Now as to phones, I'm an unabashed fan of the iPhones since my first iPhone 4s. Simply great build quality and speedy, smooth, nearly flawless performance. Can't wait for my 3rd iPhone, the iPhone 6, to arrive. There is now a 4-6 week wait :(

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Re: The title is too long.

" If you use a fountain pen (particularly if you’re left handed) "

I'm left handed and any fountain pen is unusable unless I write from right to left (which, interestingly a left-handed person's brain can handle fairly easily).

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Silver badge

Re: The title is too long.

Only problem with mirror writing is when someone else has to read it. Lamy nibs are the best I've tried, even the right handed versions are good and they do left handed nibs as well.

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Re: Commoditisation

I'm not sure you read the same article. From a technical perspective, I can tell you that there is very little between my iPhone 6 Plus and a HTC One M8 in terms of real life performance difference. However, I choose the Apple offering despite it costing nearly double the HTC because of the brand, the support (both app developer and technical support) and the experience. This is the reason that Burberry can sell a trenchcoat for £2k when they are on sale at H&M round the corner for £20, humans are not always logical and brand/appearance matters to them, in general. I don't disagree on the rebalancing of the world economy, that's why America spends so much on its military.

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EE (Huawei) Kestrel

The missus accidentally 'dunked' her 'dumb' phone and bought a PAYG Kestrel for £89. Can't fault it. When my 30-month old Galaxy S3 finally gives up the ghost, I can't see why I'd want to spend £400 on a replacement.

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I want an upgradable OS and more than 4 Gb of flash on a bargain Android phone

I have seen lots of cheap Android smartphones around. Unfortunately many of them are running old insecure versions of Android and because the manufacturers have written their own UIs they can never be upgraded to the latest version of Android. Also if you have a phone with only 4Gb of on phone flash then you can never install more than around 10 apps at the same time on the phone. It is unfortunate that you can no longer move apps to the microSDHC card as you could in the days of Android 2.2. I recently bought a Lumia 630 to try out Windows 8.1 and was pleased to find that you can install apps onto your microSDHC card. I currently have around 60 apps on my Lumia. Google take note you would sell more apps if people could install them on a microSDHC card.

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