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, …


    1. werdsmith Silver badge

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

      "Unfortunately many of them are running old insecure versions of Android"

      Yeah, it's tough bidding for contracts that need PCI security when you tell 'em you will be hosting on an Android phone.

    2. Philippe

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

      You've found 60 WindowsPhone apps???

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compared to Apple who are raking it in.

    Why? simple, they produce two phone models.

  2. Inquisitive

    £400 to £500 for a phone? No way.

    I never have and never will pay some of the prices being asked for a top spec phone, I don't care what system it runs I just find it crazy to pay something like £400 for a phone. It's the same with tablet computers, for what most people want a low cost, in the region of £200 say, is sufficient for most of their needs. I learnt my lessons when buying desktop computers, wanting an updated powerful machine was something I wished for and having paid nearly a couple of thousand quid to get it I find that only a few weeks later there appeared better spec machines at lower prices. As I say never again, I learnt the hard way.

  3. MyffyW Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Android Experience

    Sat on a train with a colleague yesterday morning I enquired what he thought of his Samsung Galaxy. He replied that it wasn't Samsung at all but some nameless Chinese 'droid. I suspect most people wouldn't have been able to tell from casual use (branding aside).

    What does it mean? That Android does the job, yes. But over time it isn't going to impress your mates. Maybe we should start setting our measures of success a little broader than the phone we carry.

    Paris agrees with me.

    1. illiad

      Re: Android Experience

      well do you want something to show off to your airhead mates, or something that does the job YOU want it to do???

      think hard what you REALLY need and search for the spec here..

      If you just want a PDA/phone/ read some docs, PDFs , websites etc most will do..

      BUT if you need to do easy printouts at the office, what you really need is a small netbook... (

      Until a cellphone / tablet will just print out a large spreadsheet or document from office2013 from the big network server to the big office printer, it is not really good enough..

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Google dives headlong into the mess

    Am I the only one who find the premium pricing of the new Nexus models utterly bizarre, just as all the manufacturers are getting hit with falling demand for their premium models in dives Google abandoning the "Vanilla Value" niche it had carved out with the previous Nexus generation.

    1. king of foo

      Re: Google dives headlong into the mess

      I'm similarly bemused. I have 3 nexus devices and was all for getting a 4th, but these new ones look, well, distinctly non nexus. I'll wait, and wait, for ubuntu. I don't NEED a new shiny, I just want one, like old Mick Jagger says.

  5. something

    Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

    Apple phones and gadgets are fashion icons. Yes through marketing and hype, but there is also a critical factor that most companies seem to ignore or not understand.

    Apple is able to make fashion icons because of a simple thing: it releases ONE or at most TWO devices. That means that they are distinguishable and easily recognised. Someone says "I have the iPhone" or "I want the iPhone".

    Now try to do that with other brands. Try to say "I have the XPERIA". What the heck are you talking about? Which of the myriad XPERIA phones do you have? 'I want the Galaxy". Which Galaxy? The S, the One, the... the... . Crap.

    Furthermore, in focusing on one ro two devices, it means HUGE economies of scale. Now what is important to understand, is that these economies of scale are not mostly for components. No. They are economies of scale for development, thoughts. ideas, effort, software, services. Instead of distracting through a myriad devices, focusing on a single design, makes a huge difference in producing a product that is clearly well thought of. How can you do that when you ship at the same time a line of 10 to 50 different phones in all sizes, features, hardware etc that can be imagined?

    How do you support all those platforms?

    Do you want a quick answer? You cannot and you dont. Sony is great for NOT supporting its phones at all. The Sony experience I had was a terrible one. No updates, a lot of crapware, full of bugs in the firmware and fast deprecation.

    Google goes exactly the other way around: one device per category - it is copying Apple in exactly the way it should. This is what it did with Motorola and it made a splash with Moto G and Moto X.

    So if Android vendors want to survive, I would say that they should forget the whole 100 phones strategy, forget that they will manage to cover all market needs and forget those awful skins and stupid things with the software.

    Instead they should focus on producing a couple of solid devices, keep the Android software as close as possible to stock Android, make sure they can provide good response to issues and updates and try to make profit through services rather than loading the phone with crapware that everyone tries to remove.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

      Furthermore, in focusing on one ro two devices, it means HUGE economies of scale. Now what is important to understand, is that these economies of scale are not mostly for components. No. They are economies of scale for development, thoughts. ideas, effort, software, services

      Take last years design make it a bit thinner and lighter. Add in features and components that Sony phones had in 2012 and voila your new iPhone 2015.. Economies of scale indeed.

      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: components that Sony phones had in 2012

        Eg capacitors?

      2. td97402

        Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

        Yep, customize and optimize your ARM processor and make it 64 bit before ARM even does. Just a bit of an incremental improvement there. Now rewrite your OS and your preloaded Apps to use 64 bit and gain 25% or more performance in the process. Definitely just another bit of incrementalism. Before anyone points out that I am talking about the iPhone 5s, I am still waiting on my 6, so I won't comment about what it brings to the party...oh wait...a whole new mobile payments system that finally does NFC payments right, so much so that the freaking credit card companies are willing to cough up a slice of their coveted processing fees. Need I go on.

        I am interested to see what Android Lollipop is going to look like. I hope they let me upgrade my spare tablet to it some day.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

      Weird. My midrange Xperia P was updated twice, first to ICS and then to Jelly Bean. There was some Sony software on it but it wasn't all rubbish, and they didn't mess the stock Android around very much (compae to Samsung).

      One can take 'somthings' word for it, or one can check XDA to get an idea of how vendors release updates.

    3. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

      "Sony is great for NOT supporting its phones at all. The Sony experience I had was a terrible one. No updates, a lot of crapware, full of bugs in the firmware and fast deprecation."

      Pity about that. the Z3 compact was the first phone since the xperia mini pro that tempted me to buy an android handset.

      1. David Paul Morgan

        Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

        this is not true.

        My Xperia-ence (see what I did there) from the S, T and Z1 compacts/Z2 Tablet is that they've received all the Android updates in a timely fashion and I expect Lollipop by end of Jan on the Z1/Z2's.

        The 'skinning' is minimal and, yes, Sony include their own media 'apps' which you can choose to use or not. I'm using the Sony apps, but my partner is using the Google media apps.

        The Z3 Compact is, without doubt, the 'best' smartphone on the market, especially for media consumption AND generation because of the quality of the Sony camera. Plus, it supports micro-SD and DLNA and you can just plug it into your HDMI TV to smartify it. Also, getting them sim free is possible at a good price if you shop around.

    4. IsJustabloke Silver badge

      Re: Android OEMs are copying Apple in all the wrong ways

      How strange... My Xperia Z1 has had two updates and is due to get another in the new year. I can't say its particularly bloaty either.... yes it includes the awesome Walkman media player and its album software is pretty darn good too ( along with its class leading camera) Oh... and its waterproofing.

      Yeah, I see what you're saying its utter rubbish!

    5. DougS Silver badge


      What you're suggesting Android vendors should copy in Apple is exactly what Xiaomi copied in Apple. They release on a yearly schedule like Apple, truly care about design, etc.

      They'll never make Apple sized profits since they don't charge Apple sized prices, but no one will make anywhere near Apple sized profits in the Android market ever again. Samsung was an anomoly due to their massive marketing spending, but that's in the past now. Android is quickly becoming a purely commodity market, where even higher spec devices like Xiaomi's will be sold at low margin prices going forward.

  6. Michael Hawkes

    Pining for the fjords

    "Silver isn’t dead, it’s sleeping. Beautiful plumage."

  7. Bernard

    I bought my dad a Moto G for Christmas to finally crack his smartphone phobia. It was something like £70 at the time (or maybe I used some vouchers to get it there, but definitely no more than £100).

    Having used it I just don't see why 70% of the smartphone market would spend more. About 15-20% will want a camera that's better. Another 10-15% can't bear to be seen without a status symbol phone (I may be grossly underestimating on this one, of course...) and the rest will only spend more because it's rolled into a monthly fee they can afford and they remember back to when entry level smartphones really were clunky and lacking in important features.

    Similarly, we've just got the wife an iPhone 5S and it's a nice phone but it's not as much better than a £70 phone as it was 3 years ago.

    I think that will even get to be worrying for Apple in the medium term and in the short run Samsung must be petrified. Markets tend to commoditise when the cost of making new features exceeds the premium users are willing to pay for them and 'fitness' just doesn't look compelling enough at this point to drive innovation the way media streaming and cameras have been in prior iterations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget the Moto-G FM radio

      The Moto G has a built-in FM radio. For many people this is a killer app, that neither Apple nor Samsung offer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't forget the Moto-G FM radio

        So if I click on that FM radio icon on my wife's Samsung, nothing will happen?

        The Moto G has an FM radio because it is designed for markets where mobile data may disappear and the radio is useful to get news etc. The mid and lower range Samsungs, like her S4 mini, often have a variant with radio for those markets.

        1. illiad

          Re: Don't forget the Moto-G FM radio

          The Samsung galaxy S2 has a FM radio, you need to plug in the headphones that are used as an antenna..

          Newer models use DAB radio, through the internet connection - if you want to use it all day you will need a sizeable data contract to keep it going...

          1. sideshow

            Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection

            I think you're confused. DAB is distinct from internet radio. I haven't yet come across a mobile phone that includes DAB.

            1. illiad

              Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection

              DAB is Digital Audio Broadcasting, not hardware!!


              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection


                I think you're getting confused and confusing others by the confused marketing of these 'DAB' apps.

                It is obvious that the marketers of the 'DAB' app's are using our familiarity with "radio", "FM radio station frequencies" and "DAB" to present what their app does. However, the majority of the app's, as you say are wholly dependent upon the phone's data/internet connection, only one or two are capable of interfacing to a USB connected radio receiver and grabbing DAB signals out of the ether, and hence could be regarded as being equivalent to a phone's inbuilt FM radio receiver and app.

            2. illiad

              Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection


            3. illiad

              Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection

              DAB Radio is a standard, like FM Radio...



  8. Anonymous John

    "HTC’s most recent product was a camera without a viewfinder"

    Isn't it the Nexus 9?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: "HTC’s most recent product was a camera without a viewfinder"

      iPhone 6?

      There have been reports of how it has many HTC like features, also part of the agreement between Apple and HTC of a year of so back, permitted Apple the use of HTC designs...

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Smartphones are the new featurephones

    A couple of thoughts strike me about the article.

    • A phone is a commodity. Welcome to 2007. Companies were making money then, they will now have to learn how to do it again
    • Some people will pay more for certain kinds of hardware: huge screen, screen types and resolutions, SD-card, waterproof, battery life, etc.
    • Who says the Chinese will do any better? Production is increasingly automated. What advantages do the Chinese have?
    • How long can Apple defy gravity? Yes, it makes great products and has fantastic margins but as the recent sales in tablets have shown it's not immune to general trends in the market. And, as the 5c has shown, it sometimes gets things wrong. I'm personally not convinced that the Apple upgrade cycle won't start to look a lot like the Android (extended and increasingly focussed on value). Of course, there is a certain amount of lock-in but that might just encourage people to stick with what they've got.

    So, in a nutshell, I don't agree with this black and white analysis.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smartphones are the new featurephones

      Protectionism -

      There have been many updates to this story, but long story short, big US firms (including Microsoft) are being impaired from doing business to foster local growth, with the implicit understanding that the group of regulators want favorable deals for local businesses, and in return will ease back a little on the big US multinationals. In a country where patent rights and IP carry little water, having unofficial government backing on throttling external competition means China carries advantages.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Smartphones are the new featurephones

        Re: Protectionism @AC

        I wouldn't worry too much about the big US firms, they have been quite successful in increasing protecting the US home market from external competition and are currently lobbying hard (eg. TTIP) to ensure they can strong arm their way into external markets...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Smartphones are the new featurephones

        Production costs may be little different, but development, sales, marketing and distribution should cost a lot less.

        Of those only development could really be moved entirely to China (or elsewhere). Hardware development is already moving to China which had produced good engineers. Software development seems more of a problem but is even more fungible.

        Not sure about the cost of Apple's new building. I suspect it's tiny compared to that of the share buybacks. But as a one-off expense I don't think it's relevant.

        Land in the US is still comparatively cheap and shale oil and gas have made energy cheap. This certainly matters in some industries but less so in software. The access to international capital means that there is always money to pay for people to work in Silicon Valley as opposed to Detroit or Xianjing and good developers are still a scarce commodity.

        It's going to take something very special to compete against that. China is, of course, developing its own software power houses such as AliBaba, Baidu and TenCent but it will need further opening of markets and travel to become a more attractive place to work in.

        As Mr Orlowski cogently argued several years ago: the software has become key. This is why power shifted from Ericsson and Nokia to Apple and Google. Will Xiaomi or Huawei create software development departments good enough to build their own Android or IOS? Google is obviously increasingly worried about this which is why it's putting more stuff into Play Store services and mandating more Google apps be installed on devices. This may be a prelude to starving AOSP as a platform in order, say, to prevent Xiaomi partnering with Baidu in international phones.

        I don't know how things will turn out. We've seen HTC, Asus and Samsung pour resources into software development with somewhat mixed results.

      2. td97402

        Re: Chinese advantages?

        Yeah, it is tough to be in a developed country, where it is politically impossible to have a FAIR competition with the Chinese and other countries because the corporate types have decided there's money to be made gutting our economy in the name of their bottom line. Now the chinese are discovering the benefits of air so bad in their major cities that they have jumbotrons to show them what the sunset would look like if they could actually see it, or see the jumbotron from more than a few hundred feet away for that matter. Meanwhile, as China becomes more developed, the corporate types are already moving on to even lower cost countries.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smartphones are the new featurephones

      And, as the 5c has shown, it sometimes gets things wrong.


      The 5c has been the biggest selling handset in the UK for the last year or so. Given its an iPhone 5 in a plastic case it must be very profitable for them.

      Not saying Apple cannot get things wrong, but the 5C isn't an example of that at all.

  10. Anonymous Coward 101

    I see the evil powers of Stephen Elop are infecting even Android manufacturers.

  11. Jimbo in Thailand

    Samsung... I can understand the sales plunge

    Here in Thailand Samsung has enjoyed huge market share post-Nokia's heyday but things are changing fast with new less-expensive models from Oppo and Huawei, among others, that are good quality on par with Samsung, Sony, and HTC. There are also a gazillion cheap Chinese knockoffs that keep getting better every year.

    The Android market is indeed getting saturated, even here. What's worse for the smartphone market here is monopoly pricing and the fact that Thai mobile phone companies don't subsidize phones by locking you into long term contracts. If the OnePlus One actually goes on sale here (or anywhere for that matter) for the current promotional pricing it will be wildly popular with the Thais.

    I've got an SG Note 2 I bought a couple of years ago and love it but pretty sure I'll try another brand when the time comes as mine developed the heinous no-connect wifi bug shortly after the warranty expired. Not only that a few months ago I had to replace the system mainboard as after a few months of worsening battery life it began severely overheating - not the battery BTW as I had also replaced it.

    I'm definitely not impressed with the build quality of this Samsung phone, but I may have just gotten a crappy one. Since replacing the system board it works like new so am very happy with it for now. Still, when the time comes I'm sure I'll be able to find a good quality but less expensive alternative that still has all the whistles and bells. Yep, Samsung and the other top-tier Android brands had better make some changes or get ready for the fall.

  12. timshep

    It's simply that the market does not want big or expensive devices that can do the same as phones which are smaller and half the price. How many broken screen Iphone 5's and S4's do you whilst on the bus or in coffee shops because people either can't afford to replace or can't be bothered to upgrade to the next small step.

    The Z3 is the only revolutionary phone this year (taking looks and android battery to the next level).

    My son, a devout iPhone, user purchased the 6 on release and sold it the next day as it was too big and looked like an Android phone. "If I want a big Android phone I would buy a S4". Personally after years of release-day updates to my Nexus (as they were cheap and had latest software) I will have to stop upgrading - simply because the Nexus 6 is too big! I have also moved from Nexus tablet to a Shield Tablet - Nexus 9 too big and dearer and less revolutionary (basic same device but 1" smaller and 1080p console gaming, oh and £200 cheaper(ish) for the 32Gb with 4g LTE).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nvidia Shield

      Is the Shield any good? I was put off buying one by some adverse reports about the case, but one never knows how much of this is astroturfing nowadays.

  13. chris lively

    If the manufacturers want to "win" they need to get out of the mindset of selling to people that replace their phones every year and instead build some longevity into the offer.

    I don't trust samsung, LG or any of the other manufacturers to keep updating my phone as security issues and bugs are found for 3 to 4 years. Apple? They do plain and simple.

    My wife and I were walking through a store the other day and she saw a slick new washing machine. The claims on it sounded great, price seemed reasonable and she was just about to grab a salesperson when I said "honey, it's a samsung. That's the same company that made our TV and blueray player". Her response, "screw that. I don't need another problem."

    Everything about these manufacturers is build it cheap, throw some gloss on it and completely forget about the customers that buy. The only thing droid has going for it is "cheap" but when you need to replace that phone every single year, well, it is far more expensive than the "good stuff"

  14. elip

    i don't understand

    Why do people feel the need to "upgrade" phones every couple of years?

    Flash your shit to a less intrusive, and most customizable OS already and stop throwing all those toxins into the garbage bin/China.

  15. Wanting more

    mine is fine

    My Samsung S3 is "good enough". When I bought it I paid £285 (Oct 2013) which I felt was too much at the time. I'm certainly going to keep it a few years. I don't want a bigger phone (pocket limitations) and this one seems to work fine, so no temptation to spend more money to update to S5 etc. So no more money from me for quite a while and I know I'm not the only person out there who thinks the same.

  16. oneeye

    WARNING, Xiaomi phones are SPYING!

    Everyone,please Google the title and see that the contry of India ,their top airforce general and other officials have found out that the phones are sending personal information back to servers in China,and some security outfits too have confirmed this. With the bad actors attaching the I-phones as well,it looks like Chinese manufacturers are in cahoots with the government. Xiaomi has not spoken ,or responded to these charges other than to give some general,vague statement. It looks really bad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WARNING, Xiaomi phones are SPYING!

      I think the biggest news here is that India has an air force

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: WARNING, Xiaomi phones are SPYING!

      Goverments are governments. Who cares if it's the Chinese, American, or British that's doing it ?

  17. anatak

    slider android please

    I have been using a sharp IS14SH for the last few years.

    I also have an iphone 5S through another job. The Iphone user interface just annoys me.

    I use the Iphone mostly for consuming. Reading, checking facebook.

    The android with the keyboard is used for everything that needs data input. I still win in typing speed against all my friends with my antique phone. a 12 key physical keyboard still wins against touchscreen keyboard in my case.

    I can not use text prediction and autocorrect since I have to write in English, French, Dutch and Japanese sometimes using 3 languages in the same mail message.

  18. alwarming
    Paris Hilton

    The thumbnail for the article

    Is that girl shrieking with joy or crying in despair ? Also, which movie ?


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