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. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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 :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Dear Sony.

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

          2. werdsmith 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.

          3. Steve Davies 3 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)

          4. Dave Oldham
            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...

      2. HandleOfGod

        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.

      3. king of foo

        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...

      4. werdsmith Silver badge

        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.

      5. illiad

        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

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      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.

    3. John Sanders
      Mushroom

      Re: Dear Sony.

      What to make, how to differentiate?

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

      1. TReko

        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.

      2. Ossi

        Re: Dear Sony.

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

      3. alwarming
        Headmaster

        "Querty Keyboards"

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

        1. illiad

          Re: "Querty Keyboards"

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

    4. bondyboy

      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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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."

    5. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      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?

    6. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Dear Sony.

      @AC

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

    7. Badvok

      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.

  3. djstardust 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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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

    2. Howverydare

      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.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Profit margin

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

      2. alwarming
        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...

        1. Howverydare

          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.

          1. Roland6 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).

      3. robin thakur 1

        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.

  4. getHandle

    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.

  5. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    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.

    1. Rainer

      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".

  6. Simon Rockman

    When I started in the phone business

    The top names were

    Motorola (35% market share)

    Ericsson

    NEC

    and new hotshot Mobira which became Nokia.

    1. I ain't Spartacus 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.

      1. Conrad Longmore
        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.

    2. Slap

      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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      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).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        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).

        1. James 51 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.

    2. td97402

      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 :(

    3. robin thakur 1

      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.

  8. Chris Miller

    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.

  9. PaulM 1

    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.

    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???

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compared to Apple who are raking it in.

    Why? simple, they produce two phone models.

  11. 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.

  12. 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..

      http://www.gsmarena.com/search.php3

      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..

  13. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    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.

  14. 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
        Go

        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
      Facepalm

      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

      @something

      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.

  15. Michael Hawkes

    Pining for the fjords

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

  16. 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!!

              http://appcrawlr.com/android-apps/best-apps-dab-radio

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection

                >http://appcrawlr.com/android-apps/best-apps-dab-radio

                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

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Broadcasting

            3. illiad

              Re: DAB radio, through the internet connection

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

              http://appcrawlr.com/android-apps/best-apps-dab-radio

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Broadcasting

  17. 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...

  18. 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 - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/24/qualcomm_monopoly_china_regulator/

      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.

  19. Anonymous Coward 101

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

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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"

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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 ?

  26. 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.

  27. 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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