back to article Sorry, Samsung. Seems nobody is immune to peak smartphone

Smartphones are experiencing their first ever recession, and Samsung is feeling the pain too. The electronics giant lowered its outlook for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 yesterday, citing "mounting macro uncertainties". It warned that revenue would be down 11 per cent and operating profit down 29 per cent year on year. …

  1. Semtex451 Silver badge

    It's unfortunate.

    This will comfort Apple in the warm blanket of complacency and they will not learn anything.

    1. Munkstar

      What must they learn oh great guru?

      1. the future is back!

        That's '"o" great guru"

  2. ThatOne Silver badge
    Coat

    > Smartphones are experiencing their first ever recession, and Samsung is feeling the pain too.

    Obvious solution: Next year's Samsung flagship smartphones will cost upwards of $2000...

  3. djstardust Silver badge

    Same trap as Apple

    Raising prices every year for the same tech.

    Stupidly priced accessories and covers

    Pure big company greed that has bitten the big boys in the ass.

    Also, refusing warranty claims for tripping the Knox fuse hasn't gone down well either. I will certainly look elsewhere next time.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Same trap as Apple

      Are you ever happy about anything?

      While Samsung does indeed charge a pretty penny for the flagship products, it also provides cheaper phones that are generally more than good enough. And, best of all, it's easy to root Samsung phones and install other ROMs on them.

      1. djstardust Silver badge

        Re: Same trap as Apple

        But then that invalidates the warranty per my original post.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Same trap as Apple

          True, but so what?

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Same trap as Apple

            I haven't felt the need the root my Samsung, though occasionally I find out that some small function I would like to have (eg, stop charging automatically when the battery gets to 90%, an option Sony phones had) requires rooting. Now I want to make a warranty claim (OLED screen burn due to a particular app) I'm glad I've not rooted it. The burn in artifacts are only noticeable against bright areas of screen, but hey, it was a pricey phone and so it should be spot on. And I won't be using that app in bright sunlight for extended periods again to prevent a recurrence. I'm sold on OLED and I won't go back to screens that can't display properly black blacks.

            Samsung's service under warranty procedure sounds fairly painless - I merely contact a nearby Samsung service centre in advance so that they have the parts, and then it'll be done in a few hours when I call in. There are some good pubs nearby. *If* it works out like that, it's definitely a plus point for Samsung over a Chinese competitor without the service network.

            As regards this article, I bought an S8 ten months after its release from (not just fulfilled by) Amazon.co.uk for a few hundred quid less that it was priced at launch (making it much the same price as an inferior OnePlus 6T). It was still a lot of money, but my rationale was to take good care of it (buy waterproof phone, get good case, glass screen protector, don't let it get too hot, be respectful of the battery by at least trying to keep it between 40% and 90%) because I'm intending to keep it for a few years. Samsung may well get my money again, but it'll be in a few years time.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Same trap as Apple

              Oh no! The black on my phone screen is not properly black.

              In the bin with it.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Same trap as Apple

              @Dave 126

              Each to their own, but you're having to mollycoddle your phone, and if you keep it for a few more years it'll be worth zip secondhand. I used to do that. But some years back Sammy's relentless flagship price rises (even a year after launch) caused me to give up the battle of trying to buy and keep premium phones for years, and I moved to a Chinese brand, and haven't looked back.

              Because Chinese phones generally tend to have larger batteries and more aggressive power management they don't need charging anything like as often as the Sammy and Apple devices, so battery longevity should be better, but even so I sell second hand after fourteen months and have a new one. The buyer gets a decent phone in great condition with a good few years life expectancy, I get a decent price, and I'm almost always running a current technology phone under retailer warranty. If I lose or break it then my losses are more limited than if I'm running a premium brand phone.

              Give it a try when you do decide to trade out of your existing phone - I was very impressed by the value and build quality coming out from the better Chinese makers. Xiaomi's my current brand of choice, but as they've just established a European official presence they might be poor value soon - but if they make that mistake there's plenty of other competent makers to take their place. Curiously enough I've found UK based grey importers selling on Ebay to be more trustworthy than Amazon itself for these types of purchase.

            3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Same trap as Apple

              Now I want to make a warranty claim (OLED screen burn due to a particular app) I'm glad I've not rooted it.

              You can use the same tools to install a factory image as you do to install a custom ROM: you're essentially just overwriting the recovery as well.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Same trap as Apple

          But then that invalidates the warranty per my original post.

          Which will last for two years at most. After which time you're unlikely to be getting updates from Samsung anyway; earlier if it's one of the tablets.

  4. GeordieSteve

    Phone upgrade

    Does this mean I will soon be able to get rid of my trim phone and afford a smart phone?

    1. Andy Non

      Re: Phone upgrade

      My smart phone recently died and I've upgraded to the latest in 2G technology - a Doro clam phone for £45. Does everything I need and only needs charging once a week. I don't miss any of the bloatware or the poor battery life of the Android. As for accessing the internet etc, that's what my Linux PC with a big monitor is for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phone upgrade

        I've upgraded to the latest in 2G technology - a Doro clam phone for £45. Does everything I need and only needs charging once a week.

        My admittedly much more expensive £260 Xiaomi Pocophone offers a full fat smartphone experience, and is currently showing 40% remaining charge after running for 5 days and 17 hours, albeit being in flight mode during sleep hours. Last charge lasted 8 days and sixteen hours. Obviously I'm a very light user, but if you want a capable Android with a long battery life, it is just a case of buying carefully and avoiding the need to constantly fondle the blasted device..

        I don't miss ......the poor battery life of the Android

        You were saying?

  5. 4whatitsworth

    You reap what you sow

    I was very much in the vanguard of smart devices and loved having a new device every 12 months. However, when devices suddenly developed 24 month contracts that was it for me and i suspect many others. Whilst i looked at the new shiny it couldn't tempt me to part with all the extra moolah. It simply wasn't a good enough proposition.

    I for one will definitely not be returning to the 12 month upgrade cycle whilst the cost of a handset is nigh on a thousand pounds. Thats a holiday where i live!!!

    That coupled with the fact that my S7 edge does all i need it to means that an amazing device at a reasonable cost (12 months contract MAX) is what its going to take to get me back on board.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: You reap what you sow

      Any reason you go for phones on contract? Credit is available from companies other than network operators. With a SIM-Only rolling monthly contract you're not tied to the network operator beyond a month and can easily negotiate a better deal for data and calls. Buying the phone ourltrifht means you're protected by the Sales of Goods Act, so a handset suffering from poor workmanship or materials can be immediately exchanged for what you paid for it - no waiting a fortnight for it to be repaired on the behalf of the network operator.

      I bought a Galaxy S8 outright when the S9 had been announced, saving about £350 from its original price.

      1. 4whatitsworth

        Re: You reap what you sow

        TBH i was talking about my early purchases, the last two phones i purchased outright and just had a monthly contract. Much better value as you quite rightly say.

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Basic Economics

    Markets mature. When they mature the replacement cycle stretches out as the older devices are still very serviceable for several years (or decades for some durable goods) and most sales become replacement sales for elderly, dieing kit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Basic Economics

      most sales become replacement sales for elderly, dieing kit

      Generally yes, but car makers in particular have got the practice of early and irrational replacement down to a fine art. Few new buyers purchase for cash and run the car for its reliable and economic service life*, with most preferring to pay (exorbitant) lease plan fees, and have a new car every one to four years, even though the technical improvements over that time period will be paltry.

      I suspect many people are running sim-free handsets on airtime only contracts, and whilst they congratulate themselves for their financial wisdom there, they are happily paying out many hundreds of pounds a month for a car they'll never own, perpetually paying the asset owner's depreciation and margin in return for always having a car that isn't embarrassingly old - like more than three or four years. And the curious thing, this applies to cheap as well as expensive motors, and for dull, non-aspirational brands as much as premium ones. I'm sure Apple would like some of that motor industry secret sauce.

      * Tightwads like me excepted. Buy new - always through a car broker - sell when I conclude that there's a credible risk I'll need to spend several thousand quid on multiple major parts, perhaps at 175,000 miles, depending how the car is running.

  7. Financegozu
    Thumb Up

    Well said, Watson

    Finally someone not filling the comments section with vitriol

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well said, Watson

      Fuck off and die

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Well said, Watson

        "Fuck off and die"

        Absolutely inspired!

  8. DougS Silver badge

    Samsung was making much of its profit from RAM & flash

    Not phones. The DRAM market is somewhat depressed now, but they should still be able to print a lot of cash with flash until all those huge Chinese fabs come online in a couple years and send prices plummeting (good for us, not good for Samsung)

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Samsung was making much of its profit from RAM & flash

      Never mind the market. I'm depressed. The excitement of a new phone is no more. I remember unboxing my first ever Android phone and my first transition phone from the dying Nokia. It was the HTC Desire and it was awesome. Now its just another black candy bar phone after another, but where else can they go from that. All I really need now is a lot better battery life.

      1. Jedit
        Boffin

        "All I really need now is a lot better battery life."

        And a headphone jack. Don't forget the headphone jack. And a return to removable batteries would be nice - I've found I need a new battery more often than I've dropped my phone in two metres of water.

        Also preferably not adding a whole new meaning to "we always listen to our customers", like Huawei.

        1. Portent

          Re: "All I really need now is a lot better battery life."

          Phones are "good enough" now. The problem is that batteries degrade. So last year I bought one of the last premium phones with a battery (and headphone jack!) - an LG V20. I even bought that used so it was very cheap, and bought a couple of new batteries for it. I now don't plan to change my phone for two or three years unless I break it, it fails or 5G becomes available, cheap and desirable. I'm now out of the new phone market for a while and I suspect many people are.

        2. Ian Joyner

          Re: "All I really need now is a lot better battery life."

          A headphone jack is not needed. Only an adaptor, which is provided with iPhone.

  9. IGnatius T Foobar !
    Happy

    I think we're all OK with this.

    If smartphones have finally become a commodity ... GOOD! Let it be just like desktop computers, where a three year old model still works just fine. I think we're pretty much all OK with this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think we're all OK with this.

      Three years? My main computer for work is 12 year sold and only now being replaced due to it becoming unreliable ( I suspect crack in motherboard). By phone is a S3 which is 6 years old and there is just one app I cannot get to work on it, and only now do I consider replacing it since one of the buttons are becoming unreliable. The last 5 years have been about massively promoted incremental changes and no major hardware changes, unless you count batteries no longer being replaceable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think we're all OK with this.

        The last 5 years have been about massively promoted incremental changes and no major hardware changes, unless you count batteries no longer being replaceable.

        Cumulatively they do add up, though. A carefully chosen mid range phone now has a better screen than a two-generation old premium handset, it has an equivalent camera, far better battery life, should have the far more robust USB C connector, better bluetooth and faster wireless connection, good 4G speeds, be far more responsive, and have greater storage.

        For the mid-range you'd be pushed to get water proofing, wireless charging, but it'll also be easier to avoid nasties like non micro SD slot, or no 3.5mm port.

  10. Dropper

    5G?

    Networks failed to deliver anything close to the true potential of 3G and 4G. Right now most users say that 5G download / upload speeds are no better than their old 4G LTE networks. Obviously the key attraction of 5G is capacity rather than speed.. because the capacity will be greater phone companies will be more able to meet their bandwidth demands, which they patently can't with 4G. But anyone who believes that throttling and metering won't return are naïve.

    It's been a cycle of yo-yoing from metered to unlimited to metered over the last 15 years or so.. the promise of giving something I used to get for a fraction of the price if I buy a $1000 phone? Yeah.. right.

  11. MrMerrymaker

    Note s9

    Removable card, notification light, no notch..

    Make all your phones like this and watch you take over the market, Samsung

  12. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Nobody is immune?

    OK, what kind of a "nobody" is that? Does it apply also to those vendors who price a phone as working technology rather than a fashion statement?

    Would be kind-of delicious if Huawei turned out to be eating their lunch. Though I'd settle for others like Moto, whose G has served me nicely for the last few years.

  13. Ian Joyner

    So, Apple is lazy and greedy, Samsung a victim?

    Register presents Apple as being lazy and greedy, but takes pity on Samsung. That is 180º wrong. The only innovations in this space are from high-end features. Thus we see the high-end new products attracting a high price. For Apple you can still buy the previous models. The truth is there is little innovation to be made in this space anymore. Apple did such a good job of innovation 10 years ago, that not much else could be done.

    Along come Samsung and others. Samsung really is greedy and wants to take over the whole world. Samsung is lazy. It copies Apple. There are no famous names at Samsung, like at Apple and Microsoft, IBM, DEC, Burroughs, Unisys, etc. Samsung let others innovate and then copy. Register puts it down to Samsung not being dependent on phones, but they can cross-subsidise from other markets.

    Anything based on Android is also subsidised by advertising. They collect the data on you and make you the product.

    These indeed are concerning times for anyone involved in the IT industry. What should be very helpful to mankind is becoming a millstone around our neck.

    1. Ian Joyner

      Re: So, Apple is lazy and greedy, Samsung a victim?

      4 thumbs up and 8 thumbs down – people don't like the truth!

  14. Lee D Silver badge

    Stopped at the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini.

    When you start putting back things like removable batteries, not terminating Android version upgrades a year after release, putting the headphone ports back in, and none of the ridiculous race-to-the-uncomfortably-thin/fragile/irreparable, then maybe we can talk. Oh, and stop changing the USB connector.

    Oh, and make it a couple of hundred quid, rather than several week's wages.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      S5 Mini is only 16GB. Even with a big flashcard, hard to manage.

  15. Joe Gurman

    Excuse me, Mr, Orlowski....

    ....but where is the explanation of Samsung's "laziness and greed?"

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