In nearly all parts of the world, consumers’ appetite for purchasing the very latest handsets has not abated. Quite the reverse: research estimates 390 million handsets and smartphones were shipped in 4Q-2010, up 15.6% year-on-year. Overall, that takes the 2010 total of handsets shipped to 1.36 billion. This is a remarkable turnaround given that just one year ago, 2009 shipments had contracted 4.4% YoY.
Nokia’s market share slid marginally to 31.7%, because its revamped smartphone portfolio has yet to gain traction. Samsung made marginal gains in market share to 20.7%. Samsung’s smartphones, including the Galaxy-S, have helped to strengthen its competitiveness in the smartphone sector, but in the overall handset market, this vendor is treading water. Apple’s iPhone 4 continues to capture a growing chunk of the smartphone market (4.2%). RIM also showed respectable gains (3.6%) due to a refreshed lineup of keyboard smartphones as well as a hybrid touch-screen/keyboard smartphone, the Torch. Other overall handset market share winners include HTC, Huawei, ZTE and TCL.
LG (7.8%), Sony-Ericsson (2.9%) and Motorola (2.9%) contracted in global handset market share. However, Motorola has continued to show quarter-on-quarter growth.
A number of vendors have jettisoned their global handset market-share aspirations and are instead focusing their resources and expertise on growing their high-end smartphone market share. Over time, a number of Chinese and Indian handset vendors will corner an increasing slice of the global handset market. They are introducing aggressively priced handsets and smartphones that cater to the needs of emerging market consumers as well as mobile operators looking for operator-branded handsets.
According to sources, Huawei, ZTE and TCL/Alcatel Mobile are being joined by Indian vendors Micromax and Spice Mobile as regional and global handset movers and shakers.
Handset vendors are not the only beneficiaries: chipset companies ARM and Qualcomm have had one of their best financial performances due to the smartphone boom, while MediaTek is angling to capture the low-end smartphone segment.
Bahrain’s leading telecom provider, Batelco has announced its new inbound roaming promotion which will offer cash prizes of $5000 and three day tickets to the 2011 Grand Prix which will take place in the kingdom on March 13.
The campaign will run until February 23 and the winners will be announced at the end of the month. Visitors to Bahrain need to select the network â€˜Batelco’ or â€˜42601′ as soon as they arrive in Bahrain to be in with a chance to win. For every three minutes of accumulated call time, either local or international, customers will be given one entry in the prize draw.
According to Batelco Group General Manager Media Relations Ahmed Al Janahi, thousands of visitors cross the causeway from Saudi Arabia on a regular basis and in addition thousands more arrive from destinations all over the world at Bahrain International Airport. They are delighted to welcome all these visitors by offering them the opportunity to win a large cash prize and a pair of tickets to watch the F1 race at Bahrain International Circuit.
He added that Batelco’s inbound roaming service is unmatched thanks to the Company’s modern network. They have invested millions of dinars to ensure that residents and visitors to Bahrain enjoy world class communication services.
Batelco is a sponsor of the Bahrain International Circuit, the home of motorsport and the venue for the annual Formula One race.
Repeated complaints about Apple’s iPhone have caught the attention of the consumer affairs agency, Kuluttajavirasto which is investigating whether the smartphone complies with local legislation requiring portable devices to work in sub-zero temperatures.
Complaints by customers to Apple stores have been reportedly brushed aside by application of the small print, which stated that the phones were not designed to work in temperatures below zero. However, Finland’s Consumer Agency is investigating if customers were proactively told of this restriction in a country where temperatures are routinely below zero.
According to reports, consumers could be entitled to a refund if the Agency finds that Apple breached local consumer protection laws on the issue.
Most phones do work in sub-zero temperatures, and are often designed to be shipped in unpressurised air freight where the temperatures will drop considerably below zero. Obviously, they are not designed to work in unpressurised air freight though.
Zain has declared that its support for the Mobile Privacy Principles laid down by London-headquartered Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
According to GSMA, the principles describe the way in which mobile consumers privacy should be protected when customers use mobile applications and services that access, use or collect personal information.
Commenting on the new principles, Zain Group CEO Nabeel Bin Salamah highlighted the need for the whole industry to throw its weight behind and support the new code of conduct, stressing Zain’s commitment to its implementation.
Bin Salamah remarked that the age of mobile technology has made it imperative that network operators create and support a framework to further protect customer privacy. This creates a bond of trust and ensures that we operate according to the highest ethical and moral standards.
He added that at Zain, they take their responsibilities in this field very seriously and they are committed to operating by the standards demanded by the global mobile industry and cooperating with the various stakeholders in this very important initiative.
Egypt’s mobile phone networks have been able to resume their services after being ordered to shut-down their networks on Friday. Vodafone, France Telecom controlled Mobinil and UAE based Etisalat owned, Etisalat Misr were all ordered to block their networks in selected areas throughout the country.
The move seemed to fail on the government though, as protests had been pre-arranged in anticipation of such action, and the blockage seemed to simply inflame existing anger with the government.
According to Vodafone Egypt, they would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close their network, and if they had done so it would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers. It has been clear to them that there were no legal or practical options open to Vodafone or any of the mobile operators in Egypt but to comply with the demands of the authorities.
The decision to shut the network had been criticized by international campaigners who called upon the mobile networks to defy the government, despite the technical impossibility of doing so.
There have also been unconfirmed rumors that the mobile networks might be ordered to shut-down again on Monday and that landline networks may also be shut-down. The landline networks have been the main route for internet traffic as users which to dialing international ISPs to bypass the blocked local broadband services.
Vodafone New Zealand has begun selling miniature cellsites the size of a broadband router that customers can use to provide or boost mobile coverage, but with high introductory price.
Vodafone is selling the devices in two versions a $349 unit for consumers, designed to provide cellphone coverage within up to a 20 metre radius, and a more powerful unit costing $1034 that has a range of up to 40 m and is aimed at small businesses.
The coverage range is reduced by solid barriers such as concrete, metal and masonry, but signals are not greatly impeded by wood and gib board commonly used to partition New Zealand homes.
Vodafone has sold Sure Signal in Britain for 1 1/2 years.
Nokia has hinted at a possible shift in its handset strategy that could see it embracing an alternative to its Symbian and MeeGo operating systems for future handsets.
According to Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, Nokia must compete on an ecosystem-to-ecosystem basis. In addition to great devices, we must build, catalyze, and/or join a competitive ecosystem.
The comment about joining up with another platform has sparked a flurry of speculation, which has been heightened by news that the company will announce a strategy shift in an investor presentation on11th Feb.
The company has been trying to push its Symbian platform and has an internal culture which leans towards open-source options. Developing for Windows Phone 7 could lead to some key developers being uncomfortable with the direction the company is taking, at a critical stage in its fight back against other smartphone manufacturers.
Microsoft also maintains a tighter control over how its OS is deployed in smartphones, offering Nokia more limited options for personalizing its handsets and making its products standout from the crowd.
The more relaxed Android OS would still permit Nokia to embed support for its NAVTEQ mapping subsidiary instead of relying on Google’s own maps service.
Speculation about the “strategy shift” is likely to get intense in the run up to the investor presentation.
European mobile phone subscribers will have to be offered the choice of 12-month contracts in addition to the increasingly usual 18 and 24 month contracts, under laws passed by the European Union. The legislation is due to come into effect in May this year, subject to ratification by each of the European Union’s nation states.
According to Ofcom spokesperson, the European Telecoms Package has to be transposed into UK law by the end of May. Under it, contract lengths must not exceed 24 months and consumers should have the option to subscribe to a 12 month contract.
The imposition of 12 month contracts will however result in higher retail prices for smartphones as the networks will have less time to claw back their subsidy before the contract expires and the customer seeks an upgrade or to migrate to another operator.
The EU’s telecoms package of laws also mandates that no contract can be longer than 2 years, and that number porting will be limited to a maximum delay of one day. In addition, operators will be required to offer equivalent access to communications services, and operators will have to work towards offering location based information to emergency services when such a call is made.
Finally, consumers will have to be better informed of available tariffs, usage patterns and have the right to cost control notifications when monthly bills exceed their set threshold