Sunday, 15 February 2015

Have we really reached a smartphone impasse?

It seems so.

For the first time in several years, smartphones stepped back from the frontline at CES and that's no surprise. Sure, many manufacturers are looking to MWC for smartphone announcements, but over the last two years, we've seen less and less revolutionary changes in smartphones, and more performance tweaks.

Why?

It's a boring phrase, but 2015 IS the year of the wearable tech. Perhaps not for consumers, but certainly for the top-tier manufacturers. The endless wearable uses were shown at CES, and its all focusing around the clamour for that first 'hit' in the wearables market. Of the glasses, watches and fitness bands, no-one has managed to truly capture the public's imagination.




So where does that leave smartphones? Well, the new kids on the block are catching the others but offering little new to market. Look at Xiaomi; impressive company, impressive growth, but are they changing the smartphone? No. They are offering available features in a different shell and at a more affordable price.
     And it's that last point which is important. The price of smartphones is being driven down and less margin available for manufacturers. Given the impasse, consumers are seeing less reason to upgrade on an annual basis, and even sticking with devices for 2-3 years. Smartphones are becoming less of the cash-cow they once were. The annual performance updates and optimisation are in place to save the manufacturer money, and maintain face within the saturated market.

MWC is coming up, and both Samsung and HTC have announced launch dates for their new devices. We expect to see the evolution of Samsung's Galaxy Edge, which is a nice idea, but not greeted with rapture by consumers so far, and HTC will be likely to finely tune the M8. We are confident in neither bringing a drastic update to the smartphone market, but the opportunity is there for a surprise. Let's wait to see about that impasse but the signs are there.

Chances are, we should ignore the HTC One M9, and Samsung Galaxy S6, as that impasse has been reached.

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