Celebrations and the holiday cheers are spreading across the world as gift boxes get unwrapped for Christmas and companies prepare for their year-end reviews. It’s been a tumultuous year in the world of smartphones. While Android beat iOS as the largest OS in terms of market share across the world, Samsung had much to cheer in terms of creating not 1 but 2 mega sellers in the same year.
The iPhone lost some of its sheen but surprisingly remains at the peak of its market share and sales of all time. As the year comes to an end, Let us all share a collective sigh of relief that the smartphone that we bought 6 months ago will see another year of its use ( It’s good to be alive too) as well as take stock at some of the most significant events that took place in 2012.
- 1 Samsung’s Double Whammy
- 2 Apple iPhone 5: Apple misses Jobs
- 3 Google Nexus 7: The Rise of 7” tablets
- 4 HTC’s ‘One’ Strategy
- 5 Windows Phone 8 Arrives
- 6 The Rise of Surface
- 7 Nexus 4 and the Day Google came to Stand Still
- 8 Apple iPad Mini: The 7 inchers have spoken
- 9 Dethroning of Nokia
- 10 2012’s Big Losses: Bada, BlackBerry and Intel
- 11 Conclusion
Samsung’s Double Whammy
Early in the first quarter of 2012, after much hype and anticipation, Samsung launched its Samsung Galaxy S3 at an exclusive live telecast event organized in London just ahead of the Olympics. While many were still reeling from the Shock of the demise of Steve Jobs the year before and worrying over Apple’s fate, the iPhone 4S had just broken sales records.
The S3 had a lackluster launch event but its launch was nothing short of epic. Aggressive Marketing campaign as well as a whopping marketing budget has helped Samsung sell the S3 beyond all previous estimates. The S3 has currently sold over 30 million units in the first 9 months of its launch, a feat unimaginable by anyone till then. S3 remains to this date one of the most sold Android phones in the world, it even outsold the Apple iPhone in the Europe.
As if Samsung didn’t have enough success with its larger screen, faster processor strategy with the S3, the company went one step ahead and re introduced the Phablet Note. The Note 2 was a much different phone in several aspects. Mammoth screen size, a unique stylus with its own hardware capabilities for better user interaction as well as better use of the capabilities of Samsung’s Nature UI mixed with Android’s newly launched JellyBean OS. The phone was simply superb and it proved just that with sales figures of 5 million units within less than 2 months of its launch. Note 2’s launch would spawn a new niche of large screened phones that are begging to be declared as tablets from manufacturers ranging from international to Domestic.
Samsung would go onto create several high profile devices in the dual sim segment as well. Samsung literally swept the dual sim market with its dual SIM smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite and Samsung Galaxy S Duos. In fact the price of Samsung Galaxy S Duos made it one of the most attractive mid-range phones in developing markets. Samsung had not only created 2 Giant smartphones but had literally swept the dual sim smartphone market in 2012.
Apple iPhone 5: Apple misses Jobs
2012 saw the first glimpse of an Apple without Steve Jobs and perhaps what can be termed as early signs of Apple’s deterioration in market. After its founder and mentor fighting the world regarding the optimum screen sizes and resolutions for devices for over 3 years, Apple would release the first iPhone with a larger 4”screen than the time tested 3.5”. The phone broke sales records practically overnight. Over the first weekend over 5 million iPhone 5’s were sold just in North America.
However, the trillion dollar company would see stocks plummet and plummet even some more through the year. The iPhone 5 was not without its own troubles. Apple’s rejection of Google Maps would cost it dearly with countless bloggers and users taking to arms against the new Apple Maps. The Maps were to put it very lightly, horrible. From Government agencies advising users against using Apple Maps to navigate to Apple’s first high profile public apology, the iPhone 5 and Apple Maps would cause many a nightmare to Apple’s head Tim Cook.
Google Nexus 7: The Rise of 7” tablets
Google broke its regular trend of building quality software by teaming up with Asus to build the Nexus 7. Google’s first Android experience Tablet. The Tablet was one of the most sought after devices in 2012 and even went onto convince its competitors of the potential of the 7” Tablet segment.
The Nexus 7 is currently selling nearly 1 million units a month, far above competitors such as Tab 2 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Nexus 7 had clearly become the next big thing.
HTC’s ‘One’ Strategy
The much awaited Mobile World Congress in Barcelona had much to show in 2012. Mighty promises from the leading smartphone vendors as well as a lot of anticipation while Samsung launched a flurry of tablets in the event while Sony expanded their Xperia range of smartphones. But it was HTC who stole the show with a mammoth smartphone.
The HTC One X came out ahead of the pack as the first quad core smartphone. The phone immediately received massive attention from the media and immediately spun of the anticipation for Samsung’s own S3. Sadly though despite HTC new range of “One” series of smartphones all drawing from the attention the HTC one X received, what was to follow next simply over took the smartphone world and pretty much pushed HTC one X into oblivion.
Windows Phone 8 Arrives
The smartphone market has established itself under a new order of Android and iOS was simply selling on the merit of its hardware. It was time for Microsoft to come through its promise of a different and truly personal experience through its Windows Phone 8 OS. Windows Phone 8 made its early presence felt in September with the launch of HTC 8X and 8S and Nokia Lumia 920 and 820.
Samsung’s own Ativ S however has received very little attention. Windows Phone 8 has managed to create a buzz in the market largely owing to a big chunk of users looking for a different experience than the run on the mill Android and iOS devices. However, it is still early days for Windows 8 and Nokia by extension.
The Rise of Surface
2012 saw more focus to the Tablet with the launch of Windows 8 RT and the Surface Tablets. The sleek high power devices with keyboard extensions have already tickled the imagination of everyone. One may even tout that the rise of Surface would eventually lead to the demise of Laptops and Ultra books. However for now, Surface tablets are still too pricy an alternative to having an Android Tablet at home and a Business Laptop for work.
Nexus 4 and the Day Google came to Stand Still
Google asserted its dominance over the smartphone world by a simple gesture. Launch a high profile smartphone with state of the art specifications and watch as the world comes to stand still. The Google Nexus 4 had sold out in mere hours of it becoming available online.
For most, the experience was harrowing with multiple issues including servers unable to handle multiple orders, users complaining of transactions failing or orders not getting shipped as was expected. The phone has come back on stock and disappeared just as quickly on multiple occasions and to date remains one of the most sought after phones among Android fans. Google now has command over the Android OS market.
However if its problems with Supply chain and order fulfillment as well as online traffic surge aren’t sold, most folks will continue to harbor a hate-love relationship with Nexus.
Apple iPad Mini: The 7 inchers have spoken
It wasn’t long before Apple would eat its own words literally with the launch of the iPad mini. As hotly anticipated and rumored as the launch of the 7” variety of the iPad was, it was also one of the most unbelievable events with respect to Apple. The 7” Tablet didn’t win over many new fans for Apple as it lacked the high quality Retina display that Apple users have grown accustomed to.
But it did speak volumes of the fact that Apple was finally moving past its past laurels and its hard-line beliefs regarding the industry, including what should be the ideal size of display for a Tablet. Clearly the iPad mini signaled the beginning of the post Steve Jobs era. Apple would later prove that Steve Jobs had in fact approved of 7” Tablets and honestly considered an entry into the segment. But the fact that such a move only happened after his demise seems to indicate a changing of Flags in the Apple Camp.
Dethroning of Nokia
Late 2011 had marked the dethroning of Nokia from the top of the smartphone manufacturers list. Nokia’s rather lack lustre performance with the Lumia range of Windows 7 phones as well as the death of Symbian didn’t help Nokia garner any favours from its line of followers even those who were extremely loyal to them. The end of 2012 saw Nokia lose out its throne on top of the overall mobile phone market.
Nokia today stands second to Samsung largely due to the rise of Android phones as well as the conversion of feature phone users to smartphones. Despite Nokia’s massive efforts promoting the new line of Asha series of budget phones such as Asha 305 and Asha 311. However Nokia’s top lines of Asha phones have been beaten in the market by cheaper alternatives from Domestic vendors as well as from international vendors such as Samsung.
2012’s Big Losses: Bada, BlackBerry and Intel
2012 also saw the end of the Bada OS. After helping Samsung build its presence in low end smartphones for over 3 years, Bada OS was officially retired this year.
Samsung will instead concentrate on building greater value for its line of Android devices as well as provide sufficient competition to Nokia in the Windows 8 segment. 2012 was a year of complete inactivity on RIM’s part which essentially resulted in BlackBerry falling into almost complete anonymity. While prices of the once high value smartphones continued to fall, offering new enterprise customers higher value, the delay in launch of BlackBerry 10 OS and devices has cost RIM precious time. It is difficult to imagine a resurge in BlackBerry in the coming years.
In the hardware domain, Intel made its tender first steps into mobile smartphone chipsets in conjunction with Lava. Intel launched the Lava Xolo X900 with great expectations. Although the product got good reviews from reviewers for its processing performance, the phone didn’t do too well with the consumers.
It seems for now at least companies such as Qualcomm and Samsung hold sway over the smartphone chipset markets. Intel must address its issues with the lack of 3G support in the chipset as well as solve the problem of high power consumption.
The most significant change in 2012 has been the surge of Tablets. The Tablet revolution started with Google’s Nexus 7 and went on with the launch of iPad Mini and the Microsoft Surface. While the premium smartphones were dominated by higher screen sizes and faster processor.
Quad core processors have become the norm of the industry. While Samsung rose to the top of the world mobile market, Apple found itself looking questioningly at the future without its enigmatic mentor. Nokia is still picking up its pieces from its train wreck in 2011 while RIM seem to have lost all its relevance and reverence among bloggers.
The next year will be all about what Windows 8 manages to do to the world smartphone market as well as what RIM manages to produce after all the delay. For now we can remember 2012 fondly for its many magnificent technological moments and look forward to the same ahead.