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Smartphone storm may climax with iPhone 5

03 сентября 2012

The next few weeks will feature an array of announcements for new smartphone devices, as manufacturers work to get their latest and best devices in place to compete with the juggernaut expected from Apple Inc.'s next iPhone.

The new devices are expected to boost smartphone sales to a record quarter in the final three months of the year, though analysts wonder if upstarts like Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone will be able to make headway against the powerful dual-block of Apple and Google Inc., the latter of which owns the Android operating system that has become the top-selling smartphone platform in the world.

"At this point, we're looking at iPhone as the big volume mover," said Ramon Llamas of IDC, who added "it's hard to bet against that." 

The December quarter will feature a wide variety of new devices that are being previewed over the next few weeks.

Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. slipped in their news Wednesday, with new smartphones unveiled at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

This week, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Mobility will host their own events to showcase new phones. Amazon.com Inc. is also holding a gathering in Los Angeles that some believe may feature the company's first smartphone offering, along with an updated version of its Kindle Fire tablet.

But the culmination to these announcements may come Sept. 12, when Apple is expected to unveil what many believe will be the iPhone 5. While not officially confirmed, several media outlets have reported that the company has set that date for an event in San Francisco, with a market launch for the device expected later in the month.

Whenever the next iPhone actually launches, analysts widely expect it to be the top-selling smartphone device for the period. Samsung is expected to continue selling its Galaxy SIII and Galaxy Note products in high numbers, despite losing a high-profile patent dispute with Apple last week.

James Faucette of Pacific Crest predicts that global smartphone sales will come in around 165 million units in the December quarter, up 18% from the broker's estimates for the same period last year.

"We'll see lots of new products, but most of the sequential increase we expect to come from the new iPhone," Mr. Faucette said in an interview.

Other products will likely battle for niche market share, though some may benefit from the continued weakening of the BlackBerry line from Research In Motion Ltd., which isn't expected to update its smartphone family until early next year when its next operating system is ready.

"It's going to get worse before it gets better," IDC's Llamas said of the BlackBerry's prospects.

Faucette views devices from manufacturers other than Apple or Samsung as a "distant third." These companies are also benefitting from a trend among consumers to match their smartphone devices with their tablets -- a market currently ruled by Apple's iPad, but where Samsung has also been picking up market share.

Samsung launched the Galaxy SIII over the summer, and the company said on July 22 that sales had already exceeded the 10 million mark. The company also lifted the wraps Wednesday on a new version of its Galaxy Note -- a smartphone with a 5-inch screen and stylus that first hit the market last year and has also passed the 10 million mark in unit sales.

At the IFA trade show in Berlin, Sony announced Wednesday a new line of Xperia HD smartphones that will launch in the fourth quarter.

On Wednesday, Microsoft is hosting an event in New York to showcase new devices for its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. While Samsung and HTC have built devices for an earlier version of the platform, the main draw will likely be Nokia, which has placed its bets exclusively on Windows Phone to rejuvenate its smartphone business.

Nokia launched its Lumia Windows Phone device earlier this year. Gadget blogs have cited unnamed sources that at least two new devices will be unveiled at next week's event, including one with a curved-glass display that would be exclusive to AT&T Inc. Samsung also unveiled a Windows-based smartphone called the ATIV S on Wednesday.

Later the same day, also in New York, Google's Motorola unit will host an event expected to feature a new line of Android phones, likely under the Razr brand name, that will likely be co-marketed with Verizon Communications Inc. Motorola is also hosting an event Sept. 18 in London with Intel Corp. that is expected to feature the first devices since the companies announced a smartphone partnership at CES in January.

On Sept. 6, Amazon is hosting an event in Los Angeles. The e-commerce giant has shared no details, but is widely expected to unveil a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet. There has also been heavy speculation that Amazon will enter the smartphone category to broaden out its offering of mobile devices.

"It makes sense for them to look at this," said Mr. Faucette of Amazon considering the smartphone space. He cited research by his firm showing that consumers are looking more frequently at tying together their smartphone and tablet devices.

One constraint on smartphone sales in the fall quarter could come from a shortage of components. Chip-maker Qualcomm Inc. warned earlier this year of a shortage of 28-nanometer chipsets that could persist into the late part of the year. Analysts believe the supply situation has improved, though stronger-than-expected demand may affect this trend negatively.

"We know the demand is there, but it may be constrained by supply. Who's going to be able to lay their hands on it?" Llamas said, adding:"Apple seems to be at the front of that line."


Источник: Total Telecom

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