LATE ADOPTERS LOVE ANDROID: In the fourth quarter of 2013, Android increased its share of smartphone sales in several key developed markets, according to new data from Kantar World Panel. The developed markets surveyed include the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and Australia. Android held a majority share of sales in each of those markets, ranging in size from 50.4% in the U.S. all the way to a massive 86.2% share in Spain. It’s more evidence that the low average selling price associated with many low and mid-tier Android phones is winning over late adopters. The remaining non-smartphone consumers in these developed markets are likely older and less wealthy, and are gravitating toward cheaper handsets when looking for their first smartphone.
For more perspective on Android’s global domination, Kantar also illustrated Android’s massive sales share growth in emerging smartphone regions like China and Latin America. Android increased its share of sales in China in the fourth quarter by almost 5%, to reach 78.6% of total smartphone sales, while its Latin America share exploded to 83.5%, nearly a 22% increase. Needless to say, almost all competitor platforms stumbled in the fourth quarter, losing share to Android. Windows Phone, however, did manage to gain in several developed markets. In fact, in Italy, Windows Phone has overtaken Apple’s second-place position in smartphone sales share.
It’s not just competing platforms that are flailing, some Android-centric vendors are also hurting from the trend toward lower-priced smartphone purchases. High-margin Android devices sales, spearheaded by Samsung, are giving way to greater sales of handsets from lower-cost manufacturers. It’s a big reason why Samsung posted a profit decline this past quarter. (TechCrunch)
Apple earnings are due out this afternoon with analysts’ estimates averaging around 55 million iPhones sold in the fourth quarter. While that number would yield significant growth for Apple, Kantar’s data suggests 55 million may not be enough to keep pace with Android and may even be slower growth than Windows Phone. Expect an in-depth first take on Apple’s earnings report from BI Intelligence this afternoon.
NO MORE SUBSIDIES: U.S. consumers are starting to embrace non-subsidized smartphone plans at the four biggest carriers. A new study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners showed 31% of customers who activated phones in the second half of 2013 chose a financing plan for their device. These financing plans allow consumers to buy unsubsidized phones but pay the higher, unsubsidized price over time. It eases the burden carriers have paying for subsidies, while still making high-end devices accessible to consumers. (Wall Street Journal)
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WHY IS THE IPHONE GETTING BIGGER? Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple will be making two larger handsets with 4.5- and 5-inch screens. A chart from Benedict Evans (on the right) shows that Android phones between 5- and 7-inches are becoming quite popular globally. In South Korea, in particular, 5- to 7-inch screens take up 41% of the installed base of phones. (Quartz)
GOOGLE AI: Google has acquired artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for a hefty $US400 million. No speculation yet on what Google plans to do with DeepMind’s AI technology. However, Re/code reports that DeepMind has been developing several approaches for AI including a recommendation system for e-commerce. (Re/code)
THE DUMB STATE OF THE SMART HOME: Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge takes an in-depth look at the state of the market for home automation within the Internet Of Things. He concludes that consumer interest in home automation is there but the wide variety of appliances from different companies in each home is inhibiting a true connected home. He believes companies will ultimately coalesce around one home automation connection standard but for now, connected homes are being built piece-by-piece. (The Verge)
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