spring-2012-smartphone-buyers-guide

Top 10 Smartphone Manufacturers – Big Shifts as Sony and Huawei Rise Up

November 9, 2012 - Written By Tom Dawson

With Q3 of this year now done and dusted the results are in for the Top 10 smartphone manufacturers of 2012 so far and they make for some interesting reading. As analysts all over the world compile their lists there are some interesting shifts within the list as some of the giant names here in the US have fallen whereas Asia’s manufacturers are seeing a rise up through the ranks. There’s no use talking about it though, let’s just go ahead and look at where each manufacturer has ended up and why we think they’ve gotten there. Without further a do here are the Top 10 Smartphone Manufacturers for 2012 so far.

10. Nokia

I’m sure we’ve all got fond memories of Nokia after all, they used to be the best cell phones you could buy and for a time they managed to hold on in the smartphone realm with their ageing Symbian OS. However, in the last couple of years it’s all changed for Nokia and they’ve gotten into bed with Microsoft and become the flag-bearer for the Windows Phone OS. I’ve not got too much to say about Windows Phone, I think it’s perfectly okay and the interface is certainly easy and pleasing on the eye but with a poor eco-system to fall back on it won’t be taking over Android or iOS any time soon. Nokia have fallen from third position to get here by selling only 6.3 Million units in Q3. You could say that this is due to the impending Windows Phone 8 launch but, Nokia have been on the demise for a long time and I hate to say it but, I think this would have been different if they went with Android. They could have made phones with stunning hardware and a powerful eco-system behind them without losing their identity like they seem to have with Windows Phone.

9. Lenovo

When it comes to high-end smartphones you don’t necessarily think of Lenovo and for good reason, they’re hardly a force to be reckoned with in the US. While they might bring us some okay tablets every now and then they certainly seem to have problems breaking into the Asian market. They’ve got some pretty good phones out in Asia and were the first company to bring an Intel packing phone to market that wasn’t based on Intel’s reference design. They might be known more for their laptops and PCs but, rest assured, Lenovo are getting good when it comes to Smartphones and Android. We’r ehoping that we see a lot more of them in the states – competition is good.

8. LG

It’s no surprise that LG are still so low down in a list like this after all, despite the recent Nexus 4 the company has had real trouble getting into the US market in a big way. It’s perhaps not as bad as other companies but with confusing names and lines of phones that seem to be superseded too quickly and exclusives for Verizon and other carriers there’s a real problem. With the Optimus G the other Korean phone company is making their way into the market on more than one carrier with one phone, something that served the Galaxy S III well. It’s this sort of move that we need from LG on the whole. With the Nexus 4 they’ve gained respect with die-hard Android fans but the average consumer isn’t convinced and it’s going to take a long time to convince them.

7. RIM

I’m not surprised to see RIM so low on this list. They’ve been losing market share to Android and iOS for years now and their slow willingness to develop something truly new in the wake of change is something that the company will struggle to recover from. BB10 may well be on its way but is it too little, too late? There’s not a whole lot of reasons as to why you’d go out and buy a BlackBerry phone, let alone recommend one to a friend. BBM is great but with devices that are something from 10 years ago there’s little that RIM can do to claw it back. With BB10 they may well have a compelling product on shelves but with it not coming until next year, it looks like this is the last time we see RIM as high as this in any such list.

6. HTC

As a big HTC fan it’s hard to see HTC fall 2 places, down from 4th to 6th but, we all knew it was coming. The company has struggled to make big waves with their One Series and exclusives on the US carriers are still hurting them when Samsung has managed to launch the flagship Galaxy S III on all 4 major carriers. It looks as though HTC may have been a victim of timing, they tried to release the One Series before Samsung got the Galaxy S III off the ground and they certainly did that but with little marketing fanfare past the first phone of release they lacked the steam to keep it going. It’s a real shame to see HTC continue their fall from the top of their game and we certainly hope that 2013 will be the fresh start that they were looking for this year.

5. ZTE

Another surprising addition to the list is one of the biggest manufacturers to come out of China, there’s little we know of ZTE over here in the states. With their phones appearing on pre-paid carriers and generally being budget options. This isn’t to say that ZTE doesn’t and can’t make good phones, they tend to create phones that would appeal to those who want to spend less and they do so without making too many compromises. Of their budget devices for 2012 each one has shipped with Android 4.0 which doesn’t sound like much but when you think about it, that’s pretty good for a budget device and they tend not to mess with the recipe of Android too much. Making for some compelling choices on money-saving devices.

4. Sony

It’s surprising to see Sony so high up on this list, not only because they jumped 3 places from 7th but because they still don’t have that much of a prescience in the US Market and are still relying on the European and Japanese market. They’ve made things a little better in the US with the launch of their Bond phone – the Sony Xperia TL – but in the grand scheme of things it’s still pretty poor when it comes to Sony and the US. They’ve clawed back by bringing a number of new models in what seems every month but that alone is not going to help them turn things around when it comes to their debt and overall problems. We’re hoping that we see more of Sony in the States but, as with a lot of things, we’re not holding our breath.

3. Huawei

Huawei might be known more for their trouble with the US government than making decent phones but the Asian manufacturer has had a good year, even if it wasn’t in the States. As with a lot of companies, they’re a lot more successful in Europe than anywhere else, they’re big partners with Vodafone in the UK. They’ve been doing well to make their own processors, scaling all the way up to quad-core in some cases. Like Samsung, they make a lot of their parts themselves, making production a little easier on their balance sheet. TO put Huawei’s rise in progress they’ve risen from 8th to 3rd and they sold 16 Million phones in Q3. That’s some serious growth for a company like Huawei.

2. Apple

That’s right folks, the big bad Apple is no longer at the top of their game. It’s worth noting though, that this list is heavily based on the Q3 results of these companies and we all know that Apple didn’t ship as many phones as they’d like to have done. Still, it’s perhaps a sign of the times that Apple can still ship a whole lot of phones and no longer claim the top spot. This isn’t exactly surprising to me but, I wonder if they’ll stay here or rise back to the top after the launch of the iPhone 5.

1. Samsung

Samsung have more than earned their spot in this list; they sold 56 Million units in Q3, compared to Apple’s 27 Million. That’s a pretty gap, especially when you’re this high up in the clouds. The Korean giant has done something that not a lot of companies manage – to launch the same phone on all 4 major US Carriers. It’s no mean feat and something that has served them well when it comes to sales, the Galaxy S III is a hugely popular device and it continues to be. They’ve also managed to turn things around when it comes to updates as well, with the Galaxy S III receiving Jelly Bean before a lot of other high-end devices on shelves. With a rebranding apparently in the works for 2013 it looks like Samsung are only going to get bigger and better.

Where’s Motorola?

This is something that has us a little worried. Motorola have now been knocked off of the Top 10 list of manufacturers and this is perhaps to due their takeover by Google but that’s not an excuse for them to stop innovating and shipping phones. Verizon is also perhaps the problem here, I don’t want to start something here but, with Verizon getting Motorola’s high-end devices over any other carrier it’s hard for anyone but Verizon customers to get in on the Motorola action. Yes, there is the Photon Q for Sprint but, what of AT&T and T-Mobile? Verizon may well be the biggest carrier in the US but does that mean that Motorola should put all their eggs in their basket? We’re certainly hoping that Google will soon be free of whatever contract Motorola Mobility have with Verizon and we might see more Motorola on more carriers.