Narrative: Maturing Smartphone Market
Each narrative page (like this) has a page describing and evaluating the narrative, followed by all the posts on the site tagged with that narrative. Scroll down beyond the introduction to see the posts.
Narrative: The Maturing Smartphone Market (Jan 24, 2017)
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Amazon Reportedly Working on Cheap Smartphones for India (Jun 5, 2017)
I haven’t really seen this picked up anywhere yet, as it’s coming from a lower-profile news site, but it’s a fascinating bit of reporting. It suggests that Amazon is working on low-cost smartphones for India and potentially other markets, which would run the standard version of Android rather than Fire OS. That’s a huge shift from the Fire Phone strategy, but a sensible one given how poorly that phone performed and how hard breaking into the smartphone market is for brand new operating systems. But the target would also be very different, with a focus on low-end phones in emerging markets. Given how hard Amazon is pushing to take a major share of the Indian e-commerce market right now, building its ecosystem in other ways makes a ton of sense. The one part of this that seems a little odd is that Alexa allegedly isn’t on these phones. That’s likely partly because it’s not available in India at all at the moment, but this whole strategy only really makes sense if these phones put Amazon services front and center. Otherwise, Amazon is entering a crowded and fiercely competitive market increasingly dominated by Chinese companies, so it’s not worth it unless it’s going to meaningfully benefit the Amazon ecosystem and help grow its base of loyal customers in India and elsewhere.
Weekly Narrative Video – Maturing Smartphone Market (Jun 3, 2017)
This week’s Narrative Video is on the Maturing Smartphone Market narrative, which has been in the news a couple of different ways this week, with the announcement of Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone, and IDC’s updated smartphone forecasts. The reality is that the smartphone market is maturing in a couple of important ways: both in terms of mature market penetration, which is reaching the top part of the S-curve, and in terms of technology, which is now at the point that smartphones are very good and innovation is becoming more incremental than dramatic. The video talks through these and other trends, and subscribers can see it on the narrative page.
The Verge seems to have secured the first of two exclusive looks at Android founder Andy Rubin’s new phone, from his company Essential (Recode’s Code Conference will have an interview with Rubin tonight where I’d expect him to share more). So far, there’s nothing about the software, beyond the assumption that it’ll run Android. So the focus is entirely on the hardware design, including the materials, connectors, and a theoretical ecosystem of modular add-ons (for now, there’s just one: a 360° camera). The reporting on this is all a little breathless – Andy Rubin has quite a reputation and anything he launches will be accorded a fair measure of respect. But the pitch here feels so much like almost every other new entrant in the market, a mix of straw man arguments about the current state of the market, grandiose claims about how all that will change, ambitions to build an ecosystem without any evidence that any other player is interested, and nothing at all about distribution, which continues to be the key question in the US smartphone market. We’ll hopefully know a little more by tonight, but I’m extremely skeptical that this phone will do any better than any other recent attempt to change the smartphone market. In the meantime, that won’t stop this project from getting tons of positive media attention in the run-up to an actual launch sometime later this year. It’s worth noting that beyond the phone there are some other bits and pieces too, including a smart home OS and speaker with a screen, but again the details are so short and claims so grand that I’m inclined to ignore them until we actually know something specific about them.
via The Verge