In recent times, some brands that used to be prominent have dropped off the radar. When you look at the list of top 10 smartphone brands, they are not mentioned. When a list of fastest growing brands is drawn up, they are not there either. Why are Sony, BlackBerry and HTC smartphones struggling in the market? Here are my thoughts on these brands.
I was here in the days when Ericsson and Sony first existed in the mobile world as separate brands. The two brands merged in 2001 to become Sony Ericsson, and then in 2012, Sony bought off Ericsson’s shares and the brand became Sony Mobile.
During the days of Sony Ericsson, the brand made phones that stood out for their music and photography prowesses, but things have changed significantly since then. Sony Mobile has struggled more and more to stay afloat in recent years. Sony sold 50% less phones in Q2 2018 than they did in Q2 2017.
Are Sony smartphones terrible devices? Not at all? So why are they not selling as much as they should. Check the price of recent devices from the brand and you will immediately see why. The Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact, for example, are ridiculously expensive for the specs they offer. You can pick a competing smartphone from Huawei, Xiaomi, or some other brand for much less.
BlackBerry started out with a focus on security, email, and hardware keyboard. It quickly became the rave of the mobile world. The company ran into problem when it couldn’t innovate fast enough both on the software and hardware fronts. Eventually, it shut down its legacy BlackBerry OS and later BlackBerry 10 OS.
BlackBerry now makes Android smartphones with a focus on security. They are good phones. But they are overpriced every single time. One of BlackBerry’s latest phones s the Evolve. It has a Snapdragon 450 processor and costs $365. That is about N120,000.
Personally, I would be out of my senses to buy it. The Xiaomi Mi 2A has a Snapdragon 660 and similar specs and costs $100 less. Now, yu get a good picture of how Xiaomi smartphones are selling like hot cake while BlackBerry is struggling to sell theirs.
The story of why HTC smartphones are now struggling in the market is no different. HTC had a great start. In 2011, the brand was in 3rd place globally behind Samsung and Apple. They were once the largest smartphone brand in the USA too.
HTC makes great smartphones. They have won award after award over the years. HTC was the company behind Google’s excellent Pixel devices. As a matter of fact, recently, Google acquired HTC’s design and research staff to push its Pixel line. So, why are HTC smartphones not selling? Why is HTC off the lists that matter?
It is a case of overpricing. When you compare prices and features, HTC phones are expensive compared to much of the competition. The competition has found ways to lower operational expenses and deliver better-priced phones to the market.
The Smartphone Brands To Watch
The brands that are eating the cheese of everybody else right now include Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus, TECNO/Infinix/itel, and Nokia. They are the fastest growing smartphone brands, and the reasons are not far-fetched.
One, the smartphone market is saturated and has been dwindling for a while in many markets. Newer markets are price-conscious ones, so any brand that is able to offer the best value for money will sell more in the new markets. Trying to sell $365 smartphones in India, Nigeria or South Africa when there are competing devices that cost $250 is a stupid plan and will backfire.
The way that Sony, BlackBerry and HTC smartphones are currently priced means that they will see their marketshare further eroded. Even Samsung and Apple are feeling the heat too.
While Apple has a devoted following who will continue to buy iPhones regardless of what, and so have a solid corner of the market, it means it will be difficult for them to sell more if they do not produce less expensive devices with the features that people want. This is why a dual-SIM iPhone will happen.
Note how Huawei’s recent advances have been because of their Honor budget brand. The next billion is a budget market and only the smartphones that offer the most value at the most affordable cost will thrive in that sector.