Android rise troubles trad vendors


Industry research company CCS Insight said Nokia and Sony Ericsson need urgently to find some form in the market, as consumer and retailer confidence in their flagship products has been badly hit by troubled launches and new entrants are taking advantage of Google’s Android platform to win instant recognition.

Sony Ericsson’s Satio and Aino devices were launched with software issues, with the Satio temporarily withdrawn from certain retailers. The Nokia N97 and N97 mini also suffered from software issues at launch.

CCS Insight director Ben Wood said: “The one I worry deeply about is Sony Ericsson, not just because it doesn’t have the right products, but because there’s a loss of confidence in the channel with some of the quality issues that are associated with its devices.”

He went on: “Some of Nokia’s products are not looking as edgy either, and seem a bit ‘last century’ at the moment. It’s going to have to step up and this is what’s going to be interesting with the Series 40 handsets it releases, whether it can come in with some tasty QWERTY or touch-based devices.”

Wood said the pair could lose share to lesser-known vendors taking advantage of a strong Android market. “The winners could be companies we’ve not heard much about. Huawei has shown its intentions by manufacturing the T-Mobile Pulse and others like ZTE and Acer are very keen to grow their share in this market. They will come in with very low cost, smart devices.”

CCS Insight reckons there could be more than 50 Android devices in the market by the end of the year. However it warned dealers at a recent T-Mobile partner conference that selling them correctly is key in any success achieved.

“There will be 50 different Android devices, maybe more,” said Wood.

“There’s been a lot of noise around Android with the release of the Nexus One (pictured) and Google stepping up what it’s doing. Dealers need to be very excited about these devices coming down dramatically in cost, which means they’re very accessible when you’re focussing on prepay.

“Having expertise at point of sale to guide customers and marry the correct tariffs to the right devices will be critical. Android will be the key platform in terms of pushing smart capabilities into prepay. You shouldn’t ignore Symbian either, although that will be a second-half play.  Nokia will follow these guys and have the scale to compete very aggressively.”