Archive for December, 2009

Nokia Ovi Store 1M Daily App Downloads + Revamp

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Nokia claims that its Ovi Store is experiencing around 1 million application downloads every day, although the Finnish company appears to have bowed to pressure and is set to launch a major revamp of the store next Spring. In an interview with the Financial Times, George Linardos, head of products at Nokia’s media group, said downloads are growing at 100 percent month-over-month and the Ovi suite – which also includes music and mapping services – now has 80 million active users, up from 54 million in August. Meanwhile, Linardos admitted that the Ovi Store had been outpaced by Apple after complaints on stability and reliability and the company is completely redeveloping its store. New features will reportedly include in-application payments, a redesigned user interface that makes apps easier to discover, and faster operation. Longer-term, Ovi Store will include recommendations based on friends’ app purchases and more localised content.

Nokia’s Ovi Store has been heavily criticised since its launch earlier this year. Rival Apple announced in September it had hit the two billion application download milestone only a year after launch. Nokia needs to make the Ovi Store a success; the world’s largest handset vendor is betting on mobile services as a new strategy to help it fight falling margins in the devices space. It is targeting net services sales of EUR2 billion or more in 2011 and wants 300 million active users for its services by the end of that year.

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Nokia 2710 Navigation Unveiled

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The Nokia 2710 Navigation Edition, the company’s “most affordable” Nokia Maps loaded, GPS-enabled phone has been unveiled. The estimated retail price will be EUR110 and it should start selling in the second quarter of 2010

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3G Is One-Fifth of Global Mobile Connections

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Global 3G connections grew by around 60 million in the third-quarter and now account for 20 percent of total global mobile connections, up from around 18 percent a year ago. According to the forthcoming Quarterly World Review: Q3 2009 by Wireless Intelligence, global 3G connections are now evenly split between CDMA2000- and WCDMA- based technologies, each accounting for around 10 percent of total connections. Total 3G connections grew 28 percent year-on-year to reach 888.8 million.

WCDMA-based connections are growing at a much faster rate than CDMA2000. The report found that combined WCDMA and WCDMA-HSPA connections grew by 58 percent in the year to 3Q09, compared to 8 percent growth for CDMA2000-based connections over the same period. WCDMA-HSPA also recorded the highest net additions in the quarter, adding 25 million to reach 158 million global connections in total, more than doubling its connections base from a year ago.

Asia-Pacific and Western Europe continued to account for the majority of global WCDMA (Family) connections, accounting for 75 percent of the total. The five largest individual operators in this segment were NTT Docomo (Japan), AT&T (USA), SoftBank (Japan) SK Telecom (South Korea) and Vodafone Italy. CDMA2000-based connections were concentrated in the USA and India, which accounted for over 50 percent of the CDMA2000 total. The top five CDMA2000-based operators were Verizon Wireless (USA), Reliance (India), China Telecom (China), Tata Teleservices (India) and Sprint Nextel (USA). TD-SCDMA – the home-grown Chinese 3G standard being deployed by China Mobile – reached 1.7 million connections in 3Q09. China Mobile’s new network was soft-launched a year ago and is currently being rolled out across the country. Rival operators China Unicom and China Telecom are deploying rival 3G networks on different network standards, WCDMA and CDMA2000, respectively.

The study found that total mobile connections reached 4.5 billion by the end of 3Q09 with GSM accounting for 79 percent. The share of GSM connections was down 2 percentage points from a year ago, due primarily to the strong growth in 3G technologies.

Significant milestones in the quarter included the Asia-Pacific region surpassing 2 billion connections after recording year-on-year growth of 22 percent. Growth in the region was driven by the world’s two largest mobile markets – China and India – which grew total connections by 15 percent (to 698 million) and 49 percent (to 472 million), respectively, accounting for over half of the Asia-Pacific total. Asia-Pacific now accounts for 45 percent of total global mobile connections, followed by Western Europe (11 percent), the Americas (11 percent), Eastern Europe (11 percent), Africa (10 percent), USA/Canada (7 percent) and the Middle East (6 percent).

One of the fastest-growing markets in the year to 3Q09 was Rwanda, which grew its connection base by over 120 percent year-on-year. Other major growth markets included Cambodia (up 80 percent year-on-year), Zimbabwe (up 58 percent), Vietnam (up 57 percent) and Sudan (up 57 percent).

New mobile network launches in the quarter included Beeline (Vietnam), Vodafone Qatar (Qatar), 2degrees (New Zealand), Digicel (Nauru), Hello Nepal (Nepal) and I-Tel (Uganda).

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North American Phone Shipments up

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New figures from research firm Canalys found that global smartphone shipments in 3Q09 rose 4 percent year-on-year, slower than the 13 percent annual growth seen last quarter, and held back primarily by a 6 percent fall in EMEA. Shipments in North America were up 5 percent, while the APAC region saw a strong 26 percent rise after several flat quarters. According to the figures, Nokia retained its worldwide lead in smartphones, with a share of 40 percent – slightly up on its year-ago position, but down almost 5 percent sequentially. BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) held onto second place with a largely unchanged (compared to 2Q09) share of 21 percent, while Apple reached a new high of 18 percent share in third place, significantly up from the 14 percent it held in 2Q09 as supply of the iPhone 3GS improved in many countries. HTC retained its fourth-place position with a 5 percent share.

“While growth has undoubtedly slowed, it is still outperforming the overall mobile phone market by some margin, as well as driving data revenue for operators, and smartphones are ushering in a range of changes in user behaviour when it comes to what people actually do on their phones,” commented Canalys senior analyst Pete Cunningham. In terms of smartphone operating system market shares, Symbian’s overall lead shrank as its share fell to 46 percent, ahead of RIM (20.6 percent) and Apple (17.8 percent). Microsoft remained in fourth with its share dipping slightly below last quarter’s previous low of 9 percent. The proportion of smartphones running Google’s Android platform climbed to almost 4 percent, from just under 3 percent in 2Q09.

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US Mobile Phone Prices Drop

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The average selling price (ASP) of mobile devices in the US declined by 3 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm. The firm said that the ASP for mobile phones in the US fell to US$85, down from US$88 in the year earlier quarter. The decline was attributed to buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offers and other price reductions on smartphones. “Carriers have been heavily promoting the latest advanced handsets, which has spurred recent growth in the smartphone market and an increase in the number of smartphone brands available to consumers,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “For example, while there was only one Android device available in the fourth quarter of last year, now there are eight available from three major carriers.” Around 28 percent of handset sales were smartphones last quarter, the firm said.

According to NPD, smartphone price reductions by operators helped push the Blackberry Curve, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G to the top of the sales rankings for mobile phones. LG dominated sales of feature phones (ie: phones sold without an operating system) with LG enV3 and LG enV Touch rounding out the top five sellers. Mobile phone accessories sales reached US$2.3 billion in 3Q09, an increase of 12 percent over the prior quarter. “Growing revenue opportunities offered by accessories and service are just two ways that handsets offer revenue potential beyond someone switching carriers,” added Rubin.

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Nokia- One Linux Phone Next Year

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Nokia plans to install Linux software on just one new smartphone next year, Reuters reported yesterday, dampening prospects of a quick makeover of the Finnish group’s struggling product line-up. Nokia started to sell its first Linux phone, the top-of-the-range N900 model, this month. Nokia has traditionally only supported the Symbian operating system.

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Nokia Challenges LCD Suppliers In Court

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Nokia is suing a raft of manufacturers of Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), alleging that they colluded to fix prices. Its targets include rival handset vendors Samsung, LG and Sharp. The Finnish vendor alleges that such companies raised “the price of LCDs above the price that would have prevailed in a competitive market” in the period between January 1996 and December 2006. “Nokia suffered damages as a result… and is entitled to treble damages and injunctive relief to remedy these injuries,” Nokia said in its complaint, reports Dow Jones Newswires. Nokia is suing 11 companies in total; also named in the complaint are AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Tatung, Seiko Epson, Samsung SDI, Hitachi, Toshiba and Philips Electronics.

The report notes that Nokia’s suit comes as the LCD industry begins to emerge from a long downturn that had led to weak panel prices. The screens are used in mobile phones, personal computers and televisions. However, it is not the first time that the LCD suppliers have been investigated. Nokia’s complaint comes a year after a US Department of Justice inquiry that fined several players – including Sharp, Chunghwa, and LG Display – for price fixing. In other Nokia news today, the Finnish company said it has sold its shares in Venyon – a specialist in Near Field Communications (NFC) – to the German firm, Giesecke & Devrient.

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