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Handset Wars – the Global and Local Smartphone Market

Autor:   •  May 16, 2017  •  Essay  •  371 Words (2 Pages)  •  270 Views

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Case Study Commentary:

Handset Wars – the Global and Local Smartphone Market
Tony Sims
May 2017

The global smartphone industry is dominated by a relatively small number of highly competitive corporations, including of course Apple, the most valuable company in the world. These dominant players in the industry have tightened their grip on the market in the roughly 15-year transition from mobile phone to internet-enabled smartphone.

While the industry clearly makes a significant contribution to the economic wealth of the world, it’s the enormous socio-cultural changes coming along with the smartphone that are having the greater impact. One only has to compare the activity of commuters travelling to work now with those of ten years ago to witness this change. Furthermore, as low-cost smartphones penetrate further into the poorer parts of the world, the contribution made to business, education and communication in society generally will be extensive.

Since the early years of this century, sales volumes of smartphones have expanded rapidly, with well over a billion handsets now sold annually. Despite recent problems, Samsung remain the most successful manufacturer by volume, and their highly-rated new S8 model is likely to help the company retain success. The Apple iPhone is clearly a dominant brand but while successful in many markets, it has recently lost ground in China to lower priced smartphones from newly expanding local manufacturers OPPO and Vivo. Longer established brands Huawei and Xiaomi are also successful in the growing Asian marketplace.

Most smartphones are not directly manufactured by these corporations, instead production is outsourced mostly to South-East Asia (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam), but factories also exist in Mexico, Brazil and Eastern Europe. Some big name manufacturers like Foxconn have a poor reputation for social responsibility, and while they employ many people, automation in the industry is growing rapidly.

The dominant software systems that run the phones are Android (81%), Google’s open source and licensed system used by many handset manufacturers, and iOS (17%), Apple’s own proprietary system. Many older systems like Blackberry and Symbian have long since been overtaken and abandoned, and Microsoft Windows only runs on about 1% of smartphones.

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