Unwired Views for 2011. Staska: huge growth for WP7, Android still #2, Samsung, LG and WebOS

I guess that by now you are a bit tired with the tech predictions for 2011. Sorry, can’t help it.

It’s just that time of the year when every self respecting tech publication feels compelled to to show off how well they can read into the tech trend tea leaves. And after years of resisting, we have also finally succumbed to this thing. But hey, it’s not “what to expect/predictions for CES”, at least…

I asked fellow Unwired View editors to share their 5 predictions of interesting things in mobile, bound to happen later this year. Here’s Brad’s 2011 predictions, here’s what Florin has to say about the new year trends, and here’s Vlad’s take on 2011.

And here are my predictions for 2011:

1. Windows Phone 7 will be the fastest growing OS in 2011. This one’s really a no brainer. With WP7 Microsoft has created an OS that can stand on it’s own feet and compete both with iOS and Android. World’s #2 and #3 phone makers – LG and Samsung – have already picked up Windows Phone as one of their major platforms, as did the most active and fastest growing smartphone player – HTC. Carriers have also accepted the new OS, and are pushing heavily subsidized WP7 offerings right alongside their Androids and iPhones. Furthermore – there are now credible reports that Microsoft is in talks with Nokia to put it’s OS on Finnish phones. If Microsoft is able to nab Nokia to push WP7 through its unmatched distribution channels,  only the sky is the  limit to WP7. But even without Nokia, the new OS will do great in 2011. Microsoft WP7 only launched in Q4 2010, and will be starting 2011 from a low base of 2-3 million devices shipped. Combined support of Samsung, LG and  HTC, hundreds of millions Microsoft will be pouring into WP7 promotion this year together with many of mobile carriers, should propel WP7 growth very nicely. It won’t repeat the mind blowing 10x+ a year growth we’ve seen with Android this year. But even if WP7 ships only on 10 million devices in  Q4 2011, that will be a 300-500% YoY growth.  I think  WP7 can do better then that, and in Q4 2011 be on  14 to 16 million new devices.

2. Android will still remain #2 OS by market share, behind Nokia’s Symbian. As I said in my predictions for Android 2011, Android growth will be slowing down. Unit wise, Android will grow nicely next year, most likely repeating 2010 feat and adding another 200-300 000 devices to it’s daily activation count. Which will allow Google’s partners to ship somewhere between 45 and 50 million new Android devices in Q4, 2011. But that will be only a little bit higher then 100% growth from 20-23 million Android devices, that shipped in Q4 2010. Meanwhile, smartphone market will continue to barge ahead with smartphone sales approaching 500 million units in 2011, with 140-150 million of them sold in Q4 2011. Which means that Android will add a few market share points next year, but it will only be a few, and Android will end the 2011 with 30% (+-2%) market share.  While Nokia’s Symbian might lose a few market share points next year, Symbian will still grow close enough to the overall market to ship on more then 50 million units in Q4 2011. So, when the final numbers come in sometime in January 2012, Symbian will still be #1 OS worldwide, with Android breathing down their necks,  but still behind.

3. WebOS will take the third place among tablets shipped in 2011. But HP’s efforts in smartphone market will have only a very limited success. WebOS  smartphones will outsell Android phones made by PC industry rivals, but WebOS market share will hover in low single digits and will not make  it into top 5.  Sales channels and potential customers for tablets are pretty similar to how PCs are sold today. So when HP finally releases it’s WebOS based tablets – they will be able to move a whole lot of them. HP is the worlds biggest computer maker and knows how to sell PCs all over the world. However, since Apple invented tablet category, currently completely dominates it, and has  another generation of tablets coming soon, there is no way for any competing platform to displace iPad from it’s #1 spot in 2011. And Android – with everyone but HP making their own Honeycomb tablets, will take #2 spot almost by default. Which leaves HP in a strong #3 position in tablets.

The smartphone market is different. As every PC maker who tried to muscle in with their Windows Mobile and Android phones during the last 3 years will tell you – mobile is a pretty hard market to crack, and mobile carriers are gatekeepers here. HP has bought some carrier relations expertise with Palm. And they will do better in smartphones then any of it’s rivals coming from PC world (Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, etc;) – but overall WebOS device sales and market share will remain very low for a smartphone category.

4. Samsung will become #2 smartphone vendor, shipping 28 million smartphones worldwide in Q4 2011. Samsung has been #2 mobile phone vendor in the world for quite a few years now. But Korean giant never paid much attention to smartphone market, focusing on it’s own feature phones instead. Yes, Samsung always had a smartphone model or two on almost any operating system it could license – Symbian, Windows Mobile. LiMo, Android… But Samsung was never too serious about smartphones, not even registering among Top 5 smartphone makers until this summer.

Well, Samsung got serious about smartphones this summer, with the release of Galaxy S, and showed us what a world wide distribution channel built over 20 years in mobile industry can be worth. The results came in within a quarter. Samsung vaulted into a Top 5 smartphone maker list after the first quarter of Galaxy S sales, and, most likely, displaced HTC as #4 a in Q4.

For the next year,  Samsung already announced that it plans to sell 10 million of it’s own Bada phones in the first half of 2011. During full 2011 it may as well sell 12-13 million more, with 7-8 million of them sold in Q4 2011. Then there is that 34% smartphone market share, Samsung has carved up for itself among Android smartphone makers. I don’t see anyone taking it away from them this year. Since I predict that Android unit shipments will grow to 50 million in Q4 2011, Samsung should ship 16 million of those devices. And then we have Windows Phone 7. As per prediction #1, I expect a pretty  healthy growth for Microsoft OS this year to 14-16 million devices in Q4 2011. I don’t see any reason why Samsung shouldn’t have at least 25% of that category as well. That gives us about 4 million of Samsung Windows Phones shipped in Q4 this year. Let’s add it all up: 8 million Bada + 16 million Android + 4 million WP7= 28 million Samsung smartphones shipped in Q4 2011.  That should be enough to make Samsung into a #2 smartphone vendor worldwide.

5. LG will become a surprisingly important player in smartphone game. It will end the year in a Top 6 position on a smartphone market share list, trailing closely behind HTC.  LG has completely missed the smartphone explosion of late 2009 and 2010. Just as the smartphone market was heating up in early 2009, LG hitched it’s wagon to a dead horse – Windows Mobile, by entering into alliance with Microsoft, just as Redmond giant was abandoning it’s first try at smartphone OS.  LG completely ignored Android in 2009, and then opted to work on a mid-range Android handset – Optimus One – in 2010. When all the action, growth and profits were at the high end alternatives to iPhone like HTC Desire, Motorola Droids and Samsung Galaxy S.

But things are changing already. LG’s work with Microsoft is finally starting to pay off, with it’s Optimus 7/Quantum devices strongly competitive among Windows Phones. LG is also getting into high end Android smartphone category with their already announced Optimus 2X device. And, all things considered, their mid-end Optimus One smartphone wasn’t a failure either. In fact, it was quite well received and has a moderately good sales. As the top of the line specs of early 2009 (Cortex A8 CPU, 512 MB of RAM, etc;) move to a $350-450 devices this year, LG’s strong position in the mid market should help it keep up with igniting growth there.

Also, as Samsung showed us this year, when your hardware and software is good enough, well developed distribution channels in mobile industry is probably the most important thing for the success of your device. And LG already is, for quite a few years, #3 mobile phone vendor in the world. As those well made high-end and mid- end Android Phones, as well Windows Phone 7 devices begin flowing through LG distribution pipes, LGs smartphone shipments will quickly ramp up to several million devices a month. The Top 5  level in smartphone market is probably too competitive and strong, for LG to get in there. It all depends on how HTC will do next year, but all signs show that they should do even better then they did this year.  However, with Motorola focusing mostly on U.S. market and more or less leaving the rest of its markets on autopilot, Sony Ericsson doing whatever they think they are doing, and Chinese vendors like ZTE and Huawei still too weak to play on a global scale, #6 spot among smartphone makers is wide open and LG’s to take.

Well, that’s about it with my 5 predictions for 2011. We’ll be checking out all the predictions from UV team – mine, Brad’s, Florin’s and Vlad’s – as 2011 draws to a close, to see who’s crystal ball was clearest.

Make sure you are following us then.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • I-Am-Not_iNaive

    I totally agree with your opinion of windows phone 7 being the fastest growing OS this year as it seems to be a very cool OS.

  • I-Am-Not_iNaive

    I totally agree with your opinion of windows phone 7 being the fastest growing OS this year as it seems to be a very cool OS.

  • http://winphone4u.com SeanL

    I think WP7 will get 15% market share by the end of 2011.