IDC today was the latest to publish its numbers on smartphone market shares after the major handset makers released Q1 earnings, and like Gartner, Strategy Analytics and the rest, it underscores the power of Google’s Android platform at the moment: Android OEMs shipped 162.1 million handsets in the quarter, giving the platform a 75% share of total worldwide shipments, while Apple’s 37.4 million devices put it at an increasingly distant second position at 17.3%. Microsoft’s Windows Phone, driven primarily by its partner Nokia (79% of all WP shipments), grew the most of all platforms, with a rise of 133.3%, but that still puts it at a single-digit share, 3.2% on 7 million devices shipped.
That meant that Microsoft has now overtaken BlackBerry, which declined by just over 35% with 6.5 million shipments, ending with a 2.9% market share.
Important to note that IDC specifies that this is devices shipped, not sold. Some analysts have told me that the two are effectively interchangeable terms, but shipped is also potentially a more optimistic figure: it points to how well retailers and carriers think certain models are likely to sell in the quarter ahead. Occasionally these can lag compared to how well certain handset makers are actually doing if a device ends up selling worse than expected.
What “shipped” numbers like IDC’s say is that Android and iOS continue to, more or less, remain the only games in town in terms of how confident sales channels feel about shifting devices, with other platforms relegated to niche status. This is something that companies like BlackBerry are trying to change, as evidenced by a recent deal to extend a $256 million loan to Telefonica for purchasing BlackBerry devices.
IDC’s numbers show that together these two platforms accounted for nearly 200 million units (199.5 million) shipped, up 59% over a year ago. The smaller players are not to be dismissed, though. Not only is Windows Phone the most rapidly rising of all platforms at the moment, but IDC notes that BlackBerry’s BB10 new range have hit 1 million shipped devices this quarter.
But turnaround will only come with that kind of growth being sustained. “Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alterative to Android or iOS,” writes Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC.
For the time being, the message to users, and to app developers, is that these are the platforms where you want to be. Considering how key content has been as a route to attracting users to these devices, that will continue to pose a challenge for the smaller players.
As with Strategy Analytics’ numbers yesterday detailing the profitability of different smartphone platforms in the quarter, IDC notes that Samsung is by far the “clear leader” in Android. It notes that it had a 41.1% market share. As a sign of the ongoing fragmentation of players on the platform, no other single OEM had more than a single-digit percentage market share after that, “and an even longer list of vendors with market share less than one percent.” The fact that it’s still “free” to license Android, and relatively easy to modify it for a more custom experience, will mean that it will continue to be the platform of choice for OEMs looking for more revenues from the ongoing boom in smartphones.
As we saw in Apple’s earnings earlier in the quarter, the company’s sales of iPhones are at an all-time high, but in comparison to the growth of the rest of the market, it’s actually off, with market share down nearly six percentage points. There is some feeling that part of this is due to the fact that the platform appears stale compared to all the change going on elsewhere with software and hardware features, news handsets and more. “Although demand remains strong worldwide, the iOS experience has remained largely the same since the first iPhone debuted in 2007,” IDC notes, pointing to a “massive overhaul” that appears to be on the cards with iOS 7.
IDC also notes that over the last year, shares of the biggest platforms have fluctuated, although Android’s current 75% is the highest in a year. Against that, the last time that Android approached 75%, in Q3 2012, Apple’s share was only 14.5% as people held out for a new iPhone model. That shows that Apple’s growth this quarter was at the expense of declines for other smaller platforms.
Samsung has confirmed via the Korean website Chosun Ilbo that it has shipped over 6 million units of the Galaxy S4 since its international release on April 26. According to the firm, this is the fastest ever sell rate for a Galaxy S smartphone, or any other Samsung smartphone for that matter.
Specifically, the Galaxy S4 hit 4 million shipments between April 26 (release date) and April 30, and had reached 6 million units sold by May 10.
For a little perspective, the Galaxy S sold 3 million units in 85 days, while the Galaxy S2 took 55 days to achieve the same feat, and the Galaxy S III hit the 3 million mark in just 21 days.
An executive at the company told Chosun Ilbo the following:
“As of the end of April, we supplied four million Galaxy S4 handsets to telecommunication operators around the world. As of Friday, we have sold more than 6 million units, and we predict that we could break the 10-million mark by as early as the end of this month.”
It’s worth noting that these “sales” are to wireless operators, and not direct to consumers. In other words, Samsung has shipped 6 million units of the Galaxy S4 since April 26.
Obviously, the Galaxy S line is selling notably well for Samsung, and the progress from one generation to the next is made clear by these figures. But even though Samsung dominates the market right now, and has a near-monopoly on Android, the iPhone is still technically a faster selling phone than any of Samsung’s Galaxy models.
Remember when the iPhone 5 launched? Apple clocked over 2 million pre-orders for the latest-generation iPhone in the first 24 hours it was available. For pre-order.
And where progress is concerned, the iPhone’s popularity grows with each generation as well, and in this case even faster than Samsung’s Galaxy S line. iPhone 5 pre-orders were 2x the number of pre-orders seen for the iPhone 4S.
In either case, both companies are raking in the dough with their flagship lines.
A day after Groupon released (and then pulled) an iPad app with a new mobile payments dashboard for businesses, today the company is taking the wraps off a bigger piece of news around its larger plans to expand its commerce services for local merchants. Building on its Breadcrumb payments and commerce service for restaurants, which Groupon acquired last year, the company today is rebranding its wider payments service — and the final version of that free iPad app — under the same name.
The new iPad app for merchants of all stripes is called “Breadcrumb POS,” while the old Breadcrumb app for restaurants will now be called “Breacrumb Pro.” Both will be here when they go live on the app store.
Sound confusing for both to be called Breadcrumb? Streamlining names is usually meant to simplify things. Groupon says that in fact this is what is happening here: “As it turned out, when we spoke to merchants at salons and other retailers, they were fine with the name Breadcrumb,” says Mihir Shah, VP for Merchant OS at Groupon. “It was about how good are the rates, and the quality of the actual POS product and software.”
Indeed, it makes sense for Groupon to position like this, considering that the marketing play of targeting those who have never been able to process credit cards before is now a little me-too. “We’re not just targeting simple paymet solutions for those who didn’t take credit cards before,” says Shah. “We’re offering a better service to them.”
Both the app, and Groupon’s wider payment services — they also include the Groupon Merchants apps that sit on iPhone and Android handsets, which turn them into credit card readers — are U.S.-only for now. The company is still working on expanding this internationally to the 500,000 merchants it says already use Groupon’s platform for daily deals and other offers. As we noted yesterday, expanding payments services is part of the company’s bigger ambition to take its business beyond daily deals and into other revenue streams.
But, because Groupon is coming into the market of mobile payments and local commerce relatively late — Square, PayPal’s here and others have already been here for a while scooping up business – Groupon is being aggressive on both the rates it charges, and also in making the service as easy to integrate as possible into a business.
To attract new payments business from among the 100,000 merchants in the U.S. that already sell daily deals and other products through Groupon’s platform, as well as those merchants who do not, Groupon is targeting lower, and sometimes no, rates. Those who sign up now get the first $5,000 of payments processed through the service without being subject to any fees. After that, Groupon offers a guarantee that its fees are lower than any one else’s: Shah tells TechCrunch that Groupon will match its competitor’s rates if a merchant can submit proof of those rates being better.
Groupon charges merchants 1.8% on Visa, MasterCard and Discover swiped transactions, 2.3% when keyed in, plus $0.15 for each transaction. American Express pricing is more complicated as it is “determined by American Express based on your industry category.” The rates range from 2.3%-3.5% (swiped) and $0.00 to $0.15 per transaction, says Groupon. For non-Groupon Merchants, the fees are higher: 2.2% when MasterCard, Visa and Discover are swiped, plus $0.15 per transaction. As a point of comparison, Square has two options: a flat 2.75% fee per swipe, or $275 per month with no fees per swipe — with the latter aimed at higher-volume users, or those who like to gamble that they might be.
Groupon also says that it is halving the time for payment deposits to appear in a merchant account, to 24 hours from two to three days.
In addition to competitive commission and deposit rates, the company is also taking a leaf from its Breadcrumb launch last year and bundling the app with some of the physical hardware that will help people run it.
It calls this service the “Bread Box” and typical packages range in price from $246 (iPad stand, cash drawer, a reader dongle for a mobile device) through to $914 (all three of those, plus a printer for receipts and an iPad 2). Groupon is also selling these a la carte (by the slice?) on its web site in the Breadcrumb Store, with other products including the iPad Mini, and other products.
With Groupon currently beating analyst expectations but still searching for a new permanent CEO after the ouster of founder Andrew Mason, it’s moves like this one that are signals to the market that it is trying to get itself into fighting fit shape, cutting away some of the excess and focusing its products and execution. Whether merchants will buy into the deal being offered by the company — lower rates and all — and whether Groupon will be able to extend this to its still-fragmented but huge international business, are the two big questions. Especially as competitors like Square and Paypal continue to up their game with products not unlike those Groupon’s offering in the Bread Box.
Most people may not yet be using smartphones to pay for goods when they are out shopping, but that doesn’t mean that they are not glued to their handsets anyway. Some research out today from Google indicates that among smartphone owners, some 79% can be classified as “mobile shoppers,” using their devices for some aspect of the shopping experience, from finding store locations through to finding goods. On top of that, among those who use smartphones for any kind of shopping or browsing, some 84% do so in physical stores. And when it comes to investing in experiences that consumers like, retailers should stick to mobile web sites: 65% of consumers prefer these to apps.
This means that while we are still slowly inching towards for one of the holy grails of mobile commerce — using devices for actual transactions at the point of sale — there are still plenty of retail opportunities to snag people along the way.
“Some stores promote their expanded inventory online or implement a price match guarantee to retain savings-hungry shoppers. Others are putting smartphones to use with QR codes that share more information about products, or apps with store maps and real-time inventory,” writes Adam Grunewald, Mobile Marketing Manager for Google, in a blog post. “Whatever tactics marketers choose, it’s clear that smartphones are changing the in-store experience, and that winning the key decision moments at the physical shelves mean owning the digital shelves too.”
And while Google didn’t spell this out, this research also speaks to how Google appears to be spending less time these days pushing its own mobile wallet solutions, and more time presenting itself as an enabler of more holistic mobile shopping experiences.
Working with retail research group M.A.R.C. Research, the Google Shopper Council surveyed some 1,500 consumers who indicated that they use their smartphones for some form of shopping activity. Apart from finding that the vast majority of them use the devices in stores, they found the average time spent on shopping-related activities devices was around 15 minutes. Within that, the most popular service was not so much shopping, as it was shopping around: some 53% of respondents said that they used their devices for price comparison searches. The second-most popular service was closely related: it was looking for offers and promotions (39%). After that it was store practicalities — finding store locations (36%) and opening hours (35%).
Google and M.A.R.C. also looked into how users were using handsets in the lead up to going to stores. As you would expect, some of those practicalities around store logistics are more popular at that time. (These results also closely mirror some of the predictions that Google made about how mobile shopping was likely to play out in the months ahead.)
In reality, retailers potentially are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to mobile commerce. Short of them gaining the expertise and making the investment to capitalize on this themselves, there are a number of third parties tackling the opportunity of targeting shoppers who use mobile devices, and capitalizing on it. Startups like Shopkick, which in January of this year told me it was already profitable, has built a business partnering with major retailers like Best Buy and Target to offer users deals on goods while they are in store, with the offers pushed to them just as they are in the vicinity of the products. Shopkick says that usage of its app contributed to some $200 million in sales in 2012.
On the other hand, there are others that are actually seizing the opportunity afforded by smartphone usage to offer users cheaper alternatives that can be found via e-commerce channels. When Amazon launched its price check app in 2011 — a way for shoppers to quickly look up items just before buying them in store to see if they can find cheaper alternatives online (and on Amazon) — Forbes noted that it “may be evil, but it’s the future.”
The Google research seems to indicate that there is a clear opportunity to target avid smartphone users, as well as to encourage people to use their smartphones more: in general people using their mobile devices for shopping turn out to be bigger shoppers in general, with those buying health and beauty products increasing their median “basket size” the most, by some 50%. (Incidentally, Google doesn’t give any breakdowns between how males and females fare in these categories.)
In the wider world, apps have come to dominate how many interface with their mobile devices, but interestingly when it comes to retailers, mobile web experiences appear to be preferable to consumers. This may be because it is far more likely that a user will just want to look up information about something quickly rather than take the time to download an app in order to obtain information. Unlike Instagram, e-mail or your favorite game, it may be less likely that you will be returning to a retailer’s app on a regular basis enough to merit parking it on your handset.
Some of the research seems too directly self-serving to Google’s own interests — for example the stat that some 82% of mobile shoppers use mobile search to help make purchase decisions. But on the whole some interesting insights into the ever-growing connection between our smartphones and our wallets. The full research report can be found here.
Facebook may be trying to sweeten the deal to get Home into more hands, or AT&T and HTC might just want their money. But for some reason, the Facebook Phone aka the HTC First’s price has dropped from $99 to $0.99 on contract less than a month after its debut. Considering it comes with unbloated stock Android and a speedy LTE connection, that could be a bargain.
Facebook tells me “We think this is a good move by AT&T and have highlighted the new price on our Facebook Mobile Page.” AT&T is also running a discount special on the popular HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, so this might not be as much a reflection of the First’s momentum as an overarching move on the carrier’s part. Plus, all phones get price drops eventually.
Facebook has maintained that it’s committed to working with manufacturers on handsets, so don’t expect this to be the last Facebook Phone. But it seems Home wasn’t a strong enough selling point to convince tons people to buy a phone with a soggy camera – my main gripe about the HTC First. The 5-megapixel lens did a crummy job in low light, and Home buries the controls for the camera making it harder to catch candid shots.
Fewer than 1 million people have downloaded Home for their Android phones, and many fewer may have been willing to pay $99 for a phone with it. But Home will get better, and so will any phone carrying it. As I wrote yesterday, I expect Facebook to address the main complaints about the “apperating system” in its monthly updates. Specifically, I’d bet on a deeper onboarding flow to make Home less confusing, and a way for it to preserve your widgets and homescreen app folders rather than completely replacing them as it does now.
If Home improves soon, or HTC releases another version of the First with a better camera, I think sales of the brand could pick up. Facebook might want to draft some new commercials in the meantime, though, as the last few made the First and Home seem like a non-stop barrage of interruptions.