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Bill Bennett


Lack of innovation hurts phone makers

Galaxy S7There are signs the lack of innovation in recent times is hurting phone makers.

Reuters reports from Seoul:

Samsung is expected to post its smallest profit growth in more than a year in the second quarter, as lackluster sales of its premium Galaxy smartphones overshadow its highly profitable chip business.

Analysts expect Samsung’s smartphone sales to drop in the April-June quarter, following a more than 2 percent drop in the previous quarter as consumers flock to cheaper models from Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi Corp.

Samsung’s lead over Apple in the global smartphone market is under pressure after the U.S. firm’s iPhone X exceeded market expectations while a lack of technological innovation dogs Samsung offerings.

“Functions (that) Samsung’s mobile phones have are not attractive enough for customers to spend more money on,” said Song Myung-sup, analyst at HI Investment & Securities.

It’s not just Samsung, other phone makers are rubbing up against the same issue. We’re on the top, flat part of the innovation S curve as far as the current generation of phones are concerned.

Phone makers go on improving cameras and bumping speeds. Yet there hasn’t been an improvement that makes a significant difference for at least three years. A better camera, smaller bezel or a library of childish emoji is not innovation, it’s window dressing.

Why upgrade?

For most people that means no pressing reason to upgrade.

At the same time, cheaper phone brands have caught up to the point where they now offer all the essential features at a lower price. In some cases that’s a much lower price. If you own a three year old Android phone from a top brand like Samsung you can swap it for better technology and pay half what you paid for your existing model.

We’ve been here before with the PC and no doubt we’ll be here again. Stable designs are not necessarily a bad thing for consumers, but they kill hardware company profits.



2 thoughts on “Lack of innovation hurts phone makers

  1. Earlier this year, after reading rave reviews for it, I bought a 64Gb Moto 5G Plus from Amazon US. It cost US$200. I added a 64GB micro SD card from AliExpress for NZ$30 and had myself a dirt cheap high capacity phone.

    It doesn’t have the latest generation of Android yet, but that doesn’t bother me.I had the latest OS on the Nexus 5x it replaced and I haven’t missed it at all. I still get security updates. The phone goes like a train, with effectively stock Android. It has no NFC, but I have no desire whatever to wave my phone over a POS machine.

    I was lucky that the price was particularly low because the phone had Amazon ads on the lock screen. But shortly after I bought it, Amazon, for some unexplained reason, removed these ads with an over the air update.

    I’ve loved the long battery life, which is at least half as much again as my Nexus 5x. That was very useful during a recent European holiday when I used Google maps into the evening on many days.

    Even the camera is pretty good – not quite up to the 5x standard, but it took some good substitute photos on a couple of days when my real camera’s battery ran out.

    For practical purposes, for me the only thing that is inferior to a $1500 iPhone or Samsung is the camera. However, because I take photography seriously, I prefer a real camera.

    I just can’t see value for money in the high-priced, so-called high end cameras.


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