A flood of new devices in the second half of 2009 are poised to offset the poor phone portfolio of the first six months.
The vast choice set to launch onto the market is expected to prise many consumers away from Sim-only deals.
Affordable touch-screen devices will be commonplace, and are fuelling expectations that the UK market will start to pick up.
Samsung’s Tocco Ultra, Nokia’s 5800 and the LG Arena are among the few stand-out handsets from the early part of 2009, and Motorola has not released any devices since 2008.
Analysts say the decline in the phone market should stabilise by Q3 or Q4 this year, and should pick up by the second half of 2010. However, this will be dependent on the new devices and the marketing around them.
Nokia vs Samsung
Given the number of phones coming out in the second half of the year, there are likely to be some disasters amid the competition. There will be winners and losers in what will be a cut-throat 2009.
LG plans to only release touch-screen devices in the second half of the year, while Nokia’s N97 has already attracted a waiting list and could be the catalyst to regain the UK top spot for the manufacturer. The handset will launch in June, initially as a Carphone Warehouse and O2 exclusive.
In 2009, it is likely that Nokia and Samsung will continue to go head to head. The N97 is regarded as profitable in terms of revenue but not in volume as the cost is too high, whereas Samsung ‘has all tiers and many phone releases’, including the i8910 HD (Omnia HD), which will initially be an Orange exclusive. All of Samsung’s touch-screens will also now be fitted with OLED technology - described as high-definition screens.
Sony Ericsson has a new flagship device, the Satio (originally known as the IDOU), which is set to take on the N97 this summer. It will combine its Walkman and Cyber-shot brands under a new ‘Entertainment Unlimited’ offering.
Many remain sceptical over Sony Ericsson’s latest proposition, with one analyst saying: ‘Sony Ericsson doesn’t seem to be setting the market alive with the Satio. The new brand is confusing and a 12-megapixel camera is not enough to get people buying it.’
RIM is set for the launch of its Storm 2 device, while Apple has reduced prices on its current iPhone, and is expected to launch a second handset imminently.
HTC is due to launch the Hero Android device as well as the Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2, and new entrant Huawei is set to release a low-end Google Android device on T-Mobile. Acer, Dell and Toshiba will also release phones in late 2009.
There is intense expectation for the Palm Pre on O2, bolstering the now established ‘web phone’ category.
Operators are looking to drive ARPU with more exclusive deals in the second half of the year.
Consumers will have a wider choice in the coming weeks and months.
Manufacturers are aware that an attractive handset portfolio can save them from decline. It is unclear who the winners and losers will be, but there is little doubt that not all handsets will succeed.
What the first six months offered
Samsung Tocco Ultra
Main selling points: Samsung’s first eight-megapixel phone with the dual-usability of a touch-screen and keypad.
Available on all networks
Main selling points: Nokia was slower than other manufacturers to release a touch-screen. The Comes With Music unlimited music service on the 5800 was held back exclusively for Orange and Phones 4u.
Available on Orange, O2 and Vodafone
Main selling points: LG’s answer to the iPhone with a similar user interface and touch-screen. It has a higher spec camera than the Apple version though, at five megapixels.
Orange exclusive (silver), T-Mobile exclusive (black)
What the next six months will offer
Apple iPhone 3.0
Main selling points: A newer version of the iPhone is expected to have upgraded camera and memory capabilities.
Exclusive to O2 (initially)
RIM BlackBerry Storm 2
Main selling points: RIM aims to attract the consumer market with a second Storm – the manufacturer hopes to iron out software problems, which affected the original on launch.
Available at Vodafone
Main selling points: The second Google Android phone for the UK market and exclusive to Vodafone – it follows T-Mobile’s exclusive G1 release in October.
Exclusive to Vodafone
Main selling points: Palm’s answer to the iPhone, with a brand new operating system and touch-screen usability.
Available on O2
Samsung i8910 HD
Main selling points: The follow up to last year’s Omnia, upgraded with HD to provide focus on its video and camera quality.
Exclusive to Orange (initially)
Sony Ericsson Satio (IDOU)
Main selling points: This 12-megapixel phone combines Sony Ericsson’s Walkman and Cyber-shot brands under ‘Entertainment Unlimited’.
Main selling points: The N97 will launch the manufacturer’s applications and services portal, Ovi, which can be accessed via a built-in widget on the phone.
Available on all networks and at all retailers
Samsung Pixon 12
Main selling points: The first 12-megapixel camera to hit the UK market; it’ll be on the shelves by the end of this month.
LG Viewty Smart
Main selling points: Follow up to one of LG’s first touch-screens, the Viewty,
the new version boasts an eight-megapixel camera.
HTC Touch Diamond2
Main selling points: The first ‘Touch Diamond’ encountered software faults. HTC has said the new version will be better than the original.
Orange likely to figure prominently
Sony Ericsson W995
Main selling points: High spec features differentiate this device from its predecessors, with faster internet speeds, bigger memory and an eight-megapixel camera.
Available on all networks and at all retailers