Battle of the Bands: Handset Pricing Categories in Our New Smartphone Report
While Apple has released another set of impressive quarterly results, it should not be forgotten that smartphones increasingly come in many forms and, consequently, at many price points. We won’t gloss-over 20 million iPhone shipments in the quarter-ending 25th June 2011, especially for a premium smartphone (see definition below) – but there is plenty of action at the other end of the market too. Behind the scenes we’ve given some serious thought to how we categorised smartphones in our new report, and we see price point as a key one for a device which is transitioning from niche to mainstream fairly rapidly. As more and more handsets become smartphones, it would be easy to adopt the ‘Superphone’ tag – one based on fast-moving hardware specifications – to separate out high-end devices. While the development of high-end smartphone features is important (and we discuss this in some detail as well), when forecasting shipments: 2011’s superphone is 2016’s feature phone. Given this statement, it is self-evident that there will be more superphones in five years’ time as higher features become more cost-effective. However, taking the minimum requirements that make a device a smartphone and forecasting what the spread of pricing will be will tell us much more about the market in 2016. And this is what we’ve done: forecast smartphone shipments by three price bands – premium ($400 and above), standard ($151-$399) and economy (under $150). Thus a key finding from our report is that economy smartphones will make-up nearly one-third of the 1.0 billion smartphone shipments by 2016. What does this mean in the context of Apple’s latest results? Well, we won’t give the game away – you’ll have to read the report to find that out! – but, while shipments of premium smartphones like the iPhone aren’t going to stop growing, the numbers of those few smartphones hitting the sub-$150 price point are going to boom, and become a significant proportion of total smartphone shipments.