Monday, 20 October 2008 16:37

2008 the 'œyear of the smartphone' says Telsyte

Research firm Telsyte has put out a report on smartphones in the Australian market, showing nearly 3 in 10 phones sold will be smartphones, with 50 new models introduced this year alone.

We’ve certainly heard a lot about smartphones over the past few years, with frenetic activity in the last 12 months.

Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s N-Series phones (such as the N95 and N96), HTC’s Touch range and previous incarnations, BlackBerry devices, Sony Ericsson’s Cybershot range of camera phones and other brands of Windows Mobile smartphones have all been with us for a few years now, with every new model advancing the power and capabilities of the smartphone.

The last 12 months has seen the iPhone 3G, HTC’s Touch Diamond and Touch Pro, the BlackBerry Bold and upcoming Storm, the upcoming Nokia XpressMedia 5800 ‘Tube’ phone and other iPhone-esque devices from Samsung and LG.

Research firm Telsyte says there have been 50 models this year already, with the BlackBerry Storm and Nokia 5800 still to arrive in the weeks and months to come.

So quickly has the popularity of smartphones grown that over the last five years, the annual smartphone shipment has grown by a whopping 40 times.

Although one might now expect the economic crisis and predicted higher unemployment rates might cause shipments to shrink a little over the next year or two, most phones have always been sold on a 24-month contract.

This obviously spreads the cost out over 24 months so consumers aren’t paying several hundred or more dollars out upfront, so as long as this doesn’t change, the ever evolving smartphone should continue being an easily attainable digital toy and tool.

Warren Chaisatien, Telsyte Research Director said that: “2008 has been the year of the smartphone in Australia, with a record 50 models introduced this year alone,” said.

Telsyte says the Apple iPhone, HTC Touch Diamond, and BlackBerry Storm, all of which feature “large touch screens with very few or no buttons, full online and multimedia capabilities, and highly intuitive gesture-based input methods” are excellent examples.

Chaisatien noted however that these next-gen platforms aren’t open source, and alongside the iPhones of the world comes “the rise of next-generation smartphones is the emergence of open-source mobile platforms, such as the new Symbian and Google’s Android, which is forcing established vendors like RIM and Microsoft to watch their backs.”

“As users and carriers move towards off-deck content, the key for established players is to enrich their ecosystems by opening up their platforms while maintaining their unique competitiveness and security.”

So, where does Telsyte see a “large untapped market opportunity” in all of this smartphone bliss?

Please read on to page 2.

Despite smartphones clearly being more popular than ever, there’s clearly still lots of “first-time smartphone users” out there, and still to come.

After all, regular not-so-smart phones that are great for calls and SMS but not email or web browsing are out there, with many people experiencing a true smartphone for the first time with the advent of the iPhone.

This is where Telsyte sees “a large untapped market opportunity” –  around entry-level, first-time smartphone users, a segment receptive to advertising and location-based services.

For business users, it looks like it’s all about using smartphones in a smarter manner, taking advantage of “multi-mode (3G/WiFi) connectivity, mobile PBX and mobile VoIP functionality”.

Meanwhile, consumer smartphone users are said to be highly interested in “mobile instant messaging, search, maps and email applications”.

Telsyte says this “represents good news for consumer marketing groups who are constantly looking for ways to gain consumer attention.”

The findings in question come from Telsyte’s latest research report titled, “Comparative Analysis of Australian Smartphones and Vendors, 3Q2008”.

Telsyte is clearly hoping that “organisations planning to mobile their workforce with smartphone technologies” decides the report is worth investing in for more details.

This report is meant to provided “an authoritative assessment of Australian smartphone market developments and reviews Australia’s latest smartphone features and application capabilities” while also discussing “the changing landscape of the mobile operating system market, business and consumer preferences for smartphones and their perceptions on the vendors, as well as their preferences for segmented content.”

2008 may well be the year of the smartphone, but it also the year of the netbook, both of which are “mobile Internet devices” (MIDs) even if the netbook needs a Wi-Fi or 3.5G connection to go online.

Unless the economic crises really throws things off the rails, it looks like 2009 and 2010 will continue being great years for the smartphone and MID segments too!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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