Who could beat Samsung and become the biggest Android phone maker?

January 16, 2013
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    android predictions

    If anyone could unseat Samsung for Android dominance, who could it be? It’s unlikely anyone could have the worldwide presence Samsung has, but there are a few interesting wrinkles to that issue. Is Samsung as solvent as we think, or are they crumbling behind the scenes? Are some of the smaller players in mobile stronger than we know?

    Being the biggest name only means you have the biggest target on your back. Let’s take a hard look at which mobile company could disrupt Samsung’s reign.

    The toy group

    We should begin with the little, lesser known brands. The little yappy dogs in this fight that make a bit of noise, but are often dismissed quickly and easily. Some of them aspire to greatness, and some of them are just coming into their own.

    Oppo

    Oppo Find 5 back_600px

    Oppo is an Asian-centric company, and their new Oppo 5 handset will be launching in China first. A gorgeous 5-inch display with quite a bit of muscle behind it is very attractive, to say the least. They have designs on bringing that handset to North America, so we may get to find out what Oppo is about for ourselves soon.

    If, however, they don’t get their new device to us here in the US soon, they will lose ground. If they wait too long to get the device released worldwide, they risk being laughed out of the dog park. Oppo should tread lightly, but move quickly as well.

    Xiaomi

    xiaomi m2 sales gimmick

    Pronounced “show me”, Xiaomi is in a great position to really challenge the world market. Although relatively unknown here in the US, they already have a good presence in Asia and contribute to a very exciting trend for consumers: the high end device with a low end price. Their 2012 offering, a namesake phone offered at around $320US, had a dual core Snapdragon processor under the hood. That’s not coming to market with your fingers crossed, that’s kicking the door in and announcing your presence.

    Xiaomi is also a start-up, and the mobile market is thick. Every startup faces the same problem of being properly capitalized, so if they aren’t, there is nothing stopping a larger company from turning their lights out or simply purchasing them. Their 2012 offering, the Xiaomi Phone 2, was admittedly sold well below cost. They have a nice lineup of accessories with which to recoup some of that lost profit, but selling a device at below cost is just, well, bad business. Xiaomi is either subtly brilliant or bat-crap crazy. Either way, they’ll have to show me they have the goods.

    The non sporting group

    Maybe not the biggest in the business, but they may just be well positioned to work their way into a front runner position. These are brands you’ve heard quite a bit from, even if you haven’t had a chance to pick up one of their devices (yet). Maybe they’re the next big thing, or maybe they are best suited right where they are.

    Huawei

    huawei-ascend-comparison-1

    Huawei is dead set on establishing themselves. They are releasing handsets for the US market as well as Asia, and seem to have a great strategy for establishing a true world presence. Huawei makes beautiful devices that can keep up with the market trends, and seem poised to operate on both sides of the pond. Their new dual-SIM device on offer in China suggests they will produce one phone for a true world market.

    There is, of course, the case of the Ascend Mate 2. This… I don’t know, “phone” I guess… has a 6.1” screen. A beautiful device, but maybe damaging to Huawei’s reputation. Many users already scoff at the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which is 5.5”, so going even larger could make Huawei seem silly. As a first introduction for many to Huawei, this sets a bad precedence.

    ZTE

    zte-grand-s

    ZTE has the distinction of having phones readily available in the US market. Their phones have been available here for about a year, so we’re fairly familiar with their stuff. Their new Grand S may be something to behold, with a 13MP camera on the back and a 5-inch Gorilla Glass screen. In a lot of ways, ZTE seems to be picking up where HTC may have left off.

    Beauty is attractive, but brains will keep you around. Some reviews site the Grand S as being a bit unresponsive to touch, and what good is a killer camera if the screen didn’t register you wanted the picture taken? ZTE may have a full lineup of phones ranging from entry level to top end (like the Grand S is positioned), but unless they bring a first-class experience to their high end phones, they’re better off making mid to entry level phones.

    The sporting group

    These dogs have legs and can run for miles. They often have devices that are considered the best around, but have trouble keeping up with the big boys. A very poised and diligent group, these manufacturers are always on the precipice of taking over. The question is, do they have what it takes?

    HTC

    HTC M7

    A mainstay of our recent smartphone lives, HTC has fallen off a bit recently. We tend to forget all the great devices HTC has given us, and we shouldn’t count them out just yet. Even with the odd acquisition of Beats Audio and a few other questionable business moves, HTC is still in a decent position to reclaim their position near the top of the heap.

    It’s important to remember that HTC was ZTE or Huawei a few years ago. They made some great devices, and some smart moves, to get into a leadership position. Had Samsung not stepped up and thrown a lot of muscle behind their smartphone offerings, we may still consider HTC a pre-eminent device maker. Unfortunately, we’re standing back and watching the free-fall.

    Can they get it all back?

    Absolutely! HTC may have seen their sales plummet the past year or so, but they can return to our good graces. Their HTC One series is a triumph, and it benefitted from the Nexus 4 debacle in that people were turning their attention to the One in angst as they were unable to get a Nexus device. With a device that was both available and pretty amazing, HTC once again dug their heels in.

    Let’s not assume HTC has fallen off completely due to a few questionable business moves and devices. Instead, let’s hope they do two things: get real, and get working. If HTC can put their head down, focus, and string a few great devices together, Samsung could be in real trouble.

    LG

    OLED

    Life really is good for LG lately. The Nexus 4 is a fabulous device, and the Optimus line is well received. Where LG was thought of as little more than a TV manufacturer, they are definitely making their claim to the mobile device world. Hinting at a blossoming partnership with Google is something to keep in the back of your mind as LG makes its next set of moves.

    Or was it an assumption by LG? What, exactly, did their hint at “more devices” as a result of a Google partnership mean? What conclusions can be drawn from that, and should we worry? Let’s be blunt: the Nexus 4 launch, and subsequent availability, is a disaster. Why would Google want to involve themselves with a manufacturer that makes them look this bad? Samsung has set a really high bar to leap over, so we have to wonder if LG is the company that can do it.

    Can they rise to the occasion?

    Yes, they can. They have some things to iron out, like actually buying into Android, but they can succeed. Nobody knows all the details, but not being able to get a Nexus 4 reeks of LG simply giving up to focus on their own Optimus lineup. LG was blessed to get the chance at making the Nexus 4, and it seems as though they’ve worn their welcome, at least with Android fans. A fabulous phone, no doubt, but phones are meant to be used and… you know… purchased.

    LG is a curious ally for Google. Samsung really spoiled us all in terms of quality and availability. Sure, there were times when Samsung devices were unavailable, but it was never for long. The eyes of the world are on LG since the Nexus 4, so they’ll have to make all the right moves from now on if they want to be considered a true threat to Samsung.

    The Working Group

    These are the titans of industry. Established, well received, and resilient. They may make mistakes from time-to-time, but they always bounce back to give us great devices. If you need a device that rarely disappoints, these are the dogs you want to race with.

    Motorola

    Motorola_ATRIX-HD

    Let’s not forget that Motorola has given us some truly iconic devices over the course of time. The Droid line is a solid performer, and the return of the Razr has been wonderful. The Razr HD Maxx with its gigantic battery is a design more manufacturers should consider, as battery life becomes a major concern for us as consumers.

    What Motorola needs to do is get out of bed with Verizon. Their partnership, while great for both parties, severely limits Motorola from becoming a dynamite player. A Ferrari in a garage is useless, but if you get it out to run… you’ll see something special. They make great devices, so we’d love to see them available to a wider audience.

    The recent acquisition by Google should really make Motorola a powerhouse. The rumored “X” line of devices is shrouded in mystery, but led by Google. Could that be the new Nexus lineup, or is it something else? Something… bigger, maybe? With Google I/O right around the corner, we’re hoping it will shed light on this exciting mystery. We’re also hoping Google finally accepts Motorola into the fold completely, rather than operating it as a separate entity.

    Sony

    Sony Xperia Z

    We don’t often factor Sony into our mobile device decision here in the states, but hold the phone, kids: Sony is a big deal. Sony is sticking to their strong suit in concentrating on high-end devices rather than making devices to suit all needs. The Xperia Z looks to be the business, too. It seems to have won best in show at CES this year, raking in 10 “major” awards. Also, if James Bond uses an Xperia, it has to be good, right?

    Not necessarily. Sony has it’s fair share of the world’s mobile market at 1.9%, but that’s down from about 8% in 2008. A troubling statistic, but the market may be returning to them a  bit rather than Sony having to give chase. As we enter a time when powerful, sleek phones are the order of the day, Sony seems primed to stake their claim. Sony is wonderful at making gorgeous high end devices in any field they choose, so their only real challenge will to be keeping cost down. We need premium devices, but we want fair prices. Sony has to realize that to really be a player in mobile.

    The judge

    Every dog show has a judge, and your judge for today is Google. Google leads the way by framing the Android landscape. The Open Handset Alliance keeps partners in check, and keeping Android open source keeps it competitive. If a Samsung loses their focus on Android ever so slightly, it would be easy for someone like an LG or HTC to usurp them.

    The Nexus “contract” is also a boon for manufacturers. LG was a middle of the road player until the Nexus 4, and now are considered near the top of the heap. The same can be said for Samsung until they got the Nexus S contract a few years ago. Sure, the design and execution of the Nexus is definitely more Google that whatever manufacturer makes it, but those manufacturers get a lot of the praise. When we think of the Galaxy Nexus, we think of what a great job Samsung did… not Google. That’s fine, but don’t mistake Google as simply placing orders for devices.

    Then again, the judge just bought a dog. The Motorola acquisition signals Google’s intent of taking more control of the Android experience from top to bottom. If Google can have a hand in every aspect rather than send out requests to manufacturers, we could be seeing some stellar devices that really drive Android further and set a standard. Couple that with Google’s intent to become an MVNO, and it could be game over for everyone else.

    Conclusion

    If we’re asking who we’d look to if Samsung had an Enron moment and folded up almost overnight, it would be LG. LG is making the best devices lately, and if they get their act together could lead the industry. The real wrinkle to this equation is Motorola, though. Even with their recent failures and lack of device support, having Google backing Motorola is huge. Google is clearly playing the Motorola partnership close to the chest, and it’s smart to do so. Alienating other partners could be disastrous for Android, so it’s best that Google supports Motorola as an equal to other partners rather than a favorite child.

    Who could beat Samsung?

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    Comments

    • http://www.about.me/rogene.esparcia Rogene Esparcia

      where is Nokia here?? i guess.. Nokia is also an option.. they still have a chance especially to their Lumia line…

      • Ivan Budiutama

        The article clearly state “Android Maker”. Unless I am loosing up some news, Nokia is attached heavily under Microsoft and its Windows Phone as many people said “under the devil contract” and I believe all Lumia lines of products are Windows phone.

      • midgard

        yeah I also question that.
        I believe once Nokia enter android, not even samsung can withstand it.

      • phoneman

        Nokia is a great phone company, sleeping with microsoft is a no no, windows 8 mobile what a shit O Sthey should have gone androids

    • http://twitter.com/ton_nutz T. Vo

      where is the “none” option? lol

      • Filip Justin

        Yeah, lol, was gonna say that!

      • wolfen

        Where’s NOKIA ?

        • Babylonbwoy

          You ask for Nokia on ANDROID AUTHORITY !?

          Didn’t know that nokia has android mobile !

      • Ivan Budiutama

        While I agree Samsung is the King of Android up to now but, the competition isn’t getting easier by day. If Samsung don’t watch its back, they will be easily fall. In my local forum, S3 getting “Unpopular” due to the vulnerability on the Exynos Chip, the Sudden Death issue. Also due to the reorganization which mostly result in the gambling of “became much better” to “extreme downfall” especially with they spreading their focus on other specifically speaking the Tizen. Surely one can be worry in case of their separated focus will affecting the Android Galaxy’s line.

        Also, the competitors are getting better. Sony’s Xperia Z/ZL really broke the “wall of silence” at least in my local forum, people really impressed by them, so far the hype is positively high. Many even already declared it the best phone on 2013. Don’t forget the rumored Phone X of Motorola-Google collaboration. And who may guess what is the surprise HTC with their M7 Line.

        • http://twitter.com/ton_nutz T. Vo

          The way that I see it, none of the companies above will beat Samsung any time soon unless they start doing some serious marketing like the way Samsung did. Everywhere you go there is a GS3 ad.

          There may be a ton of phones with better specs than Samsung that will be coming out this year but most people will buy what they think is most popular. Most people buy the iPhone just because it is the cool thing to do. Samsung is a worthy opponent just because it is as equally recognized. They have spent a lot of money up to this point and if they continue to innovate, I can see them being on top for at least five more years.

    • SonyFan

      Watch out Samsung….Sony is coming!!!

      • pere

        rely think that sony has to work on their design and user interface, i think it looks so bad, but the build quality and performance of their devices are great :)

        • SonyFan

          everyone has its own taste: someone like touchwize the other one the stock launcher
          design also…. i like the designs sony is making

        • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

          PERFORMANCE? ON SONY PHONES? LOOOOOOOOL biggest bullshit i have ever heard.

        • http://twitter.com/alexN350z Alex Zhao

          Have you ever used the phone to know the performance?

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

        in your dreams.

      • 1ceTr0n

        Sony hasn’t been able to do shit right for years

    • http://www.thinkingbrian.com/ ThinkingBrian

      Who could best Samsung?

      Right now Samsung is king, no doubt. But when it comes to companies that could best them. I would rule out LG and Sony, HTC is a few steps behind.

      That said, may be in a few years and with Google’s help (a must), Motorola would be that company especially if they’re building the xPhone. I love Nexus devices, but they’re missing something and a company like Motorola could build the next step up Nexus device with a few different models from a 3.5 inch screen, 4.5 inch screen and a 5.5 inch screen and offer pure vanilla Android with a few options if the customer wants them. Google needs to make money off Android and Motorola would be that answer.

      Of course Motorola will have an uphill battle for sure with consumers especially after that nightmare they created with promising Ice Cream Snadwich or Jelly Bean updates on their headsets and then deciding to cancel that on non-high end ones and give a $100 rebate instead when the customer buys a new Motorola headset (terms and conditions apply).

    • Sebastian Angello

      Sony,maybe.

    • snowmanjack

      I’m going Motorola, based on very recent history only. Their Razr HD and Razr M on Verizon get high review marks everywhere, and while folks were disappointed they were released with ICS, Jelly Bean came not too far behind. If the next Nexus is a Moto (“Google X Phone”), that will slingshot them to the top.

      Will anyone overtake Samsung in the next 2 years? No. But if, as the author says, “Samsung had an Enron moment,” Motorola will be primed to duke it out with the latest HTC and LG improved offerings.

    • Nakul Matta

      I see this kind of article at the start of every year. Last year, HTC was expected to beat Samsung with their One X, but when Galaxy s3 came out, you know what happened. This year’s first high end phone is from Sony, but its a matter of time until Samsung releases their flagship with youm display and octa core processor and I expect the result same as previous year.

    • Beci

      NoOne can beat samsung at last two years. Not even iphone cant beat samsung. With the S4 or Note 3 octa core Samsung will be far away in techology

      • phoneman

        samsung is a piece of shit smartphone, they just copied everything from apple, samsung shit galaxy is the worst design and flat out problematic phone

    • http://twitter.com/ThePhillipBee Phillip Bee

      Left out a major one .. ASUS !! Ive been pulling for them for years. Their tablets have had a lot of sucess, Padfone, the phone itself, is great. They have high end low cost phones, and great software support. I believe people would be very happy w/ Asus as an OEM.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.cottrell.92 Jamie Cottrell

        YES, asus makes best android tablets around and padfone is really innovative, if they make a concerted effort they could grab a lot of the smartphone market

        • http://twitter.com/ThePhillipBee Phillip Bee

          I highly agree .. We, as consumers, are always looking for the next best thing. I believe Asus can make that push. Especially for the android community. There UI is about as close to stock as possible just themed.

          • Filip Justin

            I like the Padfone, but.. Who would pay for an extra 10 inch display?

            • http://twitter.com/ThePhillipBee Phillip Bee

              ?? uuhh .. the same people that have separate tablets and phones !! Why buy two separate items w/ different OS’s when you can get 2 or 3 (keyboard dock) in 1

          • 1ceTr0n

            To bad Asus’s RMA process and customer satisfaction quality is total crap.

      • http://www.facebook.com/domagoj.tokic Domagoj Tokić

        F***ing retarded ASUS. You can count on your fingers the number of countries in which you can buy PadFone. If I make the best smartphone on the planet and keep it for myself, who the f*** will care? Nevertheless, i can’t buy PadFone because it will probably never exist on my country’s market.

        • http://twitter.com/ThePhillipBee Phillip Bee

          I understand what your saying. However if they partnered w/ Google or wanted to expand their brand like we are discussing they will do an international release. Therefore its obsolete.

    • Jared Persinger

      I want to vote for Sony and Motorola since they both make killer devices

    • Jordan Awkward

      No one can beat Samsung but if I had to choose I’d pick Sony and zte because there new phones are pretty sexy, but the only skinned android os I like is Samsungs

      • Chris

        Samsung can’t be beaten? With the iPhone 5s Apple is miles ahead of Samsung. I’m afraid Samsung will have a hard time to compete with the new iPhone.

    • jimpatrio

      How could you forget Asus, the maker of the Nexus 7.

    • HARLEM HEFNER

      I’m going to say none people need to realize Samsung is winning because they bring innovation something HTC did once upon a time Sony has never had a flag ship phone I don’t even take them serious

    • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

      none!

    • http://www.facebook.com/eatmorecake Dusan Doroski

      Motorola, definitely. HTC makes better phones than Samsung, but they focus on creating a crapload of new phones every few months and let their customers down by almost ignoring software updates (after Desire HD and One X lack of updates, I won’t be buying HTC again).
      Sony is weak. Motorola with Google support is probably going to be on par with Samsung.

    • http://twitter.com/alexN350z Alex Zhao

      Google, they make phones without profit, and making money from search

    • ChowYunPhat

      no expandable storage + no removable battery = no buy.

    • Mahmoud

      Only Samsung can beat Samsung I mean last year model is been beating by the new one….BEZNGA

    • 1ceTr0n

      Samsung, the king has been crowned and he shall rule for many long a year and provide good times and prosperity amongst his smartphone people. Amen.

    • Tarek Assaf

      Asus and Motorola but both don’t have an international presence like the other players.

    • Zhen Hao Leo

      out of the group, Asus would have the best chance i think. Sure, HTC, Sony and maybe LG are way bigger in term of market presence and sales number, but no one can beat Samsung in those areas. no one can push their product throughout the world as fast as Samsung…

      but Asus, they have something in them. they can create something that stand out in the crowd, something that have the premium feel to it. maybe they can never beat Samsung in term of sales number, but they can always operate like Apple, make 2-3 product that have good look and function every year, and slowly build up the reputation as a company which can make quality products…

    • http://www.facebook.com/diper07 Robin Singh

      One day there will be definitely a nuclear war between Apple(iphone) vs Google(xPhone) vs Samsung(outdated phones which will be no longer be powered by google).

    • Adam Outler

      Sony sent me a free Xperia T. Based on this phone, design and practices, I would say Sony is not capable of beating Samsung. That is all.

    • Adam Outler

      Nate Swanner is obviously biased. Look at the pictures. Drab pictures on each manufactuer, then the Sony one.

    • nishant

      From the perspective of the Indian market I guess the only company that can topple samsung is either Sony or LG
      Sony enjoys brand snobbery but looses out on bad service reputation, although they are easily avialbale
      LG is plagued by poor brand image(home appliance company) although their service support is famous as best in the country.
      the problem is that LG phones are not easily available

      so both comapnies can get their act together and topple samsung

      HTC is infamous for bad service support,
      Motorola has recently shut shop from India so they can never do it, walking out from one of the largest market in the world.

    • reaver

      Galaxy s3 is great as long as you flash cyanogenmods 10.1 to it lol

    • Guido

      Sony or HTC. But they won’t beat Samsung :p The S-series are way better then the One X-series or Xperia-series

    • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.kunz.56 Sebastian Kunz

      Mobistel

    • Andrew Mezzi

      My guess is Motorola. In my opinion, they make the best hardware (HTC is second and Samsung is third). The only problem is that all their great phones are on Verizon. The Atrix HD, Electrify M, and Photon Q are all good phones, but the RAZR Maxx HD is their flagship. The X Phone is going to come to every platform, though, and it will be made to challenge the GS4 and iPhone 5S. I think that if anything can challenge Samsung, it will be the X Phone.

    • khalifa

      None can .. simply samsung role the tech world right now

    • Pavel

      You didn’t spoke about Alcatel mobiles that have very good products and way too cheap. Alcatel is France company for telecommunication and have years behind them in producing big projects for telecoms.
      They have cheapest phones with great quality and performace. Look at 995 and 992D models

    • Roald Zomer

      I don’t think there will be any competition for the Galaxy S4 , the fanbase is just so big …

    • Paul

      Biggest Android smartphone maker, no doubt about that I think. Maybe they can become even the biggest smartphone maker, but then they need to win from Apple which I consider pretty difficult. But nothing is impossible ;)

      Samsung has to hope that their S4 will compete well enough with the new coming iPhone 5S

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