Strong growth in LTE smartphones, including TD-LTE phones sold in China, will lead to smartphone sales of 1.24 billion in 2014, according to a forecast from analysts at CCS Insight. However, CCS predicts smartphone growth will slow in the years ahead, largely due to saturation in mature markets.
Samsung Electronics expects its overall operating profit to slip in the first quarter and for sales to be essentially flat year-over-year, an indication that its mighty smartphone engine, especially at the high end of the market, may be slowing.
Samsung Electronics and Apple maintained their stranglehold on the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter and for all of 2013, according to multiple research firms, but lower-end rivals are gaining market share at a faster pace. That may mean that over time the market for high-end, high-margin phones will erode, as average selling prices for smartphones worldwide fall.
LG Electronics reported that it shipped a record number of smartphones in the fourth quarter, but the company's mobile unit still posted a loss in the period due to higher marketing expenses and intensified price competition in the market.
Samsung Electronics posted flat profits from its mobile vision in the fourth quarter and a drop in sales from the third quarter, though the company still likely leads the market in terms of handset and smartphone shipments by a sizable margin. However, the South Korean conglomerate also said it plans to slash its marketing spending on mobile relative to revenue, though it declined to say by how much.
Nokia's overall handset business reported a drop in sales for the fourth quarter and the company posted weaker smartphones sales in the period than it did in the third quarter, a troubling sign since the holiday season is typically the strongest for smartphone makers. The earnings, which likely will be the last in which Nokia reports handset sales, come just as Microsoft is finalizing a $7.4 billion deal to take over Nokia's devices business and underscore the challenges Microsoft will face as a hardware maker.
Chinese handset makers Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo have taken much of the smartphone world by storm. However, they will need to raise their brand awareness even more and get flagship devices sold by U.S. carriers to truly break through, analysts said.
Samsung Electronics' shares fell today amid concern among investors about the possibility of weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results and declining profits in its flagship mobile division.
Chinese handset and network gear vendor ZTE is creating a separate mobile devices unit as part of an organizational restructuring aimed at beefing up its presence in smartphones and mobile.
The CTIA said five of the nation's largest U.S. wireless carriers agreed to simplify and standardize their policies on unlocking cell phones and tablets. However, it seems likely that it could be a year or longer before all of the procedures are fully in place.