In this week’s installment of “As the Smartphone World Turns”, we hear dire rumors from Nokia and see (more) evidence that RIM is circling the drain. We finish with a fascinating dispatch from the Android front.
First up, Nokia will lay off up to 6,000 next week? (Hat tip to Richard Herrell.) OK, this is a thinly-sourced story in the category of “rumor”, but dismissals that size are hard to hide in a country as small as Finland. If the layoffs happen on schedule, that will be at least partial evidence for the rest.
A “senior figure” at Nokia has reported as saying “This isn’t a deal between Nokia and Microsoft, this is a Microsoft take over.” Which would certainly be consistent with Microsoft’s past history. It is also rumored that Symbian is being handed to Microsoft for development.
Symbian, handed to the managers and developers who have made WP7 so wildly successful that Microsoft now has less smartphone share than it did a year so. Oh, there’s a prospect to gladden a Nokia shareholder’s heart. Not.
I’ll take “Formerly respected companies circling the drain” again for $400, Alex. Answer: RIM. Bing! “What company just had the product it was betting on to reverse its catastrophic market share decline roundly panned?”
Yes, the RIM Playbook is out and nobody is impressed. Turns out the most interesting functions require it to be – wait for it! – tethered to another Blackberry. (Best-snark award to David Pogue at the New York Times: “RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do e-mail. It must be skating season in hell.”)
Business-saving advice to RIM: hunt down the genius who planned this and shoot him through the head. That is, if you can still afford the bullets by the time you find him.
Really, with competition like this, what’s going to stop Android from blowing past 55% in Q3 – a giant-meteor strike? Aside from Apple, its smartphone competitors seem to be contending mainly for the epic-incompetence award – and Apple hasn’t been doing so hot itself since the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco.
Meanwhile, 7-inch Android tablets now ship for less than $90 quantity 1.
Mind you, this is before the Android SoCs are shipping in volume. This tells us three things: first, my previous price projections were way, way too conservative – $85 tablets now implies $50 tablets by year end.
Second, the price of low-end smartphones is about to crash hard. Yield problems with the displays (and thus their cost) scale as the square of the size; when 7-inch displays are cheap enough to fit in an $85 retail price, it’s likely HTC could already build a $50 smartphone around the 4-inch displays that are midrange now.
Third: By year end, the price pressure on anything non-Android in the smartphone and tablet markets is going to be brutal. Unsurvivable for RIM; stick a fork in them, because their growth prospects are toast. Even for Apple, maintaining share will be tough uphill fight.