The year 2010 in Review
It’s typical during this time of year to reflect on what transpired over the last 12 months. Well we did just that and came up with our own Top 10 for 2010. This year was a big year for the wireless industry in Canada, with the new entrants finally getting off the ground, the iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Torch launch just to name a few. In fact you can easily identify 20 stories which would make this top 10 list, but after rigorous debate, name calling and some hurt feelings, we managed to reduce our list to just 10, and here it is:
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BlackBerry Launches the Torch
The Torch 9800 from BlackBerry was definitely one of the best phones introduced this year. Launched in Canada on September 30th, the Torch finally addressed a major weakness with the BlackBerry in today’s market and that’s the overall multimedia and browsing experience on the BlackBerry.
With OS 6.0 BlackBerry got it right and introduced an experience that rivals most other smartphones in the market place. While I would have preferred more firepower within the Torch this device was a successful launch for RIM.
The Google Phone: Nexus One
Google partnered with HTC to launch the Nexus One in January this year. The phone was iconic and received some amazing reviews both here and in the US. The only issue was that Google decided to sell the phone directly through its own online store instead of leveraging the regular carrier channels to sell the device. It didn’t work and after some poor sales Google closed its online store.
Overall though the Nexus One remains one of the more iconic cell phones introduced this year.
New Entrants Cometh
2010 will be remembered as the year the wireless industry became diversified. The Big 3 face 3 new competitors in as many markets with Wind finally getting going in 2010 even though they launched in late 2009, Mobilicity and Public Mobile launched in May and Videotron launched its wireless services in September this year.
The Industry saw its first set of unlimited cell phone plans this year with the launch of the new entrant brands, a pattern we hope will translate to every carrier’s offering.
RIM vs Apple
The banter between RIM and Apple has been sharp and bordering on nasty. These two heavyweights are fighting for smartphone supremacy in North America and around the world. Currently RIM has the largest market share in North America but Apple is closing that gap quickly.
We’ve had some memorable moments between these 2 companies. When RIM released its Q2 results indicating that it shipped 12 million phones, Apple released their Q3 results indicating that they passed RIM with 14.1 million phones shipped. Then, RIM released their Q3 results indicating 14.2 million cell phones shipped surpassing Apple’s results. Its difficult to really compare both results because these companies have different quarterly periods, Apple with a more traditional quarterly release schedule, RIM has a quarter which is a month off the regular quarterly schedule.
Remember the exchanges between Apple and RIM when during Apple’s press conference on its antenna issues CEO Jobs compared Apple’s antenna problems with the BlackBerry indicating that RIM has similar issues. That was classic.
Windows Phone 7 – the comeback Kid
Microsoft launched its Windows Phone 7 operating system here in Canada in November. And so far its been a hit, news coming out from Microsoft indicate that 1.5 million WP7 phones have been shipped over the last 6 weeks which is very impressive. We don’t know how many were sold in Canada just yet but all accounts indicate that sales are solid.
What’s makes this more interesting is that Microsoft’s Kin phones introduced in March were a complete flop. Didn’t go anywhere. So the new Windows Phone 7 launch was quite a come back for Microsoft after this debacle.
Rogers launches Chatr Wireless
In July, Rogers launched its own discount brand called Chatr Wireless. It came just a couple of months after the launch of Mobilicity and Public Mobile. The plans it presented to the market place matched Mobilicity plans almost exactly with the promise of a better network.
This launch took everyone by storm and prompted Mobilicity’s Chairman John Bitove to threaten legal action against Rogers for anti competitive strategies.
Wind Mobile passes 100K subs
There was alot of speculation about whether the new entrants were gaining any traction in the Canadian cell phone industry. When Orascom Telecom, Wind’s parent company, released that Wind in July had surpassed 100,000 subscribers, it put to bed the argument of traction. This was alot better than analysts expected given the poor start that Wind had and the troubles with the CRTC/Industry Canada regarding foreign ownership restrictions.
Not to be outdone, but Mobilicity recently announced that it had surpassed 50,000 subscribers in December as well!
Antenna Gate: iPhone 4 woes
The iPhone 4 was released with the usual hype and lines normally associated with any Apple new product launch this year. But when Consumer reports released its cell phone reviews and did NOT recommend the iPhone 4 because of an antenna issue, the news spread like wild fire. Apparently, the iPhone 4 was designed with its antenna outside of the phone and a small gap when touched would degrade signal quality tremendously. Apple’s response……basically blame everyone except Apple and then tell people not to touch the gap….oh yeah and here is a rubber cover or bumper to stop you from accidentally touching the antenna gap.
The growth of Android
After a lukewarm start, albeit the failed Nexus One launch, Android moved from selling 65,000 phones per day in the first quarter to 300,000 by November. In Canada, Android has a had the same success and I remember the Samsung Galaxy Vibrant launch at the Eaton Centre in Toronto with full music band and lots of fans. Since then there has been alot of iconic Android Phones, the HTC Desire, Motorola Milestone and the Samsung Galaxy to name a few. What makes Android so appealing is that is there is a phone in every segment, high end, mid teir or low end smartphone which allows everyone of these segments to experience Google’s operating system.
To get a sense of the growth of Android, Gartner reported last month that in the 3rd quarter Android represented 25% of all smartphones sold worldwide. Unit sales exceeded 20 million in that same quarter. In the US it is estimated the Android represented 75-80% of all Verizon smartphone sales.
These numbers are significant because it indicates a new dominant mobile OS in the works and it also represents a real challenge to Apple and RIM.
The year of the iPad
With more than 7 million iPads sold by November this year, Apple’s new tablet is a runaway hit. The iPad has set a new direction for computing and sits right between a smartphone and a notebook. It seems a new category is born.
Garner expects that by the end of 2011 tablet sales worldwide will reach 54.8 million and displace about 10% of the PC market by 2014.
The category created by Apple is taking off. The introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, based on the Android operating system, has been doing surprisingly well also. RIM announced the release of its tablet computer named the “Playbook” which is slated for stores in Q1, 2011.