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Lookout ZTE and Huawei: Here come NEC, Sharp and Kyocera

Sony Ericsson, NEC and Kyocera are among the other Japanese handset makers also betting on Android as their path to international sales.

via Japanese Phone Makers Look to Ride Android’s Surge – NYTimes.com.

The Japanese positioning is based on the notion that current Android phones are not good enough and that they can bring “great hardware, great R&D and great engineers” to solve the existing problems with Android portfolio phones.

That’s an interesting observation by Google’s own director of Android Global Partnerships. The idea that the market can still reward hardware innovation would also imply that Apple could benefit from that demand.

So is the message that there is still room for device innovation?

Perhaps not. Perhaps Android’s pursuit of Japanese vendors (and vice-versa) is just evidence of the rush into smartphones by those possessing excess hardware R&D and manufacturing capacity and a deficit of software assets.

It’s still striking that there are hundreds of hardware vendors and supposedly “only two” platforms.

  • Evan

    main advantage of ZTE and Huawei is I guess price points at which they sell, so not sure how Japanese manufacturers entering the fray, affects them.

  • kwyjibo

    My money is on the Chinese. Compare the trajectories of ZTE and Huawei with their Japanese counterparts.

    Compare their economies, only one winner here. China is making the leap from fast follower to innovator, whereas Japan is going the other way.

  • William

    The quality of both ZTE and Huawei are good ,this is also one of the main reason why they have good sale for their handphone.

  • Harry

    I love Huawei new Ideos X6!!! I think its a lil bit late for the japanese vendors to step in the android market in this stage.

  • Luis Masanti

    quote;
    "It’s still striking that there are hundreds of hardware vendors and supposedly “only two” platforms."

    Thinking on that phrase, it happened in the PC era also. At least, almost… Windows and plenty of hardware manufacturers and Apple/Sun as hard/soft developers. (IBM too in the mainframe market.)

    It also remember me of an Alan Kay's quote, cited by Jobs in a presentation: "Those who loves soft make their own hardware." (cited from memory)

    If Nokia es any example, no one will neither success nor shake the world… just sell chep hard.
    (But it is just my personal opinion.)

    • FalKirk

      "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware."-Alan Kay
      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Alan_Kay

      • Evan

        i think google and facebook business model transcend software and hardware. they offer solutions to fundamental issues like search and social. For them a device or an OS is just a means to an end. Google's end goal is organizing all of worlds info and giving access to it for everybody, facebook end goal is to connect everybody on the planet.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Well, their goal is to put an ad next to all of the world's information, not to organize it. Even if information is already organized, they are trying to get at it and put an ad next to it. For example, their mouths water when they look at Facebook, which is quite well organized but has no Google ads on it.

  • raphael

    These japanese manufacturers are traditionally mainly Symbian implmentors for the Japanese market. Their shift to Android is a logical consequence of Nokia announcements, they simply have no other reasonable choice.

    With Symbian dead, they don't have a lot of possible platforms to jump too : most of the competitive ones are not licensed (iOS, WebOS, QNX, Bada …) and the only non-Android modern, available, licensable OS is Win7 which won't appeal to them given Nokia "preferred partner" status.

    • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

      The Symbian phones in Japan are all MOAP phones. There's two implementations of MOAP. MOAP(S) is on Symbian. MOAP(L) is on Linux. That would have been the easy choice for them in their own domestic market. Android is more for reaching outside of Japan where Japanese phone manufacturers have been largely absent.

    • http://mobiledeviceinsight.com Kevin Taylor

      FYI – QNX is licensed, you just have to be in some other market than smartphones to get it now.

  • http://franksting.net.au Gavin Costello

    Two points:

    1. HTC make great hardware and it really is only getting better. My usage of their kit has been let down by the Software experience – that's subjective, but just like with the Palm Treo or the Motorola Razr a couple of years ago, without usable software, you might as well be shipping a Lada

    2. I saw data this week that says the Japanese are still using a lot of legacy feature phones and the third largest method of using Mobile data is via WAP. Moving to Android might be part of the strategy to finally move beyond the legacy of being such a fast adopter of mobile data?

    THoughts?

    • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

      I still don't get where people think HTC make great hardware. They've always been universally awful dating back to the WinMo days. They've got better but they're certainly no Apple or Nokia.

      • http://franksting.net.au Gavin Costello

        Subjective, as I say. I think the HTC Mozart and the new Desire are very very attractive and sturdy pieces of kit. You say Nokia? I think I need to disregard your comment there. Horrible pieces of kit these days.

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        I think you're letting the media dump-fest on Symbian cloud the fact Nokia's hardware is still good. The N8 is pretty solid hardware and the C7 I have is too. Gorilla glass, stainless steel, good buttons, good reception, good speakers, great screens, extruded aluminium and at least on the N8, the best camera on any smartphone.

        You couldn't give the same list of attributes to an HTC, especially not the cameras which are truly sub-average.

      • http://franksting.net.au Gavin Costello

        I think you are letting my criticism of Nokia Hardware become clouded by your assumptions about my position on Symbian. I haven't mentioned the software at all, but I have handled and used Nokia Phones. Compared to the ones I used 10 years ago or even more recently, they are horrible, over complicated pieces of kit.
        You like them. Enjoy.
        All I'm saying is YMMV and my position varies wildly with yours

      • Evan

        I have a HTC desire HD, I am happy with it, I haven't done any comparison with iphone or motorola droids or anything, I just bought it, because it had a big screen and I like android, so far I am happy with it. Could've improved battery life though.

  • relentlessfocus

    Android is becoming a tower of babel. As the Android phone market segments ever further device makers have to make their cash from smaller sales of specific targeted models and turn over those models ever more frequently. It's like a mass suicide. Android numbers go up but device makers take an enormous profitability hit. My new maxim: Live by Android, die by Android.

  • Simon

    Unfortunately I just don't see any major differentiator for the Japanese phone makers. The plain nature of the touch screen based phone design took a lot out of their major strength, and they just don't have any special technology to distinguish their phones over the Korean and American counterparts. They don't have the latest AMOLED screen nor the fastest CPUs. Their Android software development right now is mediocre at best. Neither can they beat the Chinese pricing. What's their selling point?

  • Morgan

    I think the Chinese mobile phone vendors will be a big giant in this few years especially Huawei and ZTE that can make quality phone.

  • Developer

    I submit that Android is not a smartphone platform. It is actually a new, high end, feature phone platform.

    Remember that feature phones had apps you could install. Apps are not what defines a smartphone nor a platform.

    Platform: a consistent UI, API, and hardware specs allowing many devices to run the same software. WebOS, win phone 7 and iOS all meet this criteria, but android does not as the UI, hardware specs and API change from device to ddevice.

    Feature phones are ones where the carriers force features onto them and sell them on the basis of these features. This is exactly what android is. No carrier dictates features on iOS. They put apps in the appstoe like everyone else. On android, the carriers dictate everything.

    Android is also bought, exclusively, by feature phone buyers. People who think a phone us a phone and think the iPhone is overpriced even though it is the same price. These are uneducated consumers, who are very vocal inline out of their own insecurity.

    Android can copy the iPhone look and feel and add a crappy pseudo touch interface, but that doesnt make it a smartphone, let alone an iPhone.

    Windows system 7 phone operating system, or whatever it is called, webOS and iOS are real smartphone platforms. And iOS seems to be dominating the market right now.

    There will always be more feature phones sold and who cares if android is the starting point for those devices– because it is not a platform, that market provides no actual leverage.

    • kwyjibo

      I don't think many people subscribe to your definition of a smartphone as a closed platform.

      Your analysis of the market for Android is also significantly skewed. Even a cursory look at your own personal network (unless you really have no friends) should show educated individuals choosing Android.

      The "oh yeah, they're not a competitor" argument is generally the last one made before irrelevance.

  • http://notesark.com iphoned

    I guess they'll probably be about as successful here as they were with PCs to which they also applied their great h/w engineering.

    • http://twitter.com/judsontwit @judsontwit

      I guess every computer device market really is the same. Everything must have one monopolist who takes 90% share. There will be only one runner-up and all others die.

      Look, from even a surface standpoint you're already incorrect. Microsoft isn't here, and the supposed market-share dominant platform manages to integrate distribution methods that said previously reigning monopolist feared for years.

      Even if your only meaning is "it'll be just like the PC market, except the winning software vendor will give away their software for free and the OEM race even among top tier partners is a loosely unregulated free-for-all", then it's still pretty different.

  • http://twitter.com/Niilolainen @Niilolainen

    The Japanese handset market is not known as The Galapagos for nothing. The HW vendors are optimally adapted for their domestic market– serving the mighty DoCoMo. Although periodically they all have tried to do something on the global stage, they always fail.

    I would be staggered if any of them made significant progress outside of Japan.

    The difference with ZTE and Huawei is that they have had international OEM and operator brands teach them how to do it via their ODM projects, so they understand the international market much better. These guys stand a very good chance of being the leading Android players in 2013ish

    • Rachael

      Agree with you.I see that Chinese handphone makers stand a good chance and the android will be a game changer for them.Besides,there are still many challenges for them such as apple and nokia.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    These guys are all making picture frames. There is no value in it. Making Android handsets is the last step before exiting the phone business.

    • huhn

      You keep on spouting the same line even though it has no bearing in reality. Like, every single story.

      Dell and HP had a very good run selling picture frames in the PC era, Motorola had a very good run selling frames with the RAZR, and HTC is doing very well selling frames right now.

      Forget reality though, clearly the best step for HTC is to exit the phone business.

      Please stop spamming this crap.

  • http://twitter.com/peter_burke_ceo @peter_burke_ceo

    this is very good news for the Android platform.