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Mobile Digest' 2001

January 23, 2002

Let's take a look at the events of the last year and see which forecasts came true and which didn't. I'm not going to dwell on all novations in the mobile filed as all the reviews can be found in our monthly reports, and today we will speak just on the market as a whole.

The Primary events on the mobile communication market.

The statistics shows that the most popular devices with European users are from Siemens - 28%, Nokia - 27%, Ericsson (18%) and Motorola (10%).

The most interesting handset of 2001 among GSM phones is Ericsson T68, the second place is taken by the Siemens S45/ME45 and the third position is occupied by the Siemens SL45. Nokia, the greatest manufacturer, takes only the 4th place with its Nokia 8310. It is not surprising as the company keeps on losing its market share and is pressed out by the other companies. Such situation made Nokia make its marketing policy more active and announce 3 models which are due to appear in the first half of 2002. In the category called "The most attractive design" the Nokia 8310 takes only the third place after the Siemens S45/ME45 and Ericsson T68. Moreover, it takes the third place in the category called "Disappointment of the year". The second position is taken by the Nokia 3330, and the "palm" belongs to the LG600.

There is a great variety of opinions and views, which are often opposite, on the phones among European people. Thus, the Nokia 3330 is also called the best device of the middle class, and the Nokia 8310 turned out to be the most stylish phone (though after the Ericsson T68).

At present the Nokia follows a competent marketing policy; in 2001 it released only interesting models. And it was almost the only profitable manufacturer last year.

The delay in release of the 6310 phone was a real shock for the company. This model was due to replace the Nokia 6210 in the fourth quarter. And the latter remains the only phone of the business class from Nokia. Besides, it isn't going to lose its popularity; last year it took the second place in the category "The best business phone" and "The Editors' choice in 2000". Thanks to the packet transmission and an attractive design the Siemens's business handsets outscored the 6210 in being the best selling devices on the market.

Last year Nokia entered two new fields of the market by releasing the 9210 communicator (the second device of this kind from Nokia) and an audio combo Nokia 5510 device which is quite a weak model.

In the Western Europe the sales of the Nokia 9210 exceeded the Palm devices; but I think that such a stunning victory of this communicator is due to the competent marketing policy and lack of really expensive models.

By the way, Ericsson has partially filled this gap: the T68 phone has a color display and a price of over $500. The phone became so popular that the company had to admit that they couldn't completely satisfy the demand.

On the whole, the last year was very successful for Ericsson: they were able to correct some flaws in their phones and announce several interesting models. The new phones from Ericsson are not any more so poor in sensitivity as the old ones.

One can't say that we won't see any more phones from this company - now they will be produced by the joint enterprise - Sony Ericsson Mobile, though I think that the Sony's contribution won't be so great as phones from this company are not quite reliable and of high quality.

Last year Siemens made some important steps towards the leadership among mobile phone makers. Its new 45th series has a new design and additional features with the interface being old. Almost all Siemens' models are interesting and attractive. The worst model is the SX45 smartphone which is inconvenient in use.

In 2001 Motorola changed its view on the cell phones: now ordinary handsets are replaced with models which have a more interesting design and functions. Now the top v66 model, as well as middle class devices, have removable panels. And now you can also find much more functions and games. Just look at the unique form of the v70 phone.

Samsung improved its old technologies and incarnated them in its new model line. The company was also able to release several quite successful products, namely A400, the first women's phone, and N400 which has an automatically retractable antenna. Samsung also launched several entry-level models R200/R210 which immediately became a hit. The secret was just a good design and well elaborated software. The A300 was the first GSM phone with two displays.

Last year LG decided to take some share of the European market, but the attempts weren't quite successful. The first, quite weak, model was selling only thanks to the wide advertising campaign. And the LG500 which had quite a decent advantage - clear and loud polyphonic sound - didn't had success. The LG600, very similar to the Samsung SGH-A300, wasn't popular as well.

Panasonic had several interesting models, but they appeared only by the end of the year and didn't have a great effect.

Mobile phones and their price.

If at the beginning of 2001 the market was glutted with cheap (less than $100) phones, now the situation is diametrically opposite. The phone makers do not have any desire to work at a loss. At the first stage it was normal as they wanted to attract users to their trademark. But now, when the base of users is rapidly growing, it is not necessary any more.

The most scandalous action of getting rid of remains of the goods was sale of the Ericsson R320s: the manufacturer cut the price from $300 to $120 and then to $80. As it turned out, the most of these phones had a transmitter of poor quality. Nevertheless, the transmitter could be changed at the after-sales service, and the phone became the best-seller in a short period, as it was a leader in price/quality ratio.

We could expect that other manufacturers would also reduce their prices, but it didn't happen.


The article wasn't meant for long discourse on new models and technologies in the mobile sphere: this is what we are doing all year round. This time the mission wasn't: Total Recall, and I mentioned only those events that sounded the most interestingly. Good luck in new year!

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