So what's an Android smartphone vendor to do? Motorola is hoping the lower price of the new Moto X will help convince consumers to pick its flagship over Samsung's and Apple's much more expensive offerings.
HTC, which is laying off 15 percent of its staff, is hoping to survive by expanding beyond smartphones. For its part, Lenovo said on Thursday it would cut 3,200 jobs and restructure its mobile business, with the aim of creating leaner and meaner company. To keep up, it will update its smartphones and add new models every six months, Lenovo said.
If all this wasn't bad enough, manufacturers now have to take security vulnerabilities in Android seriously. Thanks to the operating system's enormous success, hackers looking to steal data or defraud users have increasingly targeted smartphones.
Google will play a key role, but vendors have to get intimately involved to ensure their products are safe. Samsung and LG have said they are planning to push out patches monthly, and other vendors will have to follow in their footsteps sooner rather than later. This change will come with increased costs as well as the risk of alienating users if a patch fails or doesn't arrive soon enough. Highlighting how complicated this all is, Google had to release another patch to fix the Stagefright vulnerability after a security firm said the first one included a flaw.
So if there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Android vendors, it's hard to find. There are exceptions: Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi, for example, can celebrate their second quarters, which were boosted by aggressively priced products that attract smartphone buyers in China. Huawei is also expanding rapidly across other parts of Asia, Europe and North America. In addition, smartphone sales are still growing, which is more than can be said for PCs and tablets.
If there is a winner in all this doom and gloom it's consumers all over the world.
Just a couple of years ago, smartphones for below $100 where bordering on unusable. That's no longer the case. At the same time, mid-range devices are becoming increasingly competent and high-end phones are reaching new engineering heights, even though improvements over previous generations are smaller than they used to be. But nothing lasts forever; if vendors start going of out business competition will decrease and that's never a good thing.
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