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Exciting times ahead for smartphone buyers as competition heats up

Mikael Ricknäs | May 7, 2014
LG, Motorola and Huawei will all launch new smartphones in the next three weeks as they try to chip away at Apple and Samsung Electronics, a task that doesn't seem as insurmountable as it did a year ago.

The last of the May smartphone launches will come from LG. It had a good first quarter, but wasn't quite able to keep up with the growth of Lenovo and Huawei. To help it catch up, the company is expected to launch the G3 on May 27 at an event that will take place simultaneously in London, New York and San Francisco, highlighting LG's hope the device will have international appeal.

The phone is expected to have a 13-megapixel camera with optical imaging stabilization and a screen with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, which would help differentiate the device.

But to become more competitive, LG too has to make changes that go beyond cool hardware. It also has to improve the software, and what's needed are a few things that aren't gimmicks but that really improve the user's enjoyment of the device, Milanesi said.

Even if the first quarter numbers were encouraging, Huawei, LG and Lenovo, with the help of Motorola, still have a mountain to climb to seriously threaten Samsung and Apple.

Samsung and Apple's respective total market shares may have dropped by 1.2 and 2.2 percentage points year-on-year, but they still have a huge lead over the competition. They sold 89 million and 43.7 million smartphones, respectively. That compares to the trio of challengers that together sold about 39 million units.

Also, Samsung and Apple aren't sitting on their hands while the competition is growing stronger. In addition to stepping up its low-end push, Samsung has been working on making its products more attractive via content deals. For example, a deal with Amazon will provide owners of its smartphones and tablets with free books via a customized Kindle app. Samsung has also sent out invitations to a May 28 event in San Francisco, at which the company is expected to expand its health-related offerings.

When it comes to Apple, what remains to be seen is when -- not if -- the company's rumored large-screen models will arrive, filling a gap in its portfolio that has been exploited by the competition, according to market research company IDC. The next product launches from Apple will come at its Worldwide Developers Conference in the beginning of June.


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