Nokia CEO Stephen Elop once again addressed rumors of a possible sale of Nokia’s phone business. Rumors emerged on Wednesday suggesting Samsung was preparing to bid on Nokia’s cell phone division, but Elop addressed them on Thursday while speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Elop insisted that the rumors are “completely groundless.” The CEO continued, “Nokia is not for sale.” While Elop has been steady with his message, there is of course wiggle room in his choice of words. Neither the initial report suggesting a deal had been struck with Microsoft nor the subsequent Samsung rumor suggested that Nokia, as a company, was up for sale. Instead, these reports — at least one of which is well-sourced — suggest Nokia may be shopping a portion of its business; specifically, the cell phone division, which has been spiraling downward as Nokia’s market share diminishes rapidly. More →
Best Buy on Thursday intends to reveal several aspects of its long-term strategy to drive its business forward. A key part of that strategy, according to the company, is to continue its all out assault on the mobile market. Best Buy revealed its intentions to open between 600 and 800 Best Buy Mobile stand-alone store locations in the U.S. over the next five years. The company also said it intends to double its $2 billion online business within three to five years, and it will open 400 to 500 new Five Star retail locations in China with the goal of doubling its $4 billion business over the next five years. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
CBS-owned Last.fm announced on Monday that it will soon discontinue its free ad-supported streaming music service for cell phones and home entertainment devices. Last.fm is a custom Internet radio service that competes with the likes of Pandora and Slacker Radio. The service currently streams to computers, to cell phones and to various home entertainment devices such as DVD players and set-top boxes, with two available subscription models — a free ad-supported version and an ad-free version for $3 per month. As of February 15th, free streaming to mobile devices and to home entertainment devices will be shut off, with the exception of Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7 devices, and only paid subscribers will be able to utilize the service. Delivering ad-supported streaming services to mobile and other non-PC devices is not practical, Last.fm stated in a blog post, so the company will no longer offer the option. Free ad-supported streaming to Last.fm’s website will remain, however, as will free streaming to the Last.fm desktop PC app. The shift in strategy now creates a new speed bump for the service, as Last.fm’s biggest competitors will continue to offer free streaming options for mobile and other devices. More →
Chinese consumer electronics company ZTE exploded from the “other” category in the fourth quarter of 2010 to displace Apple as the No. 4 cell phone maker in the world. In doing so, the Chinese manufacturer also bumped RIM off of the top 5 list for the quarter and, more alarmingly perhaps, for the full year. Market analysis firm IDC on Thursday issued its data for the final quarter of 2010 and ZTE was without question the biggest shock. Growing 76.8% year-over-year, ZTE shipped 16.8 million cell phones in the fourth quarter, compared to 9.5 million in the same quarter a year prior. Apple bested ZTE’s growth, ballooning by 86.2% year-over-year, but fourth quarter shipments slid in at 16.2 million units. Apple blew past RIM in the third quarter of 2010 as the company finally broke into the top 5 thanks to explosive iPhone sales. RIM now finds itself in the troubling “other” category — a position it will fight to escape using an army of new BlackBerry smartphones in 2011. The cell phone market grew 17.9% overall in the fourth quarter according to IDC. Hit the break for IDC’s full press release, including charts showing the top 5 cell phone companies by shipments in the fourth quarter and full year. More →
We have just been told that beginning January 23rd, AT&T will be starting a handset trade-in program. This is the same day AT&T’s new SMS plans are set to take effect. AT&T devices as well as phones from other carriers will be eligible for the trade-in offer. Outside of applying the resulting credit toward a new purchase at AT&T, the carrier will also give you the option of taking a check or donating the money to charity, which AT&T will do for you on your behalf. And you thought Christmas was only in the month of December? Hit the break for a full shot of an internal AT&T document that details the new program. More →
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made this past Friday, RadioShack stated that it will be losing more than 400 kiosks located in Sam’s Club stores across the country. The closures will result from an expiring contract between RadioShack and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., owner of the Sam’s Club chain. Sam’s Club will take over the operation of the kiosks by June 30th, when the contract is set to expire. RadioShack currently sells cell phones and service contracts through the aforementioned kiosks, and it represents a decent chunk of business for the retailer — through the first nine months of 2010, RadioShack reported $20.6 million in profits from its kiosk business. RadioShack plans to increase the number of Target kiosks it operates in an effort to curtail losses, but the company estimates that its kiosk profits will still decline by between $10 million and $15 million in 2011.
Market research firm Gartner released its Q3 2010 cell phone numbers on Wednesday and, to put it mildly, it’s an exciting time in the mobile space. Overall cell phone sales across the globe grew 35% compared to Q3 2009, and smartphone sales exploded — almost doubling numbers from the same quarter last year. Gartner’s report shows total smartphone sales of over 81 million units worldwide, which accounts for 19.3 percent of global cell phone sales in the quarter.
The shining star this quarter was Google’s Android operating system, which saw unbelievable growth compared to last year. Approximately 20.5 million Android devices were sold in the third quarter of 2010, accounting for 22.5% of the global smartphone market. In the same quarter last year, less than 1.5 million Android phones were sold, making up about 3.5% of the market. The increase in Android phone sales amounts to a staggering 1,440% swing, year over year. If there was any question that Android is well on its way to becoming the most popular smartphone OS in the world, the answer now seems fairly apparent.
On the flip side of the coin, Gartner’s numbers are rather unsettling for the world’s top cell phone manufacturer, Nokia. Gartner states that the Finnish giant lost 8.5% of the global cell phone market year over year, while Symbian, Nokia’s smartphone OS of choice, lost 8% of the market. Symbian smartphone sales were up almost 10 million units over the period, but the market is growing at a far more rapid pace. The figures also show iOS losing 0.4% of the smartphone market compared to Q3 2009, though sales nearly doubled from 7 million to 13.5 million units; and RIM lost 5.9% of the market, though sales climbed from 8.5 million units in Q3 2009 to 12 million units in Q3 2010. More →
South Korean electronics powerhouse Samsung has announced its Q3 financials via a press release. The outfit raked in an impressive $35.8 billion in revenue and $3.98 billion in operating profits, and about 25% of that profit came by way of its thriving telecommunications business. Samsung chiefs were quick to credit their mobile communications wing, which shipped 71.4 million phones during Q3 — a 19% increase on last year’s figures. Samsung claims to have sold 7 million Galaxy S phones during the quarter and expects to sell 10 million by the end of the calendar year. Go on Samsung, pat yourself on the back. Press release after the break. More →
This one definitely falls into the unconfirmed rumors category for the time being, but a German magazine is reporting Ericsson has had enough of the consumer cell phone game. According to the report, Ericsson is looking to dump its stake in the company’s joint venture with Sony, Sony Ericsson, and stick to what it does best — infrastructure, back end network components and the like. The magazine also states that Sony may be toying with the idea of picking up Ericsson’s share of the JV and controlling 100 percent of the company. We’re not sure how the struggling Japanese manufacturer plans to scrape up enough cash for a deal like this but where there’s a will (and an electronics empire) there’s a way. It will definitely be interesting to see how this one plays out as it would certainly be the end of an era. An Ericsson rep declined to comment on the story.