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"Restructuring the business around its shrinking enterprise base," Greengart said, "would require shrinking RIM so much that a selloff would almost certainly be preferable."
He noted that RIM is not the only smartphone vendor facing a brutal landscape next year. In fact, he said, aside from Apple and Samsung, "nobody else is consistently making money," and some are losing "hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter." Even if you're Motorola and part of global conglomerate Google, he said, "that simply isn't sustainable." As a result, Greengart expects some vendors will be "forced to retreat from the mobile market entirely in 2013."
2013 will also see Chinese handset makers, particularly Huawei and ZTE, continue to build their global market share -- even if, he said, it's "not clear whether they are growing profitably." Greengart predicts that, unless they undertake a strong brand-building effort -- as Lenovo does before it sells into a market -- they will continue to have to compete primarily on price.
New Apple Product Category?
In 2013, Greengart said he expects Samsung will build on the 2012 launch of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, with the launch of the IV in the second quarter, containing "the latest and great component specs" and more Android customization.
And then, there's the LTE rollout. He sees "pretty much every postpaid smartphone that's heading to Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint will have LTE in the coming months, with LTE starting to hit entry-level and prepaid smartphones this holiday season and increasing next year.
Ross Rubin, Principal Analyst for Reticle Research, agrees that the continuing LTE rollout in the U.S. will be a big part of the story next year. He also expects to see more natural, gestural interaction capabilities for computers, and, if the company remains true to form, he predicts Apple is on schedule to introduce a new product category. It could be the much-rumored Apple TV, he said, or "perhaps the company will go smaller than the iPod."
Rubin also sees 2013 as a time of opportunity for Windows Phone and BlackBerry to "take market share from Android," driven by some of the frustration that vendors and business customers have had with that ecosystem.
'A Foothold Would Be Fine'
While Rubin sees opportunity for Windows Phone in 2013, Information Technology Intelligence Corp's Laura DiDio calls it a "make or break year" in smartphones for Microsoft, as well as for their venture into tablets. If she had to bet, DiDio said, she'd give the company better chances in tablets, given that the company has already "had time to make it in phones" and hasn't acquired much market share. (continued...)