News You might have missed: Week of January 26, 2018

Two Sonos One for the Same Price as one HomePod

Sonos today announced that for a limited time you can get the “Sonos Two” bundle – two Sonos Ones for just $349 in the US and £349 in the UK starting on January 26.

Via TechCrunch 

  • The Sonos One is the newly launched speaker that supports Amazon Alexa and will soon be supporting Google Assistant as well
  • There is no question that this deal has a lot to do with Apple’s announcing that HomePod will be available from February 9th.
  • For the same price of one HomePod you will be taking home two Sonos One making it possible to either set up a true stereo experience or play music throughout your home by placing them in different rooms.
  • The offer is not just a dig at Apple’s pricing, but also at the initial lack of availability for multi-room play which will become available with the release of iOS11.3 and AirPlay 2 later in the year
  • I would not jump to conclude that this is a sign that Sonos feels threatened by Apple, although I am sure they look at Apple as a serious competitor. I think this was a great marketing opportunity at a great time to gain some momentum in the smart-speaker market.
  • A permanent price decrease on the Sonos One would be more of a signal that competition in the market is putting pressure on Sonos. This could of course not only be coming from Apple HomePod but also from Google Home Max.

 Samsung Galaxy S9 coming on February 25

Samsung sent out the official invites for Unpacked 2018 featuring a big 9 and the words: “The Camera. Reimagined.” The date is February 25, the Sunday before Mobile World Congress officially kicks off.

Via Cnet  

  • Samsung returns to its traditional launch time. You might remember that last year, while they held an Unpacked event in Barcelona the Galaxy S8 was introduced later in the Spring in NYC mostly due to the issue Samsung had earlier in the year with the Note 8
  • I don’t want to speculate on what the phone will have and will not have, you can read some of the expected features in the Cnet article but there is no doubt Samsung is making the S9 all about the camera.
  • Cameras are more and more important for consumers but they are not the easiest feature to sell an upgrade on. Especially when the current model, as it is the case for the Galaxy S8, is offering many of the features consumers really want – portrait feature possibly being the most important one.
  • I want to reflect on what this product will say about Samsung. The invite mentions a 9, not a 10 and unless Samsung pulls a “one more thing” this would imply that this is the successor to Galaxy S8 and more an equivalent to the iPhone 8 than the iPhone X. I doubt Samsung would miss the opportunity to call its product a X or a 10.
  • This might have strong implications on replacement cycles for 2018 and while nobody is talking about a super cycle for Samsung, it might push a stronger replacement cycle to 2019.
  • This is, of course, if we think that the answer to the iPhone X will come from the Galaxy S line rather than the Galaxy Note line.
  • The two product families already share many features and technology. The audience they address, however, is a little different still, which might require keeping the two lines separate for a little longer.
  • Rumors have been mounting lately on Samsung working on a dual screen foldable smartphone that might hit the market as early as this year and some are calling that the Galaxy X.
  • It seems to me that even with the technology being ready soon, both the price point that the device will require and the use cases would much better fit the Note family than the Galaxy one.

 Xiaomi tops leaderboard in India

According to newly published market share, Xiaomi overtook Samsung in India in 4Q17. According to consultancy Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi accounted for 25% of Indian smartphone sales in the last quarter of 2017, compared to 23% for Samsung. Canalys, another research firm, estimated the Chinese firm’s share at 27%, compared to Samsung’s 25%.

Via CNNtech 

  • Xiaomi had some ups and downs in India and for sure one quarter is not enough to crown it the long-term leader.
  • Samsung is pointing to GFK numbers showing that it remains ahead of Xiaomi on a sell-through basis. Samsung highlighting, in particular, its very lean supply chain in India with little inventory being kept.
  • While I do not question Samsung’s statement, I am curious as to how its lead times can be shorter than Xiaomi who is known for fire sales where a big volume of phones come in and are quickly sold over a few days at a very aggressive price point.
  • Either way, even if Samsung is right, all signs point to Xiaomi gaining ground thanks to having the right products at the right price.
  • As smartphones buyers move from urban to more rural areas, price points are even more important. Indian consumers are very pragmatic buyers when it comes to smartphones. While they appreciate brands they care for good value for money and take pride in striking a good deal rather than overpaying.
  • Samsung has always served emerging markets in the same way it does mature ones: by offering more tech for the same price as their competitors. This, however, limits how low they can go on price. Also, other than some carrier customization, Samsung has never really tackled emerging markets with a product design that is really bottom up so that the features that matter the most are included to reach the right price. This is just not Samsung’s strength or priority, to be honest.
  • As smartphone demand expands to less urban areas, Xiaomi will have to add more traditional brick and mortar stores to its distribution which historically has always been an issue for brands new to the market. Having been able to establish a trusted brand will certainly help the process.

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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