'Premium' Android smartphones are dying

Have you noticed how premium Android smartphones just don't seem to be selling like they once did? Here's what could be behind that.

Have you noticed how premium Android smartphones just don't seem to be selling like they once did? Here's what could be behind that.

First off, the evidence.

Journalist Charles Arthur has done the heavy number-crunching and makes a compelling case for the claim that premium Android sales have hit a wall. In terms of percentage revenue growth from smartphones, the only player that's seeing growth - and pretty spectacular growth at that - is Apple. That leaves all the other players - Samsung, HTC, Sony, and LG - in the red and struggling for oxygen.

This does not bode well for Android manufacturers.

So what's going on here?

Arthur offers up some suggestions, but as I see it the problems being experienced by Android handset manufacturers, in particular the high-end players, can be summed up as follows:

  • Everyone has spent too much time trying to be Apple and put too much effort into coming out with iPhone clones.
  • Features that people likes - removable battery, microSD card slot, and so on - have been dumped in order to try to sell customers expensive internal storage.
  • Mid-range Android devices are more than adequate.
  • There is little or no differentiation between handsets on offer (even price).
  • Premium Android handsets are too expensive.
  • The market is far too crowded with devices. Everyone just seems to be throwing everything they have at the wall in the hope that something sticks.
  • Buyers don't care as much as they once did about Android smartphones.

Many of these problems will be familiar to those who have been watching the PC industry over the past couple of decades. Too much competition, not enough innovation and differentiation, combined with price premiums pretty much destroyed the PC industry and forced the hardware OEMs to chase thinner and thinner margins.

Even Apple isn't immune to possible problems in the future, with some analysts already predicting that sales of the upcoming iPhone 6s aren't going to be as good as what we've seen for the iphone 6 and 6 Plus.

I predict tougher times ahead for the players in this space.

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