2010 had been a big year for smartphones. Last June, Apple released a totally redesigned iPhone and Nokia launched Nokia N8, a Symbian^3 phone that features the most powerful camera ever put on a smartphone. Samsung, on the other hand, had an Android best-seller in Samsung Galaxy S. RIM released the gorgeous touchscreen full-QWERTY hybrid BlackBerry Torch 9800 in Q3 while HTC launched a slew of terrifying-looking Android and Windows Phone 7 handsets during the latter part of the year.
2010 had been great for some companies, just OK for some. But what does 2011 hold for some of the biggest smartphone makers in the world today? Here are our predictions --
The next iteration to the iPhone is a certainty this year. And given the tremendous success of iPhone 4 and Apple's track record, it's highly unlikely for it to flop. We're predicting that the 2011 iPhone will have a 7 or 8 MegaPixel camera at the back, better front-facing camera, the same screen size, same number of ports, and same design identity as iPhone 4 but a bit thinner.
If there's any phone-maker that's expected to experience a major overhaul this year, it's undoubtedly Nokia. The Finnish giant's new CEO is a former executive at Microsoft and we need not be overly imaginative to realize that this could mean that Nokia may finally release phones running on operating systems other than Symbian and MeeGo. I'm predicting that in 2011, we will see Nokia phones with Windows Phone 7 OS and Android, even.
RIM - BlackBerry
In 2009, BlackBerry was the best-selling handset in the United States. Last year, however, iPhone and Android handsets overtook RIM in that market. In 2011, we predict that RIM will continue trying to reclaim the lead in the US and will simultaneously focus on emerging markets like the Asia Pacific. RIM will stick to its business model with BlackBerry handsets running on BlackBerry OS but we'll probably see totally redesigned Curve and Bold phones (as opposed to the largely similar design identities of Curve 8520 and 9300 and Bold 9700 and 9780) and more touchscreen with QWERTY keypad hybrid phones like Torch but with better camera and HD video recording capability.
True to its corporate slogan, HTC had been quietly brilliant in 2010 -- releasing incredible handsets like HTC Legend, HTC Desire, HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z. Our prediction is that 2011 will be a year of continued growth for the company, more so now that knowledge about the brand is starting to spread like wildfire -- even in emerging markets.
The fact that Google chose to partner with Samsung in creating its Nexus S device is indicative that Samsung will have a lot of tricks up its sleeve for 2011. Apart from Nexus S, Samsung is expected to come up with its Samsung Galaxy S successor. I'm predicting that the next iteration to the Android device will have a slightly larger screen, same SuperAMOLED display, better front-facing camera, 10 or 12 MegaPixel camera at the back with LED flash, same design identity as Galaxy S (a bit squarish as opposed to the curved design of Nexus S) but thinner. If Windows Phone 7 sales will be good in Q1 and Q2 of 2011, Samsung will definitely come up with a terrifying gamut of WP7 handsets come Q3 of this year. Of course, there's also the Bada platform and I predict that we'll get a Samsung Wave successor this year with far wider screen and probably a more conservative design like Samsung Galaxy S.
Oddly enough, LG had been eerily quiet in 2010 -- failing to come up with handsets that could go head to head with the likes of iPhone 4 and even Nokia N8. We predict that in 2011, LG will try to re-establish itself as a major player in the market. The specifications of yet-to-be-released LG Star aka LG Optimus 2X are no less than stunning and I believe it will be the phone to beat this year.
While not as 'subdued' as LG, Sony Ericsson had been borderline lackluster compared to its main rivals during the past year. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, while a strong device overall, was sadly saddled by delayed software updates. In 2011, Sony Ericsson PlayStation Phone, which is literally a mobile gaming console and smartphone hybrid, could very well catapult SE to the top of the phone manufacturers list again. The handset has recently generated considerable buzz in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
How about you? What are your predictions for smartphone companies in 2011?