The pressure is on HTC and LG Electronics to show they can compete with Apple and Samsung Electronics in the smartphone market by showing off impressive products at Mobile World Congress, which starts in Barcelona later this month.
The two companies had almost 50 percent of the market, compared to about 25 percent in the previous year, according to data from market research company Strategy Analytics.
But as Samsung decides to take a step back from MWC at this year, and Apple skips it as always, other vendors will get a chance to shine, and they need it, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.
“When you look at HTC and LG, in particular, both companies need a big, big refresh to their product roadmaps, and show they have products to turn things around,” said Blaber.
HTC has stated that it will launch fewer but more high quality phones this year, while also stepping up its LTE push.
Rumored smartphones include a high end model with a high definition screen measuring 4.7 inches screen, a quad core processor and Android 4.0.
The company is also expected to expand its LTE (Long Term Evolution) portfolio.
Add to that a continued focus on making phones as slim as possible, according to CCS Insight.
After Apple, ZTE and Huawei were the fastest growing smartphone vendors in the fourth quarter, according to market research company Gartner.
Huawei announced the Android 4.0 based Ascend P1 S, and is expected to build on that at the show.
ZTE may sell more phones than Huawei, but the company needs to close the quality gap on Huawei in smartphones, according to Blaber.
Huawei has arguably moved further ahead in terms of quality and time to market, he said.
This year’s show also comes at an opportune time for Google, which this week received European and US government approval of its Motorola Mobility acquisition.
How the acquisition will affect the Android ecosystem will be on the mind of many people, but they shouldn’t expect many answers from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who will once again give a keynote.
“we don’t think its time for Google to do that yet; more information will instead come later this year and next year. Android lost market share in Western Europe in the fourth quarter for the first time, and Google is dependent on its partners for growth, so it needs to be careful,” said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC.
Sony also finalized its purchase of Ericsson’s part of Sony Ericsson, a company that also had a challenging fourth quarter.
It too has to show it can remain relevant by taking advantage of Sony’s other services and products.
Samsung has chosen not to launch the Galaxy S III — even though it is already showing it to operators — because the company wants to go head to head with Apple and the next iPhone in June, according to Jeronimo.
Also, the Galaxy S II still has good momentum and that, combined with the Galaxy Note and Nexus, means the company doesn’t need the new model yet, according to Blaber.
The company is keeping quiet until closer to the launch, lessening the risk for patent litigation directed at it, he said.
Samsung is still expected to launch a number of smartphones and a 10 inch version of the Galaxy Note, which allows users to write and draw on the screen with a stylus.
The metro and bus workers from TMB, the main public transport operator in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, have announced plans to strike.
If the strike happens, comprehensive contingency plans are in place, the GSM Association said in a statement on Friday.
Sean Brierley is a business journalist based in Hobart, Australia. Sean has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Sean spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.