For every mobile-maker revelling in a massive jump in sales or a seemingly never-ending surge in market share (hello Google), there’s another who’s found 2013 to be something of a struggle.
The year has seen some of yesteryear’s major players laid low, while even some of the year’s successful firms have scored own goals that have made them look foolish in front of the watching tech press.
We’ve picked out the year’s five key mobile losers. Read on and see if you agree with our selection.
It’s hard to argue against BlackBerry being this year’s biggest loser in mobile. The company has been on the decline almost since the moment Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone suffered a true annus horribilis.
The thing is, it all started with such high hopes. January saw CEO Thorsten Heins show off two impressive new devices, the Z10 and Q10 and, finally, the company’s new BB10 software. Critical acclaim followed, but sales did not.
Heins then dismissed tablets as a fad, before revealing the ailing PlayBook slate wouldn’t be getting BB10.
That was bad enough, but the company then spectacularly put itself up for sale in August, tales of boardroom strife splashed across the web.
By year’s end, BlackBerry had taken down the ‘For Sale’ signs and gained new investment, but saw its market share drop to zero in some European countries. Only BBM’s success on iOS and Android soothed the pain.
This was supposed to be the year that HTC fought back after losing its Android crown to Samsung.
Instead, despite its handsets receiving widespread acclaim for their superb design and top-end functionality, the company posted its first ever quarterly loss and ended the year facing a sales ban in the UK after its One smartphone was revealed to have breached Nokia patents.
Rumours flew that the Taiwanese giant, only two years ago Apple’s key smartphone competitor, was ripe for a hostile takeover.
While this didn’t materialise, the firm’s limited marketing budget meant it was simply unable to go up against Samsung, Apple or LG and win.
Espoo would point to growing sales and an improved lineup of Windows-packing smartphones. But the truth is 2013 will be remembered as the year that Nokia died.
Bought out by Microsoft in a multi-billion dollar deal, the company will cease to exist as we know it in 2014, its devices and services businesses becoming part of the Big M’s desperate efforts to take on the might of Google and Apple.
It was an achievement for Nokia to secure such a massive price while still serving up phones that were well received, even if they failed to shift in the kind of numbers that Apple and Samsung devices do.
But seeing a company that just half a decade ago was slaying all before it reduced to being Ballmer and co’s mobile wing undoubtedly makes Nokia one of this year’s biggest losers.
Put aside the billions in profits and the superb smartphones. Samsung’s down here as a loser for its awful Galaxy S4 launch event alone.
In two hours at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the company showed itself to be hugely out of touch with the real world in general, and the tech world in particular.
It reduced women to nail polish fretting, stay-at-home stereotypes, waiting for their husbands to come home, in a tawdry take on supposedly ‘classic’ 1950s Broadway theatre.
It left commentators, both male and female, unbelieving at such a thoughtless display of tactlessness.
How a company of Samsung’s stature could have made such a misstep in 2013, as the debate about women in technology was rightly taking centre stage, remains a mystery.
Good products don’t make up for outdated attitudes.
It seems crazy to call Apple a a loser after nine million opening weekend sales of its iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. But it’s the latter that has put it into this category.
Essentially a reworked iPhone 5, the phone wasn’t nearly as ‘budget’ as everyone was hoping, with the result being sluggish sales.
The 5S outsells the 5C by three-to-one in the UK and it’s no surprise. You can get so much more for not much more cash.
The smartphone space has changed so much since the iPhone debuted in 2007. And with devices like the Nexus 5 and Moto G, prices are changing too.
Apple is about a premium, yes. But consumers are seeing that and voting with their feet, largely because they can get more for less. Otherwise the company’s market share wouldn’t be sliding globally.
A big update is needed in 2014 to help it hold on at the top.