Smartphone sales are booming. But that’s not to say that 2015 was a stellar year for everyone in the sector.
Whether is was losing out on sales by being unable to service demand or massive drops in market share, plenty of mobile’s biggest players have had a year to forget. Especially when it comes to the old guard.
In fact, of all the tech trends over the last 12 months none was more noticeable than the apparent decline of long-established players, as the new breed from China came in to shake things up.
And with that in mind, here’s our pick of the five biggest losers in mobile in 2015.
Microsoft can’t be accused of not trying when it comes to smartphones.
Windows 10 with its welcoming approach to Android and iOS apps and its ability to allow easy switching between apps on desktop and mobile is more than laudable.
But the simple fact is that the Big M is still nowhere near where it needs to be in order to compete with Apple and Google.
Researchers at IDC claim Microsoft’s global market share stands at just 2.6%. But that’s just part of its problem.
The Nokia buyout has been a complete failure and has made a bad situation worse.
In July Microsoft revealed it had written down $7.6 billion against the purchase of the Finnish mobile-maker.
Essentially, it was Microsoft saying it had wasted money on the deal.
Another year of struggling to land a punch on its competitors beckons.
Samsung went into 2015 expecting big things. And while it’s benefited from a recent upturn in fortunes, the year has not gone well for Korea’s biggest tech firm.
Its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge were praised by critics. But the company failed to realise how strong demand for the curved screen Edge variant would be, and didn’t order enough devices, leading to long wait times and missed sales.
Profits from its smartphone division dipped severely over the summer too, with a 38% year on year drop reported in July.
Throw in continued legal and commercial struggles against Apple in the US and tougher competition in the budget sector from China, and Samsung’s year has been nothing short of a disaster.
It’s hard to know where to start with HTC.
Its One M9 was supposed to help it re-establish its credentials as Android’s best mobile-maker.
Instead it was a device that, although not bad by any means, still looked and felt no different to its predecessors.
Then there was the launch of its One A9, which was the first non-Nexus phone to use Google’s Marshmallow software.
It was billed as a flagship but didn’t have top–end specs. But worst of all, despite strenuous denials from HTC, its design was so close to the iPhone that it just felt like a desperate way of trying to ride on Apple's coattails.
In August, the company announced plans to cut its global workforce by 15%. Then in November, it stopped providing sales guidance, which is a fancy way of saying indications as to forthcoming financial performance, for future quarters to protect its share price.
As it continues to run up major losses, it's a cautionary tale to see the former leading light of Android brought so low.
BlackBerry almost went to the wall in 2013. And while the Canadian company has made slight gains since then, its confirmation in March that it sold just 8.5 million smartphones in 2014, down from 50 million four years before, showed just what a state it was in.
New phones, such as the square-framed Passport and Android–powered Priv came and went, but hardly caused much of a stir in the mainstream.
BlackBerry is now making noises about bringing out more new devices next year, but it’s very still hard to see 2015 as a success for a company that defined the first wave of the smartphone revolution.
The phones look dated, even if the security aspect is solid. The simple fact is that consumers don’t want BlackBerrys any more.
Sony’s certainly not making bad smartphones. But the fact is that like a number of other big-names, it just isn’t able to sell them.
Its Xperia devices look the part, but when it revealed sales had dropped by 16% in July, no one was that surprised.
Like Samsung and HTC, Sony can’t compete with budget mobile-makers in China and India. Meanwhile in the US and Europe, it can’t see off the challenge of Apple which dominates the entire space.
Sony might say it’s cutting the number of devices it’s making, but it’s difficult to imagine it gaining ground in an increasingly tough market.