Argus Insights has released its latest ‘Insights’ into smartphone sales. Unlike Kantar or Gartner, it measures consumer sentiment, and has correctly anticipated unit sales trends for the past five years.
Argus can tell what products and brands are winning the battle for hearts, minds, and wallets and tell why some products succeed, and some fail.
Argus measures three things:
- Consumer Delight
- Delight metric based on research from Stanford University on Innovation Metrics
- Delight is calculated using ‘star’ ratings from consumer reviews, not sentiment analysis of review text
- Buzz Volume
- Volume of consumer mentions related to a particular product or topic for a given time frame
- Validated Buzz Volume normalized for all the brands within a market segment
- Strongly correlates to market share and anticipates future consumer demand
A virtually unheard of brand Meizu and its amazingly high-specified MX4 Pro stole mindshare from Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, Lenovo, HTC and Huawei.
In the US Apple, Motorola and Samsung all saw drops in both delight and subsequent demand.
Q1 saw United States consumer demand for most smartphone brands fall with two notable exceptions, Blu and Nokia. Blu, a growing purveyor of unlocked handsets sold through Amazon and Walmart, continues to piggyback on T-Mobile’s uncarrier positioning as US consumers seek ‘good enough’ handsets that can be used across multiple carriers, both pre-paid and post-paid.
Nokia was the only brand to show increased demand and happier customers. “Recent Nokia handsets are getting increased traction in the US thanks to increased demand at both T-Mobile and Boost,” said John Feland, CEO, Argus Insights. “The experience gap between Windows and the other handset operating systems has narrowed enough to appeal to consumers looking for something different from the dominant iOS or Android handsets. This supports a growing trend where consumers looking for a differentiated experience drive a fragmentation of the US smartphone market. This has impacted Samsung especially hard as upstarts like Blu sneak [Android] market share away.”
Argus are not saying any particular smartphone brand or model is good or bad, or it will or will not sell. What they are saying is that social media, mixed with reviews/mentions in media and its special analytics reveal what is hot or not. From that, it is reasonably able to predict handset sales volumes for the next quarter.
It seems that Apple’s iPhone 6 and Plus initially captured consumers heart and wallets but that enthusiasm is waning against the continuous onslaught of lower cost, similarly or more highly specified, Android handsets from Miezu, Xiaomi, and Huawei.
Apple’s business model and share price is reliant on it charging premium prices for its products. If - as in evident in China where Mianzi (saving face) is enshrined - the product does not meet the expectations of new users then two things can happen:
- Cognitive dissonance kicks in (the uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time e.g. Apple is supposed to be best so I will believe that even though it is not)
- Or, they will soon sell it and buy something better – Meizu in China’s case currently is winning hearts.
It is also interesting to see Lumia’s fortunes turning around in the US. In part, that is in anticipation of Windows 10 but also that the Lumia 635 and 830 are seen as cool and great value, by Millennials.