Market Overview

Are There Too Many Smartphone Brands?

Are There Too Many Smartphone Brands?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), SAMSUNG ELECT LTD(F) (OTC: SSNLF), Lenovo Group Limited (ADR) (OTC: LNVGY), Huawei and Xiaomi dominate the smartphone market, but that hasn't deterred others from entering the space.

Palm Inc., the former device maker acquired by Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), has been purchased by TCL. The new owner plans to build a division specifically for the brand, which once dominated the mobile device industry.

Eastman Kodak Co. (NYSE: KODK), best known for producing a multitude of film-related products, is getting into the smartphone space with the IM5. Designed for those who want a simple smartphone, the IM5 features a 1.7GHz MediaTek processor and a five-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 x 720. The handset also comes with a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera and 8GB of internal storage.

"I don't get the Kodak," Dan Miller, senior analyst and founder of Opus Research, told Benzinga. "[But] I'd love to see Palm again. I think there's a lot of nostalgia. They [built] some of the best pre-smartphones out there."

Miller referred to Kodak's venture as "something of a mystery."

Related Link: 5 Things To Expect From The iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 In 2015

When Apple Came To Market

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, said there was a degree of skepticism toward Apple when the iPhone was first unveiled.

"There were plenty of cell phone companies," Enderle told Benzinga. "We didn't need another one in place. The market was dominated by BlackBerry and [other] major players. Apple came to market and surprised everybody."

Enderle said that while Kodak and Palm's chances are slim, "Apple showcased that, [when] done right, there's always a chance that somebody could find something that somebody else has missed."

In particular, Enderle cited the success of Chinese manufacturers. He said they have been able to deliver inexpensive products that are also very capable.

"A good section of the market, particularly in developing countries, is driven heavily by price," he added. "The same kinds of phones that you probably don't see in the U.S. moving well move incredibly well in emerging markets."

Enderle said he wouldn't bet a lot of money on the new entrants but said that what Apple accomplished "can always be done again."

"But it's still a long shot," Enderle concluded. "By no means…would I be putting a lot of money behind [Kodak] or a Palm."

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.


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