When will we have solar–powered smartphones ?

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I read recently in the news that Decathlon, one of the world’s biggest sport retailer is launching his own smartphone in France. The Quechua Phone 5 is a « moutain-resistant » Android smartphone. It’s water-resistant with a long life battery. It is designed to be your personal guide when you walk in the mountains. Archos, a french manufacturer known for its video players and tablets, produces this smartphone.

In France like in many other countries in Europe and in developed countries, the smartphone market is saturated and starts to stabilize. According to IDC, even if worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to exceed 1 billion units in 2013 (+39.3%), 5 year CAGR will slow down to 8% in North America and only 11% in Europe. All major European countries will cross the 50% smartphone penetration rate in 2014 at the latest.

So like for any other goods, in a mature market, actors need to differentiate themselves. Some actors will differentiate by the price and manufacturers like Huawei or LG will probably be very good at this. Some actors will differentiate on performance or design and Apple or Samsung are very good at this. And some actors without possibility to produce low cost devices or invest a lot in R&D will focus on niche markets.

Decathlon is one of the first players to enter the niche market of dedicated smartphones. When will we have smartphone dedicated to game players with more graphic power? Another one dedicated to professionals with more security? One dedicated to teenagers with funny colors? Or again, another one dedicated to travelers with very long life battery or solar battery?

Olivier Rousseau

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