Opinion: How watching the smartphone market can pay off

Posted on Sep 1 2017 - 8:00am by Andrew Hayes

The one object most of us couldn’t live without is our smartphones. Packed into the size of a deck of cards are a clock, a planner, a cache of social media apps and a veritable personal arcade.

Unfortunately, purchasing one of these modern miracles is not cheap, and a wireless data plan can really set you back.

However, not many of us take time to study the workings of the complex marketplace of smartphone producers who bring us our gadgets and determine their prices.

Recently, Samsung revealed its newest product, the Galaxy Note 8, which features various improvements such as a stylus pen, two rear cameras and a larger screen.

Samsung hopes the product will improve sales for the Korean tech giant after the disastrous release of the Note 7, which somehow managed to be both bland and flammable at the same time.

At the same time, Apple is preparing for the release of its 10th-anniversary iPhone next month, heating up the competition between the two companies. Apple has advertised that its new product will possess a back panel entirely made of glass, as well as an improved OLED screen. The new iPhone will also supposedly possess wireless charging, a feature that has had more than a few tech commentators buzzing already (and one that would surely be useful).

One problem has plagued both Apple and Samsung over the past few years: market saturation.

Everybody and his infant has at least one smartphone, so there’s little incentive to spend good money on a product that’s only a marginal improvement.

That could be one reason why both manufacturers are upping their respective games so significantly; industry leaders have suggested that 2017 could be a crucial year to prove the lasting profitability of the smartphone market, so both companies are anxious to get a leg up going into the high-volume sales period leading up to January.

So, what does all this financial flibbertigibbet mean to you and me?

Well, a student interested in saving a few bucks would do well to watch the market and see how these products sell in their first few months. If either Apple or Samsung does not see its expected bump in sales, it is likely to drop its prices more quickly (and perhaps lower) than the competitor.

Even if they make less profit per phone, it could be worth it to build brand loyalty to those who purchase what will hopefully be a high-quality phone.

Those customers, especially the young people purchasing an iPhone or a Galaxy as their first phone, are far more likely to stick with the company rather than switch when their phone breaks (typically suspiciously close to the release date of the new iSomething-or-other).

At any rate, a savvy shopper of smartphones will surely wait until well after the release dates to think about purchasing one of these next-generation beauties.

My advice would be to wait until after Christmas at least. Prices have been known to drop more than 60 percent in the year following release.

So keep a closer eye on the trade pages, and your next phone purchase may leave you with a fatter wallet.


Andrew Hayes is a senior international studies major from Tupelo.