If you target the US, then budget hw is more scarce imo. I feel most of the consumers I witness around me will have the latest iPhone of the latest Samsung. Other regions though may and probably differ. But, what defines budget hardware 2 years ago does not fit for today, or a year ago for that matter... and so the life-cycle of components is what every manufacturer is at the mercy of aside from their primary ode to the consumer and what they want. I think they should keep using the 820 SoC until we get sick of it. The 820 should be the budget line going forward and everything after using (834/845) can be for the high rollers, but that is just my perspective. I really hope a consumer focused company focused on Windows 10 Mobile and devices takes the reigns on what is out there. That is why I think companies like WhartonBrooks and Coship see the potential. It is just breaking free out of the gate that is the hard part. With the momentum Windows has going into the summer though I do not think it will be long before we see some more new beginnings.
Well you see a lot of emphasis on flagship phones. But in any mature market the growth has stagnated. Budget is still growing at a rate of around 30%. Which is huge. Over years, that will basically destroy the premium market.
The device turn over used to be two years. Its now slipped to 3-4. So its doubtful most of the people around you have the latest phones. More likely they have a selection of phones ranging from new to, a few generations back, of those popular brands, and then some smaller percentage has phones that look pretty similar but have other branding. If you went to a different peer group, like a poorer suburb, blue collar workers, or older folks, you'd probably not find too many s8s ;P
Huawei for example, as a budget phone have global success, US included. And their growth being what it is, and brand recognition still young, they are only getting started. And the other Chinese players are aiming for the same sort of price quality ratio success.
Look at something like idk, PCs. Now, you still get people buying high end, known brand PCs. But the bulk of consumer PCs sales are no brand, or budget brand concoctions that compete on specs and price, not on name. That's what happens to all tech markets given time. If you buy a stereo or a TV, or a car now, its rare the person that will insist on a particular brand. Instead they'll just get a feel for it, hear about some of the features, and consider how much they can afford.
Budget and midrange is where to future of consumer smartphone devices lie. People just get over it. They get more familiar with the other options. Take something like xiaomi - they make excellent devices with flagship specs, at half the price. Lenovo is similar. Once people see past the branding, the marketing, and they will, it will seem silly to spend extra money on someone elses marketing campaign, when you are really getting the same kind of product. Buy the latest xiaomi or Lenovo phone, and you are getting a damned good flagship for half the bucks.
Windows has historically done better when its had a range of midrange and budget devices, for people like working professionals, small business owners, even students, and the sort of productivity minded folks who don't tend to spend 900 bucks on things "just cos". The "non high rollers".
I've sold a number of smaller windows tablets, for cheaper prices, to those sorts of people. Not high rollers who'd buy a surface or similar. Now, not as many as I've sold android devices, but they sell, and they sell for different reasons. Its not all typical suits when it comes to cheaper windows stuff. Its another niche entirely, that I think many companies have missed.
I agree its quite tied to device hardware. Which is why the current budget phones, and midrange are a little poorly matched to market. The 4s is great, but only just getting international. The 950 is getting midrange in price but its too old for marketing impact, and there aren't many places you can even get it, let alone under carrier (still as a midrange proposition its actually pretty good right now, if it were released as it is now, today, it might have sold a lot more). The 550/650 are either overpriced or underspecced compare to its android peers. They don't fit competitively.
I'm keen to see what coship or whartonbrooks, or wiley fox do too.
I agree I think they see the potential - an untapped, non-competitive niche in an area that traditionally has sold but isn't really occupied. Even alcatel clearly spotted a potential. And I think their 4s/4s pro/dtek60 move in general worked. They'll probably pull another rebadging/modding effort with the next round. Lets hope they are smart enough/cashed up enough to go global with it this time though, because that would do a lot better.
In general this is what smaller companies do, if they are smart - they look for areas where the competition is weak, or the market wants something that isn't being provided. When you are smaller, you have to play this way - you can't outgun people with more brand recognition, and more purchasing power and marketing funds. You have to do something different, aim for a different crowd.
If they are lucky, and play their cards right, they could end up being a little like xiaomi - with their own dedicatd fanbase, and products that sell without advertising.