Tag: Android

DRAM is strong, NAND is sluggish

nand-chipsIndustry analysts believe the memory sector will continue to do relatively well despite a decline in NAND demand. Although NAND might not be a very hot commodity, DRAM sales are expected to surge, reports The China Post.

The price of 2GB DDR3 chips in the first quarter rose 57.8 per cent, while NAND prices rose by 19.8 per cent, according to TrendForce. Strong demand for tablets and smartphones seems to be boosting DRAM sales, and the fact that an increasing number of vendors are introducing Android devices with 2GB of RAM should also help.

However, strong demand could also result in even higher DRAM prices. TrendForce believes the price of 4-gig DDR3 DRAM modules has the potential to rise by another 30 per cent. The outfit points out that the high season for mobile device launches is drawing near, which means more demand should be expected.

Although DRAM prices will remain strong, NAND prices are expected to decline in the short term. NAND prices should remain relatively stable, due to a reduction in supply.

It might sound a bit counter intuitive, but it is worth noting that smartphone and tablet peddlers are not increasing the amount of NAND storage in their devices. Most devices still ship with 8GB or 16GB of storage, while high end gear tends to ship with 32GB, or in some cases 64GB. This is in stark contrast to market trends just a couple of years ago, when each new generation of devices tended to offer a twofold increase in storage.

On the other hand, the amount of RAM is steadily growing. Three years ago smartphones used to ship with 512MB, which was upped to 1GB for the last two generations and as of late last year we are seeing an increasing number of Android devices with 2GB of RAM.

Surface tablet sales fall short, resemble Zune

surface-rtOh dear. It looks like the sceptics were right, Microsoft’s Surface tablets are lemons. Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft has sold about 400,000 Surface Pro tablets since their debut last month. In addition, it only managed to sell a little over a million Surface RT tablets.

Microsoft reportedly ordered three million Surface RT tablets last year, but sales never picked up and Redmond was forced to scale back the order. 

The lacklustre figures come as no surprise. Earlier this year it emerged that the RT faced high return rates and very low sell-through, with shipments totalling just 900,000 units in the first quarter of sales. The Surface Pro did not fare any better. It got relatively negative reviews and since it is quite a bit pricier than the RT, consumers don’t seem keen to make the leap of faith.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna told Bloomberg that Microsoft has failed to prove that Windows has a place in a new world dominated by touchscreens.

“It’s pretty clear that things were bad entering the year, and at least for the moment they’re getting worse,” he said. “The path to a successful Surface, in the same way that they were successful with Xbox, is not very clear to me right now.”

Apple still commands a 50+ share of the tablet market, although it is projected to slip under 50 percent later this year. Analysts put Apple’s iPad shipments in Q4 at 22.9 million units, which dwarfs every single competitor. However, Apple is losing share to Android, not Windows.

IDC reckons that the share of Windows RT tablets will stay below 3 percent through 2017, while Windows 8 could end up on 7.4 percent of tablets, in 2017 of course. In other words, Windows tablets are going nowhere, fast.

HTC guerrilla marketing campaign takes on Samsung juggernaut

htc-quietly-going-underTroubled smartphone maker HTC is not giving in yet. It used the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event to stage a guerrilla marketing event of its own. HTC can’t take on Samsung in a set piece battle or in a war of attrition, but it seems eager to fight on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets. The streets of New York that is. 

HTC did not use Spitfires and Hurricanes, it resorted to an even more potent marketing weapon – lovely ladies handing out HTC One samples. Sometimes a friendly smile works better than a Vickers machine gun. HTC let the crowd try out its new flagship phone at the sidelines of Samsung’s Unpacked 2013 event and it offered a $100 rebate for anyone who trades in their old phone, reports Business Insider.

Samsung held two separate events in New York, one for the media and one for consumers. Apparently HTC chose to target the latter. It is unclear how many consumers fell for it, but in our opinion the HTC One has what it takes to slug it out with Samsung’s Galaxy S4. Sadly though, HTC lacks hundreds of millions of dollars to take on Samsung’s hype machine and hype is proving more important than actual products. 

HTC is down, but it is not out. And if the HTC One fails we will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted Samsung science.

HTC is not the only Android outfit that chose not to yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. LG took out a few cleverly placed ads, trolling Samsung’s SIV ads in New York as well.

Google Shopping ads now extend to mobiles

google-mobile-ad-listingsGoogle is bringing Google Shopping product listings to mobile devices. Google has been serving up product listings on desktop search results for quite a while, but now it is taking them to cramped mobile screens as well.

A simple Google search on a phone or tablet will now result in several listings popping up above the organic search results.

This ad unit is labeled as ‘Sponsored’ and displays rich product images, prices, retailers and more. It might be a boon for some users and m-commerce outfits, but sticking an ad unit in mobile searches is bound to irk quite a few consumers, especially those who didn’t fall for the oversized smartphone craze.

Google explained the finer points of its approach in an Adwords Blog entry and it was quick to point out that the new service will allow potential consumers to narrow down their searches and save money in the process. It should boost Google’s mobile ad revenue and it also opens up a range of new possibilities.

The listings are location-aware, which means they could come in handy on the road, or abroad. Comparing prices, exchanging money or just getting a quick bite to eat in a new city should be easier than ever, especially if Google Now goes mainstream and lends a helping hand.

However, when you’re not on the road and when you just want to search for something, the ads will do what all ads do best – annoy you.

HTC struggles to stay afloat despite top notch products

htc-quietly-going-underHTC was one of the first smartphone makers to cash in on the Android craze a couple of years ago, but the good times are long gone and if its fortunes don’t turn around soon, it might be up for sale, or worse.

Back in 2010 and the first half of 2011, HTC was the darling of tech hacks and investors alike. It was posting strong sales, with triple digit revenue growth for four consecutive quarters. However, it has been downhill ever since.

On Wednesday HTC announced that its sales in February dropped a whopping 44 per cent year-on-year and 27 per cent compared to January. At the moment, HTC’s market cap is roughly one fifth of what it was in mid-2011.

So what on earth went wrong, and what led to HTC’s annus horribilis last year?

It wasn’t the products. Last year HTC decided to focus on fewer phones, which seemed like a logical step for a small outfit, as it could allocate its resources more efficiently and turn itself into an upmarket brand. The resulting One series phones got stellar reviews, but the positive vibe did not result in strong sales. HTC’s flagship One X featured a better screen than its arch nemesis, the Samsung Galaxy S3. It also looked a bit nicer and its build quality was vastly superior. In terms of hardware and software, it was on a par with Samsung’s S3 juggernaut. The same is true of other HTC phones.

For years HTC was viewed as a geeky smartphone brand with excellent but somewhat dull products. It tried to shake off this perception by introducing a bit more flare to its smartphone designs and then there was the ill-conceived Beats Audio deal. Clearly, it didn’t help. Worse, Samsung’s approach of flooding the market with countless Galaxy models worked like a charm. Instead of diluting the Galaxy brand with cheap, plasticky phones, Samsung managed to get more brand recognition than Google’s Android OS. Galaxy has become synonymous with Android, and then some.

HTC’s new flagship, dubbed One sans suffix, is already getting great reviews. It features a 4.7-inch 1080p display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 processor, which is the fastest currently available mobile chipset, along with an innovative Ultrapixel camera and a new dual-membrane microphone. It ticks all the right boxes and should be able to take on anything Samsung, LG or Sony could throw at it.

Sadly though, that is not enough. HTC simply can’t sell its gear or get its message across. It lacks the resources of consumer electronics giants, so it can’t market its products as effectively and it can’t get sweetheart carrier deals like big players. What’s more, smartphones have already gone mainstream and HTC simply lacks the brand recognition of more consumerish brands. Geeks might love HTC phones, they can get very positive reviews, but mainstream consumers just don’t care. They don’t read tech sites and they buy Samsungs instead.

So although HTC pioneered Android phones and although it still has excellent products, it could get the unflattering distinction of being the first Android smartphone maker to go out of business, in the middle of a mobile boom and with very little fault of its own.

Google Play gift cards available at Tesco and Morrisons

googleplaycardsGoogle has officially introduced its Google Play gift cards in the UK and they are already on sale. That was quick, but still a bit too late for baby Jesus’ birthday. 

The cards are available at Tesco and Morrisons branches across Britain.

Although the cards should be available in three denominations of £10, £25 and £50, early reports indicate that some denominations are not available in all shops, but it is probably a minor glitch that will be worked out.

Obviously, the cards can be can be used to buy content from Google’s Play store, ranging from Android games to books and films. Sadly though, the gift cards cannot be used to buy Nexus hardware, digital subscriptions or accessories.

The cards can be redeemed by simply entering the code on the back of the card in the Google Play app, during the purchase or by entering the redemption code through your browser.

iPad thrashes Android tablets in enterprise

ipad-enterpriseAlthough Apple is losing tablet market share to cheaper Android tablets, the iPad is still the clear leader in corporations.

According to a report from mobile device management outfit Good Technology, the iPad accounted for 93.2 percent of tablet activations across its business oriented consumer base. Android ended up with just 6.8 percent.

Mind you, Good Technology serves one in two Fortune 100 companies, which means its clients are not Facebook addicted teens.

However, Google is making up ground. A year ago, Google’s share of tablet activations was a mere 2.7 percent and it more than doubled in under a year. At this rate it will barely creep into double digit territory by the end of 2013.

Good Technology attributes Apple’s massive lead in business to a combination of factors, such as BYOD, the sheer popularity and user base of the iPad and the consumerization of IT. Then there is the ecosystem. Apple still enjoys a clear lead in iOS productivity apps and tablet centric apps in general.

Oddly enough, Apple’s lead extends to smartphones as well. The business crowd is usually associated with boring BlackBerry devices, but Good’s figures reveal that the iPhone accounted for 77 percent of activations across its user base and its share is still growing. It was 71 percent in Q4 2011. The ecosystem gap between iOS and Android is not as significant in phones as it is in the tablet space, so it is more than likely that business users are choosing it for the sake of compatibility, or superior build quality.

Now it’s Microsoft’s turn to take on the iPad in enterprise, with Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. And fail.

Fixing Nexus supply problems is Google’s new priority

nexus4-ceThe botched Nexus 4 launch has already turned into a rather embarrassing episode for Google, but Larry Page is trying to reassure investors and analysts, although it could be too little, too late.

Page mentioned the problems during Google’s Q4 earnings report, but he did not say much and he did not provide any new details.