In what might end up being the end of an era in telecom packages the major smartphone makers Apple and Samsung are moving to force suppliers to telco agnostic Sim cards.
The technology first appeared in the iPad Air 2, which ditched typical carrier-linked SIM cards in favour of an Apple one that let users switch freely and easily between multiple providers.
Now it seems that both Apple and its rival Samsung want to bring that technology to the cut-throat smartphone market.
Apple and Samsung have joined the push to standardise these newer embedded electronic SIM (e-SIM) cards with the GSM Association, which represents many worldwide carriers.
Anne Bouverot, the GSMA’s chief executive, said that involved companies are all working on an agreement for a standard to drive the technology, and make it work across carriers and countries. The report says that carriers expected onboard include Orange, Vodafone, AT&T, Hutchison Whampoa, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, and Telefónica.
This will be good for consumers but not so hot for the carriers and their channel partners who could lock the technology into their own networks, making it difficult for users to escape. Changing suppliers is a headache if you have to swap sim cards and it also means global roaming is easier.
Telcos have also been pretty slow when it comes to providing updates for Android resulting in fragmentation.
In a statement, the GSMA said that the majority of operators were on board. The plan is to finalise the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016.
It will be a year after that before any products hit the shelves.
US chipmaker Qualcomm is going to outsource the production of its new Snapdragon 820, to Samsung so ti can take advantage of its 14nm node process.
Samsung has demonstrated its 14nm as a proven process as showcased by the performance and power consumption of its14nm EXynos 7420 CPU developed in house.
Digitimes Research thinks that since Samsung has also been aggressively striving for orders with competitive pricing, other players such as Nvidia, AMD and MediaTek are believed to have a high chance of shifting part of their orders to Samsung.
It warns that this could affect the global mobile AP market in 2015 and 2016.
Qualcomm was forced to accelerate the roadmap of its mobile AP following a mishap of the Snapdragon 810 and is also being pushed to fabricate its Snapdragon 820 via Samsung’s 14nm process as the development of a similar advanced 16nm process by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacture Company (TSMC) is currently lagging Samsung’s 14nm node by about one quarter.
With Samsung shifting to use in-house developed APs for its high-end models such as the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 instead of Qualcomm’s APs, Qualcomm is expected to see its high-end AP shipments halve to 100 million units in 2015. As a result, the Snapdragon 820 might be used as a bargain chip persuading Samsung to purchase more of its high-end Snapdragon chips.
Qualcomm is likely to outsource up to half of the Snapdragon 820 chips to Samsung in 2016, attracting other chip suppliers to follow suit.
Search engine Google is rumoured to be signing up for Samsung’s 3D NAND in its data centres in a move which is similar to its rival’s Amazon.
Samsung’s 3D NAND is currently used in Kaminario K2 all-flash arrays and is being tipped for MacBooks.
Neither Google nor Samsung have commented but if it pans out then it means that stacking 32 layers of planar 2D NAND built using 39-30nm-class cell geometry in a die, is the way forward. It also means that Samsung must have a better price and performance advantage over other flash fabricators.
Samsung’s 3D NAND is generally available while its rivals are still at the sampling stage with GA late this year or in 2016. SanDisk is sampling a 48-layer chip, but Samsung is expected to match that soon.
Since it has signed big supply deals with Amazon, Apple and Google, Samsung clearly has its foot in the door. It also means that these big data centre operators will be buying less planar NAND than otherwise from the other flash suppliers.
Samsung and LG have called off a daft and expensive legal war which was sparked by a set of damaged washing machines.
The two companies said in a joint statement they would withdraw all complaints against each other and ask legal authorities to refrain from meting out harsh punishments in cases going on.
LG appliances chief Jo Seong-jin was indicted by Seoul prosecutors on a charge of deliberately damaging Samsung washing machines at a retail store in Germany last September. Samsung asked for a criminal punishment. Prosecutors have not declared what penalty they would seek against Jo.
The pair were creating much merriment as they argued over how many washers were damaged by Jo and other employees. LG published surveillance video footage to YouTube in an attempt to prove Jo’s innocence, and Samsung sent in its forensic teams to prove the video was heavily doctored.
“Both sides have agreed to avoid legal action and resolve any future conflicts or disputes through dialogue and mutual agreement,” the companies said.
It is not clear if this is the legal equivalent of agreeing to step outside or to have a dual between executives. We just hope that if there are duals that they are televised when Game of Thrones is finished.
The agreement extends to Samsung Display and LG Display. Samsung Display employees were indicted in February on charges of stealing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panel technology from LG Display. Samsung Display has said the technology was widely known in the industry and that the indictment was excessive.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ office declined to comment on the case against the LG Electronics appliances chief, and the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office declined to comment regarding its case against the Samsung Display employees
If it did it would probably be something like “big multinational companies will be big multinational companies.”
Chipmaker AMD is relying more on its partners to come up with the latest R&D ideas, just like it did in the 1990s.
Decrypted tech claims that over the past few years AMD has been slowly cutting back on the money it puts towards R&D.
Instead it has tried to narrow the focus of the money they spend on new technology where it thinks it will get the most return. So in the last quarter AMD spent less than $238 Million on R&D and his been building R&D partnerships to overcome budget challenges.
AMD started rebuilding its R&D partnerships in late 2010 and this allowed it to cut back on the amount they need to bring to the table to create new technologies. This is a repeat of what it did in the 1990s when the outfit used Samsung, IBM, Motorola, and Texas Instruments helping them to change the way they built CPUs.
This was how it could build the Athlon CPU with only a small R&D budget and engineering team.
This time AMD is betting big on HBM and also on integrating ARM processors inside their APU/CPUs and apparently it is letting its R&D partners do a lot of the heavy lifting money-wise while they provide many of the engineering minds.
If it pays off, AMD gets its technology on the cheap. However in the worst case it could hack off some big names in the in the industry like Hynix, Samsung, Toshiba etc. and walk away with new technology to sell to others.
The plan is high risk as it could leave AMD with nothing it can sell, while its partners have some natty tech that AMD helped them build.
Biometric systems, particularly in relation to smartphones, look like they’re going to boom during this year.
ABI Research, a market analysis company, said that worldwide revenues for such systems will deliver $3.1 billion this year.
The systems will be targeted not only at home users but at authentication systems for the enterprise market, according to ABI.
Algorithms linked to cloud computing are set to give better user authentication, with applications for mobile payments, bring your own device (BYOD) systems.
The research said that the leaders in the biometric pack are Apple and Samsung but there are other players who are introducing voice and face recognition into the equation.
We reported elsewhere today that Apple is rumoured to be brining out three more iPhones this year that incorporate fingerprint recognition.
Dimitrios Pavlakis, digital security research analyst at ABI, said: “Biometry is moving rapidly into the security ecosystem and its adoption by CE devices will jumpstart this phenomenon.”
A research company believes that Samsung will be the number one smartphone vendor in 2015, taking the lead over Apple.
Digitimes Research (DR) said the top 10 vendors this year will be Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Huawei, Xiaomi, Microsoft, TC, Coolpad and Oppo.
HTC, which only a few years ago was top of the smartphone pops, doesn’t appear to get a lookin at all. Last week, Cher Wang, chairman of HTC, took on the CEO duties too, displacing former CEO Peter Chou to head up a new products division at the Taiwanese firm.
DR estimates that Samsung will ship over 330 million units and Apple will manage to ship 230 million.
But Lenovo appears to be edging upwards in the smartphone league. This year it will ship 64 million units, while LG will ship 67 million units, just ahead of Huawei.
DR estimates that Android phones supplied by the top 10 Android smartphone vendors willl represent over 70 percent of the total units shipped this year.
Giant Korean chaebol Samsung has signed a deal with Mediatek to supply application processors for smartphones, with shipments set to start in the second half of this year.
So says Digitimes Research, which said that currently there is a hole in Samsung’s lineup. Samsung currently uses Marvell and Spreadtrum to provide applictation processors.
But apparently Samsung is unhappy with its two suppliers because it’s claimed supply and support was indifferent.
Mediatek actually competes with Samsung in both the Chinese and Indian markets but it seems that because of the range of the products it supplies.
But it seems a deal has been satisfactorily struck.
It is something of a puzzle that Samsung feels it needs to turn to Mediatek because the Korean company has advanced semiconductor fabrication equipment and expertise of its own inhouse.
But Digitimes Research speculates that Samsung still needs help from outside, particularly in the wearable marketplace.On the face of it, the Mediatek partnership is intended to bolster Samsung’s low end range of phones, but it may also begin to supply its high end models too.
The proposed merger of Freescale and NXP will result in a semiconductor company that challenges the giants.
That’s according to chief analyst Dale Ford at IHS, who said the merged entity will be in the top 10 semiconductor companies in the world, outranking other giants such as Broadcom and ST Microelectronics.
He said the strength of uniting Freescale and NXP will be shown in automotive applications particularly.
NXP, formerly the semiconductor division of Dutch giant Philips, used to compete in the same market, said Ford.
But the new top 10 will look fundamentally different. By revenues, Intel will remain number one with 14.14 percent, followed by Samsung, Qualcomm, SK Hynix, US DRAM firm Micron, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.
The merged company will be second place in the micro controller market, and it will also have significant share in the digital signal processing (DSP) market, much used in consumer applications.
IHS noted in its report that Freescale is practically an exclusive source for power architecture processors – and although its share in this market is tiny compared to ARM and X86 semiconductors, it has big wins in the military aerospace market.
MEMS and sensors will be integral to the internet of things (IoT).
And today a report from analyst firm IHS said that the main beneficiaries of the boost in light sensors will be Samsung, Apple and Chinese original equipment manufacturing.
By 2016, revenues fro this sector will amount to $767 million, and Samsung is the main driver of the growth. Last year Samsung accounted for 43 percent of light sensor spending in smartphones.
Apple accounts for 19 percent of the market in 2014, mostly because it currently uses customised and high performance parts.
But Chinese OEMs spending in 2014 represented 23 percent of the market, mostly on low cost components as companies vied to produce inexpensive smartphones which actually have started competing with Samsung on the smartphone front.
As far as suppliers of the sensors go, AMS shipped 744 million units in 2014 and was the top vendor with design wins from both Apple and from Samsung.
Maxim shipped 132 million light sensors last year – most of them components in Samsung flagship products
But there are some contenders on the block, including Sitronix, Elan and Everlight, said IHS.
Home audio systems are undergoing a sea change because of the popularity of mobile phones, according to a report from IHS Technology.
The analysts said that shipments of connected audio products – that includes wireless speakers, wireless sounders and connected AV receivers will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 88 percent.
In unit terms, that’s a rise from 1.5 million units in 2010 to close to 66 million units in 2016.
Paul Erickson, a senior analyst at IHS, said that its penetration of tablets and smartphones and streaming services including Spotify that are creating a shift in peoples’ perception.
“Consumers are seeking ways to wireless play audio from their mobile devices on speakers in the room they’re in, in multiple rooms in a household, and on speakers carried with the. This need will drive strong global growth in wi-fi and Bluetoosh connected speakers over the next few years,” he said.
Major players in the market will include Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, Denon, and DTS.
And while prices for connected multi-room speakers are high, they will still be adopted by many people. Sony, Samsung and LG are all expected to put serious marketing bucks into the equation.
Apple received a shock in a US Appeals court when judges actaully questioned if it had been really financially harmed by Samsung stealing its ideas.
Apple told a US appeals court that rival Samsung should be barred from selling products that infringe on its smartphone patents, but the judges were skeptical.
Judge Kimberly Moore was skeptical that Apple was being harmed since it already licenses some technology to other companies. “You’ve already licensed these patents up the wazoo!” she said.
For those who don’t speak American, she was saying that it was difficult to claim you were damaged by the patent information being used, when you gave it to lots of other people for a small fee.
In the latest round, Apple is seeking an injunction against sales of some Samsung products it says infringe on its patents for technologies such as slide-to-unlock, auto-correct and quick links that can, for instance, send a telephone number from an email to the phone dialer.
Apple lawyer William Lee said Samsung could quickly design work-arounds for the patents but did not do so. He told the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington that Samsung was harming Apple.
Moore disagreed: “You’ve licensed them to everyone. So why is it irreparable harm if Samsung uses the patents?”
Judge Sharon Prost said she was “having a hard time getting past irreparable harm.”
Lee said other smartphone companies, like Google and Huawei had not licensed the technology.
To make matters worse, Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan said the South Korean company had all but stopped using the patents, so no injunction was needed.
Moore lost his rag a bit and wondered then if Samsung had stopped using the patents, why were they still fighting it. “Why am I wasting my time?”
It is a good question. The so called thermonuclear war started by Steve Jobs when Samsung used his rounded rectangle design failed to do anything other than keep lawyers rich. Now it seems pointless to continue it. But it is a bit on the nose to expect Samsung to quit.
A financial analyst said that an announcement made by Samsung at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona has thrown into sharp relief Intel’s inability to capture market share.
Mark Hibben, at Seeking Alpha, said that while the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, delivered a keynote at MWC, Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S6 phone shows that the California company is way behind in its egregious goals.
Hibben said that Samsung is targeting Apple’s iPhone 6, “making it clear that Apple and Samsung completely dominate the mobile device world, leaving Intel with only aspirations”.
The Galaxy S6 smartphone uses a Samsung 64-bit processor, using the company’s 14 nanometre FinFET process.
He said this shows that ARM has leaped into the process lead over Intel, which only has its SoFIA on a 28 nanometre TSMC process, said Hibben. That, he thinks, makes Intel two generations behind process tech for smartphones.
He said companies like Apple and Samsung “can deploy staggering capital resources in the pursuit of non Intel Inside”.
Intel made a $4.2 billion loss in its mobile group in 2014.
In 2014, sales of smartphones to individuals reached 1.2 billion units worldwide, a rise of 28.4 percent compared to 2013.
Worldwide sales of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2014 saw an increase of 29.9 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013, totalling 367.5 million units, according to Gartner.
And in the fourth quarter, Samsung lost its number one spot to Apple – as a result of product introductions in Apple’s case, and erosion of sales in Samsung’s case.
Samsung lost 10 percent in market share, according to Anshul Gupta, a Gartner analyst. “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure,” said Gupta.
For the whole year, Samsung remained the leader, shipping 307,597 units worldwide, while Apple shipped 191,426 phones.
The top five vendors in the fourth quarter were Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi, according to Gartner. These last three vendors are all Chinese companies.
A report said that adoption of tales by commercial enterprises are set to boost sales in Western Europe.
IDC said the commercial market for tablets will reach over 11 million units by 2019 – that’s 130% CAGR.
The tablet market so far has largely been driven by home users, and by early adopters in corporations. Newer designs are lighter, better connected and have options including keyboards.
IDC said that devices are now shipping with features that IT departments like, particularly in security, and both Samsung and Apple have started to target the corporate market.
According to Chrystelle Labesque, a research manager at IDC, over two thirds of the enterprises IDC surveyed in Western Europe have already deployed tablets.
The main reason for their adoption in enterprises include price erosion, more features and increasing employee productivity.
The news couldn’t come any sooner for vendors selling tablets for personal use. All indications are that there is a degree of saturation in this sector.