Tag: samsung

LG fights to make OLED more mainstream

tvLG will partner with Chinese and Japanese firms in a bid to make organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display televisions more acceptable to the great unwashed.

LG has not said who it is teaming up with or what its OLED partnership would mean for those signing up to it.

So far, its affiliate LG Display is the only panel maker that can mass-produce OLED TV panels, and Samsung and LG are the biggest proponents of the technology for the TV market.

The LG companies say OLED offers better picture quality and consumes less power than mainstream liquid crystal displays (LCD).

However, they are still more expensive than LCD televisions. Quantum dot technology, which has many of the advantages of OLED but costs less, could also undercut OLED TV sales.

Some Chinese TV makers like Skyworth Digital Holdings and Konka are using OLED, but analysts say the technology needs to be more widely used by manufacturers to take off.

Samsung has said it has no plans to make OLED TVs in the immediate future because the technology is not yet ready for mass consumption.

Sony said it would be open to using OLED displays for its televisions but nothing appears to have happened yet.

Apple might troll its way into VR control

apple-disney-dreams-snow-white-Favim.com-142405Famous for operating its reality distortion shield, Apple might have taken control of the Virtual Reality market with an ancient patent application.

Apple was granted a patent for a Gear VR-like mobile headset which would use a portable device (like a smartphone) as the primary display. However the patent is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and a swath of VR smartphone adapters out there like Google Cardboard.

According to patent attorney, Eric Greenbaum the patent could kill off all competition for mobile VR headsets and patent troll the market to oblivion.

In 2008  Apple filed a patent for a “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”

The patent describes a device which sounds an awful lot like Gear VR and other VR smartphone adapters. Eric Greenbaum, told Road to VR  that the Apple patent may have broad ramifications for mobile-device based head mounted displays.” Which I take to mean, Apple could have a case on their hands if they wanted to challenge Gear VR or similar devices in court.

He thinks that Jobs’ Mob may have pressed to get the patent through the system after Gear VR was announced.

Greenbaum  warned that Apple has not yet announced a plan to build any VR products. However their patent filings indicate a strong interest in the field and I would expect them to be planning something.

This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD.

There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it in forming strategic partnerships.

In other words, Apple without actually inventing anything could take control of the entire market.  It could cherry pick the best technology out there and then release its own product.

 

Samsung starts mobile payments

Samsung advertising in TaipeiSamsung has bought US mobile wallet startup LoopPay, which is seen as an  intention to launch a smartphone payments service.

Mobile payments have been slow to catch on in the United States and elsewhere, despite strong backing. Apple, Google, and eBay PayPal have all launched services to allow users to pay in stores via smartphones and the stores themselves are expected to release a new standard of their own.

Most of the problem is that retailers have been reluctant to adopt the hardware and software infrastructure required for these new mobile payment options to work before a standard is sorted out.  There was no point in investing in BetaMax when VHS kills it.

LoopPay’s technology differs because it works off existing magnetic stripe card readers at checkout, changing them into contactless receivers, they said. About 90 percent of checkout counters already support magnetic swiping.

“If you can’t solve the problem of merchant acceptance…, of being able to use the vast majority of your cards, then it can’t really be your wallet,” said David Eun, head of Samsung’s Global Innovation Center.

Injong Rhee, who is leading Samsung’s as-yet-unannounced payments project, said the Asian giant will soon reveal more details of its envisioned service. He would not be drawn on speculation the company may do so during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said new phones such as the new Galaxy would support the service.

Samsung had invested in LoopPay, along with Visa and Synchrony Financial, before its acquisition.

Rhee said in an interview that the company intends to roll out accompanying services that go beyond merely turning the smartphone into a wallet, such as by allowing users access to information such as spending.

US spooks hide in hard drives

spyIf you own hard-drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba all your data could have been seen by US spooks.

According to Kaspersky Lab, the US National Security Agency figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron and Samsung.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The Russian outfit did not name the US as the country behind the software, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, which was a NSA-led effort.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the spy agency valued these espionage programmes as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, a move that could help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001

The announcement could lead to a backlash against Western technology, in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most technology suppliers to provide copies of their software code for inspection.

Kaspersky said the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

The information was news to Western Digital, Seagate and Micron who said it was the first they had heard of it. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment and IBM just ignored hacks requests.

War between LG and Samsung turns ugly

Newspaper Seller, 1939The competition between LG and Samsung appears to have taken an ugly turn with the arrest of a senior LG manager on a charge of deliberately damaging Samsung products.

An LG Electronics spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday that Jo Seong-jin and two other employees have been indicted by local prosecutors.

The impending court case continues a run of disputes between the cross-town rivals. The two companies compete on several fronts, including televisions and home appliances, and have quarrelled publicly.

Samsung filed an official complaint in September, accusing Jo and other LG employees of deliberately damaging Samsung washers at retail stores in Germany. The police investigated and found that it was all true.

LG had agreed to pay for what it called “accidental damage” to four machines after mediation by German authorities.  However it seemed that it couldn’t resist taking a pot shot at the quality of its rival’s products at the same time and Samsung lashed back at slanderous claims and filed an official complaint.

Ham Yoon-keun, a lawyer who will be defending Jo in court, said in a statement provided by LG said that it was questionable whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that the president of a global company deliberately destroyed the machines where employees of the competing company were present.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that representatives of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics met recently in an unsuccessful attempt at mediation by prosecutors.

Meanwhile Samsung Display admitted that four of its employees were indicted on Friday on charges of stealing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panel technology from LG Display.

LG sniffed that the information is one of LG Display’s business secrets, Samsung Display’s such action should obviously be considered as a theft.

Samsung Display said the indictment was excessive, arguing that the technology in question was already widely known.

Freescale about to sell itself

slave-auction-virginia-PIf anyone wants to buy a second hand chipmaker, Freescale has indicated that it might be selling itself off.

According to the New York Post, Freescale has hired investment bankers to explore a possible sale, and it has an unnamed buyer in mind.

It is pretty likely to be Samsung as this has been rumoured for a while. Freescale makes chips used in automobiles, consumer products, telecommunications infrastructure and industrial equipment and this is an area Samsung wants to expand into. Samsung Electronics has $63 billion in cash which could be spent on acquisitions,

Of course no one is saying anything at the moment and it is unlikely to be confirmed for a while.

Freescale went public in 2011 after being taken private in 2006 for $17.6 billion in a leveraged buyout by a group of private equity firms that included Blackstone, Carlyle and TPG Capital.

On January 27, the company reported strong results for the fourth quarter — with revenue up 11 percent and increased margins — as well as a forecast for the current quarter that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Since then, Freescale shares have jumped 32 percent.

Mobile memory sales soared

Semiconductor wafer: Wikimedia CommonsShipments of DRAM aimed at the mobile market rose 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, amounting to a value of over $3.6 billion.

That’s according to market intelligence company DRAM Exchange, which observed that mobile DRAM now accounts for 40 percent of all shipments of this memory type.

Increased shipments of smartphones account for the lion’s share of mobile memory sales, and DRAM Exchange said in its report that sales look strong in the first quarter of this year – traditionally one of the weaker quarters in the memory market.

The report said that the industry is waiting for the release of the next generation LPDDR4 – right now only Qualcomm supports this memory type. It is expecting some high end smartphones to ship in the second quarter of this year.

As far as manufacturers are concerned, Samsung remains the leader, followed by SK Hynix and Micron. These last two are the main suppliers for Apple iPhone 6s.

Samsung say a small drop in revenues of 5.2 percent, but Micron says its revenues soar by 27.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

DRAM market shows unseasonal growth

nand-chipsSales of DRAM rose by 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, bucking the usual pattern in the memory market.
DRAM Exchange, which tracks the memory market said manufacturers of devices migrated fast to 20 and 25 nanometre production, and the additional output meant quarterly revenues worldwide amounted to $13 billion.
The firm said that Samsung has shown the most profit from making DRAM, with typical operating margins of 47 percent.
SK Hynix also makes healthy margins of 42  percent, while American DRAM maker Micron managed to turn in margins of 29.5 percent.
Although Micron is still manufacturing using 30 nanometre technology, it raised production of DRAM for servers, which is the most lucrative application.
Samsung started volume production on 20 nanometre in the fourth quarter and the yield rate and output of chips made at 25 nanometre has increased.
Micron has begun sampling on the 20 nanometre process but plans to migrate so fast that there will be 80,000 wafer starts a month by the end of this year.

 

Biometric spending on the up

fingerprintRevenues for biometric identification to access computer systems will be worth as much as $13.8 million this year.
So said market intelligence company ABI Research.
Spending on biometric technology is because both consumer and enterprise segments are rapidly catching up with spending by governments.
A growing perception of terrorist threats in both Europe and the USA are also accelerating sales of biometric identification gear.
Fingerprint identification remains the dominant type of system and is more acceptable to people than other methods, although it is not the most accurate type of system.
Demand from enterprises and the use of smartphone and wearable technology is also increasing the trend.
3M Cogent, MorphoTrak and NEC are the leaders in the field but Apple and Samsung are also prominent as companies that will support these kind of technologies.

 

Microsoft and Samsung settle over royalties

 9545A court case between Microsoft and Samsung over patent royalties appears to have sorted itself out.

Microsoft  sued Samsung last year claiming the spy TV maker had breached a collaboration agreement by initially refusing to make royalty payments.

This was soon after Microsoft bought Nokia’s handset business in September 2013.

The lawsuit claimed Samsung still owed $6.9 million in interest on more than $1 billion in patent royalties it delayed paying. Samsung has countered that the Nokia acquisition violated its 2011 collaboration deal with Microsoft.

Microsoft has not said how much Samsung is paying it. In 2011, a technology analyst at Citigroup estimated that Microsoft was getting $5 per Android handset sold by phone maker HTC under a patent agreement, and that Microsoft was looking for up to $12.50 per phone from other handset makers it had yet to come to an agreement with.

Microsoft denied this figure but if it applied the $5 price to Samsung, the Korean company could be paying Microsoft about $1.6 billion per year.

Samsung said it had agreed in 2011 to pay Microsoft royalties in exchange for a patent license covering phones that ran Google Android operating system. Samsung also agreed to develop Windows phones and share confidential business information with Microsoft, according to court filings.

 

Qualcomm faces billion dollar fine

qualcomm-snapdragonUS tech giant Qualcomm may face a fine of as much as $1 billion after antitrust regulators decide on its future.
And it may also face sanctions that make it cut its royalties by a third.
Reuters reports that talks between Qualcomm and the authorities in China are close to reaching a conclusion.
The article quotes Xu Dunlin, head of China’s antitrust agency, as saying his authority will soon release details of the settlement.
The ruling will have a significant effect on Qualcomm because nearly fifty percent of its worldwide revenues from from the country.
Further, much of its profits come from royalties through its licensing division.
Reuters says that it’s not just Qualcomm that faces a problem from the Chinese agency.  It is also investigating Microsoft and Samsung to see if they infringe its antitrust rules.
It’s estimated that Qualcomm generates over $25.5 billion in revenues from the Chinese mainland.

 

Samsung edged out by Chinese vendors

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picA report said Samsung faces increased competition from mainland China.
And that will affect Apple’s bottom line too, according to a survey by Taiwanese market research company Trendforce.
It published figures that showed that in 2014 home grown companies Huawei, Xiaomi and others managed to ship 453 million units – nearly 40 percent of total smartphone shipments worldwide.
Samsung is being squeezed by Apple as well as Chinese smartphone brands but Apple itself is showing signs of losing the brand loyalty it largely depends on.
The company predicts that during 2015 the Chinese branded smartphones will account for shipments of 531 million units. That will be a growth, year on year, of 17.2 percent.
But the Chinese brands showed a growth last year of 54.8 percent.
One of the reasons for the smaller growth is because Chinese telcos have been cutting subsidies, making handsets more expensive.
But that is also likely to affect Samsung and Apple too.
When Samsung released its financial results recently, it reported smaller profits on its smartphone devices in the face of increased competition from Apple and others.

 

It’s the internet of everything

Internet of ThingsSome call it the internet of things (IoT), some call it the internet of everything (IoE) and some even call it the internet of fangs (IoF).
These terms are not, as yet, perfectly defined and there is a complete lack of standards defined, just like in the “cloud” space.  But there’s one thing for sure, and that is it’s going to be worth a lot of money so as many vendors as possible are getting on board the gravy train.
Future Market Insights (FMI) prefers the IoE and said that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.4 percent between 2014 and 2020.
It will be the Asia Pacific market which will kick off the growth, synched to the arrival of big data. That’s because there will be investment in so called “smart cities” and smart grids, financed by the Indian, Chinese and Japanese governments.
FMI divides the market into business to business (B2B) and IoE vertical markets.
The verticals include manufacturing and public sector, but the health care sector will grow by 20.6 percent CAGR during the period, followed by utilities.
The major players in the market are Cisco, Samsung, IBM, Apple and Accenture – these vendors had over 50 percent market share in 2013.

 

Samsung hangs on to LCD TV lead

LCDscreenGiant South Korean chaebol Samsung had 22.8 percent of the LCD TV market last year, outstripping the second Korean player, LG Electronics.
A report from Trendforce said Sony came third in place with a market share of only 6.8 percent, compared to LG Electronics’ 14.9 percent.
In all, 215 million LCD TVs shipped in 2014, more than the market expected.  Factors that helped the 5.4 percent growth included the US economic recovery and strong promotion of larger size TVs.
But the top three vendors need to keep their eyes on the ball.  Trend force said that Chinese brands occupied positions from the fourth to the seventh.
They are making progress globally because the home Chinese market is saturated and they are pricing their brands aggressively.
Well known brands such as Philips and Toshiba have vanished out of the top ten vendor list.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 15.08.21

 

Samsung kicked in India

India_flagSamsung is being pushed out of its key Indian market by a local budget smartphone maker Micromax.

Micromax has become the leading supplier in India’s booming smartphone market for the first time in the fourth quarter.

According to beancounters at research firm Canalys, New Delhi based Micromax accounted for 22 percent of smartphone sales in India in the October-December quarter, ahead of Samsung’s 20 percent. In total, 21.6 million smartphones were sold in India in the period, a 90 percent surge from a year earlier.

India, which has the world’s second-highest number of mobile phone accounts after China, is the third-biggest market by number of smartphones sold. Low-priced smartphones are the top sellers in a country where many buyers are upgrading from feature phones.

Micromax’s performance was partly due to its “continuing appeal to mobile phone users upgrading to smartphones,” Canalys said.

It estimated nearly a quarter of smartphones sold in India in the fourth quarter were devices priced under $100, while 41 percent of devices sold were in the $100-$200 range.

Micromax and Samsung were followed by two other Indian budget smartphone brands, Karbonn and Lava, by number of handsets sold in fourth quarter. Japan’s Sony Corp said its net annual loss will likely be smaller than previously forecast after cost cuts and higher-than-expected sales of its image sensors and PlayStation video game consoles helped its third-quarter profit beat estimates.