Tag: samsung

Samsung promises a smartphone refresh

1920s-telephone-advertSamsung has promised to revamp its smartphone line-up to tackle what has been its worst third-quarter results since 2011.

The outfit said that it needed to take on competitors in the rapidly growing mid-to-low range segment, after third-quarter earnings set it on course for its worst year since 2011.

Samsung’s  market share fell like a free-fall team of parachuting elephants which had to forgotten to pack a key ingredient of their act. Samsung was behind Apple in the premium market and was eclipsed by Lenovo and Xiaomi at the bottom end.

Executives said the South Korean giant would overhaul its lower-tier line-up to boost price competitiveness and use higher-quality components to set its devices apart.

Samsung Senior Vice President Kim Hyun-joon said during a conference call with analysts that the mid-to-low end market is growing rapidly, and Samsung planned to respond actively in order to capitalise on that growth.

Samsung said its third quarter operating profit fell by $3.9 billion, matching its guidance issued earlier this month.

While the company expects profits to pick up in the fourth quarter on strong demand for televisions and memory chips, analysts still expect Samsung to record its worst annual operating profit in three years.

Profit for the mobile division fell 73.9 percent which was its worst performance since the second quarter of 2011.

Part of the problem was that Samsung spent most of the quarter without launching a new flagship device, and continued to struggle in the mid-to-low tier markets against cheaper and value-packed offerings like Xiaomi’s Redmi 1S.

Robert Yi, Samsung’s head of investor relations, said the firm would launch new mid-tier models in the fourth quarter, although he did not say what features they would have.

Samsung expects average selling prices for handsets will rise in the fourth quarter due to an increase in premium smartphone sales, namely of the Galaxy Note 4, and as demand picks up in the holiday shopping season.

 

LG is back in the phone race

logo lgSouth Korea’s LG, which was getting a good kicking from its rivals, is now back in the black and is making a killing.

LG said its July-September operating profit more than doubled from a year earlier as earnings from its mobile business surged to a five-year high.

Profits for its TV business grew 5.2 percent from a year earlier, while smartphone shipments broke all sorts of records.

“LG’s earnings reflected strong performance from its mobile business,” the company said in a statement.

LG reported an operating profit of $440.21 million which was much better than what had been predicted by the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street.

LG’s mobile division turned a $0.1 billion operating profit, its highest since the third quarter of 2009 and compared with loss a year ago, thanks in part to strong shipments for the flagship G3 smartphone. It is likely that LG likely shipped a little over 3 million G3s during the period. LG said it shipped 16.8 million smartphones during the third quarter.

The pickup contrasts with domestic rival Samsung, which is expected to report its weakest quarterly operating profit in more than three years later this week.

LG’s TV division did well thanks to sales of high-end products like ultra high-definition TVs.

 

Chromebooks put pressure on Microsoft

winbookThe success of Chromebooks has forced Microsoft to drop its licensing fees on Windows 8.1 notebooks, in a move that is forcing down prices on the products and is good news for buyers.

According to financial analysts at Seeking Alpha, Samsung has decided to use an X86 processor for its Chromebook 2 – a win for Intel in the X86 stakes.

HP and Acer are already selling Windows 8.1 notebooks for less than $200 and that is likely to create something of a frenzy in the run up to the holiday period.

Seeking Alpha points out that Intel’s mobile chip unit posted an $1.04 billion operating loss for its financial third quarter, despite selling chips for 15 million tablets during that quarter.

Intel is attempting to make “significant reductions in contra revenues next year”, but the financial analysts say X86 mobile chips will carry on losing money.

Samsung has dropped using ARM based processors for its Chromebook in favour of Intel, but the bad news is that most market research shows that sales of tablets are slowing, particularly in mature markets.

Seeking Alpha said: “Intel is losing big money in its quest to sell 40 million tablet chips this year.”

Chromebooks start to shine brightly

google-ICNotebooks using the conventional Wintel model seem to be past history, but Chromebooks are selling like there’s no tomorrow.

That’s the conclusion of research by ABI Research, which said that shipments of Chromebooks soared by 67 percent in a quarter.

Acer is the top dog in the sector, followed by Samsung and HP – those three accounted for 74 percent of shipment share during the first half of this year.  That isn’t going to change in the second half of this year, said ABI.

So-called vertical markets like schools are a driving force, and Chromebooks also sell well in emerging markets. But ABI said that North America will account for 78 percent of the Chromebook market and other regions such as Asia Pacific and Western Europe are set to grow shipment market share over the next five years.

Stephanie Van Vactor, an analyst at ABI, said that while Chromebooks might be a temporary fad like the netbook, but the price and design mean that it’s attractive to the world+dog.

“People are hungry for a product that is cost effective but also provide the versatility and functionality of a laptop,” she said.

Semi spending set to soar

Samsung rules the roostSemiconductor capital spending will be worth $64.5 billion this year, up 11.4 percent from 2013.  And capital equipment spending will increase 17.1 percent in 2014.

So says market research firm Gartner in a report that indicates that the increases are driven by strong memory average selling prices (ASPs) as well as higher consumer demand for gizmos and gadgets.

The report said that there’s undersupply on  DRAM and that will continue next year, but then we’ll see one of the characteristics of semiconductor swings and roundabouts.  Companies build extra capacity in times of drought only to find they’ve built too much.  Gartner said we’ll see oversupply in 2016.

Samsung, and SK Hynix are both ready to ramp up DRAM manufacturing in order to meet the pent up demand.

Memory capital spending will increase by 4.5 percent this year, but in the long time demand will be flat, said Gartner.

Samsung commercialises 60GHz Wi-Fi

samsung-hqSamsung is developing 60GHz Wi-Fi technology that it says can manage  data transmission speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, or 575MB per second.

This is a five-fold increase from 866Mbps, or 108MB per second which is the maximum speed possible with existing consumer electronics devices.

If it does what it says on the tin, it would take a 1GB movie  less than three seconds to transfer between devices, while uncompressed high definition videos can easily be streamed from mobile devices to TVs in real-time without any delay.

Kim Chang Yong, Head of DMC R&D Center of Samsung Electronics said that Samsung has successfully overcome the barriers to the commercialization of 60GHz millimeter-wave band Wi-Fi technology, and will commercialise the technology.

“New and innovative changes await Samsung’s next-generation devices, while new possibilities have been opened up for the future development of Wi-Fi technology, ” Kim said.

Samsung’s 802.11ad standard 60GHz Wi-Fi technology maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network.

In other words, it closes the gap between theoretical and actual speeds, and exhibits actual speed that is more than 10 times faster than that of 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi technologies.

Commercially adopting 60GHz Wi-Fi technology has been difficult because it uses millimeter waves that travel by line-of-sight which have weak penetration properties.

Using millimeter-wave circuit design, high performance modem technologies and by developing wide-coverage beam-forming antenna, Samsung was able to successfully achieve the highest quality, commercially viable 60GHz Wi-Fi technology, Kim said.

Samsung also improved the overall signal quality by developing a micro beam-forming control technology that optimises the communications module in less than 1/3,000 seconds, if the environment changes. The company also developed the world’s first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.

60GHz is an unlicensed band spectrum across the world, and commercialisation is expected as early as next year. Samsung plans to apply this new technology to a wide range of products, including audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment. The technology will also be useful for the Samsung Smart Home and other  Internet of Things projects.

Chip price war unlikely

Normans_BayeuxSamsung does not expect a price war to break out in the semiconductor industry next year even though it is ramping up capacity.

CEO Kwon Oh-hyun said that he will have to “wait and see how things will go next year, but there definitely will not be any game of chicken”,

Memory chip makers have reported strong profits this year thanks to better-than-expected demand for PCs and servers.  Most analysts believe industry conditions will remain favourable in 2015.

But Samsung’s plan to invest $14.67 billion in a new South Korea chip plant stoked concerns about the industry’s profit outlook. Some investors worry that the firm could ramp up supply and undercut prices to squeeze Hynix and Micron’s bottom line.

Cooler heads have pointed out that Samsung’s plant will not begin production  until 2017. They say margins in the memory business are important to Samsung, given the mobile division’s falling smartphone profits.

 

 

Apple, Samsung want your dabs

fingerprintFingerprint sensing technology has been with us for some time. But it seems that smartphone and tablet giants Samsung and Apple want to promote it a little bit more.

Research outfit IHS said the fingerprint sensor market will grow to be worth $1.7 billion by 2020.

The number of handsets and tablets using fingerprint sensors will total 1.4 billion units – four times the number of the 317 million units that will ship by the end of this year.

While Apple has been at the forefront of fingerprint sensing to date, other vendors are going to pick up the baton, said IHS. Samsung hasn’t yet got to the starting gate but is expectedto do so as soon as it finds a smaller rectangular sensor.

But while fingerprint sensors will have their vogue, swipe sensors will continue to exist, particularly in lower end smartphones.

One important element that will push adoption of fingerprint sensors are financial companies – companies like Mastercard, Visa and Paypal think they will be ideal for mobile payments.

Fingerprint sensing was first pioneered by Japanese banks but saw the sunset when there were several incidents of gangsters chopping off the fingers of victims to access accounts at ATMs.

Samsung, Microsoft argue over the best city in the world

Times_Square,_New_York_City_(HDR)Microsoft and Samsung cannot agree on the best city in the world to hatch out peace. Samsung thinks that Hong Kong is the best while Microsoft believes that it should be New York.

Samsung has started an arbitration proceeding in Hong Kong against Microsoft as the Seattle behemoth attempts to give it a Chinese burn over smartphone patent royalties.

The arbitration was disclosed in a court filing as part of a federal lawsuit Microsoft filed in August in New York accusing Samsung of refusing to make royalty payments to Microsoft after the software company announced its intention to acquire Nokia’s handset business.

Samsung specifically wanted the Hong Kong office of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. It is not clear why Hong Kong was chosen – perhaps it was the good shopping, better access to Dim Sung, pork in a bun and the students revolting.

The arbitration was started under the terms of a business collaboration agreement “to resolve a dispute concerning the calculation of success credits under that agreement,” Samsung said.

Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for Microsoft, said the companies’ contract provided that the “appropriate venue to interpret the business collaboration agreement is New York”. After all, if they could make an arbitration there, they could make it anywhere and they could go all through the night because the city never sleeps.

The arbitration came just days after Microsoft filed an amended complaint in its New York lawsuit asking the court to rule that it did not breach a business collaboration agreement with Samsung.

Microsoft in the complaint also wants Samsung to pay $6.9 million interest on more than $1 billion in royalty payments which it delayed in protest of the Nokia deal.

Microsoft claims Google Android mobile system uses some of its technology, and most hardware makers, including Samsung, have agreed to pay patent royalties on Android handsets.

Motorola Google  said no and has been in litigation against Microsoft since 2010.

Samsung blue over low profits

samsung-hqDepending on smartphones appears to have cost Samsung – the company is headed for its first annual earnings drop since 2011.

The company has revealed its July-September profit would be the lowest in more than three years and the short-term prospects for smartphones were uncertain.

Samsung is finding that its market share is falling thanks to the rise of Chinese rivals like Lenovo and Xiaomi.

Samsung said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that operating profit for the third quarter likely fell 59.7 percent to $3.8 billion which was lower than the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street predicted.

This would mark the South Korean giant’s weakest quarterly profit since the second quarter of 2011 and the fourth consecutive quarter of earnings declines on a yearly basis.

Samsung said that although “uncertainty” persisted in the mobile business, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of its 2013 operating profit, it “cautiously expects” higher shipments of new smartphones and strong seasonal demand for TV products.

Operating margin for the smartphone business fell substantially in the quarter due to higher marketing expenditure and sharply lower average selling prices, as the proportion of shipments for high-end devices fell and prices for older models dropped, Samsung said.

The belief amongst analysts is that Samsung will be back with stronger volumes once it revamped its product lineup.  The outfit released its Galaxy Note 4 in recent months, featuring metal frames which will fix the accusation that its use of plastic had harmed sales.

Samsung also aims to launch more cost-competitive devices in the mid-to-low end segments. Analysts expect these products to appear by the end of October.

It is widely expected that Samsung would release a new mid-tier product late this month valued at between $300 and $400. The new device would use similar components to the flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone which is priced at about $500.

Samsung’s chip division is doing well. Samsung is the world’s top memory chipmaker and the returns from its memory business in the third quarter improved sequentially due to strong seasonal demand.

Microsoft makes a billion dollars a year from Samsung

Scrooge-PorpoiseMicrosoft made a billion dollars from Samsung from its patents on Android.

According to a Samsung court case, Microsoft collected $1 billion in patent-licensing royalties last year. Samsung originally signed two contracts, a cross-licensing agreement and a business collaboration agreement, with Microsoft in 2011.

This was before Samsung started selling  so many  Android phones and late last year Samsung decided it was tired of paying on time, or paying interest when a late payment was finally made.

Microsoft took Samsung to court and the Korean company insists it wants to walk away from the original deal because of Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s phone business.

Samsung claims the acquisition invalidates the business collaboration agreement, but Microsoft doesn’t agree and wants the company to pay $6.9 million in unpaid interest from last year.

Samsung continues to build Windows-based smartphones, tablets, and PCs, so Microsoft is biting the hand which feeds it to some extent.

Microsoft is sure it will win and insists that Microsoft values and respects its long partnership with Samsung.  After all, a billion here, a billion there and soon you are talking about big money.

 

Apple to lose Siri to Samsung

Anovità-apple-2013pple could lose the core technology behind its voice-command assistant Siri to its rival Samsung.

Siri is the product of SRI International, a research lab that has created many technologies and biosciences products. The digital assistant was spun out as Siri which Apple acquired in 2010, but the voice recognition engine is provided by Nuance Communications.

In June, Nuance and Samsung began merger talks, and everything “slowed” due to “complexities”.

Now it appears that the talks are back on and Nuance  redeemed $250 million in 2027 convertible notes to save a  future acquirer around $50 million from a debt-to-share conversion.

If Samsung buys Nuance, then Apple is in trouble. It would not want to buy the outfit because it is too expensive for what it would get and Jobs’ Mob would get all sorts of businesses like health care and imaging it does not want.

Samsung on the other hand could lap that side of the business up.  It already has a small healthcare business, and it would get access to 450,000 clinicians, 10,000 healthcare institutions, 50 percent of radiology reports and 98 percent of most connected hospitals.

If Apple had not done so much to hack off Samsung, maybe the outfit would have let it buy a licence, however after all the court cases this is not likely to be the case.

Tablet market is all shook up

ipad3Apple and Samsung are going to have to fight hard to keep their place as leaders of the tablet pack.

Because, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research, other vendors including Asus, Lenovo and Amazon are fighting hard for third place and creeping up on the leaders.

These emerging vendors are set to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8 percent between 2014 and 2019.  Lenovo, for example will ship 21 million tablets by 2019.

Samsung saw a 35 percent decline in growth between Q1 2014 and the second quarter, while Apple saw a 19 percent decline.

In the first quarter, Apple and Samsung had a hefty 72 percent of the marketplace but their combined market share dropped to 66 percent and that’s the way things are headed.

In fact, ABI Research thinks that advanced and mature markets are experiencing a stall in growth, partly because tablets don’t need replacing every few years like notebook PCs.

Smartwatches to steal the day

fobwatchThe jury is still out on whether smartwatches will storm the market but if one research outfit is to be believed, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

IHS, a market research company based in the USA, says revenues for smartwatches will be worth around $300 million this year and predicts a rise of 80 percent annually for “at least” four more years to come.

IHS claims the market will be worth around $23 billion by 2023, with shipments of 800 million units – compared to 54 million this year. Those optimistic figures are fuelled by the belief that we’ll see better resolution and colour displays in years to come.

Sweta Dash, who analyses displays at IHS, believes that fashion will drive sales.  “Wearables are best viewed as functional fashion accessories rather than as electronic goods.  Because the fashion accesory market is determined by design rather than by simple function, wearable products such as smartwatches must be adapable to various forms including squares, circles, or even ovals.”

Battery power is important too.

But Dash sounds a word of caution in what otherwise is a very upbeat report.  “Smartwatches and smart glasses from Google and others are not completely ready for mainstream consumer adoption.” They’re all expensive and won’t make them mass market until prices drop.

Samsung tablets up, Apple iPads down

cheap-tabletsA report from ABI Research said that sales of branded tabets such as those from Samsung and Apple only grew by 2.5 percent in the first half of this year.

The report said that sales of Apple iPads fell by 13 percent while sales of Samsung tablets grew by 26 percent year on year.

Jeff Orr, an analyst at ABI Research, said: “The roller coaster ride from the leading two tablet vendors has market watchers looking to other vendors to create sustainable growth. All eyes are on Lenovo as it is one of the few to demonstrate consistent growth over the past year.”

But there is some good news for Intel. It is showing progress towards the goal it set itself of 40 million devices using its microprocessor in 2013. Orr described 2014 as the “tipping point” for Intel’s mobile stategy.

”Forty million units is only a minor dent in ARM’s domination of tablets, though Intel is quickly becoming a formidable applications processor architecture competitor,” Orr said.