Tag: smartphone

Capita buys security outfit Westpoint

46cdcf4a-9eb0-11e5_1025920cMega outsourcing outfit Capita has just written a cheque for the security testing player Westpoint.

Manchester-based Westpoint is rather established and been around since 1999. It sells into the finance, media, telecoms, public sector and retail markets. The company was one of the first to be appointed by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Approved Scanning Vendors in 2004. As well as checking for card payment vulnerability the firm tests mobile, social media, architecture and code security.

The move is part of Capita’s ambitions to increase its cyber security coverage and includes the acquisition of Westpoint and its holding company Smartpoint.

Lesley Bosworth, managing director of Capita IT Professional Services said the sale would give Capita with capabilities and expertise that complement its existing position.

Mike Williams, director of Westpoint Limited, said that it would be in a stronger position as a result of the acquisition. He said that  Capita has a reputation as an experienced, trusted provider of IT services and has the scale and expertise to help us expand and develop Westpoint offerings.

 

 

Kids are getting smartphones earlier

siT0KjGA new report shows that the average age kids are getting smartphones is just ten years old.

Influence Central’s report into Kids & Tech shows that an average child gets their first smartphone is now 10.3 years.  Apparently half parents give their kids tablets to shut them up inthe car and 45 per cent give them a smartphone to play with.

More than 64 percent of kids have access to the internet via their own laptop or tablet, compared to just 42 percent in 2012

About 39 percent of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years. 11per cent got a social media account when they were younger than 10.

Additionally, some of Influence Central’s research paints a picture of parents who are relaxing a little bit about their kids’ access to the internet which is enabled by so many devices.

While 85 percent accessed the Internet from a room shared with the family in 2012, that number dropped to 76 per cent today, and 24 percent now have “private” access from their bedrooms.

 

BlackBerry shows off its security escape route

Andy-Dufresne-with-arms-wide-openTroubled smartphone maker BlackBerry revealed its cunning plan to escape doom by becoming a security company.

BlackBerry showed off a suite of security products that safeguard everything from medical gear to Hollywood movie scripts.

BlackBerry whose smartphone market share has dwindled, is trying become a little more software-focused. BlackBerry’s Chief Executive John Chen said in an interview just before an event in New York said that he was satisfied with the progress on the turnaround so far.

“I laid out the $500 million software revenue target and I’m still comfortable with that commitment for this fiscal year, it looks good,” he said.

The full turnaround he has been promising could take longer than initially promised. Going by his early timetable, BlackBerry would now be about six months away from seeing real traction from its overhaul.

Chen said he now sees it taking about 12 to 18 months for investors to reap rewards.

Analysts have been sceptical about the company’s ability to steadily and sustainably grow software revenue, even as revenues from its smartphone unit and legacy system access fees decline.

“We’re patiently building the product pipeline and the sales channel,” he said.

“There is still much work to do, I’d love for everything to move faster, but I caution people to be a bit patient because we can’t rebound in a very short period of time, no company can. We are doing all the right things for the long term and the company is out of financial trouble.”

The outfit does have a few problems as it had not set itself up as software delivery company and did not have a decent channel.

BlackBerry’s Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard, adding that measures taken in the last year have improved BlackBerry’s ability to identify and target potential clients.

US leans on Indonesia over smartphone law

page_detail_zoom_3315The US government is leaning on Indonesia to daring to set up laws that forbid foreign smartphone makers from coming into the country.

The country is one of the few where smartphone makers have not been able to penetrate, and Indonesia has insisted that companies make 40 percent of their phones locally.

This of course destroys the US model of making cheap phones in China and having them shipped to foreign parts.

From January 1, 2017, smartphone makers that sell smartphones and tablets in the fast-growing economy of 250 million people to produce 40 percent of their content locally.

We are not sure why the US Trade Representative (USTR), is involved in strong arming Indonesia to have a change of heart. If he wins, it is not as if he is protecting US jobs.  He is in fact protecting Chinese jobs and the bottom lines of big multinationals who do not pay much tax in the US.

Apparently critics of the “made in Indonesia” rule, including an influential US business group, say it could increase costs and restrict access to technology.

“The United States shares these concerns, and strongly supports ensuring that information and communications technology, which can be instrumental to economic development, be openly available in Indonesia,” said a USTR spokesman in Washington.

Less than a third of Indonesians own a smartphone, a much lower rate than China’s almost 80 percent, according to figures from research firm Canalys.

Samsung has already begun producing phones in Indonesia after opening a factory near Jakarta last year, but Apple’s supplier Foxconn has been dragging its feet as it negotiates with the Indonesian government over a proposed investment that would include manufacturing smartphones.

Tablet shipments set to slump

gala_appleApple is likely to hit a pothole for sales of its iPad this year with one report estimating shipments will slump by 40 percent in this calendar quarter.

But it won’t just be Apple that will be hit by the slump, according to a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes.

All manufacturers are likely to see a fall as shipments of large screen smartphones – so called phablets – start to erode the tablet market.

Digitimes quotes its own intelligence unit saying that shipments of tablets worldwide will be 244 million this year, a drop on last year of something like 11.8 percent.

The tablet market also faces competition from low end notebooks which are to some extent being subsidised by Microsoft and other vendors.

Tablets are not generally seen by people as products that need upgrading. Apple will have to rethink its strategy on the sector as it prepares to launch more iPad models this year.

Samsung browses Blackberry

Samsung Browses BlackberryA breaking story  today entails Samsung’s approach to Blackberry Ltd. in talks to buy the embattled smartphone maker for a reported $7.5 billion – Samsung is apparently buffing up their intellectual property portfolio to stave off a continuing onslaught by Apple Inc. The news sent Blackberry’s stock price up 30 percent.

Samsung offered a trading range of $13.25 to $15.49 per share, a premium of 38 percent to 60 percent over Blackberry’s current trading price according to Reuters. What’s not clear is the depth of the deal and what it might entail – there’s speculation that the deal has several versions that are currently under discussion. That the story was leaked and by who leaves one wondering whether this is a negotiation tactic or just business as usual.

BlackBerry announced in November a high-profile security partnership with Samsung. The partnership aims to wed BlackBerry’s security platform with the South Korean company’s own security software for Galaxy devices.

Blackberry has been struggling to regain lost momentum in a competitively crowded market. Samsung’s smartphone business is experiencing losses from lower price Chinese competitors which now are affecting their semiconductor division – reports of bargain prices for NAND-Flash smartphone memory devices are widely circulated.

Techeye Take

Analyzing Samsung’s needs, wants and desires indicate the company is obsessing over security – key to the company’s entry into the electronic wallet market space. Secure communications is and will continue to be a premier element of the continued evolution of the smartphone market – even governments demand it.

The question remains, will this set off a bidding war for Blackberry?..,

Update

Both Samsung and Blackberry have denied that they are in talks for Samsung to takeover the Canadian company.

“BlackBerry has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Post Script

Where there’s smoke there’s generally fire – stay tuned…,

India bans OnePlus smartphone

flaggOnePlus is about to see its products banned in India after a ruling by the Delhi High Court that has prohibited the company from importing, marketing and selling its flagship device.

Local manufacturer Micromax that says OnePlus is infringing on the former’s exclusive deal with Cyanogen to make the Yu series of smartphones running on CyanogenMod, with the first device slated to launch tomorrow.

OnePlus ships the One with CyanogenMod on-board, so the Delhi High Court banned the company from importing and marketing any phones with CyanogenMod’s logo on the back.

OnePlus said it was working on its own ROM to power the One but it will take until February to get it ready. Cyanogen had confirmed that it would not be offering updates to the Indian variant of the One, so OnePlus will have its work cut out getting itself ready.

The OnePlus was popular and has already gone out of stock from Amazon India, which is the only retailer for the device.

The Delhi High Court has said that OnePlus can sue Cyanogen as per Californian laws for breaching its contract. It looks like the case will run and run, but it does mean that the product will be locked out of the lucrative Indian market.

Samsung turns to metal in China crisis

Iron_Maiden_2010Samsung has released two premium designed, mid-tier handsets designed to give its low-priced Chinese rivals a good kicking.

The company has been suffering lately and its global market share down on year for the third straight quarter and its profit scraping at a three-year low.

Samsung suffered the most in China which is the world’s biggest smartphone market and it was knocked off its number one slot by Xiaomi.

The Chinese seemed to have a problem that Samsung’s lower-end products were pricey and not different enough compared to Xiaomi and Lenovo.

The Galaxy A3 and A5 are seen by analysts as Samsung’s first counter-attack. Initially launching in China in November, they will be Samsung’s first devices to feature fully metallic bodies and its thinnest smartphones so far.  The A3 and A5 are comparable to those of the top-of-the-line Galaxy S5, but have a lower screen resolution quality.

Samsung classified the new phones as mid-tier, and said they will be launched in other “select markets”, without disclosing the pricing.

However, it still might have problems and much depends on price. In comparison to the A5, Xiaomi’s Mi4 device is thicker but has a  faster processor and better display.

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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.

 

Why smartphones and tablets need to get dumber

dumbFor a while now smartphones have been trying to load more technology into an ever shrinking body.

Some of this has led to design problems, such as Apple’s incredible bendy phone, but also a problem that the phones are simply too expensive.

Chips in smartphones are now reaching the point where they need the graphics and processing power of a five year old PC.

The answer, which the mobile phone makers have so far ignored, is not to make smartphones smarter, by providing them with ever more features, but to make them dumber and shift the processing power and functionality onto the internet. This has already been seen with the development of Chromebooks.

This is the same logic which has been used, on and off, to promote the use of dumb terminals in PC networks. Instead of requiring huge amounts of processing power at the client side, you shift all the processing work and storage to a server.

With the rise of 4G, this becomes possible on mobile units, such as tablets and phones because the bandwidth between the unit and the ISP becomes that much greater.

What this would mean is that instead of trying to stuff technology onto a mobile or tablet, you can put only hardware that would connect you to a server, a couple of cameras, a microphone, GPS and speakers and a battery. RAM requirements would be much smaller, as would any storage, processing and power needs. The battery life would be much longer because it would not need to run high powered processors.

The unit cost of such a gizmo would be much less with the touchscreen being the only significant outlay.

Such a device would certainly work well on wi-fi, but what would stop it now is the risk of a user entering an area where the bandwidth is not up to snuff.

It would also require the telcos to set up their own cloud-based networks for customers to use that could process the traffic and do all the work that the mobile used to do. This is something of a business opportunity which they have either not seen, or do not think they can manage yet.

However, if I am right, it does mean that ultimately Apple style technology heavy, high-margin devices will become redundant. The devices could be made super-cheaply in China and they would be sold by the telcos.

Each phone would be pretty much the same, and the only difference between them would be the services that the telco offers on its server side.

A bonus of such a system is its security. If a phone is lost or stolen, all the data is stored in a cloud and can be found by reconnecting a new phone to that account. This means that hackers have to take on a cloud security system rather than jailbreak a device. Unless your telco is Apple, that should be a little trickier, particularly if the dumb terminal offers a better form of ID than a password.

 

Smartphone designers run out of ideas

Samsung rules the roostSamsung has just confirmed what many in the industry had thought – that there is nothing you can do to a smartphone which will make it much different.

Samsung unveiled new versions of its Galaxy Note smartphone to a loud sounding yawn from tech journalists.

To be fair there is nothing wrong with the phone,  at least not this time.  The new Galaxy Note 4 features a crisper, 5.7-inch display in a metal frame and accessories designed to attract gamers and an improved pen stylus and related software as a handwriting alternative to typing on a keyboard. It boasts easier to use multi-tasking features that take advantage of its large screen.

But really there is not much more you can do with a smartphone which has not already been done or would cost too much to be bothered with.

Samsung is pinning a lot on the Note, which came under a lot of mockery from Apple fanboys because of its size. Apple later realised that the large scale phone was popular and copied it in the designs for its iPhone 6.

However now the idea of a large smartphone has no novelty and users need something a bit more interesting to engage them.

Mobile phone analysts said that, while packed full of hundreds of features and many of the latest hardware specs, there is little in the Note 4 to excite new users.

Forrester told Reuters that all the phones could manage were incremental changes. Analyst Thomas Husson said Samsung needs to distinguish its devices from dozens of cheaper rivals and it could not manage it.

Samsung lost control of the Chinese market to Xiaomi during the April-June quarter. It continued to lose market share in other emerging markets, analysts say, undercut in part by rivals producing increasingly attractive products at much lower prices in the lower end of the market.

The company experience some major headaches with the Galaxy S5 which did not make the impact onto the market that users hoped.

The Korean electronics giant says it will get more aggressive on pricing and focus on a narrower set of products for its mid-to-low tier products.

Samsung smartphone sales slump

smartphones-genericThere are signs that the rise of electronic’s giant Samsung is losing its impetus after it issued unexpectedly weak quarterly earnings guidance.

It is looking as like the outfit is headed for its worst results in two years and that its plans to deal with cheaper Chinese rivals are not working.

The South Korean company said it saw better business conditions in the third quarter,  butit faces slowing market growth, intensifying price competition from the cheap and cheerful market.

While smartphones drove Samsung to record profits last year, the market is maturing. Research firm IDC predicts global shipments growth will slow to 19.3 percent this year from 39.2 percent in 2013, while average sales prices will also drop.

Some analysts said Samsung may have no choice but to slash prices for mid-to-low tier devices, where growth is stronger, and target Huawei and Lenovo.

That will help defend market share it would also hurt margins, curbing its earnings recovery in the short term.

Samsung said that it cautiously expects a better third-quarter outlook with the release of a new smartphone lineup, lower marketing costs and a seasonal lift in demand for its memory business. Its flagship Galaxy Note 4 is expected to hit the market in September.

Samsung estimated on Tuesday that its April-June operating profit likely fell 24.5 percent from a year earlier to $7.12 billion, the sharpest percentage drop since the first quarter of 2011 and the weakest level since the second quarter of 2012.

In a separate statement, Samsung said second-quarter earnings would be hit by slower global smartphone market growth, competition in China, inventory buildup in Europe and the strength of the won.

 

Mobiles big it up online

Keep taking the tabletsTablets and smartphones are quickly becoming the platform of choice when it comes to online shopping. According to IMRG Capgemini, mobile accounted for 23.2 percent of online sales last quarter, up 11.6 percent year-on-year. What’s more, the actual proportion of retail site visits coming from mobile was up to 34 percent from 21 percent a year ago.

Click and collect is going strong as well, as it represented 16 percent of online sales, up from 12 percent last year. Bounce rates are also going up, largely as a result of higher mobile penetration.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said there is a correlation between the surge in mobile commerce and the rise in visitor bounce rates on mobile retail sites.

“While consumers [people, Ed.] have generally become more confident in using their mobile devices as a shopping tool, the latest data suggests they have also become more demanding,” Spooner said. “Higher search volumes will inevitably result in an increase in bounce rates as shoppers will often compare products and pricing across several brands.”

Spooner argued that offering an engaging and relevant experience for customers across all channels will help retailers achieve the end goal of higher conversion rates and an increase in customer loyalty.

Capgemini UK VP of consumer products and retail Chris Webster pointed out another interesting trend – record levels of sales via mobile devices correspond to higher rates for click and collect.

“This correlation of mobile ordering and location flexible collection is at the heart of the mobile internet and the impact it will have on consumer behaviour. Maybe we are truly entering the Martini age – anytime, anyplace, anywhere,” he said. Talk about product placement, Webster.

Intel’s post PC strategy is faltering

Intel-logoEver since Intel got a shiny new CEO, we’ve been hearing talk of an aggressive mobile push, of a more dynamic Intel that will eventually steer clear of trouble and trample the ARM gang with Brian Krzanich at the helm.

This of course will take time, if it is possible to begin with, so Intel’s first order of the day was to talk about mobile rather than do anything about it, and talk it did.

Intel spent much of the last quarter talking about 2-in-1 hybrids, touch enabled Ultrabooks and now it’s outlining its smartphone strategy, complete with LTE. So far it’s been all talk and almost no action.

Earlier this week Intel shed more light on its first LTE chipset, the XMM 7160, which is supposed to launch by the end of the month. It is a multimode chip and currently Intel offers only a single-mode LTE solution, which is obsolete.

Worse, even the XMM 7160 is a discrete solution, it’s not an integrated option like Qualcomm’s LTE. Intel wants the world to think that it’s serious about LTE, but in reality discrete LTE chips are a thing of the past. It’s all about integration now. Intel’s next generation XMM 7260 LTE chipset is set to appear next year, with LTE Advanced support. Intel’s first integrated LTE solution might appear in the first half of 2014. This is very slow indeed and as a result Intel is highly unlikely to score any big phone design wins next year. It can go after second-tier devices, but they’ll probably be scooped up by MediaTek, Qualcomm and other ARM players.

To be blunt, Intel simply won’t do much better on the smartphone front next year. It will gain market share, but we are still talking about low, single digits.

It won’t do much better in other segments, either. It appears to be pinning its hopes on hybrids, which seems very risky at this point. Hybrids, or 2-in-1s, are supposed to combine the portability and practicality of tablets with the productive prowess of proper notebooks. The trouble is that they’re just not there yet. Windows RT is on life support, Windows 8.1 will still be big and bloated. As a result Windows 8.x hybrids will cost a lot more to produce than Android and iOS tablets, margins will be tight and vendors won’t be very happy. The OS itself is another problem. An x86 tablet with legacy support for tons of Windows applications sounds very good, if you’re Dr Who and you can travel back in time to 2009. The market has moved on and legacy support just isn’t what it used to be a few years ago – and it’s losing relevance fast.

The failure of Intel’s Ultrabook push and touch-enabled notebooks is another concern. Ultrabooks were too pricey and they didn’t offer much in the way of new features. Simply slapping a touchscreen on top of them did not address the original shortcomings of the concept, so touchbooks are failing as we speak.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Intel ditched Atom based netbooks in favour of pricier designs. At about the same time it culled CULV to make way for Ultrabooks. Intel wanted more high-margin silicon in the market, but now it’s focusing on Atom once again. The first Atom based hybrids are starting to show up and they are practically what the netbook would have evolved into had Intel not killed it. In the meantime, cheap tablets and Chromebooks ate its lunch, along with cheap ultraportables based on AMD’s low-end APUs.

As for tablets, Intel dropped the ball years ago and now it’s facing a much tougher market, a market it desperately wants to get back into. Intel recently launched a couple of unimpressive education tablets, running Android. Samsung also tapped Intel for the Galaxy Tab 3, which is equally disappointing spec-wise. Intel now says it wants to do more on the Android front, but it is simply too late. Intel’s x86 support is irrelevant in the Android world and most Android tablets are powered by dirt cheap ARM SoCs. High-end Android tablets, which seem like the obvious choice for Intel chips, aren’t selling well – so even if Intel gets back into the game, it doesn’t stand to make much on Android tablets.

It’s only ticket into the Android universe are high-volume devices, like flagship phones. It will not get them anytime soon. Next year’s Android flagships will still be based on ARM chips and unless Intel pulls off a miracle, it won’t get any in 2015, either. Samsung makes its own Exynos chips and doesn’t really need Intel’s Silvermont. Motorola has also cooked up a custom chip based on Qualcomm’s Krait core, which means Google is also pursuing a custom in-house approach. Apple already designs custom ARM cores and this won’t change. And then there’s Qualcomm. And MediaTek, and Nvidia, and LG, and just about everyone else with an ARM licence under their belt.