Tag: smartphones

ZTE profits soar by 94 percent

zte-open-firefox-osChinese telecomms provider ZTE said higher sales of 4G network kit and smartphones meant that for its financial year it turned in a 94 percent net profit increased.

The Shenzhen based corporation said the net profit rose to $423.5 million in its 2014 financial year.

It claims it is the fastest growing providers of 4G across the world, with strong wins internationally and consolidation of its number one position in mainland China.

It claims its lead in 4G technology is allowing it to take the lead in research on 5G technology and it has already introduced pre G5 base stations for trial.

In addition to telecomms, ZTE made inroads into the cloud computing for the financial services market, and also showed growth in data centre products

Revenues from business outside China accounted for 50.2 percent of ZTE’s results.

The company said that it showed growth for both 4G smartphones and 3G handsets worldwide, and improved its branding, its channel distribution and its services.


Samsung to regain smartphone lead

samsung-hqA 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.


PCs face an uphill struggle

A not so mobile X86 PCThe consensus is that the PC might not be dead but it is certainly struggling.

And in the third report of its kind we’ve published today, IDC said that until 2010 PCs had the lion’s share of the total smart connected devices market, accounting for around 52.5 percent of shipments with 44.7 percent for smartphones and only 2.8 percent for tablets.

But, said IDC, in 2014 smartphones represented 73.4 percent of total shipments, PCs slipped to 16. percent and tablets 12.5 percent.

That trend is continuing – by 2019 PCs will only represent 11.6 percent of that market, while tablets will have 10.7 percent.

This must all be deeply troubling for chip giant Intel, with revenues still depending on the good old X86 chip and seemingly unable to make inroads into the tablet and smartphone markets.

Here’s an IDC chart demonstrating the trend between 2014 and 2019.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 15.02.21


Wang takes over HTC hot seat

htc-isntCher Wang, the chairwoman of troubled mobile phone manufacturer HTC and a co-founder of the business has displaced Peter Chou to become the new CEO, right away.

Chou won’t leave the company – he is to work on developing new products.

HTC has suffered in the last three years because although it’s had some good products, it lacks the financial muscle of an Apple or a Samsung to perform marketing miracles and so sell more phones.

Chou had already ceded some of his CEO role to Wang, while the company has seen some restructuring.

According to Cnet, Chou admitted that he took on too much during his reign as CEO and told the wire he wanted to concentrate on new things and the company’s product portfolio.

Wang said Chou will become head of the HTC Future Development Lab, and tasked with finding new growth opportunities.

Wang co-founded HTC in 1997 and the company was an early adopter of the Android operating system. It was also early to market with a Windows phone and at one time was ahead of Samsung and Apple in market share.

Samsung signs up Mediatek

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picGiant 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.


Apple wants iWatch owners to stay cool

fobwatchOne of the biggest obstacles to using an Apple watch when they’re released is that the battery life won’t be very long.

And that’s prompted Apple to tell its developers designing apps for the watch to design them to be viewed for only 10 seconds or so.

It’s also told watch developers to keep distractions to a minimum – such as notifications pushed to users, according to Bloomberg.

The range of Apple watches, expected to be formally announced next week, at an event in San Francisco.

Analysts have estimated that sales of the watches, which certainly aren’t cheap, could be between 14 and 15 million during 2015. To use an Apple watch, it has to be linked to an Apple iPhone.

However, the jury is still out on how well smart watches will do. Short battery life will certainly limit their appeal, while many people will not see the advantage of having a smart watch as well as a smart phone, which also tells the time as well as doing lots of other things.


Smartphone sold over a billion last year

smartphones-genericIn 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.

Mobile market set to change

smartphones-genericThe Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona at the beginning of next month and Gartner has decided to give us its thoughts on changes that are afoot in this ever changing business.

What’s apparent is that it’s hard for the vendors to continue releasing phones that are very different from the competition. Gartner thinks that the smartphone manufacturers will continue to concentrate on the quality of photographs and video.

Apple, in particular, will find it hard to come up with anything that’s radically new, while so called “white box” vendors in mainland China will continue to undercut the market.

And the incumbents have more to contend with too – Wiko has entered the European market and is doing particularly well in Germany and Framce, selling its products at between 100 and 150 Euro.

Other players could well be Kodak which introduced an Android phone at a trade show in January. Kodak has expertise in the camera market, of course, but may find it hard to contend with other mid range vendors. Polaroid, too, is apparently venturing into the smartphone market.


Sony trims its sails

Sony buildingsThe CEO of Sony said that the company will boost investment in its PlayStation and camera sensors business over the next three years.

But Kazuo Hirai said today that it may well exit the smartphone business and divest itself of its TV unit too.

Sony has already got out of PCs and is engaged in restructuring which have seen thousands of people made redundant.

Hirai told reporters in a briefing that his goal was to make Sony profitable – it expects to turn in an operating loss for its financial year, which ends on the 31st of March.

Earlier this week, Sony released its intelligent glasses – which have no guarantee of making returns following Google’s decision to go back to basics on its own version of the devices.

Video games, camera sensors and entertainment are all areas which are profitable, but Hirai is tacitly saying that Sony isn’t the giant it once was, when whatever it launched set the scene for others to follow.

It’s little surprise that Sony is getting out of smartphones. Samsung and Apple rule the roost but manufacturers in mainland China are selling smartphones at knock down prices with razor thin margins – that’s already had an effect on Samsung’s profits.


Microsoft snaps up Israeli firm

Microsoft campusMicrosoft has spent $200 million on an Israeli firm that makes digital pens and semiconductors for touch screens.

According to financial news website Calcalist, the 190 people who work for N-trig will work for Microsoft’s Israeli division.

N-trig makes pens for use in smartphones, for tablets and for slim notebooks.

Microsoft already owned a 6.1 percent chunk in N-Trig to incorporate its pen in the Surface Pro 3 tablets it makes.

Reuters said N-trig revenues in the first half of 2014 amounted to $20.6 million. Its customers include Sony, HP, and Lenovo.

Microsoft is keen to re-position itself in the next wave of the IT market.

EE to invest £1.5 billion in 4G

oldphoneComms company EE said today it will spend £1.5 billion over the next three years to expand its 4G network in the UK.

EE said that 4G will overtake 2G by 2017, with 99 percent of the British population able to access 4G networks.

And, by 2017, 4G+ will be available in 20 British cities.

It said that it will spend to create data and voice connections in 1,500 places that don’t have either reliable mobile or high speed broadband.

Its “double speed” broadband will be available for 90 percent of the UK population, with data speeds of up to 60Mbps available for both smartphones and tablets.

And in the future it claimed it will be a leader in 5G, because the foundation for even faster speeds will rely on 4G infrastructure being available.

Its 4G+ network will allow speeds of 150Mbps, EE said.

Today it released its “Signalling the Future” manifesto intended to guide the next government of whatever hue to set digital priorities.

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.


ARM buys OffSpark

lightningBritish chip designer ARM has bought Dutch firm Offspark, which is an open source security software outfit.

It is all part of ARM’s cunning plan to make chips for the internet of things.  It seems that the move by Intel to buy McAfee is starting to make some sense and ARM is seeing the wisdom of having inhouse security software.

Offspark’s PolarSSL technology is designed for sensor modules, communication modules and smartphones.

ARM said buying the group would add its security and software cryptography to its IoT platform, designed to link billions of devices online.

It is not clear how much ARM paid for the security outfit. ARM has promised that the  technology will remain open source and will be made available to developers for commercial use.

It complements ARM’s Cryptobox technology of mbed OS that enables secure execution and storage.

Apparently ARM is to  release mbed OS under an Apache 2.0 licence which will include mbed TLS, Thread, and other key technologies toward the end of 2015.

The release of mbed TLS 1.3.10 is now available under GPL and to existing PolarSSL customers on polarssl.org.


Swatch gets into the smart watch market

Swiss Watches the BrandIf Apple thinks it will have its own way in the smart watch category this year, it had better think again.
Swatch is planning to introduce a smart watch in the next three months and it’s going to have some advantages over the Apple device.
According to Bloomberg, the watch can communicate with the internet without needing to be charged, will work with Windows and Android and will let you make mobile payments.
Swatch has something of an advantage over Apple too in that it’s been in the market for decades and has had touch screens since the end of the 20th century.
It also knows its market and has distribution deals that Apple cannot possibly match.
Further, attempts by companies like Intel and Google to launch TV services haven’t exactly been the dish of the day.
While some analysts are predicting huge sales of smart watches, others are more sceptical.  Young people, by and large, don’t tend to wear watches and use their smartphones for telling the time.
People need to be convinced that spending money on duplicate functions makes any sense at all.


Video drives the mobile data market

tvThe age of TV is not over, it’s just taken a different shape.
IDC estimates that mobile data traffic will show double digit growth in 2015 – by 59 percent.
The company said in a report that while faster networks and more affordable 4G handsets are playing their part, the real reason for data growth on this scale is mobile video apps and other streamed content.
In 2013, mobile data traffic was 19,049,158 terabytes but by this year that figure will grow to close to 52 million terabytes while in 2016 the figure will not be far off 80 million terabytes.
IDC thinks 4G service prices will continue to fall but 3G still has its place, particularly in the non-Western markets.
By 2018, the company believes that people using 4G handsets will generate 46 percent of data traffic.
By 2018, it estimates that 4G devices will churn 5.5GB of data a month, three times more than a 3G smartphone.
Right now, mobile video generates 50 percent of all mobile data and that number is set to increase.  And video calling services are also set to grow.