Tag: smartphones

Samsung boosted by smartphone sales

Samsung HQ in CaliforniaGrowing sales of its smartphones have helped Samsung reach a record quarterly profit.

The company announced that it had raked in a net profit of $6.4 billion in the first quarter of 2013, 42 percent higher than the same time last year.

Samsung said its IM Division rang up the first quarter with a  seven percent increase from the previous quarter. It added that this was driven by “sound sales” of its GALAXY S III and GALAXY Note II devices, which aided profit margins for Mobile Communications.

However it warned that it expected global demand for smartphones in the second quarter would “dampen” as a result of  “heightened competition”.

It also admitted that the January-to-March quarter proved trying on the PC business, while the Networks Business came around with a stable supply of Long Term Evolution (LTE), fourth-generation equipment.

Demand for consumer electronics products in emerging markets stemmed further sales losses but weak seasonality and a sluggish economy took their toll on Samsung’s sales of TVs and home appliances. However, Samsung’s VP and Head of Investor Relations moved to drum up support claiming the company expected to increase R&D spending for strengthening its “competitiveness ahead of planned new product launches.”

He did, however manage expectations, warning that  the company couls experience stiffer competition in the mobile business due to expansion of the mid- to low-end smartphone market while TV growth would continue to wane in developed markets.

On the components side, global supply of PC DRAM remained weak, brought on by adjustments in the product mix by chip makers opting to manufacture mobile and server DRAM over chips used in PCs. Samsung is looking to improve its profit margins with a differentiated product portfolio.

The Display Panel segment faced a challenging quarter due to seasonally soft demand from set makers. However the introduction of new devices and increased shipments of smartphone display panels, prevented steeper losses.

Demand for mobile gear outpaces support

SmartphonesSkyrocketing demand for mobile devices in the workplace seems to be putting too much pressure on IT professionals and support staff. According to a LANDesk Software survey, 83 percent of end-users want to create service desk incidents or requests using their mobile device. However, only 24 percent are able to access self-service systems using mobile gear because their companies don’t have the technology to support it.

BYOD and the consumerization of IT are clearly causing a plethora of issues. The survey found that many employers are simply failing to keep up with demand for effective support for mobile gear. If they fail to do so, the potential benefits of BYOD and mobile tech in general could be limited. Although access by mobile devices remains limited, 86 percent of respondents said they have access to self-service IT support via their PCs.

‘‘Mobile devices have become so integral to how employees work that it’s worrying to see so few businesses enable employees to report IT problems via mobile devices. Businesses will find their employees more willing to embrace services if the way they are requested goes hand in hand with the way they work, ’’ said Ian Aitchison, Director of Product Management, LANDesk. “As employees evolve and adopt new technologies to support them in their work, businesses are well advised to support these technologies to maintain productivity levels and streamline interactions between the employee and the service desk.’’

The research also covered 10,000 IT professionals, who said they have seen some positive results from desktop PC self-service, despite limited availability of mobile support. The majority said self-service helped reduce call volumes and improve user experience. Of those who worked in organizations without a self-service programme, 83 percent said they plan to implement it and 47 percent already have a rollout plan.

DRAM is strong, NAND is sluggish

nand-chipsIndustry analysts believe the memory sector will continue to do relatively well despite a decline in NAND demand. Although NAND might not be a very hot commodity, DRAM sales are expected to surge, reports The China Post.

The price of 2GB DDR3 chips in the first quarter rose 57.8 per cent, while NAND prices rose by 19.8 per cent, according to TrendForce. Strong demand for tablets and smartphones seems to be boosting DRAM sales, and the fact that an increasing number of vendors are introducing Android devices with 2GB of RAM should also help.

However, strong demand could also result in even higher DRAM prices. TrendForce believes the price of 4-gig DDR3 DRAM modules has the potential to rise by another 30 per cent. The outfit points out that the high season for mobile device launches is drawing near, which means more demand should be expected.

Although DRAM prices will remain strong, NAND prices are expected to decline in the short term. NAND prices should remain relatively stable, due to a reduction in supply.

It might sound a bit counter intuitive, but it is worth noting that smartphone and tablet peddlers are not increasing the amount of NAND storage in their devices. Most devices still ship with 8GB or 16GB of storage, while high end gear tends to ship with 32GB, or in some cases 64GB. This is in stark contrast to market trends just a couple of years ago, when each new generation of devices tended to offer a twofold increase in storage.

On the other hand, the amount of RAM is steadily growing. Three years ago smartphones used to ship with 512MB, which was upped to 1GB for the last two generations and as of late last year we are seeing an increasing number of Android devices with 2GB of RAM.

PCs lose out to tablets worldwide

Dodo-birdA report from analyst company Gartner said that the traditional PC market will slip in 2013 by 7.6 percent as people open their wallets to spend on tablets and smartphones instead.

Gartner said the availability of low end tablets coupled with the features they’re now able to offer is fueling the move from PCs to tablets.  Said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at the company: “While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet… most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device.”

Worryingly for PC vendors and X86 companies, people no longer think of PCs as devices that they have to replace regularly.

She said: “This is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment; it is a reflection of a long term change.”

Gartner estimates that worldwide tablet shipments will be 197 million units this year, a 69.8 percent increase.

And the Android operating system is set to dominate a mixed market which includes PCs, as this chart shows.
gart2013Gartner said that smartphones are becoming more affordable. “The trend towards smartphones and tablets will have much wider implications than hardware displacement,” Milanesi said.

PCs plunge as smartphones and tablets soar

ipad3The latest survey of connected intelligent devices from IDC has revealed what we were all beginning to suspect – the day of the PC has gone, while tablets and smartphones continue their inexorable ascent.

The survey covers PCs, notebooks and smartphones.

IDC thinks that shipments of tablets will exceed desktop PCs in 2013 and topple notebook PCs next year. The tablet market is expected to grow year on year by 48.7 percent, representing 190 million units, and the smartphone market  will grow 27.2 percent to 918.5 million units.

Apple did better than expected in the fourth quarter of 2012, closing the gap with Samsung. That’s because of sales of the Apple iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini, meaning that Apple had 20.3 percent unit shipment market share compared to 21.2 percent for Samsung.  However, from a revenue point of view, Apple had 30.7 share compared to 20.4 percent for Samsung.  In short, Apple kit is more expensive.

During the rest of the decade, tablets and smartphone sales will continue to rise, as they are taken up by emerging markets.  Notebook PCs will only show single digit growth and desktop PCs will continue to fall. By 2017, desktop PCs will show to practically no growth.

Megha Saini, IDC research analyst, said that in emerging markets in particular, consumer spending starts with mobiles but move directly to tablets before they think about PCs.

Intel forced to take axe to Ultrabook prices

titanicThe writing was on the wall for Intel-based Ultrabooks well over a year ago.

Overpriced, underwhelming, and facing massive competition from tablets and smartphones and trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), few families would take the risk of spending over $1,000 to have a bright shiny Ultrabook and keeping an eye on jobs and the general economic situation, large corporations weren’t going to splash the cash either.

So the news that Ultrabooks are set to cost far less for the holiday season this year is probably a case of too little too late. It also begs a number of questions about Intel’s business model which remain to be resolved.

Intel’s phenomenal growth was due, in a large part, to the monopolistic hold it had on the PC industry.  True, AMD was around to mitigate that, but it was only in the days of the AMD Opteron that Intel was forced to react.  Because it holds such a large X86 market share, that meant that the revenues from sales of its microprocessors allowed it to finance developing the next generation of its CPUs.  Building fabs is not a trivial matter and involves billions of dollars of investment.  Intel could afford to do this because during its so-called “tick tock” cycle, it was able to maximise profits on its current generation of semiconductors, while developing its next generation.

However, this continual growth could never be guaranteed, and disruptive technology, in the shape of tablets and smartphones, meant that given a choice, lots of people preferred to pay far less for tablets and smartphones rather than go for Ultrabooks at $1,000 plus.

And with this we come to applications and the realm of the other great X86 monopolist, Microsoft.  It’s certainly true that typing on a smartphone or a tablet is not nearly as convenient as using a conventional keyboard.  And if you are into solid beancounting, you’ll certainly need a sophisticated spreadsheet to manipulate the numbers.  Despite the now decades long promise of the paperless office, people still print stuff.  Microsoft, with Windows 8 and its tablet ready interface is too expensive.  It, like Intel, has lost its grip on the electronics market.

There’s another factor to consider, too.  Right now, Intel is in an interregnum period.  Paul Otellini, the current CEO, is due to leave at the end of May.  Intel is actively recruiting for another CEO, but that means, in the short term, that no-one is going to make huge company wide decisions.

In truth, it’s hard for me, as a seasoned Intel watcher, to see quite what rabbit the new Intel CEO, whoever she or he might be, might pull out of the corporate top hat.  Intel has been in fixes before, and because of its size and its sway can never be underestimated.  But it’s hard to see it making very much more than a ripple in the smartphone and tablet market, leaving it between a ROC and a hard place. It’s also hard to see where the complex supply chain it generates is going to end up, too.

M-commerce to double in next 12 months

google-walletMobile shopping is the new black and a recent survey carried out by Conlumino indicates that it will continue to grow at an impressive rate for the foreseeable future. M-commerce has already risen 55 percent compared to a year ago and it is now estimated that it will grow another 115 percent over the next 12 months. 

Insurers should cash in on tech-obsessed Brits

howardbrownHalifax has unveiled its Insurance Digital Home Index report which claims that a large majority of the UK population would find it tough to revert to a life without smartphones, laptops, and MP3 players – even for one day.

According to the report, 35 million, or 74 percent of the UK checks its emails and social networks before work in the morning. A fifth prefers using the phone or social media rather than face to face interaction, the research claims. Halifax grapped psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, who has previously loudly said in the media that parents should cut kids’ screen time, to say by the age of seven years, the average child will have spent one full year of 24 hour days watching screens.

“By the time they reach 80 they will have spent almost 18 years of 24 hour days watching non-work related screen technology,” Sigman said.

While Sigman warns that the “over-use” of technology is having an effect on all age groups, he asserts that young people in particular will be going through a change in the way we interact. “We have to remind ourselves that technology should be a tool, not a burden or obstruction,” he said.

A compelling argument for introducing sporting items such as the cricket bat to the family telly, you might think. Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax, said such arguments are the reason more people should insure their electronics. According to the report, roughly one in 10 lack insurance for their technology items – creating a “potential £32 billion insurance black hole”.

“It’s surprising that despite high investment and heavy reliance on technology, people are still willing to risk losing their items and digital content by failing to ensure they have adequate insurance cover,” Foulds said. “With almost one in five people not insuring their items, this leaves the UK overwhelming exposed to the tune of £32 billion on gadgets alone”.

Although an anecdotal straw-poll conducted by ChannelEye asserted that there is a pervasive viewpoint of insurance as an extortionate wheeze based on fear, Foulds has a point for insurers who want to diversify their portfolio and bring in new revenue streams.

With, according to the report, 35 million people in the UK placing a daily reliance on technology, that is a large section of the public to sell insurance to. Almost a quarter of the UK, Halifax says, would feel a sense of anxiety without their technology.

An enormous 96 percent of the UK population carry their mobiles with them outside the home, while 9 million take their MP3 players with them, and 20 million use their digital cameras away from the home.

As entrenched as technology is, then, insurers should be fiercely competing for contracts and convincing cash-strapped and anxious Brits that tech is as vital as home insurance. Having said that, the technology industry moves so quickly it is not long before devices depreciate in price – replaced by newer models that cost more. It is also more difficult to value the worth of a gadget depending on a range of factors: how long until it is redundant or worth merely pennies? All of these questions are reasons why insuring gadgets could turn even more dosh for insurers.

PayPal and Google to cash in as mobile payments go mainstream

google-walletMobile payments are slowly but surely going mainstream. Mass adoption of smartphones and tablets is making the dream of fully digital wallets a reality and it is opening new possibilities for traditional banks, credit card companies and net-based payment services.

Mobiles fell in 2012

mobyGlobal mobile phone sales declined in 2012 as a result of the economic climate and intense market competition Gartner has said.

In its latest report the analyst company said that 2012 mobile phone sales hit 1.75 billion units, a decline of 1.7 percent from 2011. And it was smartphones that bolstered this number with the fourth quarter of last year marking a record sale rate of 207.7 million units, up 38.3 percent from the same period last year.

The last time the worldwide mobile phone market declined was in 2009 and this year’s dismal results were as a result of tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year, the company said.

It added that feature phones were neglected with a 19.3 percent decline in 2012. And there was bad news for this sector with the company predicting that 2013 would continue to see a decline.

Smartphones were given a better future with the company claiming that sales of these would be close to one billion units in 2013, while overall mobile phone sales were estimated to reach 1.9 billion units.

And this market also bought in the bucks for manufacturers with Apple and Samsung both seeing their market shares in this sector rise. However, it was Samsung who had the last laugh ending up in first place for overall mobile and smartphone sales in 2012. Gartner said this was as a result of the company’s ability to build products based on broad needs.

But Samsung was warned that there could be trouble ahead with Gartner’s crystal ball predicting that competition would intensify in 2013 as players such as Sony and Nokia improved.

Huawei also had a good fourth quarter, helping it to take on third position for the first time  in the smartphone sales race. The company sold 27.2 million smartphones, up 73.8 percent from 2011, while its Ascend D2 and Mate models were tipped to drive further sales for 2013.

Nokia’s handset sales improved from a good response to its Asha mobile phones and the launch of the latest Lumia Windows Phone 8 models.

However, this wasn’t enough to stop Nokia to lose further market share, totalling 18 percent, the lowest it has ever been. In 2012, Nokia reached 39.3 million smartphone sales worldwide, down 53.6 percent from 2011.

Phones 4U gets ads banned by watchdog

phonesPhones 4U has earned itself a ban over two adverts after the Advertising Standards Authority  (ASA) described them as “misleading”.

The retailer fell foul of the toothsome watchdog after people complained that its “upgrades 4u and u and u” ads, aimed at trying to show that people could upgrade with the retailer on any network and not the one they were signed to, were misleading.

They said that  the claims didn’t apply to customers on all networks, including Three and Tesco mobile, as the voice over in the comical broadcast ads suggested.

Both ads  focused on a range of “comical characters”, being told they could upgrade their phones despite their traits.

The voice over said:  “Listen up you lot. You can upgrade your phones at Phones4U”. The ad featured a number of characters with a range of habits such as smelling of fish, keeping a lot of cats and wearing gilets. The voice-over indicated that they could all get upgrades saying “Upgrades for you and you and you at Phones4U”. The on-screen text stated “T&Cs apply”.

In the second ad the voiceover said: “Listen up you lot. You can upgrade your phones at Phones4U.” A woman asked, “I’m scared of long-term commitment. Can I?” The voice-over replied, “I hear you lady. With our exclusive jump contract you could update your phone every 6 months … Upgrades for you and you and you at Phones4U.” The on screen text said: “T&Cs and exclusions may apply”.

When questioned by the watchdog, Phones 4U tried to plead its innocence, telling the ad police that the purpose of the ads was to tell customers that it was possible to upgrade their handsets at its shops. It said there was a common misconception that this could only be done with an existing network provider and that it aimed to show that it offered upgrades on the majority of network providers, even if the customer did not originally get the handset or contract from its stores.

However, the shop chain acknowledged that some networks such as Three and Tesco Mobile were not partnered with it, and so customers of these networks would not be able to upgrade. It said that it had covered itself against this claiming that its  “T&Cs apply” text showed there were exclusions, as well as offering further literature on its site to back this up.

However, the ASA remained unimpressed, claiming that the content in the ads suggested that everyone could upgrade as a result of the characters used. It said that while some customers would understand “upgrade” as meaning a new phone, they may not have expected to change networks to do so. And while Phones 4U had tried to cover its back with the on screen text referring to T&Cs, the ASA wasn’t convinced these made it clear that it was only possible to upgrade on certain networks.

As a result the company was ordered not to show the ads again in their current form.

However, the ruling is probably a drop in the ocean for the chain which yesterday announced that it would be expanding its services to the mobile network industry.

The company said it plans to launch its first mobile network –  “Life Mobile” – which will run as a mobile virtual network operator on mobile operator EE’s 2G and 3G spectra when it launches in March.

Samsung flattens Apple in smartphone helter-skelter

Samsung rules the roostA report suggests Apple will see its sales of smartphones peak this year and from then on will pursue the seemingly unstoppable rise and rise of Samsung.

According to ABI Research, smartphones will represent 50 percent of all handset sales in 2013, and by 2018 2.4 billion smartphones shipping will represent 69 percent of all handsets. By then, LTE handsets will represent 50 percent of smartphone shipments and 35 percent of all handsts.

Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI, said: “Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future.” He said that the Korean chaebol grew its smartphone market share from eight percent to over 30 percent last year. Apple will remain flat until 2018, he predicted. While Samsung is relying on Google Android for 90 percent of its smartphone shipments, ABI thinks that it will use other OSes including Bada, Tizen and Windows Phone.

Even though many handsets will support LTE in the future, people may not have access to LTE networks.  ABI thinks that LTE will be the fastest growing WWAN in history.

Samsung has plenty of advantages over Apple – it is a vertically integrated company and is able to keep costs down by providing essential components from its own manufacturing arsenals.