Category: Mobile apps

Chinese ZTE in big trouble

big-trouble-in-little-chinaChinese telecom equipment maker ZTE is slashing about 3,000 jobs, including a fifth of positions in its struggling handset business in China.

The company is already facing US trade sanctions that could severely disrupt its supply chain and is getting rid of about five percent of its 60,000 stron global workforce.

Its global handset operations will shed 600 jobs, or 10 percent of the total, with the cuts concentrated in China. Things have not been going very well in China and the outfit is losing market share.

A local manager in one of the company’s overseas branches said a 10 percent quota was given to shed staff in his department by the end of January.

The US Commerce Department first announced in March that it would impose a ban on exports by US companies to ZTE for allegedly breaking Washington’s sanctions on sales to Iran.

While this has not happened yet it could nobble the company’s supply chain because it relies on US companies including Qualcomm, Microsoft and Intel for about a third of its components.

 

Samsung laughing despite melting phones

laughing-camelSamsung is likely to forecast its best quarterly profit in nearly three years this week thanks mostly to good memory chip sales.

It would have been a lot better had it not for those pesky melting smartphones it released. The South Korean firm discontinued sales of the Galaxy Note 7 phones after some of the devices caught fire, warning of a $2.1 billion hit to its profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 due to expenses tied to an ongoing global recall and lost sales.

But a surge in sales of memory chips and organic light-emitting diode screens for smartphones will provide Samsung with a pile more cash than expected.

Samsung’s operating profit likely rose for a second straight quarter to $7 billion over October-December this is up 37 percent from a year ago, and the highest since the first quarter of 2014.

Memory chip prices have spiked recently on demand for more firepower on mobile devices. But it is the sales of the higher-end 3D NAND chips which have rallied significantly, helping Samsung rake in profits given it is ahead of its rivals such as Toshiba Corp and SK Hynix in the mass production of these chips.

Much depends on how badly the mobile business does with the incredible melting smartphone but most expect Samsung to make a huge profit this year.

For the recently ended quarter, Samsung’s mobile earnings likely rebounded from the dismal third quarter on healthy sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones, analysts said.

Shares in the company have increased by 43 per cent in 2016 suggesting investors did not expect a serious business impact from Samsung’s name being dragged into a growing political scandal in the country.

Apple sued for not making something

keep_calm_and_love_your_patent_lawyer_2_inch_round_magnet-re8c2c059dc99401ca676f1a1e58344f5_x7js9_8byvr_324Fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has been sued for not making a product it patented and thus killing a child.

James and Bethany Modisette are suing the toy-maker after a car crash two years ago that killed one of their daughters and injured the rest of the family. The driver of the car who hit them was using Apple’s FaceTime video chat.

The plaintiffs claim that if Apple had implemented technology it received a patent for in 2008 which was “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles,” such as texting or video chatting the accident would not have happened.

The complaint cites Apple’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the Apple iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology” — in other words, lack of the programme’s inclusion — as a “substantial factor” in the crash.

It is a bold move taking this argument into a court and while we think it is unlikely to that it will go anywhere it does highlight a point. Tech companies patent shedloads of things and then never produce a product with them.  In this case it was a fairly obvious piece of tech which would have saved a life. Apple could easily have incorporated it into the iPhone 6 but it didn’t.

Apple sued over fatal crash in Texas

US court in texas

US court in texas

Apple is being sued over a fatal car crash in which a driver was distracted by FaceTime.

The plaintiffs claim Apple failed to introduce technology it had a patent for that could potentially have prevented the driver from using the app. The accident happened  on Christmas Eve, 2014.

Bethany and James Modisette, and their two children — Isabella and Moriah were in the car at the time. The family sustained serious injuries, and five year old Moriah died of her injuries in hospital.

Modisette’s lawyers claim Apple sat on the tech  that could have prevented it but failed to implement it.

The court filings point to a patent that Apple applied for in 2008 (and was granted in 2014) that would “lock out the ability of drivers to use the ‘FaceTime’ application on the Apple iPhone while using a motor vehicle.”

The case alleges that by failing to incorporate this patent, Apple contributed to the death of Moriah and the injuries of the rest of the family.

The company’s “failure to design, manufacture, and sell the iPhone 6 Plus with the patented, safer, alternative design technology already available to it … and failure to warn users that the product was likely to be dangerous when used or misused in a reasonably foreseeable manner … rendered the Apple iPhone 6 defective when it left defendant APPLE INC.’s possession, and were therefore a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ injuries and the decedent’s death,” the Modisettes’ lawyers allege.

Pixel has battery woes

lemon batteryGoogle’s Pixel phone might be rather nice, but it appears to be suffering from battery problems.

While these problems do not mean that they do a Note 7 and spontaneously combust, it does mean that they do an Apple and shut down when they still have 35 per cent of their power left.

It looks like they are suffering from the same shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent.

A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected.

Vrski_15, who started the thread claimed that twice in last five days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while he was in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35 percent, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours.

In the case of the Nexus 6P, Huawei said that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn’t revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

Microsoft gives its most successful program to Android and iOS

ANDROIDSoftware giant Microsoft has shared its most successful program to Android and iOS users.

Since the 90s there has been one program which has seen heavy use by Windows customers –  Solitaire.  It has been responsible for much wasted time and has historically been viewed as bad for business.  However moves to take it out of Windows have always been in vain and it seems it will be part of the Windows furniture for future decades.

But fewer are sitting in front of large desktop computers at home and Vole has not done so well at getting into the mobile market, so it has now sent its Solitaire Collection to Android and iOS stores.

Paul Jensen, Studio Manager of Microsoft Casual Games said Microsoft Solitaire was one of the most-played games of all time on Windows for more than 25 years.

“Microsoft Solitaire Collection, has reached more than 119 million unique players in the last four years alone. Now, those on iPhone, iPad and Android devices can play the popular card game for free.”

You can download Microsoft Solitaire Collection from the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store and be run over while playing.

Boffins use magnets to repair gizmos

MagnetBoffins at the engineering lab team at the University of California, San Diego have come up with a way to fix electronic gizmos by creating magnetic ink particles that self-heal when they break.

Sensors printed with this ink would magnetically attach to each other when a rip or tear occurs, automatically fixing a device at the first sign of disintegration.

Amay Bandodkar, a member of the research team said the magnetic repairing system works a bit like the human skin making it stretchable and self-healing.

“Within a few seconds it’s going to self-heal, and you can use it again,” he said.

The team first created sensors that can be incorporated with fabrics. The result is smart clothing that can repair cuts up to three millimetres long in 50 milliseconds. Now the next thing is to make the magnets do something more electronic.

To create the self-healing effect, the team used pulverized neodymium magnets typically found in fridges and hard drives and combined them into the ink. This helps the researchers avoid the traditional process of adding chemicals and heat, which could take hours to complete.

Bandodkar said that $10 worth of ink can create “hundreds of small devices” that can help reduce waste, since you won’t need to throw these wearables and gadgets out when they’re broken.

The team is currently evaluating the best ink ratios to use for different gadget-printing applications, with the goal of using them to create anything from solar panels to medical implants.

Android rules the world

ANDROIDAlthough you would not know it judging by the amount of press it gets, Android is on nine out of ten smartphones.

According to market researcher Strategy Analytics Android captured 88 percent of all smartphone shipped in the third quarter of 2016.

Its growth came at the expense of every major rival platform,” Strategy Analytics’ Linda Sui said in a press release.

“Apple iOS lost ground to Android and dipped to 12 percent market share,” primarily because of “lackluster” sales in China and Africa, she said.

BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows disappeared during 1 July  and the end of September.

So, the question is, why is Apple still being pushed as the archetypal “smartphone” when it clearly isn’t? We did a quick survey of the news feeds this morning and more than 80 per cent of smartphone stories were about the iPhone. What is the point about writing about a phone brand that less than ten per cent of your readers own?

Android’s leading position faces challenges in a market filled with phones made by hundreds of manufacturers, few of which turn a profit. That’s not helped by Google’s new Pixel phone, which competes against the companies that made it popular in the first place, Strategy Analytics said.

About 375 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter of 2016, up 6 percent from 354.2 million units in the same period last year. Shipments of Android-based phones rose 10.3 percent, while Apple’s iPhones fell 5.2 percent.

Pokemon Go had the shelf life of fresh milk

Pokemon Go hands onAs far as fads go, Pokemon Go has to be one of the shortest lived ones we have seen.

While Pokémon GO has inspired a massive boost in merchandise and game sales, interest in the actual game is falling fast.  The paying population of the game is now down by 79 percent from its mid-July peak. It’s still easily the most profitable mobile app in the US, but that is not really saying much.

According to analysts at Slice Intelligence, at its peak Pokémon GO inspired twice as many people as normal to spend money on mobile games, but that’s now returned to normal.

But Pokémon GO still accounts for 28 percent  of all money spent on mobile games in America, bringing in six times more than nearest rival Candy Crush Saga.

It is not clear if Pokémon GO will continue to decline or if it follows Candy Crush Saga, it remains highly popular but just at a lower level than before. Our guess is that it will not.

Most analysts think that a cold winter will finish the game off completely. Wandering around the countryside is going to lose some of its appeal through snow drifts.

 

Apple forced to defend stupid headphone decision

Man uses an ear trumpetFruity tax dodger Apple might have been surprised by the backlash that its move to replace headphone jacks has caused.

For those who came in late, Apple’s iPhone 7 phone came without a standard headphone jack.  Instead it had a Bluetooth connection which wirelesses sends its signal to wireless headphone buds.

The reason was that Apple could make its phone a little thinner and it would force all its Apple fanboys to buy new headphones.

Of course Apple is not spinning it that way.  During the iPhone 7’s launch it said Apple said was being “courageous”.  We understand that it is courageous giving people a phone which has limited reasons for anyone to upgrade but saddling it with functionality that no one wants. Courageous is one word “stupid” is another.

Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller claimed that the 3.5mm port, on the other hand, has to go because the company can’t justify the continued use of an “ancient” single-use port.

However, the wireless approach comes with some limits. For a start you will need to recharge the buggers which you don’t with the “ancient” technology.  We have grave doubts that the sound quality will be as good because it relies on a wireless connection going into lower quality headphone receivers.

Needless to say Apple’s spin is not going down that well.

As the normally pro-Apple rag the Verge said: “I was not ready for the revenge of the fucking Bluetooth headset… Don’t kill a good thing if you don’t have a better one waiting, Apple. That’s all I ask.”