Category: Mobile

Ballmer and Gates fell out over smartphones

ballmer_gatesThe shy and retired former Micorosft supreme dalek Steve Ballmer is claiming that he fell out with the Bane of the Mosquito Sir William Gates over building smartphones.

According to Fortune magazine, in 2010 Ballmer and Gates fell out over taking Microsoft into the hardware space.

Ballmer said there was a “fundamental disagreement” about “how important it was to be in the hardware business,” specifically phones.

“I had pushed Surface. The board had been a little reluctant in supporting it. And then things came to a climax around what to do about the phone business.”

He said he would have moved into the hardware business faster and recognised that what we had in the PC, where there was a separation of chips, systems and software, wasn’t largely going to reproduce itself in the mobile world.

Vole did get into the phone market but was too late to take a forceful position in the market. Ballmer pushed for the eventual $9.5 billion-dollar purchase of Nokia handset unit, and most of the entire value of that deal required a write down.

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.

Fitbit runs out of breath

f89d75a69595b21228964ff6170a9953Fitness device maker Fitbit is predicting that its key-holiday shopping quarter will fall well below of analysts’ estimates, hurt by soft demand and production issues related to its new Flex 2 wristband.

Shares of the company, which also reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, immediately plummeted by a third and were set to hit record-low levels on Thursday.

Fitbit forecast revenue of $725 million to $750 million for the October-December quarter, while the cocaine nose-jobs of Wall Street thought that $985.1 million was more reasonable.

This implied revenue growth of 5.4 percent at the top end. Analysts were expecting growth to pick up to 38.4 percent from the 23.1 percent in the latest third quarter, which is the smallest rise since the company went public in June 2015.

Chief Executive James Park said the outfit was growing and was profitable, just not at the level that people expected.

Fitbit’s transition to its newer products, greater-than-anticipated softness in the wearables market and production issues with the new Flex 2 wristband were the chief causes for the weak outlook, Chief Financial Officer Bill Zerella said.

The production issue – Fitbit found it “incredibly difficult” to find small-enough batteries to fit – started in the third quarter and is not expected to be resolved before the end of December, Zerella said. He estimated that hit Fitbit’s revenue forecast by about $50 million.

Fitbit, which launched two new fitness wristbands, Charge 2 and Flex 2, in late August, said it sold 5.3 million devices in the quarter, edging past analysts average estimates of 5 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

However, the average selling price for its devices fell to $93 from $99 in the prior quarter, and missed analysts’ average estimate of $98.25.  All this meant that Fitbit’s total revenue of $503.8 million missed analysts’ average estimate of $506.9 million.

It was also not particularly popular in the Asia Pacific market where it fell 45.1 percent to $35.7 million.

Operating expenses jumped 52.4 percent, largely due to higher research and development costs. The company’s net income plunged about 75 percent to $26.1 million.

 

Google issues fix for Pixel lens flare

lens-flare-star-trekIt is a bit of a problem when your flagship smartphone is shipping with a fault on its camera – as Google is finding out.

Google’s advertisements say the Pixel devices have the “highest-rated smartphone camera ever” but users are moaning that the latest Pixel phone had so much lens flare holiday snaps were looking like one of the new Star Trek movies.

Now Google is developing a software fix to address excessive lens flare on photographs taken with its flagship Pixel smartphones. But some users are  alarmed that Google was trying to solve a hardware issue with a software fix.

What is weird is that at a launch event in October, Google said the phones had received the highest-ever score from DxOMark, which measures camera performance. But the test acknowledged that “flaring was sometimes an issue when shooting in full sun,” but did not identify an issue with other light sources.

Google said it was developing software that could spot the issue and compensate for it.

Google’s Isaac Reynolds said: “We’re working on some algorithms that recognise the halo/arc flare, characterise it mathematically and then subtract it from the image.”

It is a bit on the nose when the pixel costs $750.  Software is only going to doctor the photo it is not going to fix the hardware issue.

Samsung unveils recovery plan

cunning-planSamsung has been talking about its cunning plan to recover quickly from the disastrous withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 that dragged down its third quarter mobile earnings to their lowest level in nearly eight years.

The outfit said it was expanding its probe into the Note 7 fires beyond batteries, as it tried to reassure investors that it would get to the bottom of the problem.

It suggested that it might be carrying out a share buyback to boost the share price. It also talked up its semiconductor business and promised to consider proposals for a corporate makeover.

Co-Chief Executive J.K. Shin told shareholders at the annual meeting that the company had to work hard to win back trust. He also apologised for the Note 7 debacle.

Investors are now expecting to see sweeping management changes in response to the Note 7 failure, especially after voting to make the parent conglomerate Samsung Group’s Jay Y. Lee, a Samsung Electronics director.

Lee, 48, the son of patriarch Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalised following a heart attack, will now have a clearer mandate to play a public role in setting strategy.

Heads will roll but shareholders may have to wait for the Note 7 investigation to conclude first. Chief Executive Kwon Oh-hyun said at the shareholder meeting the company would assign responsibility only after the crisis was resolved.

The world’s top smartphone maker posted a 96 percent plunge in third-quarter mobile earnings to $87.63 million from a year earlier, their lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Operating profit was $4.57 billion, matching Samsung’s revised guidance.The scrapping of Samsung’s flagship phone erased 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points from South Korea’s third-quarter GDP growth in quarterly terms, a finance ministry official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Samsung SDI which supplied batteries blamed for the first Note 7 recall, separately reported a 110 billion won operating loss for the third quarter.

iOS writes nonsensical science paper but gets accepted

mad scientistA Kiwi boffin was somewhat surprised when a paper, which he wrote using Apple’s auto-correct formula was accepted for a prestigious science conference.

Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.

Since he had no knowledge of nuclear physics he used iOS autocomplete function to help him write  the paper.

“I started a sentence with ‘atomic’ or ‘nuclear’ and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions… The text really does not make any sense.”

For example:

“The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids,”

The conclusion of the paper was that “Power is not a great place for a good time” which is a lesson for us all.

The paper “Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source” was illustrated using the first graphic on the Wikipedia entry for nuclear physics and he submitted it under a fake identity – associate professor Iris Pear.

But when he submitted the paper it was not only accepted three hours later but he got an email asking if he could do an oral presentation on the paper at the international conference.  All he had to do was pay a grand to register.

“I did not complete this step since my university would certainly object to me wasting money this way,. My impression is that this is not a particularly good conference.”

The International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics will be held on 17-18 November in Atlanta, Georgia, and is organised by ConferenceSeries: “an amalgamation of Open Access Publications and worldwide international science conferences and events” and was established in 2007.

Wasting cash on an expensive smartphone makes you happy

Clown A report suggests that punters who waste their money on expensive smartphones are generally happy to do so and Apple fanboys are the most incandescently joyful people in the whole world.

Beancounters at J.D. Power added up some numbers and divided them by their shoe size and found that Samsung phones rank highest in overall satisfaction among AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile and Verizon customers liked Apple iPhones best. Those who spent the most on their phone were happier than those who made a more sensible financial decision.

J.D. Power customers who pay more for their phones report higher satisfaction.  Logically, the analysts think,  this is because the high-cost phones perform better. Of course there is very little difference technology wise why higher price phones would perform much better. The flagship phones often have marginally better stats than mid-range phones.

What J.D. Power should have looked at was the pyschology of the people who buy expensive phones.  If having spent more than $300 more than they need to, do they have to justify their purchase?

The premium phones often have a few more bells and whistles than the mid-range phones but do punters actually use them or can they spot the difference between a few more pixels on the cameras.

The Tame Apple Press is furious at the study because it suggests that people will be as happy at wasting their cash on a high end Samsung as they would be an iPhone 7.

“The figures are for August, I wonder how much that will change when the exploding Samsung Note 7 fiasco is taken into account,” sulked one Apple fanboy, er technology reporter.

 

 

Burns to Samsung from Note 7 less than expected

fire-intro-picSamsung is warning that the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco will set it back $5 billion dollars, which, though terrible, is much  less than the $15 billion the Tame Apple Press has been claiming.

Samsung said that that it will take a hit to its operating profit of about $3 billion over the next two quarters. The outlook brings to about $5.3 billion the total losses the global smartphone leader has forecast as a result of the overheating issues.

Samsung shares, which have fallen about eight percent this week, edged up 0.6 percent as people realised that the cost to Samsung was not going to be as high as expected.  Park Jung-hoon, a fund manager at HDC Asset Management, which owns shares in Samsung affiliates, said that although future losses would not be as bad as the third quarter the company had to work hard to rebuild confidence.

“What’s important is whether the flagship S7 can fill the gap left by the Note 7, and how much trust Samsung can regain from consumers by the time the S8 comes out,” he said. Analysts expect the S8 to be released in the first quarter.

To make up for the lost revenue, Samsung said it would expand sales of gadgets like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge phones, and make “significant changes” in its quality assurance processes to improve product safety.

The Tame Apple Press is now widening its net to include other Samsung products and imply that they might suffer as a result of the Note 7.  There have already been some stories implying that Samsung’s appliances might also suffer, which is rather over egging the pudding.

Samsung posted earnings of $7.2 billion in the second quarter, with mobile profits – its biggest earner – soaring 57 percent.

The Tame Apple Press had been hoping that Samsung users would defect to the god awful iPhone 7. So far that does not appear to be happening. Samsung is offering financial packages for those who stay with the Samsung brand. Samsung users are more likely to move to other Android brands before thinking of Apple.

 

 

Samsung Note 7 recall could cost billions

samsung-galaxy-note-5Samsung’s worst-ever recall could cost the company as much as $17 billion after it halted sales of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 for a second time,.

Samsung announced the recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September following numerous reports of the phones catching fire. Today the outfit told mobile carriers to stop sales or exchange of the $882 device and asked users to shut off their phones while it investigated new reports of fires in replacement Note 7s.

Now the outfit faces a probe by US safety regulators, some investors and analysts predict Samsung may scrap the Note 7 and move on to successor models to limit the financial and reputational damage.

This will presumably happen before the regulators rush in and ban the phone from sale.

If Samsung stops selling the Note 7s, that will translate into lost sales of up to 19 million phones, or nearly $17 billion, that the firm was expected to generate during the Note 7’s product cycle,.

That’s a big increase from $5 billion in missed sales and recall costs analysts initially expected Samsung to incur under the assumption that the firm would resume global Note 7 sales in the fourth quarter.

By the time it fixes the problem they have to go through recertification and requalification and by the time that happens, they’re going up against the (Galaxy) S8 launch, so it is pretty pointless.

It is still not clear what the problem was with the phone.