Category: Mobiles

India’s richest man launches free 4G service

mukesh-ambaniIndia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani has launched a free 4G LTE network which will offer unlimited free voice calls forever to anyone who signs up for its services.

Ambani’s outfit Reliance Jio is claiming to offer the cheapest 4G LTE data rates in the world when it launches in three days’ time.

Jio’s network is being touted as the largest 4G LTE deployment anywhere in the world, Ambani said, adding that the network is also “future proof” with baked in support for upcoming 5G and 6G network technologies. It covers 18,000 Indian cities and over 200,000 remote areas. The company aims to extend the coverage to 90 percent of India’s population by next year.

“India and Indians cannot afford to be left behind. The era of paying for voice calls is ending,” he added.

Jio is offering the country’s 1.3 billion people free voice calls and data tariffs starting at 1GB of data at Rs 50 (75 cents).

The move will be kick in the nadgers for India’s biggest carriers — Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, which still make most of their revenues from voice calls. Voice calls on Airtel, for instance, still account for nearly two-thirds of its mobile revenues. While Airtel projects its share of data revenues will increase, Jio’s offer to give free voice calls has gotta hurt.


Taking away smartphones improves productivity

dec15-31-2662508-700x394A study shows that smartphones reduce productivity rather than improving it.

The Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent carried out the study, which was  commissioned by Kaspersky Lab. It showed that employees’ performance improved 26 percent when their smartphones were taken away.

The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 people between 19 and 56 years of age in laboratories at the universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent.

Altaf Halde, managing director – South Asia at Kaspersky Lab said the experiment unearthed a correlation between productivity levels and the distance between participants and their smartphones.

“Instead of expecting permanent access to their smartphones, employee productivity might be boosted if they have dedicated ‘smartphone-free’ time. One way of doing this is to enforce rules such as no phones in the normal work environment,” he said.

Losing their smartphones generally didn’t make participants nervous, although women were more anxious than their male counterparts. This made researchers conclude that anxiety levels at workplace were not affected by smartphones (or the absence of smartphones), but can be impacted by gender.

Jens Binder from the University of Nottingham-Trent said that previous studies had shown that separation from one’s smartphone has negative emotional effects such as increased anxiety, but studies have also demonstrated that one’s smartphone might act as a distractor. In other words, both the absence and presence of a smartphone could impair concentration.

Astrid Carolus from the University of Würzburg said: “Our findings from this study indicate that it is the absence, rather than the presence, of a smartphone that improves concentration.”


Only Apple and Samsung make money out of smartphones

apple-dalek-2Only Apple and Samsung are making money from smartphones and Apple is losing ground fast.

According to beancounters working for Canaccord Genuity, Apple accounted for 75 percent of the smartphone industry’s profits in the second quarter, but that’s down from more than 90 percent a year ago due to Samsung’s Galaxy device success.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launch and the Note 7 follow-up likely indicate that profits will continue to do well,.

Cannaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley said that Apple’s industry profit was also suffering because punters were delaying purchases ahead of the iPhone 7 launch. Although it is a moot point if that particular product will do well.  Either way Samsung has captured more than 30 percent of industry profits in the second quarter.

Walkley said that Apple’s industry profit share is at its lowest point since the second quarter of 2014 before the iPhone 6 launched.

However it does look like all the other makers trying to get in the high end of the market are not scratching the surface.

Walkley said: ” Given the ramp of Chinese OEM smartphone volumes and particularly strong 2015 smartphone market share gains for Huawei, we note our industry profit analysis excludes a large portion of this group of OEMs gaining an increasing share of the smartphone market profits due to the lack of available and comparable profit metrics. While this likely overstates Apple’s profits, we note some leading smartphone OEMs in China are growing global market share through aggressive pricing strategies limiting near-term profit levels. Inside the Greater China region, share has shifted to Chinese OEMs as well. In fact, in Q2/C15 Apple was number 1 vendor of smartphones in China, and we now believe in Q2/C16 Apple fell to the number 5 vendor behind Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi and VIVO.”


Another Tizen arrives in India

Samsung-Z1Samsung is to start peddling its third smartphone powered by the company’s own Tizen mobile operating system in India next week.

The operating system which sounds like a sneeze is being used by Samsung to break free from Google’s iron grip.  As yet the company has not been keen to try it out on more developed markets but it has been able to improve margins in developing countries.

The Z2 phone, equipped with a 4-inch screen and India-specific features such as a safety mode for motorcyclists, will be the cheapest Tizen phone Samsung has launched and costs $68.44.

The phone, the first Tizen-powered device that will run on 4G networks, will start selling in India in a week.

Samsung is getting addicted to Tizen and uses it on tellies, home appliances and wearable products to enable the devices to communicate with each other and phones via the internet.

It is mostly being seen in India and Bangladesh, where many potential customers are still first-time buyers looking for a cheap device and do not necessarily need a big library of apps.  Tizen’s weakness is that it lacks the number of Android Apps.


Apple suffers as global sales of smartphones grows

CaptureThe fruity cargo cult Apple is floundering even while the smartphone market has picked up, according to the latest figures from the Gartner Grope.

According to the Big G, Apple has had three consecutive quarters of slowing demand and seen its sales decline by 7.7 percent while its rivals saw an increase of 4.3 percent.

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 344 million units in the second quarter of 2016.  Overall sales of mobile phones contracted by 0.5 percent with only five vendors from the top 10 showing growth. Among them were four Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and BBK Communication Equipment and South Korea’s Samsung.

Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner said that demand for premium smartphones slowed in the second quarter of 2016 as consumers wait for new hardware launches in the second half of the year.

In addition, the decline in sales of “feature phones” (down 14 per cent) bolstered the decline in overall sales of mobile phones in the second quarter of 2016. All mature markets except Japan saw slowing demand for smartphones leading to a decline in sales of 4.9 percent. In contrast, all emerging regions except Latin America saw growth, which led to smartphone sales growing by 9.9 percent.

In the second quarter of 2016, Samsung had nearly 10 percent more market share than Apple. Samsung saw sales of its Galaxy A and Galaxy J series smartphones compete strongly with Chinese manufacturers. Its new smartphone portfolio also helped Samsung win back share it recently lost in emerging markets.

Apple continued its downward trend with a decline of 7.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016. Apple sales declined in North America (its biggest market) as well as in Western Europe. However, it witnessed its worst sales decline in Greater China and mature Asia/Pacific regions, where sales declined 26 percent. Apple had its best performance in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe regions in the second quarter of 2016, where iPhone sales grew more than 95 percent year on year, Gupta said.

Among the top five smartphone vendors, Oppo exhibited the highest growth in the second quarter of 2016 at 129 percent. This is due to strong sales of its R9 handset in China and overseas.

“Features such as an anti-shake camera optimized for selfies, and rapid charge technology, helped Oppo carve a niche market for itself and boost sales in a highly competitive and commoditized smartphone market,” Gupta said.

Android regained share over iOS to achieve an 86 percent share in the second quarter of 2016. Android’s performance continued to come from demand for mid- to lower-end smartphones from emerging markets, but also from premium smartphones, which recorded a 6.5 percent increase in the second quarter of 2016.

A number of key Android players, such as Samsung with the Galaxy S7, introduced their new high-end devices, but Chinese brands like Huawei and Oppo are also pushing their premium smartphone ranges with more affordable devices.



Angry Bird called in to save new Nokia

bird_bombThe outfit which is the proud owner of the Nokia  brand has hired the bloke who created the the Angry Birds franchise to give it some street cred.

Nokia signed an agreement that essentially licensed its brand to HMD Global Oy, a newly founded Finnish company that planned to create phones  which would be manufactured and distributed by Foxconn.

Now HMD has hired Pekka Rantala, the one-time CEO of Angry Birds creator Rovio, who stepped down in 2015 after tough time with the mobile gaming company. He actually did a lengthy stint at Nokia from 1994 to 2011 and knows his onions.  Apparently he will be signing up as the Chief Marketing Officer for the company.

HMD  is currently run by Nokia vet Arto Nummela who has not said how he will save the mobile company. The Nokia deal provides the company with naming and patent rights, in exchange for royalty payments. Nokia is providing some oversight via a position on the company’s board, though it’s not investing directly in HMD, as per the deal.

Google grows a new Fuchsia operating system

stalin-googleGoogle appears to be working on another operating system which is different from its Android flavour.

The code, which can be found in the Git repository, is dubbed Fuchsia OS, and it may be meant for mobile phones, computers, and other devices and is completely new.

The description in the repository says “Pick + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System), and those colours do not represent either Android or Chrome OS.

Travis Geiselbrech, who worked on NewOS, BeOS, Danger, Palm’s webOS and iOS, and Brian Swetland, who also worked on BeOS and Android, are all understood to be involved in this project.

Powered by the Magenta and LK kernel. The LK kernal might mean that the OS might be used for embedded applications, but Magenta targets modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation.

Google is saying nothing for now and since Fuchsia OS is early in development it is unlikely we will discover what Google is up to for years.

Flash Memory Summit 2016 – Consolidation?

FMS2016_BannerAd_300x250The Flash Memory Summit 16 will be convening at the Santa Clara Convention Center over August 9 -11, 2016. Flash memory is now established as a key technology enabling new designs for many products in the consumer, computer and enterprise markets.

Storage Crossover

The industry is at a critical juncture where the total cost of ownership for flash based SSD’s achieved crossover with hard disk drive equivalents last September as the enterprise storage medium of choice.

The fact that the number of producers is limited has altered the landscape of consumption with some analysts indicating that serious shortages will exist for some time to come. An interesting, but mitigating fact is that most of the analysts are not technical – the ones that we’ve talked to that have a technical bent are not so sanguine about the availability mix. One item that stands in the road to profits is the need for this next generation storage device to not only retain data but do so interactively without losing bits. The unrecoverable bit boogie man is now staring the industry down. The ability to store immense amounts of “ready data” for execution now depends on the technologies ability to reliably retain data.

All Flash Array producers are now entering the “really big data storage array” market – the battle has dropped down to the cost of storage per dollar creating a whole new category of marketing lows. 3D Flash is now so dense that failure modes are now dependent upon being aware of “how and when” the bits were used during the entire lifetime of the device.

Cork, Ireland NVMdurance was the first to understand this phenomenon and is now firmly embedded in their first customer Altera (now Intel). Pure and Nimble Storage are offering their services for their AFAs – seems that leasing AFA memory is a probable in the future of solid state storage. We’re still left reading the indemnification clauses of their contracts.

Poison Pill

Micron Technology filed with the SEC a poison pill last Friday. The buzz is that the company is once again in play. The likely suitor is none other than Intel according to the lead rumor. We will be talking with Micron and Intel at FMS 16 and although they’ll not say anything about what’s going on we’ll at the very least get to look into their pupils while they’re telling us…,

Apple spins former glories

ElderlyspinneraDesperate to spin its way out of its iPhone mess, Apple has started picking up numbers out of the air to be reported by its Tame Apple Press chums.

For those who came in late, Apple’s cash cow, the iPhone, seems to be off her grass and sales are slumping. To make matters worse, Apple is not going to release  a new phone with any new features until next year. The iPhone 7 contains few features that anyone will want, and most of them can be found in other phones at a cheaper price.

This has led cynics to suggest that Apple has lost the plot and is fast becoming yesterday’s company and Apple has been attempting to spin its way out of the problem.

Firstly, we were treated to the sight of Apple CEO Tim Cook claiming that its company was going big on artificial reality when it is known that Apple is nowhere near having a product in the market. Instead he talked about Pokemon Go which is a product that Apple does not make, and does not make any money from.

Now the latest is that rarity from Apple “a press release” which is designed to remind the world that it still makes iPhones.

The press release talks about how Apple has coincidently “just made” its billionth iPhone. Isn’t that lucky?  Just when the iPhone is being talked about as a dead cash cow, the Tame Apple Press can run a story implying that Apple has made a billion of them.

True that is not a billon this year, it is a billion since Apple started making them, but nothing makes a dying phone look popular again like a headline “Apple sells its billionth smartphone”.

There is no indication when and where this magical phone was made, but there is an awful lot of puff in the press release about how wonderful it is. The story might be true, but sorry the timing makes it a little too convenient particularly as no one can really say it is not true and Apple can’t point to a phone and say that is number one billion.

Nintendo shares plummet because it can’t make Pokemon Go

Nintendo_former_headquarter_plate_KyotoNintendo’s share price crashed by 17 percent after investors worked out that the former maker of playing cards didn’t really  make Pokémon Go.

Since the game launched in mid-July, Nintendo’s share price has more than doubled but  Nintendo admitted it neither makes, nor owns, Pokémon Go and the fact was never hidden by any of the companies involved.

Pokémon Go “is developed and distributed by Niantic, Inc”, an independent company spun off from Google in August 2015. Both Google and Nintendo hold stakes in Niantic. It added that Nintendo owns 32% of the voting power within the Pokémon Company, which itself will receive “a licensing fee and compensation for collaboration in development and operations”.

Nintendo concluded, “the income reflected on the company’s consolidated business results is limited”. It will make more direct income from Pokémon Go Plus, a peripheral due to be released this summer which will allow partial interaction with the game without the need to turn on the phone, but that income too is already reflected in the company’s predictions for the 2016–17 financial year. So, in other words, Nintendo’s not getting rich from Pokémon Go .

Even if Nintendo doesn’t take much cash home from Pokémon Go, the game’s success could convince the company to put more efforts into its home-grown smartphone development. If it does, that could signal a longer-term reversal in the company’s fortunes than any one game could ever provide.