Category: Mobile

Nokia buries the hatchet with Samsung

5442919397_645c8efbbf_bNokia has buried the hatchet with Samsung and smoked the peace pipe over a long running patent dispute.

The deal was hammered out in arbitration verdict and will boost Nokia’s patent sales by “hundreds of millions of euros.”

Nokia said the settlement would lift sales at its patent unit Nokia Technologies to around $1.1 billion in 2015.

Nokia added it expects to receive at least $1.3 billion cash during 2016-2018 related to its settled and ongoing arbitrations, including the Samsung award. Nokia has a similar dispute with LG Electronics.

All this leaves Nokia free to start plotting its comeback after suffering so badly it had to flog its smartphone business to Microsoft.


Mumbai police enforcing “no selfie” zones

7d3d7dcbb972d04e14bfa7fc392e36c5Mumbai police have had enough of people getting practically killed while taking selfie and are starting to enforce “no-selfie” zones in parts of the city.

Inspector Knacker of the Mumbai Yard is mapping out areas in the city where it might be dangerous to take a selfie, and will mark those areas as no selfie zones.

According to a top cop: “We are in the process of identifying and then marking a few locations in the city where clicking selfies will not be allowed.”

It is getting quite serious.  Three young girls fell into the Arabian Sea while taking selfies on a rock that was jutting out towards the sea near Bandra Fort. They lost their balance and fell into the sea.  A local hero saved two but could not find the third.

Nevertheless the Interent is full of narissitic types doing their best to snap the perfect selfy.  If Mumbai police do arrest those for trying to enter themselves in the darwin awards chances are they will try to take a picture of the event.  Here is me being arrested, here is me in the police car, here  I am in the Mumbai police cell.


Chipzilla improves Compute Sticks

IMG_0682Chipzilla is having another crack at its PC-in-your-pocket form factor by creating new Compute Sticks.

The original Compute Stick which plugged into the HDMI port on your TV or monitor and offered to provide a full-fledged computing experience, did not do as well as the should have.   This was partly because they were  little more than a proof of concept.

Intel’s second crack at the Compute Stick is a little better.   In the shops from February, Intel has three new base model Compute Sticks to choose from. The first is an entry-level option running a quad-core Atom x5-z8400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.44GHz to 2.24GHz. It also features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, a pair of USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Windows 10.

A second USB port allows users to plug in both a USB mouse and keyboard rather than having to go the wireless route. Intel has upgraded the Wi-Fi. It will set you back $159 which makes the entry-level model underwhelming.

But the Core M models are a lot more interesting.  They are sporting a 6th Generation Skylake Intel Core m models. The higher end has a Core m5-6Y57 vPro processor while the lower end version is equipped with a Core m3-6Y30.

They both have 4GB of DDR3-1866 RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage expandable via microSD card slot, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and three USB 3.0 ports (one on the Compute Stick and two on the power adapter).

All three new Compute Sticks can hardware decode HEVC/H.265 video and the Core M3 and M5 models can manage 4K processing.

Without an OS, the Core m3 model costs $300; Windows 10 adds $100 to the price tag. The Core m5 Compute Stick will sell for $500 and, at least for now, doesn’t appear to offer a version with Windows 10 pre-installed.


Microsoft building its own SIM card

cellular-industry-starts-biometric-verification-of-sims-1421877462-8555Software giant Microsoft appears to be working on its own SIM card.

A free application named “Cellular Data” has been published to the Microsoft Store.  It isn’t available to download just yet, but there are clues.

Cellular Data will allow customers with a “Microsoft SIM card” and select Windows 10 devices to purchase data through the Windows Store. However, the store description currently implies that the card will only work with a select number of Windows 10 devices and will be available in a few markets initially. The full description reads:

Are you looking for a reliable, convenient way to stay connected everywhere you go, even when WiFi isn’t available? The Cellular data app allows you to connect to a trusted nationwide mobile data network using only your Microsoft account.

Connect with – and pay for – a mobile data plan on your Windows 10 device using only your Microsoft account information. That means no fixed contract and no long term commitments to a mobile network operator. Now you can buy and use mobile data at your own convenience. This is the easiest way to get online using a trusted nationwide network. Purchase a plan via Windows Store anywhere network coverage is available. The Cellular data app can get you connected at any time with a secure, high-speed mobile connection.

This app is designed to work solely with specific Windows 10 devices and requires a Microsoft SIM card.  We have pointed out that there is no such animal so it means that Vole will have to build one.

The Service is available in some markets and offers are for domestic plans only – international roaming offers will be available soon.

The company has also detailed a procedure to purchase data, which also suggests that this data plan will be tied to a Microsoft account. Pricing and availability details have not been released as of yet.

Tim Cook earned $10.3 million in 2015

tim-cook-apple-ceoAs shareholders saw Apple’s value plummet in 2015, they will no doubt be relieved to see that the company’s CEO, Tim Cook earned $10.3 million for his efforts.

As far as Apple is concerned, Cook did extremely well during a trying time.  Despite not having a product that was noticeably different from previous years, having its “game changing” tablet disappear, entry into the wearable and television market being a disaster and leaning on a smartphone when no one wanted them any more, Cook made the company profits rise by 35 percent.

This meant that his money rose 11.5 percent to $10.3 million in 2015. The company shares fell for the first time since 2008 and are now below $100 each.

To be fair Cook was the lowest-paid of the company’s top executives. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri’s annual compensation rose about 81 percent to $25.3 million in 2015.  Angela Ahrendts, the senior vice president for retail and online stores, was the highest paid, with a total pay package of $25.8 million

Cook’s base pay increased about 14.4 percent to $2 million last year, while non-equity incentive compensation rose about 19 percent to $8 million, according to a regulatory filing.

The Tame Apple Press is claiming that Apple’s senior executives are worth every penny and shareholders have nothing to worry about.  The fact that shares are falling because no one wants to buy the iPhone 6s is nothing to worry about, apparently.

Remember that Cook suffers too if the share price goes down. He holds 3.1 million Apple shares that have not vested yet.

The shares are expected to vest between August 2016 and August 2021.


Google shows off new glass

google-glass-enterprise-editionSearch engine outfit Google has leaked  snaps of the latest incarnation of its Glass project.

Well we say Google did it, actually it sent the device to the FCC to have a look at and it showed it to the world.

It’s is a bit better than the Explorer model from a few years ago. The work-focused eyepiece touts a much better design with both a larger display prism and a hinge that lets you fold it up for travel.

The test photos also reveal a spot for a magnetic battery attachment. We expect that it will have a speedier Atom processor, better battery life, and improved “wireless connectivity”. There is a 5GHz WiFi band for video streaming applications.  The new chip means better heat management.  The FCC filing said that there is also a yet-to-be-seen Google-made external battery pack, which attaches to the device magnetically.

There’s still no word on when Google will announce this headset, although the FCC presence hints that it might not take long. Not that you’ll likely wear this particular model as it is: sources for 9to5Google understand that it’ll only be distributed through Glass for Work companies. You’ll need to wait until more consumer-focused models show up sometime in the future, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll have a ton in common.



Microsoft gets religion

godIn the good old days being spiritual was a thing which involved religion, often requiring you to sit under some tree while being tempted by virgins, or to pound someone to death for not believing in your invisible friend.

Microsoft wants to change all that by applying it to its coming smartphones.

In a recently leaked document, Vole refers to its work on the Surface phone as being “spiritual”.  That’s the Word from Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on the prospect of a Surface Phone and he confirmed the company is working on a “breakthrough” phone that is the “spiritual equivalent” of its very successful line of Surface branded products.

The question is what does that mean? We asked our spiritual guru who told us that Microsoft was clearly following its rival Apple by using religious terms to describe something dull and mundane. If you do that, then marketing becomes evangelism and you don’t need product knowledge you need faith.

Like most religions in the last 2000 years, Microsoft is basing it all on monotheism. This is something which Apple has attempted, but could not move past its dualistic roots.

At the centre of Microsoft’s plans is Windows 10 which will be the One True operating system which will mean that different device categories under a single, universal ecosystem. Soon we might start seeing “there is no operating system but Windows” being waived by enthusiastic engineers.

This one true operating system will include smartphones, which is an area where Microsoft has a problem with unbelievers. The release of a premium “Surface Phone” of some sort, however, could change all that.

This is where Capossela is the new religion’s Paul of Tarsus. He used to write speeches for Bill Gates and his own Sermon on the Mount implies that Microsoft is returning to mobile in the same way that the prodigal son came back home for a hot dinner.

If he manages to convert enough people to this view then Windows 10 Surface handsets could suddenly be relevant. Get enough followers swirling around a single operating system and you should get exponential conversions.

Samsung’s still the smartphone leader

SamsungA market research company said that over 331 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter of this year.

Digitimes Research (DR) said that Samsung accounted for 25.6 percent of the systems, followed by Apple (14.5%), Huawei (7.4%), Lenovo (4.8%), LG (4.5%), Xiaomi (3.8%) followed by a number of other brands.

DR said that the top 15 vendors accounted for 81.4 percent of total shipments with nine Chinese companies in that league.

DR estimates that smartphone shipments in the current quarter will total 396.8 million handsets – meaning that total shipments this year will be 1.326 billion units – a rise of over 10 percent compared to 2014.

Apple will sell less iPhones

7e9ab0acfbfcbb07c89eeaa3c910d851Shares in Apple tanked after fears that it might sell less iPhones than it expected.

Since the end of the “game changing” tablet craze fizzled, the ipod died, and the iwatch was mocked, Apple has depended on recycling its iPhone to make it piles of dosh. Fortunately that had paid off, despite a shrinking smartphone market.

However it does not look like that will last – the Bank of America cut its estimate for fiscal 2016 iPhone shipments by 10 million to 220 million, pointing to a weakening among Apple’s suppliers.

Raymond James also lowered its estimate for 2016 iPhone shipments to 224 million from 229 million, also pointing to lacklustre expectations at Apple suppliers. Baird Equity Research trimmed its 2016 iPhone forecast to 234.7 million from 243.8 million.

While this might seem a lot of smartphones and arguably sold to people who do not need them, having bought a similar model a year earlier, Apple’s inflated share price depends on the market thinking it is going to continue to grow.

Sales, shares of Apple have fallen 4.4 percent over the past month and are down about 18 percent from record highs in April.

Apple supplier Imagination Technologies said softness in the overall semiconductor industry and smartphone market meant its operating profit would be lower than expected for the rest of its fiscal year.

Dialog Semi also cut its outlook, citing softer-than-expected demand for chips used in mobile phones such as the iPhone.

Reflecting increasing bets by Wall Street against Apple, short interest edged up to 1.9 percent of its outstanding shares at the end of November from 1.3 percent midway through the month, according to Nasdaq data.

Morgan Stanley said it expects iPhone unit sales to drop six percent in the 2016 calendar year as higher prices in markets outside Americas, excluding China, and maturing smartphone penetration in developed markets weigh on upgrades and new user growth.

Supremes to rule on Apple’s rounded rectangle

The_Supremes_-_The_Supremes_Sing_Holland-Dozier-HollandThe highest court in the US will finally decide on whether Steve Jobs invented the rounded rectangle and therefore his form business chum Samsung will have to pay $548 million in damages.

It will be probably the last battle in the thermo-nuclear war of the rounded rectangle as both sides have admitted that the whole thing was bloody stupid and did not result in either winning.

Samsung’s petition must first be accepted for review by the Supreme Court and there are no guarantees that will happen.

Samsung paid Apple $548.2 million fulfilling part of its liability stemming from a 2012 verdict for infringing Apple’s patents and copying the iPhone’s look.

In its petition to the high court, Samsung said it should not have had to make as much as $399 million of that payout for copying the patented designs of the iPhone’s rounded-corner front face, bezel, and gridded icons.

It said that awarding total profits from the sale of its devices with those designs, even if they relate only to a small portion of the phone, allows for “unjustified windfalls” far beyond the inventive value of the patents.

“A patented design might be the essential feature of a spoon or rug. But the same is not true of smartphones, which contain countless other features that give them remarkable functionality wholly unrelated to their design,” Samsung told the high court.

“Samsung is escalating this case because it believes that the way the laws were interpreted is not in line with modern times,” the company said in a statement.

Apple said in a statement, without the slightest shred of irony said: “We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy.”

So far Samsung has done well in limiting the damages Apple can claim. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, the nation’s top patent court, in May stripped about $382 million from the $930 million Samsung owed following the 2012 verdict. The appeals court said the

iPhone’s appearance could not be protected through trademarks.
Another trial over remaining damages relating to some of Samsung’s infringing products in the case is set for next spring.