Category: Mobile

Smartphone sales are flat

2008-08-19_Flat_tireBeancounters at IDC have been adding up the numbers and dividing them by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that smartphone sales are flatter than the Netherlands.

According to IDC, vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up just 0.2 percent from the 334.3 million units in Q1 2015, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record.

Samsung is the smartphone king. In Q1 2016, the South Korean company once again shipped more smartphones than any other vendor. In fact, Samsung out-shipped the next two smartphone maker, Apple and Huawei, combined.

Samsung’s market share actually decreased by 0.1 percentage points (from 24.6 percent to 24.5 percent), and it shipped fewer smartphones (81.9 million). IDC said that the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge “sold vigorously” in March, helped by numerous carrier promotions that pushed volume. In emerging markets, Samsung performed well with its more affordable J Series.

Apple fell 3.0 points to 15.3 percent. It was the first year on year decline for the company in Q1. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus failed to deliver. The cheaper smaller iPhone SE is doing better than expected but is unlikely to pull Apple’s nadgers out of the fire.

Huawei, meanwhile, grabbed 3.0 points (to 8.2 percent), Oppo jumped 3.3 points (to 5.5 percent), and Vivo gained 2.4 points (to 4.3 percent).

Oppo and Vivo pushed out previous fourth and fifth place players Lenovo and Xiaomi. This indicates that  China’s smartphone market is maturing and competition is fierce.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s mobile phone team, said that outside of China, many of these brands are virtually unknown and the ability of these rapidly growing Chinese vendors to gain entry into mature markets such as the United States and Western Europe will be essential if they have aspirations of catching Apple or Samsung at the top.

“While Huawei is furthest along in terms of international recognition, selling equally impressive volumes outside of China remains a challenge for many of these brands, whether it is Xiaomi, Lenovo, OPPO, or vivo. Their ability to drive local growth no longer applies when it comes to international expansion, where premium branding quickly turns to price competition.”

VR and AR next computing platform say Goldman Sachs

Joe90Investment bankers Goldman Sachs have dubbed virtual and augmented reality “the next generation computing platform.

A new video from the company has Heather Bellini, Business Unit Leader in Telecommunications, Media and Technology, says that the company believes to VR and AR market will reach $80 billion by 2025, roughly the size of the current desktop PC market.

At the moment the tech is expensive and primarily targeted at hardcore gamers and the porn industry. It is also very expensive because it requires heavy duty processing power.

Bellini said that in the estate agency business  instead of having to go see 50 homes with an agent over the weekend, you might be able to put on a pair of virtual reality glasses or a head mounted display at your realtors office and do a virtual walk-through of what those properties look like and therefore maybe you could eliminate 30 out of 50 on your list and be much more efficient with your time.

Goldman Sachs thinks VR and AR could be just as important could be just as disruptive as a smartphone

“We think this technology has the potential to transform how we interact with almost every industry today, and we think it will be equally transformative both from a consumer and an enterprise perspective,” she says. “At the end of the day we think VR and AR will be as transformation as the smartphone market.”

She said that the technology is there to do the job. Processors are fast enough, gpus are more powerful and all this makes sure tyou dont start feeling queasy as you’re starting to use these types of devices.


Americans cutting their wires

huge.5.27492Americans are starting to give up on land based broadband are are connecting using their mobiles rather than  fixed, wired Internet connections to their homes.

The study, conducted for the Commerce Department by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that Low-income Americans are still one of the biggest demographics to rely solely on their phones to get online. Nearly a third of households earning less than $25,000 a year exclusively use mobile Internet to browse the Web. That’s up from 16 percent in 2013. It seems that you have to be fairly wealthy in the US to have a land-based wired connection to your home.

But it seems that those with higher incomes are also ditching their wired Internet access at similar or even faster rates. In 2013, 8 percent of households making between $50,000 and $75,000 a year were mobile-only. Fast-forward a couple of years, and that figure is 18 percent.

Seventeen percent of households making between $75,000 and $100,000 are mobile-only now, compared with 8 percent two years ago. And 15 percent of households earning more than $100,000 are mobile-only, versus 6 percent in 2013. One in five US households are now mobile-only, compared with one in 10 in 2013.

This suggests that mobile Internet access may no longer be explained simply as the result of financial hardship but could be a conscious choice, at least for wealthier people, who are deciding it’s not necessary to have both.


Apple sales continue to slump

turkey_with_apples_-_croppedrszThe fruity cargo cult Apple is continuing to see the sales of its iPhone slump.

The Nikkei Business Daily reported that Jobs’ Mob is continuing to slash the production of iPhones in the quarter ending June in light of sluggish sales.

This means that Apple expects the iPhone SE to fail to attract any buyers. Despite it being slightly cheaper, and being hailed as a return to the “small form factor” by the Tame Apple Press, it seems that the great unwashed saw the SE for what it really was – an out-of-date iPhone 5C with a slightly better chip.

It does dispute the theory that Apple fanboys will buy a dog turd if it has an Apple logo on it. It seems that Apple was crazy for even trying it.

The company’s shares fell 1.8 percent to $110.05. Shares of some Apple suppliers also fell following the report. Skyworks Solutions was down 1.4 percent, Broadcom fell 2.4 percent while Jabil Circuit lost 1.7 percent.

The Nikkei reported in January that the technology giant was expected to cut production of its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models by about 30 percent in the quarter ended March, but production was expected to return to normal in the current quarter.

Now it is clear that the production cut could last longer than the one it implemented in 2013, when Apple cut production orders for its cheaper iPhone 5C a month after its launch.

Apple has told parts suppliers in Japan and elsewhere that it will maintain the reduced output level in the current quarter.

Apple is saying nothing but in January, it said it expected a fall in revenue for the quarter ending March . At the time it blamed the Chinese market showed signs of weakening. However it was also the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments.


Blackberry security open to the cops since 2010

BlackberryWhile Blackberry has a reputation for being incredibly secure, it has actually provided a back-door to the Canadian coppers since 2010.

The information is in the middle of a stack of court documents that were made public after members of a Montreal crime syndicate pleaded guilty to their role in a 2011 gangland murder. Blackberry and telecommunications giant Rogers cooperated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Mounties intercepted and decrypted roughly one million PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages in connection with the probe. The key was code that could break the encryption on virtually any BlackBerry message sent from one device to another.

Needless to say the Canadian government spent almost two years fighting in a Montreal courtroom to keep this information out of the public record.

BlackBerry has confirmed that it handed over the global encryption key, and fought against a judge’s order to release more information about their working relationship.

It does mean that coppers have had access to Canadians’ personal mobiles without the public being aware of it

iPhone hack method will remain secret

spyThe outfit that helped the FBI unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone to get data is keeping sole legal ownership of its methods.

This means that it highly unlikely the technique will be disclosed by the government to Apple or any other entity.

In a statement, the White House said that it has a procedure for reviewing technology security flaws and deciding which ones should be made public. But it is not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, the sources said, raising questions about the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.

The secretive process was created to let various government interests debate about what should be done with a given technology flaw, rather than leaving it to agencies like the National Security Agency, which generally prefers to keep vulnerabilities secret so they can use them.

Without cooperation from the company, the FBI can’t submit the method to the Vulnerabilities Equities Process even if it wanted. The Feds don’t know the technque either, just that it works.



HTC has announced its 10

htc-one-m10-concpetHTC has formally announced the release of its flagship smartphone for 2016.

The HTC 10 mixes the design of the M series with the A9 that came last year. HTC says it spent a year designing the 10.

The 10 has a 5.2-inch, quad HD Super LCD 5 display that HTC says displays 30 percent more colour than last year’s flavour. The screen is covered in Gorilla Glass with curved edges that blend into the phone’s metal frame.

It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM and there is 32GB of internal storage plus a MicroSD slot. HTC says it has optimized the 10’s software and hardware for faster touch response and the new phone is 50 percent more responsive than the M9. The 10’s 3,000mAh battery can go for two days of life thanks to software and hardware optimizations, and supports Quick Charge 3.0 through the phone’s USB Type-C port.

Looks wise it is similar to both the M9 and A9. It has HTC’s all-aluminium construction, with large chamfered edges and machined ports. Below the display is a fingerprint scanner flanked by two buttons for back and recent apps. This is a move away from the on-screen buttons HTC has used on its flagships for the past couple of years.

It doesn’t look like an iPhone, which is a bonus.

The 10’s rear camera has a 12-megapixel sensor behind an optically stabilized f/1.8 lens that should take better photos in low light. It’s accompanied by a dual-LED flash and second-generation laser autofocus system. The camera can also capture 4K video with 24-bit high resolution audio.

The 10’s front camera has also been upgraded to a 5-megapixel sensor with optically stabilized, f/1.8 wideangle lens (a first for front-facing cameras, according to HTC), that should make for better selfies in low light.

There is a high resolution audio system, with a headphone amp that can output twice as much power as other smartphones. The 10 can upscale audio to 24-bit quality. In the box with the phone are Hi-Res-certified earphones and HTC has partnered with JBL to produce a noise-cancelling set of headphones that are powered by the phone’s USB-C port. It can wirelessly play audio through AirPlay-certified speakers.

The software is closer to Google’s version of Android than HTC’s. The outfit said it worked with Google to reduce duplicative apps, and the 10 uses Google’s apps for key things such as calendar, photos, and music. It still uses HTC’s email, messaging, and camera apps, but the interface is more like a Nexus.

The phone ships next month for $699. It will be available in black and silver in the US, while global markets will see a gold option and Japan will get a special red colour.  HTC is offering preorders of an unlocked version of the 10 through its online store starting today.

Apple does not want to know how the FBI hacked its iPhone

3 monkeys 3Fruity cargo cult Apple is not going to try and force the FBI to tell it how it hacked the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist and what security hole it used.

Attorneys for Apple speaking on background during a media briefing call on Friday said that it believed the method used to unlock the iPhone 5c would be short lived.

FBI director James Comey admitted that the hack used to unlock the encrypted phone works on a “narrow slice” of devices.

Of course Apple’s attorneys were guessing. They don’t know what the flaw was, but argued that the normal product development would see that a fix for the flaw would be implemented down the line. A little bit of an odd argument.  Apple is basically saying that it will fix a flaw it did not notice sometime in the future when it does not matter.

Apple is usually slow in fixing flaws in its software, it is hard to see it fixing this one, if it finds it, for any reason other than rubbing the FBI’s face in it. Apple was extremely embarrassed when it told the world that its iOS system was so secure it would require it to write a backdoored version of the OS to allow the FBI access. Then an Israeli firm used one of the many security loopholes it has at its disposal to let the FBI in.

Samsung gets patent for smart contacts

don_t_blink_by_risarocksit-d68mtdmWho needs VR specs?  Samsung has come up with contact lenses which can do something similar in a blink of an eye.

Samsung has received a patent in South Korea for interactive contact lenses that can receive or send data to a nearby phone.

According to the patent, the way Samsung’s “smart” contact lenses integrate a camera, movement sensors, a transmitter, and a display unit in the lenses’ glass. They can be controlled by blinking.

To take pictures or interact with data displayed on their contact lenses, the user must blink. The motions are picked up by the sensors, and the commands are relayed to the user’s phone for processing, with the results being sent back immediately.

The user can stream video or send images to their contact lenses from their smartphone, and send pictures they took with the integrated camera back to their mobile device for storage.

Some circuits are visible in the contact lenses, but they’ll be placed towards to glass’ edge, not to impede vision or the received images.

Samsung is not alone in its quest for manufacturing contact lenses. Back at the start of March 2016, Swiss healthcare startup Sensimed was granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start testing so-called smart contact lenses that can cure glaucoma.

Additionally, Google has also been working on the same type of technology, for which it receives a patent in March 2015, but never got around to releasing a prototype.

Samsung’s project has nothing to do with health-related applications and seems only to be a project aimed at exploring methods of integrating augmented reality with today’s devices.

The Samsung patent, filed on September 26, 2014, was only approved by South Korean authorities two days ago.

UK prisoner got his paws on a Samsung prototype

60a0a2ce63135a4a1906527f19b2de84fae6d23cA lag who is residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure managed to get his paws on an expensive Samsung prototype.

A Samsung Galaxy S7 was seized from a Category D male lag in August 2015, over eight months before the phone was released.

According to data obtained by Mobile provided no information on how the unreleased device made its way into one of the UK’s jails but a key trend amongst other phones seized was their slim profile.

This lets the phones to be hidden easily during prison searches. However it is not clear how the prisoner was one of the first people in the world to get their hands on the phone, and also one of the first to have it nicked.

While other previous flagships were also discovered as contraband, including two iPhone 5s, an iPhone 4 and a Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S7 is certainly the newest.

In fact the phone of choice for crims is the Samsung E1200 with the Samsung E range accounting for a third of all confiscated devices.

Samsung appears to have 57 percent of the market share amongst illicit prison phone users.

In one month alone, 30 phones in total were seized from Category D English male prisons, which is one seizure per 90 prisoners.

Other models seized were the Alcatel 1040x, a BMW style key fob phone, the Samsung Galaxy Young 2, the Nokia 105, the Vodafone 340 and the Yamayahoo BM50. Few choose an Apple of course – prisoners are already walled up, there is no way they want to repeat that in their phone experience.

Owning a mobile device is a criminal offence in prison and can lead to an additional two-year sentence for those caught, but Her Majesty’s prison service says it is often difficult to discover which prisoner handsets belong to.