Tag: handsets

Nokia releases two basic handsets

bokbild20HMD Global, the Finnish outfit that owns the rights to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones, has released two basic handsets without internet access priced at $26 before local taxes and subsidies.

The Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM could go on sale in selected markets early next year.

The outfit, which is led by former Nokia refugees who took over the Nokia basic phone business from Microsoft and has struck a licensing deal with Nokia Oyj to bring the brand back from the dead.

The basic phone business makes most of its sales in India, elsewhere in Asia and eastern Europe. The business model will be based on making phones for the poorer countries and burners.  This will provide a base for more expensive Nokia smartphones.

The company is staffed by many employees who were let go when Microsoft’s love affair with mobile phones ended up in an expensive divorce. HMD Global is based in Finland, which is Nokia’s old stomping ground.


Blackberry debates killing off handsets

dodoIt looks like Blackberry has placed its handsets production onto death row and, failing a last minute appeal, could be headed for silicon heaven soon.

Chief Executive John Chen said a decision would be made by September on the future of the unit, which has suffered a sustained drop in sales in recent quarters.

He sees better opportunity in providing services that enable increasingly commoditized hardware to do more.

“I don’t personally believe handsets will be the future of any company,” he said.

However Chen said he had not given up on handsets yet and had made it his top priority to make its devices business profitable.

“The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line. We’ve got to get there this year,” he said.

A few years ago, BlackBerry was once the smartphone market leader. The company was practically destroyed by a weird two headed CEO structure which watched as it was replaced by Apple and Google’s Android.

It has worked to reposition itself as a software and service provider focused on device management for large organizations, with some success.  Less successful has been its handsets.

In its presentation to investors, the company said it expects the broader market for types of software it is producing to expand to $17.6 billion by 2019, from $525 million in 2012 and below $4 billion in 2015, powered by growth in medical, legal, financial and automotive industries.

Chen said that BlackBerry wants to grow its software revenue by 30 percent in this fiscal year, which he estimated would be double overall market growth, and to notch positive free cash flow.

Huawei had a record year

William Xu, HuaweiChina’s Huawei posted its biggest annual revenue growth since 2008, thanks mostly to China’s adoption of fourth-generation (4G) mobile technology.

Huawei, which is one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, said total revenues rose 37 percent to $61.10 billion in 2015, slightly above forecasts.

It said that it expects revenue to increase to $75 billion this year, which implies the growth rate will slow to 23 percent.

The company had in early 2014 targeted overall revenue of $70 billion by 2018, which translated to growth of roughly 10 percent.

Huawei forecast 2016 revenue of $30 billion for the consumer devices business, which was its fastest growing division and second-biggest revenue generator last year.

However this means that revenue growth in the business will slow down to about 51 percent in 2016 from about 73 percent in 2015.

Huawei was the first Chinese handset vendor to ship more than 100 million smartphones in a year in 2015 when a 44 percent jump in its shipments defied a market slowdown.

Revenue in Huawei’s carrier business, which competes with Sweden’s Ericsson for the top spot globally for telecommunication equipment, increased 21.4 percent in 2015 on strong demand for 4G telecommunication equipment.

The carrier business is Huawei’s biggest, accounting for about 59 percent of 2015 revenue. Revenue in its Enterprise business rose 43.8 percent last year.

Huawei said it spent 15 percent of its revenue last year on research and development, above its guidance of 10 percent. Operating margins dipped to 11.6 percent from 11.9 percent.


Samsung riding high on Galaxy wave

Samsung is riding high on its Galaxy smartphones, outpacing Apple when it comes to handset sales.

According to Reuters, the company is projecting a quarterly profit for October- December 2012 of $8.3 billion.

The 89 percent jump from the same time last year is claimed to be driven by sales of the company’s Galaxy smartphones, which are being snapped up by around 500 people every minute.

The money is also coming in from its flat screen productions, which are found in its own mobile devices, as well as for Apple’s products, while the company’s chip prices have also improved from last year, driving share prices to record levels.

The company’s Galaxy Note II ‘phablet’ also allegedly outpaced Apple’s iPhones.

Samsung released 37 products last year – some of which were similar devices tweaked to suit regional preferences – compared to Apple, which focused on just one new smartphone, and HTC, which rolled out 18 devices and saw sales fall by 90 percent earlier this week.

In comparison to Samsung’s offerings, Nokia released nine similar products, while LG managed 24 devices.

Analysts claim that there are concerns the business’s buzz could slow down as a result of advanced markets coming close to saturation. This quarter is also predicted to be quieter for the company as a result of it not releasing any products until March/April, where it will roll out its Galaxy S IV, which is claimed to have an unbreakable screen and a better processor.

This new device should help boost the company’s sales within the second quarter, while its predicted smartphone sales, which analysts predict will rise by a third this year, could ensure it trumps Apple.

Neil Mawston, executive director at market researcher Strategy Analytics, told Reuters that he believed Samsung would sell 290 million smartphones this year, a leap from the projected 215 million in 2012.

Kim Sung-in, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities,went one further, predicting that the company could reach as much as 320 million smartphone shipsments this year, while its tablets could double in sales to 32 million.

ZTE overtakes Apple, grows even more

Chinese infrastructure giant and phonemaker ZTE has announced its revenue for the nine months up to 30 September is at US $9.32 billion. At the same time, a report from Strategy Analytics says ZTE has become the world’s 4th largest handset vendor, overtaking Apple.

Strategy Analytics’ Alex Spektor said in a statement that ZTE really was the star of the show, managing to nab five percent market share. He put the growth down to its cheap entry-level feature phones and Android smartphones.

ZTE’s $9.32 billion revenue for the first nine months is an increase of 26.5 percent based on the same time last year. The Chinese company – which is huge in its home territories – has been on an aggressive crusade to flood the world with its smartphones, expanding into Europe with its own branded handsets last year. 

Because of this, the net profit for parent company shareholders did drop 21.5 percent from last year. ZTE puts that down to “increased financial expenses” – which we presume means the warchest it has been spending like crazy to claw market share from the competition.

Terminal sales revenues increased 53.4 percent, it says, while telecoms software, services and other products grew 28 percent. It also reported 15 percent boost in carrier network revenue, in turn helping along with selling ZTE’s wireline, optical communication systems, international CDMA system equipment and GSM/UMTS system equipment in China.

It thinks TD-LTE’s increasing popularity will further bolster its revenues, as it flogs the necessary equipment everywhere that wants it – including new partnerships with Sweden, Japan, India and Saudi Arabia. 

In 2012, ZTE expects to continue doing what it’s doing, while expanding and upgrading wireless networks across the world. It says it wants to explore other opportunities in the ICT market, without saying just what, and in smart terminals. Reassuring investors, it said it will try to get its head around a positive balance between scale and profit while still growing.

Crucially, it has employed Professor Green, the grime-pop UK artist, to leverage its brand on a tour. A ZTE spokesperson denied that there were any other candidates for ZTE’s sponsorship.

They told TechEye: “There were no others, Professor Green was our first choice since ZTE mobile phones and Professor Green are both currently breaking into the mainstream UK market and stand for the same qualities: vibrant, energetic and extremely talented.”

ZTE will be giving away tickets to a small Professor Green show in London through its presence on the web in social media. 

The Hackney-born rapper had this to say of ZTE: “Sponsorship is a reality of today’s music industry – the key is to make sure you partner with the right people. ZTE are up-and-coming and innovative so this relationship is really exciting for me.”

ZTE exec Wu Sa, who we did not have down as a fan, said “Professor Green is attaching kudos and relevance to ZTE as we drive our brand to a social networking driven youth market”.

ZTE’s UK marketing team says it starts the day with a Professor Green song every morning.

Smartphone DRAM growth explodes

One industry segment the smartphone is really propping up is DRAM – which will see triple digit growth this year alone. That’s three times faster than the rest of the DRAM market.

Shipments, measured by IHS in one gigabit equivalent units, should swell to an astonishing 1.7 billion in 2011. That’s an increase of 157.2 percent compared to 2010’s 672.0 million. IHS sees no sign of the boom slowing, claiming that by 2015, the shipments should hit 13.9 billion units. Or 700 percent growth from 2011.

Analysts at IHS say the proof is in the smartphone pudding. If you crack open a smartphone from 2010, for example the SGH T939 from Samsung, you’d only find 128MB of DRAM in the innards. But a Galaxy Indulge has 576MB of DRAM, and HTC’s Thunderbolt managed 768MB.

The sky’s the limit, according to IHS. Manufacturers want to cut costs in spending on memory – with the average expenditure in the general bill of materials sitting at 15.7 percent for the phones IHS looked at.

However, the density is just set to increase. Average DRAM density per device is looking like it’ll be a stonking 715MB next year, an increase of 55 percent. 

As such, smartphones continue to make inroads in total DRAM consumption. This year smartphones will account for 7.6 percent of all DRAM, compared to 4.4 percent in 2010. By 2015 smartphones will make up 16 percent of DRAM in the market. 

Xperia Play has one fatal flaw

Launched to much fanfare, with a press event set in London but somehow representing a dystopian war-town Eastern European obscurity with Tinchy Stryder in the middle of it, we were curious about the handset beyond the hype.

Let me just say, the agency that looks after the Sony Ericsson account is prompt, helpful and professional. But alarm bells rang when I was offered another journalist to talk to who really liked the phone.

Opinions are not definitive, they’re subjective. This is just mine, so to that fairly new adage, your mileage may vary: It’s unbeleivable how wrong Sony got it with the Xperia Play when, actually, it could have easily got it very right. Some customers must feel let-down after locking themselves into a two year contract with a phone that promises more than it delivers.

We’ll start with the obvious USP which is the built in PSP-a-like. History tends to repeat itself, so, following the Nokia N-gage all those years ago, TechEye is desperate to have a look through the sales figures.

Sony Ericsson itself has said that the product won’t be another N-Gage, according to The Escapist, and that it is a unique, stand-alone product. Meanwhile,Sebastian Moss at Playstationlifestyle.net took PS1 game sales direct from the Android Market, and they didn’t look great. The page has since been removed, but it said they tallied in the low hundreds. Here is a mirror.

Because of the pull-out controls on the under-side of the phone, it constantly feels as if it is about to break. Considering the weight of the handset, it’s bizarre that it feels so flimsily put together. You really do feel like you can snap the thing off very easily – and you might, if you gave playing the games a go…

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play suffers from one totally fatal flaw. The iPhone and iPod Touch, whether you are into Apple or not, have done a lot for handheld gaming. Rather, innovative developers have done a lot for compelling handheld gaming. Instead of wishing they could attach joysticks to the handset, they found other ways to make hand held, touch screen games, at a low price point that are a delight to control and to play.

The same can’t be said for the games we tested on the Play. Having followed Sony’s efforts since the PSX, we tinkered around with Crash Bandicoot and FIFA, two familiar franchises we knew our way around. Crash Bandicoot was never a favourite, being as it is one of the original Playstation’s attempts to drum up a mascot for the hardware, it is a fairly standard 3D platformer. Loading times sucked, the image quality was fair, but the Play’s built in controls were unresponsive and difficult to get used to. As such, we were flinging Crash into bottomless pits with abandon. The bandicoot is now endangered.

FIFA was worse. As cynical hacks we thought some impromptu field testing would be a better idea. Everyone seemed to agree – simply using the phone’s touch screen controls is easier than the clunky Playstation effort.

As for the phone itself, it is quite likeable. There are some frustrations but it’s a functional Android phone. The camera works great and we experienced no jitters or slow-down, force closes or any other kind of crash on the Android apps. The call volume tended to come out too low even on the maximum setting, which presented some difficulties, but nothing major. 

Its problem lies in that it is not fit for the kind of gaming that is becoming increasingly popular. Anyone who wants the PSP functionality, in this scribbler’s opinion, would probably be better off with… a PSP. Besides, Android has a licensing deal with Sony which means there will be more to come on different platforms anyway. The Play appears to be a slight false-start, or even testing the water for adapting the model for future releases.

Yes, the handset has its fans, and we expect to see them tip up in the comments.

LG to create its own smartphone chips

LG has confirmed that it’s working on creating chips for smartphones.

However, it hasn’t squawked on the specifics. It is probably keeping tight-lipped because the last three quarters haven’t been the kindest to LG’s mobile division – falling increasingly below par with profits suffering.

Sales in LG’s mobile communications business, which includes phones, fell 14.7 percent to $3.72 billion (3.58 trillion won). And although mobile phone handset sales rose 8 percent to 30.6 million devices in the fourth quarter from the third, they declined 10 percent from the year before.

In July it also posted its widest-ever quarterly loss of $103 million in the handset business, prompting it to dump its CEO.

It has also been trailing behind the likes of HTC and Samsung in bringing out new smartphones with lasting appeal.

But it hopes by creating its own chips that it will be able to strengthen its mobile devision and kick-start some real success in this field. 

According to Bloomberg, semiconductor company MtekVision is looking into developing chips with the company.

Analysts also told Bloomberg that the company could do well from making its own chips, which as it would be working within its own supply chains. The chips are said to provide higher power than those already on the market. What will other suppliers think?

Mobile will drive social media in India

The majority of people in India will have their first social networking experience on their mobile phone according to Analysys Mason.

In its Overview of mobile social networking in India report, Analysys Mason said
the number of mobile social network users in India is expected to reach around 72 million by 2014. It said this would be driven by the reduced cost of smartphones and the launch of 3G services, which will enhance the consumer experience. 3G spectrum competition is basically causing a turf war in the region.

As a result of this Sourabh Kaushal, principal consultant, said many would experience their first time on a social networking site over a mobile.

“There are a number of reasons for this,” he told TechEye.

“Firstly in rural areas of India where wireless is more frequent than fixed landlines, it will be easier to purchase a 3G enabled handset. Secondly handsets are far more reasonably priced at $35- $40 compared to the $300 for a netbook making them a cheaper and more accessible option to many of India’s population.”

However, he added that those in cities will access social media through broadband.

The number of online social network users in India has grown by 43 percent to approximately 33 million unique users from the beginning of 2009 through to July 2010. India emerged as the seventh largest market globally.

According to the report, the increased number of social network users is driving the number of mobile social network users – around 10 million in 2009 – representing around 2.2 percent of the total number of mobile subscribers.

“Innovative data tariff plans (daily, weekly and monthly plans) and the significant reduction in  data charges are driving adoption of data-based services such as social networking,”  Kaushal added.

“Operators are launching services such as pay-per-site tariffs and are expected to promote social networking applications to drive adoption of data services among their subscribers.”

He said handset manufacturers have also started to launch mobile handsets specifically designed for social networking in order to increase the value proposition and differentiate their devices.

Young people and young professionals are driving the adoption of mobile social networking in India, accounting for 70 percent of the total number of users in 2009.  In terms of gender, males account for 56 percent.

ZTE to release own branded handsets to UK this year

ZTE is a big player in mobile handsets, and an underestimated one, but you don’t hear much about the Chinese company’s efforts over on European shores. That’s because handsets tend to be released co-branded with other network providers – for example the F930 3G which launched just last week.

However, we reckon ZTE is gearing up for a huge European invasion. It very recently launched its own branded handsets to the French mobile market, and that’s something ZTE once said it would never, ever do.

But these manufacturers can’t help themselves. A little birdie close to the company tells us that we can expect a ZTE invasion in the UK later this year.

We tried talking to a few top dogs at ZTE including Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations with ZTE UK, and “Shank” Ni Haiyang, the guy at the heart of ZTE’s English speaking PR, but neither have confirmed or denied anything to us yet. It’s a tight-lipped company, though – so we’re not surprised.

There is space in the UK, and Europe, for ZTE. The ZTE Cute and the ZTE Link, launched in France in May, are both nifty little handsets that marked ZTE’s own brand for the first time in the European market. 

Back then a ZTE spokesperson told us to “watch this space” for news on UK brand launches.

Our source told us that there will be something in “the not too distant future” for the UK, and told us we can expect a branded handset later this year. We wouldn’t be surprised if it plants the seeds this year before launching a full invasion in line for 2011.