Tag: mobile

Integrated circuit demand picking up

ParisPissoirIntegrated circuit demand in China’s smartphone market is showing signs of a pick-up, at least those trying to sell their products to anyone other than Apple.

Digitimes said that inventories at non-Apple vendors have been getting better, showing signs that business is picking up.

Strong sales of Apple’s iPhone 6 devices in China resulted in excess inventory levels at other mobile device brands in the fourth quarter of 2014, the sources said. However, inventory digestion is near its end, the sources observed.

Downstream clients have stepped up chip orders prior to China’s Labour Day holiday, the sources noted. Rollouts of new smartphones and other mobile devices are also expected to stimulate demand, the sources said.

Taiwan-based IC design houses are expected to see their sales rebound starting March, the sources indicated. MediaTek, for example, will see its March revenues rebound to previous high levels.

MediaTek is expected to report weaker-than-expected performance in the second quarter, if the company fails to generate revenue growth of more than 20 per cent. Such a scenario also implies that overall smartphone demand from China and emerging markets is still grim.

MediaTek has estimated revenues for the first quarter of 2015 will register a 10-18 per cent decline. The company has not given its sales guidance for the second quarter.

Supremes insist on warrants to search phones

The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the mobile phones of people they arrest.

The decision will offer protection to the people arrested every year, many for minor crimes who have found coppers searching through their phones looking for something more serious to arrest them on

The ruling applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers and it also might apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies.

Chief Justice John Roberts  writing for the court, was keenly alert to the central role that mobile phones play in contemporary life. They are, he said, “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy”.

The defence of the smartphone was based legally on a part of the constitution which was designed to stop the government interfering with the revolutionaries smuggling business.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that there was a revulsion against “general warrants,” which “allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand,” the chief justice also wrote, “does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought.”

The Government is not having a good time with its introduction of Big Brother technology and has lost every time it got to the supreme courts.

The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence.

Chief Justice Roberts said while the police may examine a mobile to see if it contains, say, a razor blade, he wrote, “once an officer has secured a phone and eliminated any potential physical threats, however, data on the phone can endanger no one”.

Police may turn off a phone, remove its battery or place it in a bag made of aluminium foil to stop it being remotely wiped.

Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the decision would make law enforcement more difficult but added that “privacy comes at a cost”.

Canadians allow you to turn your mobile on in flight

Canada has relaxed official restrictions on using mobile devices in flight.

The move follows the lead of the United States and the European Union while maintaining a ban on transmitting information.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said air passengers could now use smartphones, cameras, electronic games, tablets and computers throughout a flight. Under current Canadian rules, all such devices must be shut down during takeoff and landing.

Passengers, however, can use their new freedom if the airline they are flying on updates their safety manuals and can guarantee that during takeoff and landings all passengers are able to follow crew instructions.

Raitt also said the ban on sending or receiving e-mails and phone calls in flight would remain in place.

The US Federal Aviation Administration announced similar measures for users of personal electronic devices last October and the European Union followed in December. 

Foxconn goes mobile

Foxconn  is writing a $390 million cheque for the Taiwanese mobile telecoms operator Asia Pacific Telecom  as part of a cunning plan to expand into the 4G telecoms market.

Foxconn and Asia Pacific are expected to merge fully via a share swap once the small print is worked out by June 20.

The world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic goods wants to expand its operations to include software, 4G services and cloud computing.  It also has a licence to operate part of Taiwan’s 4G spectrum.

It will take a jolly long time for Foxconn to make any dosh from 4G.  Analysts have done the numbers and think it will take at least seven years for the outfit to make any real profits.

Earlier this month, Asia Pacific had said it would soon decide soon on a merger with either Foxconn or Chinese noodles maker Ting Hsin International. We are not sure how many people would opt for 4G Noodles but it looks like they decided Foxconn would be a better bet.

Foxconn will buy Asia Pacific under its subsidiary company Ambit Microsystems, the unit responsible for its future 4G deployment, the stock exchange statement said. Ambit will be dissolved and the new company will operate under the name Asia Pacific Telecom.

Intel told to get out of mobile

A report from JP Morgan suggested that Intel will carry on losing money in the mobile sector – including tablets and smartphones.

According to JP Morgan, quoted in EE Times, the X86 technology for both tablets and smartphones is inferior to ARM technology.

“If Intel were to shut down its mobile business, we estimate it could unlock roughly $0.50 in 2015 EPS.”

The news won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone apart from Intel.  The megachip firm has invested plenty of money in the smartphone sector but with little returns.  The overwhelming majority of tablets and smartphones don’t use Intel mobile tech.

JP Morgan won’t be popular at Intel. The company under the leadership of its CEO is determined to continue to spend yet more money investing in the mobile space.

The official Intel line is that its Bay Trail chips, along with 14 nanometre technology will lead the smartphone and tablet pack.

Elop gets $33.4 million for leaving Nokia

When Nokia CEO Stephen Elop started getting cosy to Microsoft, some shareholders thought that he was simply a stooge of the shy and soon to be retiring CEO Steve “there is a kind of hush” Ballmer.

But it turns out that Elop has done rather well for himself out of having Microsoft buy the company. Not only is he now the executive vice president (EVP) of the Microsoft Devices Group overseeing an expanded devices business that includes Lumia smartphones and tablets, Nokia mobile phones, Xbox hardware, Surface, Perceptive Pixel products, and accessories, he is also $33.4 million richer.

With the Nokia/Microsoft deal officially closed last week on April 25, it was revealed that Elop was paid $33.4 million in cash and shares after he left Nokia, and thanks to rising Nokia share prices, he got more than expected.

Elop himself is returning to the software giant after the deal closed on Friday, and based on Nokia’s share price in September he had been in line to get around $26 million for the early termination of his contract.

Elop’s severance payment includes just over $5.55 million in cash when he stood down as Nokia chief executive in September and led the phone unit from then until the closing of the deal with Microsoft.

The unit’s operating loss widened to $424.39 million in the first quarter of this year. Microsoft paid 70 percent of the total severance payment, and Nokia the remaining 30 percent, Nokia said in its 2013 annual report.

All up, it is a good result for Elop. Not only does he return to the Vole Hill in triumph, he is stonkingly rich and in a stronger political position in Microsoft. 

Microsoft to kill Nokia brand

It seems that the days of a Nokia phone are past and the brand will become a dead parrot once Microsoft has its claws in it.

Nokia flogged its devices and services business to Vole last year and the deal has been jumping through the various regulatory hoops ever since. Microsoft expects to close the deal later this month and when it does, Nokia’s phone business will thus be renamed.

Vole has not made an official announcement as yet, an email sent by the company to suppliers reveals that Nokia’s phone division will be renamed Microsoft Mobile Oy. The Oy is not an exclamation of threat, Oy is just Finland’s equivalent of Ltd.

The division, Microsoft Mobile, will stay in Finland as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vole. Official business address will be changed from Nokia HQ on Keilalahdentie to Keilaranta in Espoo. Apart from the change in legal address, another change after close of the transaction would be the removal of Nokia’s logo from purchase orders.

Microsoft will assumes all rights, benefits and obligations of Nokia’s devices and services business, including its agreements with suppliers and partners, Microsoft is telling its suppliers that they can also continue to do business with Nokia, for example on Advanced Technologies, NSN and HERE Maps, for which the Finnish company will communicate with them separately. 

Intel does better than expected

Fashion bag maker Intel has surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street by doing a little better than expected in the first quarter.

According to the company’s resulted Chipzilla made $1.947 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the first quarter compared with $2.045 billion or 40 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts on average expected 37 cents a share.

First-quarter revenue was $12.76 billion, compared with $12.58 billion in the year-ago quarter, Intel said. Analysts had expected $12.814 billion.

Chipzilla thinks it can make $13 billion in the next quarter, plus or minus $500 million, for the second quarter, which ends in June. Analysts had expected $12.957 billion on average.

Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said the chipmaker continues to expect PC shipments to decline slightly in 2014 but said there were pretty clear signs of stabilisation.

There is an ageing install base of PCs and Intel is bringing exciting products to the market place, and that’s leading to the pockets of strength in the PC market. He did not explain what a strong pocket was, but given that Intel has branched out into fashion bags, we guess it has triple stitching.

In its report, Intel said revenue from its PC client group in the first quarter was $7.9 billion, down a percent from the year before.

Yesterday’s results included a new financial reporting structure to better reflect its focus on two small key areas: mobile and the growing field of linking up electronic devices, known as Internet of Things.

Intel said its mobile and communications group had revenue of $156 million in the first quarter, down 61 percent from the year-ago quarter. This must be a little disappointing given that this is an area that Intel has to grow if it is going to survive.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich told analysts on a conference call that Intel shipped five million tablet chips in the first quarter and is on track to reach a goal of shipping 40 million tablet chips in 2014.

Last year, Intel shipped 10 million tablet chips and to reach its target for 2014, the company is offering to heavily subsidise manufacturers’ costs to include its components in their future tablets. He said that the majority of the chips will go into Android gear.

Intel’s data centre group, a big contributor to the company’s overall profits, had revenue of $3.1 billion in the first quarter, up 11 percent year over year. 

Amazon wants to create 3D smartphones

Word on the street is that the online bookseller Amazon is preparing to announce the next generation of smartphones.

The new phone will feature a 3D screen and users will not need to use 3D glasses to see it.

Apparently the rumour is that the phone will “employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram.

Some common features, like zooming in to get a closer look at a photo, will happen automatically. The 3-D screen technology can sense the movement of a person’s eyes and whether the screen is moving closer to a user’s face. The phone can automatically zoom into images as it moves closer to a user’s face and could manipulate text and images as a person moves the phone.”

Amazon has already been showing early versions of the phone to suppliers in Seattle and San Francisco and a formal announcement is expected in June. The phones should be shipping by September with Amazon ordering 600,000 of them.

What is unusual is that this is Amazon’s first foray into the phone hardware market and it is coming in with technology that no one else has.

The outfit has been increasing its tech output lately. On April 2, it introduced the video-streaming and gaming console Amazon Fire TV and it has offered the Kindle e-reader since 2007.

The company has not said which service carriers the phone will work with, or what operating system it will use.

It will be certainly cheaper that what is out there for the money. Not only will Amazon be getting a subsidy from the carriers, it will also be subsidising the phone itself. The company is ok about losing money on hardware to get people to use its services and buy more items through the devices. Amazon thinks that using devices to highlight its video streaming service, app store, or shopping options means more returning customers. 

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 hits the UK shops

Samsung’s latest flagship model, the Galaxy S5 has gone on sale across the UK less than a year after its predecessor the Galaxy S4 made an appearance.

The phone does not appear to be much different. In fact it looks almost identical to the Galaxy S4, and you would have some difficulty telling them apart in a police line-up. The Galaxy S5 has a larger display than its predecessor at 5.1in, but you would be hard-pressed to tell by looking at it.

The screen has an AMOLED display, with very wide viewing angles, and is sharp and vibrant and very close in quality to that of the high-end LCD screens like those found on the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8, or so Samsung reckons.

Armed with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 it has a 16MP camera, the ability to combine 4G with WiFi for ultrafast downloads and a fingerprint scanner which acts as identity verification for online shopping payments.

Of course that has not stopped the likes of the Telegraph  claiming that the Samsung is pushing the smartphone to new levels, while HTC and Apple are refining existing versions.

Some observers have moaned that Samsung should not stick to the plastic construction and body from the previous generation as this makes the phone look cheap. It is not helped by the fact that the back is modelled on cheap vinyl. This counts against it when compared to the HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5S.

The S5 was shown off at the Mobile World Congress in February where audiences were generally underwhelmed. It will go on sale in the UK for for £579 SIM free. Carphone Warehouse will be flogging it for £42 per month on a 24-month Vodafone 4G contract.

Customers who pre-ordered handsets will receive their phones from today, and are available in ‘Shimmer White’ and ‘Charcoal Black’. ‘Electric Blue’ models will be delivered by 22 April and ‘Copper Gold’ by 20 May.

On the whole, the S5 shows how mobile makers are fast running out of ideas about what to put in the smartphone. The market is saturated and there is only so much you can put under the bonnet of a smartphone in the first place.

Samsung will be relying upon the S5 to perform well after the company announced it expected its profits to decline for the second financial quarter in a row.