Tag: mobile

ZTE sees boom in 4G phones

ZTE has said that sales of 4G smartphones accounting for at least 40 percent of its global smartphone shipments in 2014.

According to Reuters, the Chinese based ZTE plans to ship 60 million smartphones in 2014, up 20 million units from last year.

ZTE global head of mobile devices Zeng Xuezhong told a press conference in Hong Kong that the company’s smartphone business was strong in the USA, Japan and Europe. But this year we will add China to that list.

ZTE returned to net profit last year after making a loss in 2012. However operating revenue for the year dropped 10.6 percent, its biggest decline on record, to hit the lowest level in three years.

The company is lagging behind Huawei and Lenovo Group Ltd, which are respectively the number three and five in the world by smartphone shipments.

IDC claimed that Huawei shipped 48.8 million smartphones last year and Lenovo, which acquired the Motorola Mobility handset unit from Google in January, shipped 45.5 million units.

However, as telecoms equipment makers, ZTE and Huawei are set to reap the rewards of contracts to build high-speed 4G mobile networks around the world. ZTE predicts global spending on 4G will be $100 billion in 2014.

ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo need China for the vast majority of their smartphone sales. Huawei and ZTE are set to doubly benefit from China’s 4G rollout as they make money from building the networks as well as handsets. 

Google might have wasted its cash on a quantum computer

Last year boffins were shocked when Google wrote a cheque for $15 million for a quantum computer system called DWave.

Now it turns out that the device may not be all it’s cracked up to be and it might not be a quantum computer after all and Google was not the only one to fall for it.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin paid a cool $10 million for the world’s first commercial quantum computer from a Canadian start up called D-Wave Systems. Last year, Google and NASA bought a second generation device for about $15 million with Lockheed upgrading its own machine for a further $10 million.

At the time, the move was heralded as a new era for quantum computation. Particularly when last year Cathy McGeoch at Amherst College in Massachusetts said she’d clocked the D-Wave device solving a certain class of problem some 3600 times faster than a conventional computer.

But now, according to Medium.com,  D-Wave has undergone a dramatic change in fortune.

A report from a team of physicists from IBM’s T J Watson Research Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, NY, and the University of California Berkeley, say that D-Wave’s machine may not be quantum at all.

Umesh Vazirani, one of quantum computing’s early pioneers, pointed out that the method used to define the machine’s “quantumness” did not really work. In fact the tests used could easily be explained with another classical algorithm.

“We outline a simple new classical model, and show that on the same data it yields correlations with the D-Wave input-output behaviour that are at least as good as those of simulated quantum annealing,” he wrote.

In other words if the D-Wave computer was not quantum at all, it would still be capable of producing the same results.

D-Wave can still argue that its machine is quantum but in a way that is not revealed in these tests. But at some point it’ll need to produce evidence to back up this claim and this might be tricky.

What is probably embarrassing for Google, NASA and Lockheed Martin is that they could have shelled out tens of millions for a cryogenically cooled pocket calculator or a potentially dead or alive cat. 

Google gives up on Motorola

The search engine Google has decided that it has sucked all the marrow out of Motorola Mobility and what is left is too much of a liability and it has sold it to Lenovo.

Google bought the handset maker mostly for its patent portfolio which it was planning to use to defend Android from Apple and Microsoft.

Now Larry Page claims that it has managed to create a level playing field for Android, Google was left wondering why it needs a handset maker.

There was much muttering from Google’s partners when it bought the outfit in the first place. They feared that Google would give Motorola all the upgrades and favour it over other hardware partners.

Writing in his bog Larry Page said that while Google was keeping the patents it was going to get rid of Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion.

Page said that his Motorola team have done a tremendous job reinventing the company and had built some smartphones that consumers love. Both the Moto G and the Moto X are doing really well.

But he said that the smartphone market was super competitive, and Motorola will be better served by Lenovo.

“This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere,” Page said.

This did not mean that Google was pulling out of hardware and it was not getting out of the wearable and home markets.

Page said that Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android egosystem. It has a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach.

Lenovo will keep Motorola’s distinct brand identity as it did when they acquired ThinkPad from IBM in 2005. 

Qualcomm about to have a China crisis

US chipmaker Qualcomm is about to be bitten in the rump with a record $1 billion fine by the Chinese antitrust watchdogs.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) investigated Qualcomm last year and according to Reuters is having a quiet word with the US outfit.

Qualcomm has said it was still in the dark about the basis of the scrutiny, but it seems the NDRC is targeting IT providers which license patent technology for mobile devices and networks.

Cynics claim that the Chinese are using the NDRC to force foreign IT companies to lower domestic costs as it rolls out its faster 4G mobile networks this year.

What the NDRC is doing is trying to force Qualcomm to make all sorts of commitments regarding its technology and the licensing of it.

Qualcomm will make a bomb in licensing fees for the chip sets used by handsets in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market as Chinese telecom firms invest $16.4 billion in equipment for 4G networks.

Under China’s anti-monopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year. Since Qualcomm earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29 that could be a serious amount of dosh.

The fine could be even higher if Qualcomm fails to make concessions in its talks with the NDRC.

In December, the head of the NDRC’s anti-price-fixing bureau told state media there was “substantial evidence” against Qualcomm in the antitrust probe. Details, however, remain sketchy.

But there could be a lot more foreign outfits in a little trouble in big China. China’s regulators are trying to target key industries to shield consumers from practices that could lead to what they call “unreasonably” high prices.

In 2011, the agency imposed one of its first major penalties against a foreign company, a $300,000 fine on Unilever Plc for violations of the pricing law.

The NDRC has also slapped Chinese and foreign companies with investigations and fines in the past year. 

Qualcomm talks up the data centre

Qualcomm’s soon-to-be Chief Executive Officer Steve Mollenkopf has been repeating common industry wisdom that the world wants chips in the data centre.

Mobile chip makers have been a little worried of late at the news that 2014 is expected to be a bad year for smartphones and so have been talking about other places to put their chips.

One of the most common things is to place mobile chips in data centres and take advantage of the fact that every business and its dog wants to set up huge data farms for cloud storage.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mollenkopf had a bit of a problem in that Qualcomm had no specific microserver products to announce, so instead he talked up the outfit’s future direction.

“I think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of growth in computing and resources dedicated to supporting the cloud,” Mollenkopf said.

Some of Mollenkopf’s problem is that he is not really replacing the CEO Paul Jacobs until March so what he is saying might be on his mind now, but there is no guarantee he will have anything for us this year.

So far Qualcomm’s chips have been all targeted at the traditional consumer market. 

US mobile data doubles

US people cannot get enough of their mobile phones and consumption of mobile data nearly doubled.

In a report Chetan Sharma, a consultant for wireless carriers, said that worldwide, the average consumption was 240 megabytes a month this year, up from 140 megabytes last year.

This figure means that in the US your average bod downloaded the equivalent of 1,200 photos compared with 690 photos he downloaded a month last year.

Sharma thinks that the uptick in data use could be attributed, at least partly, to the widespread coverage of LTE, which is 10 times faster than its predecessor, 3G.

Another reason was the popularity of phones with bigger screens, like the newer Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone, which download bigger images.

There is also the rise of people using tablets to connect to the worldwide wibble on the move.

Internet makes you stressed

Researchers at Kent State University claim that students who spend hours each day online, texting or talking on mobiles are more anxious, miserable people who get lower grades.

The study was done by Andrew Lepp, Jacob Barkley and Aryn Karpinski who interviewed 536 students representing 82 different majors.

The students recorded daily mobile use. Each took social science tests that measure anxiety and satisfaction with their life, or happiness.

The study was divided between those who used their phones only to keep in touch, but had the emotional maturity to put it away and get on with other tasks.

Higher frequency users were unable to control phone use and were glued to the mobiles.

The researchers selected college students for their study because they are the first generation to grow up immersed in the technology.

Participants allowed the researchers to retrieve their cumulative grade point average. The researchers measured texts and calls sent and received and overall use.

The report found a strong relationship that high mobile use and high anxiety.

According to Andrew Lepp, the students who text under the table during lectures do not do as well as those that put the phone in the backpack. 

Apple might lose in China

Analysts think that Apple’s successful moves to convince China Mobile to sell its expensive trinkets might turn out to be short-lived.

The Tame Apple Press claimed that Jobs’ Mob would succeed in its push into China now it had made an iPhone agreement with China Mobile.

According to the Tame Apple Press, the deal, which has not been formally announced yet, will give Apple access to 759 million potential new customers that could generate $3 billion in 2014 revenue, or nearly one quarter of Apple’s projected revenue growth in its current fiscal year.

But cooler heads are warning that the deal only opens the door for Apple. It still has to prove to the sceptical Chinese that they should spend all their money on a product which will not last longer than a year.

The company also faces stiff competition from Samsung which is cheaper, established and with products which are at least comparable.

Apple faces intense competition from local players such as Xiaomi making cheaper smartphones.

In any event, China Mobile has to spend billions of dollars to build a 4G network so customers can make full use of their iPhones.

Ben Thompson, a Taipei-based writer on the technology industry at stratechery.com, said that unlike the US where religious enthusiasm and marketing propelled Apple to the top, in China it will be all about old-fashioned competition.

Apple on the other hand is hoping that since availability is not a problem, marketing will become the deciding factor. But strangely in this area, Samsung will have the edge.

Samsung is expected to spend around $14 billion on advertising and marketing this year. According to ReutersSamsung spends 5.4 percent of its annual revenue on advertising and promotion than any of the world’s top 20 companies by sales. Apple spends just 0.6 percent.

Bryan Wang, a Beijing-based analyst with Forrester Research said that to make a dent in China, Apple is going to have to increase marketing spend. 

Tracking kids could be Christmas sensation

Pundits are expecting that the US Christmas sensation will be a watch which allows parents to track their kids.

Dubbed the FiLIP, it is designed by a bloke whose son, Philip, went missing. The kid was later found at a mall without his parents’ permission and his dad wished he could have just tracked him.

The logic is that while a child will hate being electronically tagged like a cow and their every move controlled by their over-protective parents; they will be ok with wearing a high-tech fashion watch and phone.

Parents can program up to five numbers into the gadget, which kids can call with the touch of a button. Using the FiLIP app, parents and other preauthorised adults can track the child’s location, make calls, send texts and set “SafeZones.” Parents get an alert when a child leaves a safe zone.

All that can be done without allowing the child access to the internet, which is a terrible place full of perverts waiting to steal their precious snowflake and people of the opposite sex, who say they are friends but really want to break up the family unit.

That said they are the sort of watch a kid would want to wear and might be considered cool. It capitalises on all the marketing that Apple did for vapourware that it never released.

However, it is just a short step to providing the kid with an electric shock if they stray from a protected zone.

If a kid was ever snatched, it will be the first thing that an abductor would throw away anyway, so it is hardly going to give a parent any piece of mind in a serious attack. It is what it says on the tin, a way of controlling your child’s movements and reward parental behaviour that a latchkey kid like me is never going to understand. 

Internet cafés are dying out

Internet cafes, which were once the communication hub in developing countries, are fast dying out.

According to Quartz  the reason is the rise in smartphones which are making the need to go into a café largely redundant.

In Rwanda, one café went from 200 customers per day to just ten and in India they are suffering too—some in the southern city of Mysore have opted to sell stationery or sweets instead of web access.

Café owners have diversified their offerings to include flight bookings, mobile phone top-up cards, and accessories for various gadgets.

Cafés in Myanmar, where mobile penetration is extraordinarily low are seeing the same trend happen there.

More developed markets had seen cafés survive to cater for immersive online gaming. But the number of these sorts of cafes in South Korea fell to 15,800 last year from 19,000 in 2010.

The number of cafes in China, meanwhile, dropped seven percent to 136,000 in 2012 from the previous year.

All this flies in the face of a five-year study released by the University of Washington in July found that Web users in some developing countries continue to rely on public venues like cafes and libraries for Web access even when smartphones are available.

It insisted that one technology does not replace the other and mobile phones do not solve access problems.