Tag: Motorola

Lenovo disappointed by Motorola purchase

LENOVOLenovo is having that same moment of realisation that people get when they realise that special deal they bought off ebay was not really so special after all and they probably bid too much for it.

The company moaned that its integration efforts after buying Lenovo had not met its expectations.

Both crucial mobile markets, China and the United States, disappointed in the wake of Lenovo’s takeover, with Chinese shipments declining by a huge 85 percent and product transition in North America deemed simply “not successful.”

Lenovo says it has drawn many lessons from the experience since the close of the Motorola acquisition and it’s applying them quickly. One aspect of its refreshed strategy is to have two co-presidents, with two distinct strategies for China and the rest of the world. In China, Lenovo will refocus around its affordable Zuk brand “to rebuild its end-to-end competitiveness,” while elsewhere the company plans to keep growing in emerging markets “and get the US business back on track with a competitive product portfolio.”

It has already been doing this for its Moto G launch which is focused on India and Brazil, two countries where the Moto brand is already doing well.

When Lenovo bought Motorola from Google, it had expected to become a strong number three and a credible challenger to the top two in smartphones.

CEO Yang Yuanqing said that the combined Lenovo-Motorola group has fallen out of the top five global smartphone vendors, supplanted by fellow Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.  Huawei rose to become what Lenovo intended.

In any event Lenovo is planning a come-back with its Moto Z flagship which looks like it will be bold and ambitious. The Moto Z is expected to be accompanied by a series of MotoMod accessory cases, which add things like a projector, a zoom camera, and better speakers to the basic device. This will be revealed on June 9.

Lenovo decimates white collar workers

tumblr_inline_mr4fuieOKe1qz4rgpLenovo is planning to go the way of the old Roman legions and decimate more than 10 percent of its white collar workers. Not that that the Romans had white collar workers and Lenovo is not planning to beat its workers to death.

The outfit said that it will have to lay off 10 percent of white collar staff after sales of Motorola handsets fell by a third.

This raises doubts over the personal computer giant’s bet that a money-losing brand it bought for nearly $3 billion will help it become a global smartphone leader.

In fact, many wonder why Lenovo is not putting its rather nice smartphones on the market in the EU and is depending on its Motorola brand instead.

Lenovo said its quarterly net profit was halved as its mobile division lost nearly $300 million. Lenovo, which uses the US dollar in operations rather than the devalued Chinese yuan, said it plans to cut about 3,200 non-manufacturing jobs with a one-time cost of $600 million.

Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said the restructuring would yield savings of about $1.35 billion on an annual basis. But the difficulty in selling handsets, combined with a continuously shrinking global market for PCs, meant the firm was facing its “toughest market environment in recent years.”

Yang added that the Motorola deal was the right decision. Other than Apple and Samsung there is the third strong (global) player must be Lenovo.

Motorola, bought from Google last year for $2.91 billion, shipped 5.9 million handsets in the quarter, a 31 percent decline from a year earlier. Yang cited poor sales in Brazil and China, saying Lenovo would prioritize marketing smartphones outside its home turf, where market saturation and price wars have hobbled firms from Samsung Electronics to domestic startup Xiaomi.

Lenovo revenue rose 3 percent to $10.7 billion, but missed analyst expectations for $11.29 billion. Net profit plummeted 51 percent to $105 million, but analysts had estimated it would fall 59 percent.

Looking ahead, executives downplayed the effect of China’s yuan depreciation, saying the company was well hedged and its gross margins would be largely unaffected.

LTE lends itself to public safety

A disasterLTE protocols being developed will pose complement existing public safety networks and that market alone will be worth $5 billion by 2020.

That’s according to ABI Research, which said that existing safety protocols like TETRA and P25 are well established because they are so stable.

But LTE vendors are working with both TETRA and P25 vendors to introduce LTE (4G) capabilities.

ABI said that since Release 10, 3GPP has included enhancements which improve the mission critical features of LTE.

LTE-Relay extends network coverage while LTE-Direct lets public safety devices create direct point-to-point communication without needing a base station.

Release 13 of 3GPP will standardise indoor positioning and push to talk capabilities.

A number of vendors is working together to show the advantages of a single unified broadband and narrowband system, with Motorola, Ericsson, Harris and Nokia working together.

ABI believes that the first markets to have a fully working public safety network will be the USA, the UK and South Korea.

Fujifilm’s prints will come

international-justice-dayA jury has ordered Motorola Mobility ordered to $10.2 million in damages for using Fujifilm’s tech in its phones without permission.

Fujifilm sued Motorola in 2012, accusing the company of infringing three of its patents on digital camera functions and a fourth patent relating to transmitting data over a wireless connection such as Bluetooth.

The damages the jury ordered was much less than the $40 million Fujifilm sought while going into the trial, but still better than a poke in the eye with a short stick.

Motorola which is now part of Lenovo, proved that three of the disputed patents – two on face recognition and one on wifi-bluetooth were invalid. Motorola failed to prevail on a patent related to converting colour images to monochrome.

“We are pleased with the verdict related to three out of the four patents and are evaluating our options on the one patent on which we did not prevail,” Motorola spokesman William Moss said in an email.

A spokeswoman for Fujifilm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Motorola argued that the Fujifilm patents should be cancelled because they were not actually new or they were obvious compared to previously patented inventions. The company also argued it already held a licence to Bluetooth technology.

Battle brewing over US patents

 battle-war-soldiers-1812-russian-frenchA battle royale – that’s your actual French that is – is brewing which could shake up the US tech industry.

Lawyers for Microsoft and Google are facing off at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a long-running dispute over patents that were originally owned by cell phone maker Motorola Mobility.

The case involved the implementation of wireless and video standards in products including Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. But mostly it is about negotiations over “standard-essential patents” or “SEPs” — technologies required to implement industry standards.

Apple and T-Mobile are among the companies siding with Microsoft in the case, while Nokia and Qualcomm want to overturn a lower court’s ruling that found in Microsoft’s favour.

In 2013 Microsoft won a $14.5 million jury verdict against Motorola based on a finding that Motorola breached its obligation to offer its standard-essential patents for video and wireless technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, known in legal circles as “RAND” or “FRAND.”

US District Judge James Robart in Seattle took the unusual step of setting a process for establishing royalties for standard essential patents.

Under his process, Robart Microsoft owed less than $1.8 million a year for its use of Motorola’s patented video and wireless technologies in Windows, Xbox and other products. Motorola had originally sought a rate amounting to more than $4 billion a year, plus $20 billion in back payments.

Apple said that the judge made the correct decision as it prevented preventing owners of standard essential patents from “holding up” other companies that want to implement standards.

However, Qualcomm argued in its brief that Robart overreached and came up with a process that did not adequately compensate Motorola for its patents. The chip maker said “the manifest errors” in the decision “will cause incalculable damage to innovation incentives and standards going forward” if it becomes a precedent.

Google, which acquired Motorola before selling the cell phone company to Lenovo, remains the owner of the patents in dispute in the case.



20 Freescale employees in missing plane

It looks like 20 of the passengers travelling on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 worked for the chipmaker Freescale.

The Austin Texas-based company made a statement confirming that 12 of the employees are from Malaysia and eight are from China.

The question now remains why there were so many Freescale employees on board. According to a former employee who worked for Motorola the company used to have a policy not to allow that many employees on board a plane at once. Motorola spun off its chip making division to form Freescale.

According to the employee who posted on Slashdot,  Motorola forbade two executives and six or eight regular employees to board the same plane.

“Situations like this, rare as they are, was the reason. I wonder if Freescale still has those rules and ignored them, or didn’t copy them over,” he said.

It is still not clear why the plane lost radio and radar contact and search for the 777 and its passengers began at first light this morning. It appears that four people with stolen passports were on the passenger lists.

The Boeing 777-200ER departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41AM  Saturday in good weather, and it was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30AM, a 2,300-mile trip.

Air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane about 1:30AM Rahman said. Earlier, the airline said the jetliner lost contact at 2:40AM. 

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. 

iFixit reports new iPhones fiddly to fix

Professional gadget-tinkerers at iFixit have put together a list of smartphones rated by how easy they are to repair. Apple’s flagship new iPhones are by no means the worst on the list, but, as is typical with Cupertino’s devices, they’re fiddly enough for amateurs to have to resort to consulting an Apple genius.

Motorola’s Droid Bionic is at the top of the charts, scoring 9 out of 10 – 10 being the easiest to repair – as the battery can be removed in “seconds” and its design allows for quick and easy replacement of individual parts.Whether you want one is another question. Motorola’s Atrix 4G was tied, because the LC and front glass are not fused so can be easily replaced individually. The battery’s simple to remove, too, but components are soldered in place.

Of the big hitters in 2013, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is right on top with 8 out of 10. The South Korean giant’s battery is easy to replace and the device itself is simple to open for access to internal components. Some of these components are adhered to the back of a fused display assembly, so it’s not all plain sailing.

Blackberry’s ill fated Z10 also scored a decent mark, at 8, thanks to its easy to replace battery and standard screws that make it easy to open. Smaller components are strongly adhered in place – which is generally what you want until it’s time to replace something. Motorola’s Moto X scored a 7 for easy to replace individual components and using just one kind of screw throughout, but the strong adhesive on the back cover makes opening the phone tricky.

Apple’s iPhone 5S and 5C both scored a 6 for the same reasons: the front panel is easy to remove and replace, but the battery is adhered in place and difficult to take out. You’ll also need a proprietary pentalobe driver to open the devices. This puts them behind the iPhone 5 (score: 7) with an easy to remove and replace front panel and a “relatively easy to replace” battery. Again, you’ll need a pentalobe driver to get it open.

Despite its positive reviews, the HTC One has the dubious honour of worst score for 2013, with a dismal 1 out of 10. iFixit rates the phone’s durable shell, but says it’s “virtually impossible to open without extreme damage to the rear case”. The battery, meanwhile, is buried underneath the motherboard and solidly stuck to the midframe.

Forget fingerprints, real innovation is about brains

Apple has been getting it in the neck for installing an ancient gimmick onto its new breed of iPhones.

Motorola tweeted that the idea was daft. “Remember that one time you were stoked to give your fingerprints? Us either,” the tweet reads. It clearly forgot 2011 when it issued a smartphone which could read fingerprints which failed. However, it did have a point. Fingerprint scanning out of date, no matter how polished.

Isao Nakanishi and his colleagues in the graduate school of engineering at Japan’s Tottori University have developed a prototype for a safety system that uses brain waves to work out who you are.

According to Mashable, Nakanishi’s system takes samples of brain waves from a driver and stores them in a database. If a vehicle begins moving and the driver’s brain waves don’t match those on file, the vehicle is disabled.

His system can also tell if a driver is drunk or falling asleep, since brain waves in those circumstances vary significantly from samples taken when a motorist is fully awake and sober.

It is still in the pilot stages and the system is ultimately intended for use on mass transit vehicles or on those that carry large sums of money or valuables.

But if Apple had been ahead on the ID game, it could have been looking at brainwaves instead of fingerprints. We guess that it is worried that anyone who is daft enough to buy its products when they don’t add much to them is not going to have a brain to wave. 

Top smartphone players own up to dodgy tin – except Apple

Top smartphone makers have released statements acknowledging they may be using tin mined illegally or among very poor working conditions on Bangka Island, Indonesia in their devices – with one noticeable exception, Apple.

Green pressure group Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for some time now about Bangka Island tin mining which it says destroys tropical forests, kills coral, and wrecks lives in the community. Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Motorola, Samsung and LG have all made statements on the region, acknowledging possible serious problems in the supply chain.

As is quite typical of early-stage Apple crisis management, it has not said a word.

Manufacturers are committing to “urgent action” to tackle problems in Bangka, leaving Apple by itself among the top brands to make a statement. 24,000 Apple customers are demanding answers.

A Friends of the Earth investigation found that, in 2011, unregulated and dangerous tin mining has lead to an average of one death per week on the island, while there are also “common” reports of child labour in unofficial mines.

Additionally, silt from this tin mining is killing coral reefs and seagrass, FotE claims, driving away fish from the area, a vital local food source. Farmers are also reportedly struggling to grow crops on acidic soil, itself the product of clearing forests for tin mining.

Samsung said in a statement: “We take all of these matters very seriously and have been engaging with Friends of the Earth and the broader electronics industry on this issue for some time. We are also undertaking a thorough investigation of our supply chain in the region to better understand what is happening, and what part we play.”

Samsung and other manufacturers made clear that they do not have direct relationships with suppliers from Bangka Island, but recognise that it is likely tin from the area does find its way into their products – as it is one of the biggest sources for tin on the planet.

Sony said some Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition members, including itself, are holding discussions on starting joint efforts about sustainability, and looking at the impact of Indonesian tin productions, in partnership with the Sustainable Trade Initiative, the International Tin Research Institute and Friends of the Earth.

The full statements are available here (PDF).

An Apple spokesperson directedTechEye to the company’s Supplier Responsibility page, where it says: “Bangka Island, Indonesia, is one of the world’s principal tin-producing regions. Recent concerns about the illegal mining of tin from this region prompted Apple to lead a fact-finding visit to learn more. Using the information we’ve gathered, Apple initiated an EICC working group focused on this issue, and we are helping to fund a new study on mining in the region so we can better understand the situation.

But FOE insisted initial pressure on Apple from Friends of the Earth was what resulted in the company setting up an industry stakeholder group to discuss urgent action about the problem.

“Yet its current policy is to refuse to acknowledge that iPhones and iPads contain tin mined in devastating conditions,” Friends of the Earth said in a statement.