Tag: phones

Microsoft shareholders give Nadella a Chinese burn

nadellaMicrosoft shareholders are getting rather rattled that Vole does not appear to be paying enough attention to its mobile phones.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was grilled by shareholders over the matter of Windows phones.

Microsoft shareholder Dana Vance, owner of a Windows Phone and a Microsoft Band, was furious that he received an email about the Microsoft Pix app but was surprised to learn that it was available for iPhone and Android but not Windows Phone.

Microsoft Outlook has the same problems. Already he was cross that Vole had put the Band on the back burner. It seems that Microsoft has given up on consumer devices.

As part of his response, Nadella said Microsoft’s Windows camera and mail apps will include the same features as in Microsoft’s apps for other platforms.

“When we control things silicon-up, that’s how we will integrate those experiences. We will “build devices that are unique and differentiated with our software capability on top of it — whether it’s Surface or Surface Studio or HoloLens or the phone — and also make our software applications available on Android and iOS and other platforms. That’s what I think is needed for Microsoft to help you as a user get the most out of our innovation.”

Another shareholder said that he uses his Windows Phone “18 hours a day” and yet Vole is stepping away from mobile. “Can you calm me down … and tell me what your vision is for mobile?”

Nadella fudged: “We think about mobility broadly. In other words, we think about the mobility of the human being across all the devices, not just the mobility of a single device.”

However he did say that Vole was not stepping away or back from its focus on mobile devices.

“What we are going to do is focus that effort on places where we have differentiation. If you take Windows Phone, where we are differentiated on Windows Phone is on manageability. It’s security, it’s Continuum capability — that is, the ability to have a phone that can act like a PC. So we’re going to double-down on those points of differentiation.”

He cited the HP Elite x3 device as an example of a Windows 10 phone that follows this strategy.

“We will keep looking at different forms and different functions that we can bring to mobile devices, while also supporting our software across a variety of devices. So that’s the approach you will see us take. We are not stepping away from supporting our Windows Phone users. But at the same time we are recognizing that there are other platforms in mobile that have higher share, and we want to make sure that our software is available to them.”

Samsung trials phone upgrade programme

mobileSamsung is trailing a phone upgrade programme in South Korea this week that will allow subscribers to switch to a new premium handset every 12 months.

Customers seeking to buy one of two Galaxy S7 models that go on sale can sign up for the programme on a 24-month instalment plan offered through Samsung Card.

Subscribers would pay a monthly fee of $6.35 in addition to the cost of the device and can upgrade to a new Galaxy S or Galaxy Note smartphone after a year in exchange for the original device they purchased.

The move is seen as part of a cunning plan by Samsung to counter slowing global market growth by coaxing consumers to replace their handsets quicker. Apple already has a similar programme in the United States last year.

Samsung has launched an upgrade programme in Blighty to test the scheme on western markets but still has not said if it is going to go worldwide yet.

Phone giants lose patent action

William Xu, HuaweiA High Court judge ruled today that a set of patents owned by a company called Unwired Planet were infringed by a number of manufacturers.

Huawei and Samsung were sued by Unwired Planet and Judge Colin Birss ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, assessing that both companies breached patents.

Unwired is in possession of over 2,000 patents formerly owned by Ericsson and the judge said its patents were an integral part of 4G networks.

According to Bloomberg, Unwired had also sued Google, but that case was settled out of court.

It’s not known whether Huawei or Samsung will battle against the verdict.

You use phones less when you’re out of work

Telephone BoxA team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a correlation between whether people are working or not.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people make more calls from home and don’t make as many phone calls as when they’re in work.

The scientists found – perhaps to no one’s great surprise – that in a European factory that was shut down, the total number of calls made by people unlucky to get made redundant, phone calls fell by 51 percent compared to people who still had jobs.

And it had a knock on effect on mobile towers, with usage falling by 20 percent.

Also, perhaps to no-one’s surprise apart from the researchers at MIT, people without jobs contact fewer people every month and the people they do call are different.

Jameson Toole, at MIT, said: “People’s social behaviour diminishes and that might be one of the ways layoffs have these negative consequences. It hurts the networks that might help people find the next job.”

Pew predicts phones will replace cash by 2020

The fortune tellers at Pew Research are saying that smartphones or tablets will replace cash and credit cards within ten years.

Apparently Pew has made this conclusion by asking “technology stakeholders and critics” or as we say in the trade, other analysts.

According to SMH,  65 percent of those polled agreed that handheld gadgets would be a mainstream way to pay by the year 2020.

Google chief economist Hal Varian, when told about the poll, said that the 2020 date might be a bit optimistic, but was sure that this will happen.

Of course if it does not happen by 2020, no one is going to hand Pew, or anyone surveyed with a copy of this article and say “ah ha! You got it wrong.” The prediction will be made so far in the past that it will have been forgotten by then. We could say that the world will be eaten by badgers by 2040 never have to risk being called out on it.

Those asked thought that security and convenience would be among the factors prompting people to shift to using smartphones or tablets as de facto credit cards or cash.

While the technology is already there, Pew thought it would take a while for cash or credit cards to disappear.

It cited concerns about the technology, resistance by incumbent providers and the slow way that society changes.

It also ignores the fact that people in the US will be worried that somehow their phone is the mark of the beast. 

Fire breaks out at Nokia's paint unit in Chennai

If Nokia’s ship isn’t sinking, it’s burning.

A fire has broken out at one of the company’s factories in Chennai.

The major conflagration hit one of Nokia’s paint units, which is situated in Sriperumpudur, about 40 kms from the city and this morning fire officials said that they were “trying to douse it”. They also said that there were no reports of any casualties.

We contacted Nokia’s offices in Finland who told us they had no information on the blaze at the moment. Although its Indian counterparts were able to confirm the fire, they rather cryptically told us the “situation was under control”..

The paint unit is situated in the company’s Indian site, which takes up a huge 210.87 acres.  Currently the factory exports to more than 50 countries in South East Asia, Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

And although Nokia has a smattering of paint units in the Phillipines and China, this one seems to be the largest. We assume that the fire has stopped or damaged machinery and if the fire proves critical then it may take a while to get things back up and running.

Of course Nokia could send its handsets across the waters to be nicely finished off but this will mean delays and more costs for the company especially in the regions the Chennai plant covers. It could also impact on the production line in the other factories taking on this work meaning a global backlog.
And in case that wasn’t enough to get the head honchos panicking, it could mean that Nokia gets a little visit from health and safety officials.  However, if Nokia is telling the truth, it shouldn’t be worried. When it comes to its Chennai facility, the company claims that it “lays special emphasis on the well being of its employees”.

Office workers smash laptops to get upgrades

Plenty of office workers think the best way to get new kit is to smash up their old stuff.

Workers who fancy a new laptop or phone think the easiest way to upgrade is breaking their existing equipment on purpose – or trading it in at a store themselves. It’s no wonder the Leek is the most discussed vegetable in IT.

The reason, though, is generally because workers are cheesed off with how crap their equipment is. Rather than working on a newer machine, employees are forced to cope with sluggish old systems that take hours to boot up and crash when they do.

The average computer in a British office, according to research from Mozy on over 3,000 workers in the UK, France and Germany, is over five years old. German businesses by comparison were on average about two years old. 

The problem is, say 40 percent of British respondents in the survey, is that they have grown used to the fast-moving consumer electronics they keep at home and get annoyed at the snail’s pace legacy stuff in the office. And that’s why they consider smashing their craptops.

The French were most likely to break office equipment on purpose, according to the survey.

STMicro improves MEMS with iNemo

Semiconductor outfit STMicroelectronics has announced its latest MEMS development, the iNemo Engine.

It is an advanced filtering and predictive software engine, says STMicro, which integrates outputs from a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis magnetometer, fusing the data through algorithms to prioritise reliability and accuracy in sensor performance.

What that means in simple terms is makes of consumer electronics will be further buying into ST’s MEMS to put into devices which will know the way you’re holding them and other motion sensing stuff.

The iNemo engine extracts data from outputs of different motion sensors at once and forces them to augment each other, meaning the sensors will work in unison and complement each other rather than ticking away individually. It’ll be able to correct magnetic distortions on magnetometers, dynamic distortions on accelorometers and the inherent drift over time of the gyroscope, according to STMicro.

All of those sensors will find accuracy benefited as it removes drift problems and, says ST, put calibration timeouts on the rubbish bin.

It’s available now directly through ST and partners. Expect kit using iNemo in production before the year’s end.

ZTE and Huawei continue world domination with Chinese Gov push

An ongoing EU investigation has found evidence of “significant Chinese government support” for both Huawei and ZTE.

The leaked document has also found the two companies have been given “massive” lines of credit from state-controlled banks, despite both companies claiming that they haven’t been given any financial help.

The document says otherwise however, claiming that ZTE’s lines of credit now amount to US$25 billion, which is exceptionally high for a company with annual sales of just US$8 billion. The commission believes Huawei also benefited from large credit lines, including a $30 billion facility from China Development Bank.

It seems as though these funds are helping the two companies roll out worldwide. Both have been laying down their networks everywhere and pushing phones in emerging markets. This clever implementation will do the companies well in the future – it’s a long term game.  
The investigation opened after Belgium based USB modem manufacturer Option inquired to the EU regarding Huawei’s dominance of the modem market.

It later dropped this after Hauwei managed to come to a settlement. However, the complaint got the EU’s ears pricked up and it carried on regardless.

ZTE, which has been rolling out networks with little trouble or worried response globally, including across Europe, has been under the spotlight for a while now for the huge amounts of partnerships its been tying itself into.

In November it signed a purchase agreement with five American chipmakers lasting three years and at a cost of $3 billion. Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Freescale Semiconductor, Altera and Broadcom will all be supplying semiconductors.

Huawei Technologies hasn’t been shy in conquering the markets. As well as laying down its networks and pushing cheap phones, it also wants to conquer Indian territory. Back in November reports suggested that the company was looking to invest $2 billion in the country within the next five years.

Around this time it angered some in the US government by buying a small technology company without seeking prior approval first.

The acquisition of 3LeafSystems, a San Francisco Bay Area company, which specialises in linking up servers to make more powerful computers and networks, was bought for $2 million.

It seems that market tensions and geopolitics between the China and US are only set to swell.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a battle is under way between the two mega powers because China’s bureaucrats have been coming up with a range of interlocking regulations and state spending aimed at making their country a global technology powerhouse by 2020.

These include big investments in national industries to patent laws that are biased to Chinese companies. There’s also stringent buying rules for companies looking to buy Chinese businesses.

November chip sales turn out to be OK

Carnegie Securities Research has revealed that worldwide chip sales in November, while not phenomenal, were above forecasts at $26 billion. They were down slightly from October at $26.2 billion. 

It proves, says Carnegie, that inventory correction in the chips sector is “mild” – and since Q2 2010 sales have been “moving sideways,” citing Korean inventories peaking in September and experiencing a modest drop since then. Despite warnings from subsuppliers such as National Semi, Xilinx and Micron, sales were better than expected.

Handset chips performed well considering the soft sales and inventory that were forecast. The usual suspects kept them afloat with the iPhone, Nokia N8 and HTC models. In fact – while National Semiconductor warned the market for mobile phone chips was slowing, the shipments of the three most used chips found their strongest level of 2010 in November. Demand for smartphones and tablet PCs meant audio/video logic chips also saw a high in November.

The more niche insulated-gate bipolar transistor, or IGBT semiconductors, saw a record high thanks to strong spending on energy efficiency in both lighting and cars. However, solar inverters dropped after a “strong run”.

Other analysts agree, and Carnegie confirms that the LCD TV market took a hit following the world cup. 

The relationship between Apple and Samsung in NAND, the former being the biggest buyer while the latter the biggest seller, strengthened in November as well. PC memory chips weakened, thanks to selling computers with less memory – and partly, says Carnegie, due to the new capacity starting. There was a “modest” improvement for processor chips from the likes of Intel and AMD though it was the corporate market that kept shipments going rather than consumer buys. Demand for computers in the US slipped in October, following record highs at the end of the third quarter. 

Meanwhile, in Japan, Carnegie suggests that sales are on the up and up. Chip production is “rebounding modestly” and electronic parts production is expected to rise. Outfits like Murata, Kyocera and Rohm have strong production penned in for December and January, which should “ease tightness in passive components like capacitors.”

Korea has seen a cut-off point for excessive inventories, including chipmakers and producers of mobile phones. Its chip exports will stabilise in December while it keeps a “high share of commodity semiconductors” thanks to DRAM and NAND.

Carnegie still expects chip sales to rise five percent in 2011.