Tag: smartphone

Xiaomi claims smartphone sales drops will not harm it

980China’s Xiaomi will not suffer from the downturn in smartphone sales as its profits will be driven by sales from smart home devices as well as revenue from its software eco-system.

But last year Xiaomi missed its global smartphone targets by 12 percent, while its third-quarter China smartphone sales have fell by 45 percent. Analysts are a bit worried that the company’s high value might not be still warranted.

But Xiaomi’s global vice-president Hugo Barra said the company’s business model was not based on money made from handset sales and that it did not need to raise more funds or see any point in doing so at a valuation of less than $46 billion.

The company model was giving handsets without making any money but getting it back on the recurring revenue streams over many years.

Xiaomi could flog 10 billion smartphones and not make a cent, he said. Which further confuses the question of how the outfit makes money at all. Xiaomi, which discloses little of its profit and revenue figures anyway.

Recently it has emphasised its range of home appliances such as air and water purifiers, and rice cookers as key earnings drivers.

The company has invested heavily in India and Southeast Asia and is making its first forays into the U.S. market – launching next month its first device capable of roaming on the country’s 4G networks.

Barra said they are first targeting Chinese users traveling in the US, but are laying the groundwork for direct sales to US consumers.

Samsung Electronics considers split

Ned's_executionSouth Korea’s Samsung Electronics is considering doing an HP and splitting itself into two.

The plan was originally mooted by US activist hedge fund Elliott Management.

According to the Seoul Economic Daily the split give the heirs of the founding Lee family a much stronger hold on the global smartphone outfit. Elliott suggested the split in October to boost shareholder value.

Samsung’s board of directors will meet on Tuesday and respond to Elliott’s proposals. Samsung Electronics is not saying anything.

If it follows the House of Elliott plan, Samsung Electronics is to divide into a holding vehicle for ownership purposes and an operating company. It will pay a $26 billion special dividend, pledge to return at least 75 percent of free cash flow to investors and agree to appoint some independent directors.

The conglomerate’s reorganisation efforts have accelerated since Jay Lee took over the reins after his father and Samsung patriarch Lee Kun-hee was incapacitated following a May 2014 heart attack.

It has flogged off non-core assets and merged two affiliates in 2015 to consolidate stakes in key affiliates under a company controlled by Jay Lee and his two sisters.

“Even if Samsung Electronics does not comment on specifics such as the timing of a split … the firm will at least say it will implement ownership structure changes in a reasonable manner,” HI Investment said in a report.

Google drops Nexus brand

Nexus-5X-vs-Nexus-6P-8-w782Search engine outfit Google is dropping its Nexus brand for its two upcoming, HTC-made smartphones.

According to Android Central Google is expected to market the devices under a different name which lean more heavily on the Google name.

Android Police reported earlier this month that Google may strip the Nexus name from the phones and replace it with a Big “G” logo, although we would have thought that would confuse people with the Gartner Group.

Google has spent years fashioning the Nexus as a hardware brand while keeping its own name for software. We do know the two “Big G” devices will come in 5-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes, which are smaller than the current 5X and 6P.

The report claims Google will load the devices with a special version of Android Nougat, as opposed to the standard “vanilla” version of the operating system that’s shipped on past and current Nexus devices.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said as much back in June, when he mentioned the company would be more “opinionated” about Nexus design. “You’ll see us hopefully add more features on top of Android on Nexus phones. There’s a lot of software innovation to be had,” he said.

Taking away smartphones improves productivity

dec15-31-2662508-700x394A study shows that smartphones reduce productivity rather than improving it.

The Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent carried out the study, which was  commissioned by Kaspersky Lab. It showed that employees’ performance improved 26 percent when their smartphones were taken away.

The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 people between 19 and 56 years of age in laboratories at the universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent.

Altaf Halde, managing director – South Asia at Kaspersky Lab said the experiment unearthed a correlation between productivity levels and the distance between participants and their smartphones.

“Instead of expecting permanent access to their smartphones, employee productivity might be boosted if they have dedicated ‘smartphone-free’ time. One way of doing this is to enforce rules such as no phones in the normal work environment,” he said.

Losing their smartphones generally didn’t make participants nervous, although women were more anxious than their male counterparts. This made researchers conclude that anxiety levels at workplace were not affected by smartphones (or the absence of smartphones), but can be impacted by gender.

Jens Binder from the University of Nottingham-Trent said that previous studies had shown that separation from one’s smartphone has negative emotional effects such as increased anxiety, but studies have also demonstrated that one’s smartphone might act as a distractor. In other words, both the absence and presence of a smartphone could impair concentration.

Astrid Carolus from the University of Würzburg said: “Our findings from this study indicate that it is the absence, rather than the presence, of a smartphone that improves concentration.”

 

Eight out of 10 smartphones made in China

Mao Tse Tung - Wikimedia CommonsChina is giving the Korean and Western mobile hardware brands a good kicking.

Beancounters at IC Insights predictably positioned Samsung and Apple on top of the smartphone manufacturer hierarchy but they were followed entirely by Chinese vendors.

Huawei came third, with 28.9 million units sold, still considerably behind Samsung with  81.5 million and Apple with 51.6 million.  But OPPO exceeded its most optimistic expectations, leaping from eight place in 2015 to fourth, as it shipped 16.1 million affordable, mid-range Androids.

Xiaomi retained the fifth spot, Vivo went from tenth to sixth, Korean-based LG dropped a slot to 7, while ZTE, Lenovo, TCL, Meizu and Micromax were all in the  top twelve. Absent was Sony, Microsoft, HTC, and Coolpad.

IC Insights forecasting an identical chain of command at the end of the year.

A number of Chinese OEMs, including Huawei, OPPO, Vivo and Meizu, plus India’s Micromax, are tipped to register massive year-to-year growth of between 29 and 74 percent, whereas Samsung, Apple or LG should see shipment declines ranging from 1 to 5 percent.

While Samsung and Apple will remain the top two smartphone makers it is clear that that the only competition they are getting is Chinese.

US government temporarily lifts ZTE export block

zte-corporationThe US  government has temporarily lifted export curbs it imposed on ZTE for alleged Iran sanctions violations.

ZTE has been “in active, constructive discussions” with the Commerce Department for the past week attempting to resolve the matter.

Apparently the outfit made binding commitments to the US government and Commerce expects this week to be able to provide temporary relief from some licensing requirements.

“The relief would be temporary in nature and would be maintained only if ZTE is abiding by its commitments to the U.S. Government,” the official added.

The details of the commitments are expected to be published this week in the US Federal Register.

ZTE promised to ensure all of its operational activities adhere to international standards of its host countries and it will continue to communicate with relevant parties to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

ZTE is the No. 4 smartphone vendor in the United States, with a seven percent market share, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. It sells handset devices to three of the four largest U.S. mobile carriers.

The export restrictions have drawn protests from the Chinese government and really stuffed up ZTE’s business.

Microsoft gets religion

godIn the good old days being spiritual was a thing which involved religion, often requiring you to sit under some tree while being tempted by virgins, or to pound someone to death for not believing in your invisible friend.

Microsoft wants to change all that by applying it to its coming smartphones.

In a recently leaked document, Vole refers to its work on the Surface phone as being “spiritual”.  That’s the Word from Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on the prospect of a Surface Phone and he confirmed the company is working on a “breakthrough” phone that is the “spiritual equivalent” of its very successful line of Surface branded products.

The question is what does that mean? We asked our spiritual guru who told us that Microsoft was clearly following its rival Apple by using religious terms to describe something dull and mundane. If you do that, then marketing becomes evangelism and you don’t need product knowledge you need faith.

Like most religions in the last 2000 years, Microsoft is basing it all on monotheism. This is something which Apple has attempted, but could not move past its dualistic roots.

At the centre of Microsoft’s plans is Windows 10 which will be the One True operating system which will mean that different device categories under a single, universal ecosystem. Soon we might start seeing “there is no operating system but Windows” being waived by enthusiastic engineers.

This one true operating system will include smartphones, which is an area where Microsoft has a problem with unbelievers. The release of a premium “Surface Phone” of some sort, however, could change all that.

This is where Capossela is the new religion’s Paul of Tarsus. He used to write speeches for Bill Gates and his own Sermon on the Mount implies that Microsoft is returning to mobile in the same way that the prodigal son came back home for a hot dinner.

If he manages to convert enough people to this view then Windows 10 Surface handsets could suddenly be relevant. Get enough followers swirling around a single operating system and you should get exponential conversions.

Mobile accessories market worth $81.5 billion

mobileThe market for mobile accessories will be worth $81.5 billion this year and will grow to $101 billion in 2020.

That’s according to market research company ABI Research, which said that protective cases, chargers, screen protectors and headsets are the most sold accessories for mobile phones.

But amongst those categories, the headset market will grow the fastest in terms of revenues, while sales of Bluetooth headsets are also increasing.

The biggest market for these accessories is Asia Pacific, which accounts for 52.9 percent of all accessory shipments, ABI said.

Within Asia Pacific, China has the biggest potential for growth because of its already large and growing customer base, a fast growing online market, and increasing disposable incomes.

Marina Lu, a research analyst at ABI, said that a protective case is a necessity because of the thinness and lightness of smartphones, while wireless charging and digital payment features will also help push this sector of the market.

How Apple stuffed up the iPhone6S

iphone6-stock-photoApple’s iPhone6S upgrade might be showing how far the outfit has moved from being aware about what is happening in the market.

The entry-level edition of the phone comes with just 16GB of storage which contains pretty much all you would need for songs, movies, photos, and apps if you had bought the phone a couple of years ago.

Storage prices have been falling dramatically over the last couple of years so the cost to Apple of having storage that is more meaningful is minimal. Yet the iPhone 6S comes with features which need shedloads of storage.

Obviously, Apple thinks you will reject the entry-level phone and buy something a little more expensive, but that defeats the purpose of having an entry-level phone. First time buyers in Apple’s Walled Garden of Delights are going to have a terrible experience, dump it and never come back.

Apple should be thinking long term with an entry phone and not sell something that does not really work or show it up.

Leaving the entry-level unit at 16GB of storage rather than 32GB drives higher profit margins in two ways. It reduces the cost of manufacturing the $649 phone, which increases profit margins on sales of the lowest-end model. It pushes many people who might be happy with a 32GB phone to shell out $749 for the 64GB model.

A 64GB flash storage chip is more expensive than a 16GB flash chip, but it’s not anywhere near $100 more expensive, so pushing people up the chain increases not just revenue but profit margins.

But it is a moot point if Apple needs more cash and this sort of approach which seems them milking users for no good purpose is going to make it less popular than Microsoft. What is weird is that the extra costs of giving the user something worthwhile are minimal.

Apple might be the market leader in smartphones, but there is no guarantee that it will remain so.

The smartphone market is shrinking and areas like China which were supposed to keep it alive are contracting. This means that Apple is going to end up competing on spec with much cheaper android phones.

Killing the 16GB phone and replacing it with a 32GB model at the low end would help create satisfied customers, positive press coverage, and goodwill. It would hold a reputation for true commitment to excellence, and a demonstrated focus on the long term. These were the reasons people claimed they bought Apple products.

Now it is getting harder to see it doing more than squeezing cash out of customers for no real reason.

Microphone is one sixth the size of a bed bug

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 14.40.19Engineers at ABI Research have torn apart a high end smartphone and discovered that one of its components, a MEM microphone made by Cirrus Logic is the smallest made yet.

The Cirrus MEM microphone is 30 percent smaller than other devices and includes an amplifier/interface integrated circuit as well as the MEM sensor.

Jim Mielke, VP of engineering at ABI, said: “Rather than simply shrinking the typical MEM microphone, Cirrus Logic’s WM1706 MEM microphone is the first to integrate an amplifier/interface IC and the MEM sensor.”

ABI did not say which phone the engineers took apart to examine the device but as a hint includes a Qualcomm MSM8949 chipset, a Skyworks power amplifier, Qorvo RF switches and a Broadcom NFC component.