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charlesarthur : smartphone   302

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Global premium market declines 6% YoY in Q2 2019 • Counterpoint Research
Varun Mishra:
<p>Apple held its market share but declined 6% YoY in the segment during the quarter. The OEM grew 9% YoY in NAM (North America), but China remains a challenge as it declined 33% YoY in the region. Competitive pressure continues to increase in China with the rise of local players, especially, Huawei. Apple’s buyback programs and other marketing activities are working in reversing the trend of growing holding periods.

However, the lack of a 5G model in the newly launched iPhone 11 series is likely to increase holding periods again. As a result, we expect Apple to regain momentum in H2 2020, after the launch of a 5G device, while in the short-term demand will be sluggish. Looking at the market in terms of price bands, Apple grew the fastest within the US$600-$800 price band as the iPhone XR continues to do well.</p>
apple  smartphone  premium 
19 hours ago by charlesarthur
iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max review: a Game Of Cameras • WSJ
<p>From night shooting mode to ultra-wide lenses, Apple's latest iPhones have a bunch of new camera tricks. WSJ's Joanna Stern, with the help from the queen and some jousters, put all the new phones to the test at the New York Renaissance Faire. </p>

I rarely link to videos (OK there's another one below) or to smartphone reviews, but Stern's fabulous creativity in how to test and demonstrate devices is unmatched. Of <em>course</em> you'd take your phones to a faux-medieval jousting tournament where they don't have any power outlets and refer to phones as "pixie boxes". Of <em>course</em>. It's just she mentioned it first.
iphone  review  smartphone 
2 days ago by charlesarthur
Have flagship smartphone prices peaked? • CCS Insight
Ben Wood:
<p>Smartphone makers have been testing the economic rule of supply and demand for the past decade, seemingly defying conventional wisdom in consumer electronics products by raising prices. Greater utility and the constant of use smartphones combined to grow the value of devices to customers. But it seems that top phone-makers are learning that no tree grows to heaven, as prices beyond the psychological threshold of $1,000 have created sticker shock among some consumers.

Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 11 at its annual product event last week largely centered on incremental improvements such as better camera and battery life, but the company’s decision to lower the price of its base flagship smartphone caught our eye (see Instant Insight: Apple Unveils New Hardware, Competitive Subscription Services). The iPhone 11 will cost $699 in the US. A year ago, Apple introduced the iPhone XR at $749. It’s a subtle, but interesting move that sees Apple shifting its “mid-range” iPhone back to a price of $699, where it previously resided with the iPhone 8.

Apple’s decision to lower pricing can be seen as an acknowledgement that it has tested the upper limits of consumer acceptance. At a time when the company wants to expand its number of customers as it builds out its ecosystem of content and services, it’s sensible that it slightly brought down the barriers for consumers to get their hands on the new device.</p>

I think he's right: Apple has tested the peak for the normal factor. Sure, there are people who will pay extra for the novelty of a folding phone, but Vertu had a market for a while too.
smartphone  apple  price 
5 days ago by charlesarthur
Apple’s iPhones [and other technologies] have hit an evolutionary stasis • OneZero
I wrote about the meta-view:
<p>The reality is there’s little to say about new smartphones because there’s little for manufacturers to do with new smartphones, a fact that reviewers struggle with each time they’re called on to deploy their skills. The new screens are great, the benchmarks are better, the cameras are better in the dark, the battery life is a little better, urrr… is that 900 words yet? No surprise, therefore, that people in the United States now keep the same smartphone for an average of nearly three years.

It’s like the Apollo moon landing program, the 50th anniversary of which we were all called on to be so excited about back in the summer. We stepped on the moon! We flew people to the moon—and back! But after that, what? Subsequent Apollo missions included: “We’re going back to the moon, but this time with golf clubs.” Or: “We’re going back to the moon, but this time with a car.” Yes, but you’re still only going back to the moon.

The original iPhone in 2007 was the equivalent of Apollo 11: an accomplishment so audacious, so apparently impossible and yet so successful that it changed how we thought about phones forever. The capacitative touchscreen with its gestures was a revelation, though it took Steve Jobs to persuade people who had been used to mobile phones with a five-day battery life to accept one that lasted just a day. That’s the audacity you need to pull off a moon landing.</p>

I think we're in tech stasis: nothing truly new can happen until we have a breakthrough technology, rather as capacitative touchscreens were. Room-temperature superconductor? New battery tech? It must be out there. And it will change things again.
technology  stasis  apple  smartphone 
11 days ago by charlesarthur
How Android paved the way for the smartphone revolution • Bloomberg
Shira Ovide with a rundown of what you're probably familiar with; but this is different:
<p>for Google parent Alphabet, Android’s legacy has grown messy. Last year, after a long investigation, European Union regulators declared that Google’s offering Android for free but with strings attached was a violation of EU anti-monopoly laws. The EU also fined Google for favoring its web shopping service ahead of rivals and for hurting competition in internet search ads. The company is appealing all three actions.

The smartphone is now middle-aged by the sped-up standards of the tech world. IDC estimates that sales of the devices will decline in 2019 for the third straight year. There remains a big gap between the 50% of the world that uses the mobile internet and the 80% to 90% where analysts predict adoption will top out. But reaching the next 3.5 billion to 4 billion people gets progressively harder. Even Android can’t drive phone prices down low enough for some people and places where the smartphone hasn’t spread widely.

And as technologists bet on what lies beyond the smartphone, the odds are that Android or an Android-esque system won’t have a major role. In a future in which wireless connections are so fast and cheap that the internet can be built into every car, desk chair, thermostat, virtual-reality device, and pair of glasses, a single gadget that acts as an access point for the digital world may be much less important. And the biggest platforms for cloud computing, driverless cars, and voice-activated digital assistants are proprietary systems, not open coalitions like Android. The key developers, such as Alphabet, are wagering it’s better for them to act alone.</p>

Then again, what's ever going to surpass the smartphone?
android  smartphone 
6 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Tink Labs set to shut down amid mass layoffs • Financial Times
Siddarth Shrikanth and Mercedes Ruehl:
<p>Tink Labs, which was founded in 2012, was one of Hong Kong's best funded startups. Investors include Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile; Cai Wensheng, chairman of popular Chinese selfie app Meitu; and Sinovation Ventures, an investment fund headed by former Google China chief Kaifu Lee. SoftBank’s mobile unit invested via a joint venture with Tink in Japan.

According to several current and former employees, Tink Labs has said it will close on Thursday, after mass layoffs in recent weeks. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

At its height, Tink Labs was valued at as much as $1.5bn, and its “Handy” smartphones service had handsets in more than 600,000 hotel rooms across 82 countries, via relationships with big hotel chains including Hyatt Hotels, InterContinental Hotel Group and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

The closure will see Tink Labs join a lengthening list of Chinese startups that have collapsed.

Bicycle-sharing company ofo went from world-leading “sharing economy” startup and tech darling to the verge of bankruptcy in just four years. Rival Bluegogo has folded, while Aiwujiwu, a Chinese online property listings platform backed by Hillhouse and Temasek, reportedly went into liquidation earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the flow of capital into China’s tech sector has begun drying up, while due diligence on prospective investments has increased significantly as investors grow wiser to potential risks.</p>
tink  startup  china  smartphone 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Smartphone shipments decline 2.3% in the second quarter on continued challenges across most major regions • IDC
<p>IDC analyst Ryan Reith said: "When you look at the top of the market – Samsung, Huawei, and Apple – each vendor lost a bit of share from last quarter, and when you look down the list the next three – Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo – all gained. Part of this is related to the timing of product launches, but it is hard not to assume this trend could continue."

The vendor landscape at the top of the market continues to get stronger while the struggles for local OEMs and old school industry names got worse. In 2Q19, the top five vendors accounted for 69% of the total market volume, and the top 10 vendors accounted for 87%. This trend is making the vendor playing field for smartphones look more and more like the PC market. With 5G beginning to unfold in many markets around the world, the challenges are sure to increase for any vendors without strong consumer mindshare.

"Although the overall market remains in decline, the performance in the second quarter indicates that demand is starting to pick up as the market begins to stabilize again," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "A key driver in the second quarter was the availability of vastly improved mid-tier devices that offer premium designs and features while significantly undercutting the ultra-high-end in price. Combine this with intensified and generous trade-in programs across major markets and channels and upgrading now makes more sense to consumers."</p>
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Report: Samsung extends shipments lead as Realme enters top ten • Android Authority
<p>According to the tracking firm, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 series and rejuvenated mid-range smartphones have resulted in a 7.1% year-on-year boost. The Korean manufacturer hit 76.6m smartphones shipped in the quarter, compared to 71.5m devices a year ago. In fact, the firm reportedly accounted for roughly a fifth of all smartphone shipments in this quarter.

Second-placed Huawei didn’t see quite the same level of growth, but it still managed to achieve a 4.6% boost over last year. The Chinese colossus reportedly shipped 56.7m smartphones in Q2 2019, compared to 54.2m in Q2 2018. Counterpoint notes that the effects of the U.S. trade ban weren’t fully experienced in this quarter, but that it expects a steep drop in performance come Q3.

<img src="" width="100%" /><br /><em>Source: Counterpoint Research</em>

Apple may have been in third place, but it saw a rather big 11.9% drop in shipments compared to Q2 2018. The firm shipped 36.4m phones in this quarter, as opposed to 41.3m a year ago. This performance means Xiaomi is roughly one percentage point away from passing Apple in terms of market-share, according to Counterpoint. Then again, Q2 isn’t traditionally Apple’s best quarter, as it launches its iPhone series in Q3 or Q4 anyway.</p>

Samsung's <a href="">financials</a> show its mobile revenue grew by 7%, but profits dropped by 11%; it blamed this on sluggish demand in the premium market and "intensifying competition in the low- to mid-range market", plus the expense of clearing inventory of old models. Not seen it blame the latter before. Huawei's problems lie ahead, though.
samsung  smartphone 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
What Huawei didn’t say in its ‘robust’ half-year results • TechCrunch
Rita Liao:
<p>The media has largely bought into Huawei’s “strong” half-year results today, but there’s a major catch in the report: the company’s quarter-by-quarter smartphone growth was zero.

The telecom equipment and smartphone giant announced on Tuesday that its revenue grew 23.2% to reach 401.3 billion yuan ($58.31bn) in the first half of 2019 despite all the trade restrictions the U.S. slapped on it. Huawei’s smartphone shipments recorded 118m units in H1, up 24% year-over-year.

What about quarterly growth? Huawei didn’t say, but some quick math can uncover what it’s hiding. The company clocked a strong 39% in revenue growth in the first quarter, implying that its overall H1 momentum was dragged down by Q2 performance.

The firm shipped 59m smartphones in the first quarter, which means the figure was also 59m units in the second quarter. As tech journalist Alex Barredo pointed out in a tweet, Huawei’s Q2 smartphone shipments were historically stronger than Q1.</p>

As Barredo <a href="">pointed out</a>, they used to grow 32.5% on average from Q1 to Q2. To stall to 0% - especially with the growth seen in China - means the wheels really fell off with Trump's ban.
huawei  smartphone 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Sony has sold 100 million PlayStation 4 consoles • Engadget
Steve Dent:
<p>Despite flagging sales of late, Sony's PlayStation 4 has sold 100m units, making it the fastest-selling console to hit that number. In its latest <a href="">earnings report</a>, Sony revealed that it sold 3.2m PS4s between March 31st and June 30th, after announcing that 96.8m units had sold in the previous quarter. That means it hit the 100m figure on the nose in five years and seven months, just two months quicker than Nintendo's Wii.

Sony also revealed that for the first time, folks are buying more games via digital downloads than physical discs, marking a trend that's been ongoing for a while now.

Despite its half-decade age, PS4 sales have never really flagged until recently, with 17.8m sold last year, down just 1.2m over 2017. However, it took a noticeable dive last quarter, and Sony has warned that it expects 2019 sales to be down more than it originally forecast last quarter. A slow demise in PS4 sales is to be expected, though, considering that Sony's next-gen PS5 should arrive in fall of 2020, with support for ray-tracing 8K, SSD storage and PS4 backward-compatibility.

In other Sony news, smartphone revenue dropped by 15% over last quarter, continuing what seems like a never-ending trend. It sold less than half the number of smartphones it did during the same period last year, just 900,000 in total. To give you an idea of how bad that is, total units sold in 2018 was less than half of 2017, and so far, 2019 is half of 2018.</p>

Sony should just name its next smartphone the Zeno. But - and here's the big thing - it actually eked out an operating income, after a solid year of loss, of US$9.4m on revenue of $914m - so each phone had an average price of $1,015.
sony  playstation  smartphone 
7 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Huawei smartphone sales ebbing in Taiwan • Digitimes
Max Wang and Steve Shen:
<p>Huawei shipped about 50,000 smartphones in Taiwan in May, accounting for a 8.6% share in terms of unit shipments and remaining in fourth place as it did a month earlier, trailing Apple (24.8%), Samsung (23.7%) and Oppo (10.8%), said the sources.

In terms of shipment value, Huawei saw its ranking slide one notch to fourth from third with a 6% share, trailing Apple (52.7%), Samsung (19.7%) and Oppo (6.4%).

However, the sources said that they believe sales of Huawei's smartphones are likely to drop by 60-80% on month in June, with its ranking in unit shipments to tumble by 4-5 notches.</p>

Not that you'd expect a Chinese mainland brand to sell <em>that</em> well in Taiwan.
huawei  taiwan  smartphone 
12 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Oppo's under-screen camera is real and taking photos in Shanghai • Engadget
Richard Lai:
<p>when the camera is idle, the screen works just as normal. However, when you look up close, the area above the camera appears to be more pixelated. According to Oppo, this zoned-out area features a highly-transparent material plus a redesigned pixel structure for improved light transmittance. In other words, this camera tech requires a customized display panel, because existing ones won't do the job -- their transparency properties are only good enough for in-display fingerprint readers, but not conventional cameras.

Oppo added that the under-screen camera itself also packs a larger sensor with bigger pixels, along with a larger aperture to get as much light as possible. This does mean a drop in resolution, and based on our quick comparison, there's certainly room for improvement in terms of clarity and color accuracy. This is a little worrying, considering Oppo has already applied its algorithm fix on haze removal, HDR plus white balance, and it'll have to put in extra effort here to meet its usual selfie standards.

There's still no update on when we can expect this under-screen camera technology to show up on a mass-production phone - all we were told was this will be released "in the near future."</p>

"In the near future" is my favourite date. I've got it marked in my calendar. Meanwhile this seems like another not-quite-there-yet feature/gimmick that Oppo is rushing out so it can say "first!"
oppo  underscreen  smartphone 
12 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Premium smartphone market collapses 8% in Q1 2019, after Apple shipments drop 20% • Counterpoint Research
Varun Mishra:
<p>Apple’s declining shipments has pulled down the global smartphone premium segment. Data from Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor Service for Q1 2019, shows that Apple’s shipments fell 20% year-on-year in Q1 2019, resulting in an 8%  YoY decline for the global premium* segment. However, as Apple is losing ground, Samsung is gaining share. During the quarter, Samsung ended up with one-fourth of the global premium segment, its highest ever share over the past year. This was also the first time when Samsung launched three devices instead of the usual two in its S series, thus covering wider price points.

According to our analysis, the trend of users holding onto their iPhones for longer has affected Apple’s shipments. The replacement cycle for iPhones has grown to over three years, on an average, from two years. On the other hand, substantial design changes in the Galaxy S10 series and the better value proposition it offers compared to high-end iPhones helped Samsung close the gap to Apple in the global premium segment.

<img src="" width="50%" />

Apart from Apple’s falling shipments, the sluggishness of the Chinese market was the other key reason for the decline in the global premium segment.</p>

Old news, in a way; wait and see what happens to Huawei's numbers in the next couple of quarters. (Might rise in the next one because networks are trying to get them out of their channel so they aren't left with unsaleable stock.)
huawei  apple  premium  smartphone 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei CEO says it underestimated impact of US ban, forecasts revenue dip • Reuters
Sijia Jiang:
<p>Huawei’s international smartphone shipments will drop 40%, Ren said on Monday, without specifying a period. Bloomberg reported on Sunday that the tech giant was preparing for a 40% to 60% decline in international smartphone shipments.

Huawei had reported revenue of 721.2bn yuan ($104.16bn) last year and said a few months ago it expected revenue this year to jump to $125bn. [The forecast now is $100bn.]

“We did not expect they would attack us on so many aspects,” Ren said but added that he expects a revival in the business in 2021.

“We cannot get components supply, cannot participate in many international organizations, cannot work closely with many universities, cannot use anything with U.S. components, and cannot even establish connection with networks that use such components.”</p>

Also, a little hilariously, Huawei has also <a href="">delayed the launch of its foldable phone by three months</a>, to some time in September. With Samsung having delayed its foldable launch by a continually unspecified period, there's a game of reverse chicken going on - who can hold off launching longer?
huawei  smartphone  foldable 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
LaLiga’s app listened in on fans to catch bars illegally streaming soccer • The Verge
Dami Lee:
<p>Spain’s data protection agency has fined the country’s soccer league, LaLiga, €250,000 (about $280,000) for allegedly violating EU data privacy and transparency laws. The app, which is used for keeping track of games and stats, was using the phone’s microphone and GPS to track bars illegally streaming soccer games, Spanish newspaper El País reported.

Using a Shazam-like technology, the app would record audio to identify soccer games, and use the geolocation of the phone to locate which bars were streaming without licenses. El Diario reports that fans have downloaded that app more than 10 million times, essentially turning them into undercover narcs. The league claims that the app asks for permission to access the phone’s microphone and location, and that the data — which is received as a code, not audio — is only used to detect LaLiga streams.</p>

You've got to admit: that is clever. Sneaky, but ever so clever. Of course people will be at bars with their smartphones. Of course.
privacy  hacking  smartphone 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
Smartphone shipment forecast cut to 1.35 billion for 2019 as uncertainty prevails • Canalys
<p>The latest numbers show that smartphone shipments will reach 1.35 billion units in 2019, a year-on-year decline of 3.1%. Due to the many uncertainties surrounding the US/China trade talks, the US Executive Order signed on 15 May and subsequent developments, Canalys has lowered its forecasts to reflect an uncertain future.

Canalys' base assumption is that restrictions will be imposed stringently on Huawei, once the 90-day reprieve expires, having a significant impact on its ability to roll-out new devices in the short term, especially outside of China. Canalys anticipates that Huawei is taking steps to mitigate the effect of component and service supply issues, but its overseas potential will be hampered for some time. The US and China may eventually reach a trade deal to alleviate the pressure on Huawei, but if and when this will happen is far from clear.

Canalys' published forecasts reflect what will happen should there be no major political changes. "It is important to note that market uncertainty is clearly prompting vendors to accelerate certain strategies to minimize the short- and long-term impact in a challenging business environment, for example, shifting manufacturing to different countries to hedge against the risk of tariffs. But with recent US announcements on tariffs on goods from more countries, the industry will be dealing with turmoil for some time," said Nicole Peng, VP, Mobility.

"We expect the other major smartphone vendors will have short-term opportunities while Huawei struggles. Samsung will be the biggest winner, thanks to its aggressive device strategy and its ability to quickly ramp up production, through the Korean firm may struggle to entirely fill the shortfall," said Rushabh Doshi, Research Director, Canalys. "It will take other vendors until late 2019 to react to the new opportunities. Samsung's control over component supply gives it a major advantage."</p>
huawei  samsung  smartphone 
june 2019 by charlesarthur
The end of mobile • Benedict Evans
Benedict Evans notes that there are about 4bn smartphones in use, and surveys the broader market:
<p>the PC market, which has had flat-to-falling sales for the last few years, has something around 1.5bn active devices (including a bit over 100m Macs and a similar number running Linux of various kinds, and 800m running Windows 10, which was released 4 years ago), split roughly 50/50 consumer/enterprise. Quite which number you use depends on which analyst firm’s estimates you prefer, but they’re all in the same range.

What about tablets? Apple says 900m iPhones and ‘over 1.4bn’ total actives devices: if you subtract 200m Macs, Watches and Apple TVs combined that leaves about 300m iPads (again, this is consistent with historically reported unit sales) - 350m seems possible. Google’s numbers cited above imply something between 100m and 150m (I hesitate to be more precise given how rounded these numbers are). Non-Google Android tablets in China might be double that, or even more - here again the question of whether the device goes online to show up in the stats means it’s hard to make a firm estimate (I’m sure people will disagree with this one). But this means there are certainly over half a billion tablets in use.

So. There’s an old joke that the career of an analyst progresses from Word to Excel to Powerpoint. That’s pretty much what’s happened here over the last 20 years: first we discussed what might happen (“imagine if everyone had a phone!”), then we tracked the numbers of what was happening, and finally we draw diagrams and bullet points of what that means. That’s where we are now - we try to work out what it means that almost everyone has a phone or a smartphone (<a href="">I made a presentation about this</a>). 

But this also means that now we go back to the beginning: I’m not updating my smartphone model anymore. The next fundamental trends in tech, today, are probably machine learning, crypto and regulation. I can write about those, but it’s too early to make charts. </p>

Yup - I've long since stopped updating my many spreadsheet models. There's no drama about the industry itself. Outside it, well, that's different.
mobile  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei: ARM memo tells staff to stop working with China’s tech giant • BBC News
Dave Lee:
<p>Huawei currently sources some of its chips from HiSilicon, which it owns. However, while produced in China, HiSilicon’s chips are built using underlying technology created by ARM.

While HiSilicon and Huawei are free to carry on using and manufacturing existing chips, the ban would mean the company could no longer turn to ARM for assistance in developing components for devices in future.

HiSilicon's upcoming processor, Kirin 985, is due be used in Huawei devices later this year. According to a source at ARM, it is not expected to be affected by the ban. However, the next iteration of the chip has not yet been completed - and is likely to need to be rebuilt from scratch, the source said.

Huawei also uses ARM's designs for its recently unveiled Kunpeng chips. These are used to power its TaiShan-series computer servers, which are designed to provide cloud computing and storage to clients.

In addition, the company told analysts in January that the Tiangang chip at the heart of its 5G base stations is also ARM-based.

"The problem of the whole telecoms industry is that so much of it is based on the exchange of technology between different companies - whether that's chip companies, software providers or the makers of other hardware," commented Alan Burkitt-Gray, editor-at-large of the telecoms news site Capacity Media.

He added that Huawei would likely face other problems licensing 5G-related tech from others, and in turn US-based companies would now be unable to licence the Chinese company's 5G inventions.</p>

Terrific scoop by Lee. But this is going to destroy all of Huawei's business. Without ARM, the networking side gradually dies.
huawei  arm  chips  smartphone  server  5g 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Sony confirms which countries it has dropped for mobile • Xperia Blog
<p>Sony confirmed it wants MC [mobile communications, its smartphone arm] to be profitable by FY 2020, by reducing operating costs by 50% (vs FY 2017). It also aims to leverage its reorganisation under the EP&S segment to strengthen its product appeal for smartphones. It highlights the Xperia 1 as the first example of this.

However, the most interesting slide was confirmation of which regions around the world it is now focused on, and by consequence which regions were ‘defocused’. Sony confirms that the focus regions are Japan, Europe, Taiwan and Hong Kong. However, there is a long-list of ‘non-focus’ regions which you can see shaded red in the slide below.

<img src="" width="100%" />

These "defocused" regions include India, Australia, Canada, South America, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East and others. We have been hearing from many in these regions that Sony has pulled out quietly, but this is the first official confirmation.

It shows that Sony is not expecting a quick bounce back in smartphone volumes any time soon.</p>

And yet, despite all the "defocussing", Sony's CEO <a href="">says it sees the smartphone business as "indispensable"</a>: “We see smartphones as hardware for entertainment and a component necessary to make our hardware brand sustainable. And younger generations no longer watch TV. Their first touchpoint is smartphone.” It used to be a Sony remote TV control, of course.
sony  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei considers rivals to Google's Android after US ban • Bloomberg
Natalia Drozdiak:
<p>Huawei Technologies said it’s working on its own operating system for its mobile handsets and will consider rivals to Google’s Android, after the US blacklisted the company, threatening its partnerships with chip, component and software suppliers.

The Chinese telecom equipment giant said Tuesday it was in talks with the Alphabet unit about how to proceed after Google confirmed it would cut access to some of Huawei’s operating system features for the company’s new devices in response to the announcement.

Should Google’s system no longer be available, "then the alternative option will naturally come out - either from Huawei or someone else," Abraham Liu, Huawei’s representative to the European Union institutions, said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday.

Liu said Huawei had been working on its own operating system but that he didn’t have the details about when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its power to mitigate the impact of the US decisions, Liu said.</p>

The effects of this are going to ripple on and on, but it's clear that Huawei took notice from ZTE being banned a year ago. After all, it had been dealing with Iran in breach of US sanctions too. Remember there's a Huawei CFO facing a US trial for breaching sanctions.
Huawei  smartphone  android 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei’s phone business would be decimated without Google’s Android • The Verge
Vlad Savov:
<p>Huawei still has the option to use the open-source variety of Android, but Google has been gradually whittling all of the attractive components away from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The genuine full-fat Android experience of today — featuring Google Maps, YouTube, and, most crucially, the full ecosystem of third-party Android apps — is dependent on Google’s licensing assent. Deprived of Google’s software, Huawei would be selling featherless chickens to smartphone buyers used to having Play Store access. In Europe, even the finest hardware wouldn’t convince consumers to buy a phone without an app ecosystem. Google wields enormous market power through its Play Store, significant enough for the European Commission to conduct an antitrust investigation.

In its native China, Huawei already operates without the Play Store, owing to Google’s absence from the market. But even there, Huawei would suffer from not having a close working relationship with Google. All of its fellow Chinese rivals would get earlier access to the next version of Android while Huawei would have to wait for the AOSP code to be made available to the public. The Chinese consumer is probably the least sensitive to operating system updates and upgrades, given how WeChat has evolved to be an OS and ecosystem atop Android, but Huawei would still be at a disadvantage in one of the world’s most competitive phone markets.

There’s no positive spin to this situation for Huawei. Trying to sell smartphones without Google’s cooperation in the modern age is a spectrum that goes from bad to disastrous. Windows Phone, Palm OS, MeeGo, Symbian, Bada (later Tizen), and BlackBerry OS are just a few of the mobile OS corpses that Android’s rise has produced.</p>

It would be more than decimated - it would be halved. I bet it would find ways to get access to new code before AOSP, but there's a suspicion that there won't be any more updates for Google apps, or the Play Store, for existing handsets. We just don't know. The irony is that the security concerns - what all this is about - have been raised over Huawei's networking gear, not its smartphones.
huawei  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
North American smartphone market plunges to five-year low • Canalys
<p>Smartphone shipments in North America plummeted 18% year on year in Q1 2019 to a five-year low of 36.4m units, down from a record high of 44.4m in Q1 2018.</a> This is the steepest fall ever recorded, due to a lacklustre performance by Apple and the absence of ZTE. But Apple remained the clear leader, despite suffering a regional decline of 19%. It shipped more than 4.5m iPhone XR handsets in the quarter, while Samsung shipped more than 2.0m each of its Galaxy S10+ and S10e models.

Samsung narrowed Apple's lead in the first quarter, shipping 29% of North America's smartphones, against 23% in Q1 2018. Samsung scheduled an earlier launch date for the S10 series, and more than doubled shipments over the S9 series in their respective launch quarters.

"Samsung brought real differentiation to its Galaxy S10 devices," said Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke. "Its triple camera, ultra-wide-angle lens, hole-punch display and reverse wireless charging all raised consumer interest. While these technologies are not new, Samsung is among the first to bring them to the US in a mass-market smartphone, and the appeal of such new features will be important for other launches this year."</p>

Saturated market; replacement cycles lengthening. I don't think people are honestly gagging for triple cameras or the rest. A few wanted a new phone, is all.
smartphone  northamerica 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Google I/O 2019: new, cheaper Pixel smartphone announced • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman:
<p>Google executive Brian Rakowski said the cheaper devices are designed to fill in for people left behind by the rising price of many high-end phones. "We can adapt, and this is a good example," he added.

The 3a and 3a XL displays aren’t as advanced as those on the high-end Pixel smartphones. But in a test, the screens weren’t noticeably inferior. They look nearly identical to the current Pixel 3 line, save for a few key differences:

The new phones have a poly-carbonate back instead of glass or metal; lack wireless charging; main processor is a slightly slower Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 processor (Google says it makes up for some of that with software); 64 gigabytes of storage, but lack the 128 gigabyte option of the more-expensive models; one camera on the front instead of two, which means Group Selfie mode isn’t available on these devices; Pixel Visual Core, a Google chip for processing photos, is missing. Google is replacing that with software that processes photos instead.

Still, the 3a line does include some new features:

Battery life is 30 hours, slightly more than the regular Pixel 3; a headphone jack, so people don’t need to pay extra for wireless earbuds; an augmented-reality feature for 3-D navigation in Google Maps is coming to the phone as a preview (it’ll come to other Pixels as well); camera app gets a Time Lapse feature, which has been present on iPhones (other Pixels will get this too)

Last week, [CFO Ruth] Porat suggested the Pixel phones didn’t perform well in the first quarter. "Hardware results reflect lower year-on-year sales of Pixel, reflecting in part heavy promotional activity industrywide, given some of the recent pressures in the premium smartphone market."</p>

So having failed to set the premium market alight, Google's aiming to do it on the midrange market. Think the competition there is going to be even fiercer; the question is whether Google's prepared to manufacture in sufficient volume to make a difference (as <a href="">Benedict Evans observed</a>).
google  pixel  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Smartphone shipments experience deeper decline in Q1 2019 with a clear shakeup among the market leaders • IDC
Worldwide volumes down 6.6%; stagnation rules the day:
<p>"The less than stellar first quarter in the United States can be attributed to the continued slowdown we are witnessing at the high end of the market," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Consumers continue to hold on to their phones longer than before as newer higher priced models offer little incentive to shell out top dollar to upgrade. Moreover, the pending arrival of 5G handsets could have consumers waiting until both the networks and devices are ready for prime time in 2020."

Samsung saw volumes drop 8.1% in 1Q19 with shipments of 71.9m. The results were enough to keep Samsung in the top spot of the market, but Huawei is continuing to close the gap between the two smartphone leaders. Despite challenging earnings in terms of profits, Samsung did say that the recently launched Galaxy S10 series did sell well during the quarter. With the 5G variant now launched in its home market of Korea and plans to bring this device and other 5G SKUs to other important markets in 2019, it will be equally crucial for Samsung not to lose focus on its mid-tier product strategy to fend off Huawei.

Huawei moved its way into a clear number two spot as the only smartphone vendor at the top of the market that saw volumes grow during 1Q19. Impressively, the company had year-over-year growth of 50.3% in 1Q19 with volumes of 59.1m units and a 19.0% market share. Huawei is now within striking distance of Samsung at the top of the global market. In China, Huawei continued its positive momentum with a well-rounded portfolio targeting all segments from low to high. Huawei’s high-end models continued to create a strong affiliation for the mid to low-end models, which are supporting the company's overall shipment performance.

Apple had a challenging first quarter as shipments dropped to 36.4m units representing a staggering 30.2% decline from last year. The iPhone struggled to win over conusmers in most major markets as competitors continue to eat away at Apple's market share. Price cuts in China throughout the quarter along with favorable trade-in deals in many markets were still not enough to encourage consumers to upgrade. Combine this with the fact that most competitors will shortly launch 5G phones and new foldable devices, the iPhone could face a difficult remainder of the year. Despite the lackluster quarter, Apple's strong installed base along with its recent agreement with Qualcomm will be viewed as the light at the end of the tunnel heading into 2020 for the Cupertino-based giant.</p>
Smartphone  apple  huawei  samsung 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
A weather tech startup wants to do forecasts based on cell phone signals • MIT Technology Review
Douglas Heaven:
<p>Other forecasters use proxies, such as radar signals. But by using information from millions of everyday wireless devices [ie mobile phones], ClimaCell claims it has a far more fine-grained view of most of the globe than other forecasters get from the existing network of weather sensors, which range from ground-based devices to satellites. (ClimaCell taps into those, too.)

The company has now opened a new research center in Boulder, Colorado, where it is developing a new mathematical model that turns cell phone observations into weather data that can be plugged into a simulation. The more accurate your picture of the weather today, the more accurate your forecast for tomorrow.

The model can be tweaked to focus on the region, the type of weather, and the frequency of updates a subscriber wants. That would help renewable-energy companies know how much sunshine is going to hit their solar panels or how much wind will hit their turbines, for example. Better forecasting lets power providers match up supply and demand.

“There’s always a need for better forecasting,” says weather scientist Ken Mylne at the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. “It’s impossible to do perfect forecasts, but we keep trying to narrow that gap between impossibility and perfection.”</p>

What isn't made clear in the story is quite what data gets collected - barometric? (Not all phones do that.) Temperature? (Very few phones do that, if any.) It seems promising yet also hand-wavy.
Weather  mobile  smartphone 
may 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei gains record 34% of China's declining smartphone market • Canalys
<p>China's smartphone market contracted 3% to 88.0m units in Q1 2019, making it the market's worst performance since 2013. Market leader Huawei grew its share to a record 34%, up by more than 10% on the same period last year, making it the only vendor in the top five to report growth in an otherwise declining market. Huawei (including Honor) shipped just under 30m smartphones. It was followed by Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Apple, which each suffered year-on-year declines.

<img src="" alt="" width="600" height="337" />

…"Oppo and Vivo are both shifting their product strategies to refresh their brands," said Canalys Research Analyst Yiting Guan. Vivo is going for a bigger product portfolio in China to cover a wider range of consumer demographics than before, and now offers seven product families. Oppo has put a strong emphasis on its new Reno series to renew its appeal in the mid-to-high-end segment. More interestingly, its RealMe spin-off has been brought from India to China to compete at the low end with Xiaomi and Huawei, including Honor.

<p>Xiaomi recorded quarterly growth against its weak Q4 last year as it improved its channel inventory situation, but still suffered a year-on-year decline in both shipments and market share…Apple shipped 6.5m iPhones in the last quarter, suffering its worst decline in two years. "Despite the iPhone&rsquo;s installed base in China being well over 300 million, it is vital that Apple prevents users deserting it for Android vendors. Apple faces a challenge in China to localize its software and services offerings as quickly as in Western markets," said Jia.</p>
apple  china  smartphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
LG Electronics to suspend mobile phones production in South Korea this year: Yonhap • Reuters
Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park:
<p>South Korea’s LG Electronics plans to suspend manufacturing of its loss-making mobile phones in the country this year and shift the production to its existing plant in Vietnam, Yonhap News Agency said on Wednesday.

Citing an unidentified source, Yonhap reported that LG decided to move its local handset production to Vietnam to help turn around the money-losing smartphones division.

LG’s mobile business, in the red for seven quarters, and intensifying price competition in the global TV market likely weighed on its first quarter earnings, analysts have said.</p>

Can't see it making a difference. And the mobile business has been losing money for 14 quarters, not seven. The South Korean factory does high-end phones, which is 10%-20% of its output. The mobile is circling the drain; or, if you prefer, the event horizon.
lg  mobile  smartphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Google Pixel 3 and OnePlus 6T sales driven by previous Samsung owners in Q4 2018 • Counterpoint Research
<p>Over one-third of consumers who bought the Google Pixel 3 and the OnePlus 6T, during Q4 2018, were previous Samsung owners, according to Counterpoint Research’s US Smartphone Churn Tracker. Less than one in five people who bought either device was a previous Apple user. In Q4 2018, Google Pixel accounted for 7.3% of Verizon’s total sales while the OnePlus 6T made up 2.4% of T-Mobile’s total sales. Each device signaled an appetite for more diversity in premium device product line-ups from consumers.

<img src="" width="100%" />

Despite the initial sales success, the Pixel 3 series has been ineffective in converting a larger share of iPhone users to Android. Conversely, 6T sales have been down Q1 2019 in spite of the strong Q4 2018 start.
Of the Pixel smartphones, Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint Research said, “The newest Google Pixel lineup was certainly successful in terms of disrupting the premium market space at Verizon. Google invested a lot of marketing money during Q4 2018 resulting in strong sales of the Google Pixel 3 lineup. Over half of all new Pixel 3 owners came from Samsung. A total of 31% of Pixel 3 sales came from previous Samsung Galaxy S7 owners. The Pixel was built to lead Android innovation and be a device to sway the iOS base over to Android. Over 80% of volumes are coming from its Android partners. This is probably seen as a disappointment.”</p>

Given the small volumes that the Pixel and OnePlus sell in, this isn't making a dent on Apple or Samsung. If Google or OnePlus could get real volume, it would be a different story.
smartphone  pixel  google  oneplus  apple  iphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Global device shipments will be flat in 2019 • Gartner
<p>"For the eighth consecutive year, the PC market is at a standstill," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. “PC shipments will total 258 million units in 2019, a 0.6% decline from 2018.” Traditional PCs are set to decline 3% in 2019 to total 189 million units.

<p><strong>Worldwide Device Shipments by Device Type, 2018-2021 (Millions of Units</strong>)</p><table border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="97%"><tbody><tr><td width="42%" valign="top"><p>Device Type</p></td><td width="14%" valign="top"><p><strong>2018</strong></p></td><td width="14%" valign="top"><p><strong>2019</strong></p></td><td width="14%" valign="top"><p><strong>2020</strong></p></td><td width="13%" valign="top"><p><strong>2021</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p>Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook)</p></td><td width="14%"><p>195,317</p></td><td width="14%"><p>189,472</p></td><td width="14%"><p>182,823</p></td><td width="13%"><p>175,058</p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p>Ultramobiles (Premium) </p></td><td width="14%"><p>64,471</p></td><td width="14%"><p>68,869</p></td><td width="14%"><p>74,432</p></td><td width="13%"><p>79,871</p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p><strong>Total PC Market </strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>259,787</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>258,341</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>257,255</strong></p></td><td width="13%"><p><strong>254,929</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p>Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)</p></td><td width="14%"><p>149,561</p></td><td width="14%"><p>147,963</p></td><td width="14%"><p>145,811</p></td><td width="13%"><p>143,707</p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p><strong>Computing Device Market</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>409,348</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>406,304</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>403,066</strong></p></td><td width="13%"><p><strong>398,636</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p>Mobile Phones</p></td><td width="14%"><p>1,811,922</p></td><td width="14%"><p>1,802,394</p></td><td width="14%"><p>1,824,628</p></td><td width="13%"><p>1,798,356</p></td></tr><tr><td width="42%"><p><strong>Total Device Market</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>2,221,270</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>2,208,697</strong></p></td><td width="14%"><p><strong>2,227,694</strong></p></td><td width="13%"><p><strong>2,196,992</strong></p></td></tr></tbody></table>
<p>Source: Gartner (April 2019)</p>

Slow upgrade on phones (though by 2023 foldables might be 5% of high-end phones - that's tiny), and consumers are retiring but not replacing their PCs. Tech stasis.</p>
pc  smartphone  gartner 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
The Chinese takeover of Indian app ecosystem • FactorDaily
Shadma Shaikh:
<p>2018 is likely to be remembered as the year when the Chinese took over Indian smartphones. In December 2017, the top 10 mobile apps on Google Playstore looked a lot different than what they look from a year later. The Playstore rankings for India in 2018 have China written all over it. Five out of the top 10 mobile apps in India are Chinese — versus two at the end of 2017.

That’s not all. As of December 2017, there were 18 Chinese apps among the top 100 across various categories on Google Playstore. These included popular ones such as UCBrowser, SHAREit, and NewsDog. Fast forward to the end of 2018. The number of Chinese apps in the top 100 Playstore apps has reached 44. Beyond the top 100, there are others like Rozbuzz, a social entertainment content platform, and YouStar, a video chat room platform, that enjoy a more than one million downloads in India – a threshold that evokes grudging respect in this app community.

The growth of many of these global apps has a new hotspot: India. The message is clear for the Chinese — if you want growth, conquer India.

Several Chinese apps have become significantly popular over the last year in India: social content platforms such as Helo and SHAREit; entertainment and engagement apps such as TikTok, LIKE, and Kwai; video and live streaming ones such as LiveMe, Bigo Live, and Vigo Video; utility apps such as BeautyPlus, Xender and Cam Scanner; gaming leaders such as PUBG, Clash of Kings, and Mobile Legends; not to forget popular e-commerce apps including ClubFactory, SHEIN, and ROMWE.

A starking similarity not missed by observers of this industry is the target group of most of these platforms is the new internet users in India, specifically those from smaller cities and towns. To be fair, this market was first recognised by Bengaluru-based ShareChat that was founded back in 2015.</p>

Wonder how long it will take India to wrest this back with home-grown apps. You'd think they would have a cultural advantage. But many elements of successful apps - WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram - are cross-cultural. (Thanks Stormyparis for the link.)
india  china  smartphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
This is why we can’t have nice things • DIGITS to DOLLARS
Jay Goldberg:
<p>A decade ago, we spoke with a small handset maker in Shenzhen who sold into China’s domestic market and a half dozen random emerging markets (Ukraine, El Salvador, Uruguay, etc.). His business was always cutthroat, shipping largely $25 feature phones and $100 smartphones. Unfortunately, he did not have enough resources to be able to build his own brand. (He tried; over the years we brought him a dozen marketing text books.) At one point, he tried offering his own software service – messaging, contacts, etc. But he knew that the only path to revenue for these was through selling customer data to ad brokers and others. He told us that his customers would not mind because many of them lived in markets where the government already intruded on users’ privacy in many ways. To his credit, he was very uncomfortable with this business model and did not pursue it. He went out of business five years ago.

Some companies have managed to thrive despite this. For instance, Xiaomi makes decent margins on their phones and is overall profitable (and to their credit still breaks out their unit shipments). Xiamoi had the funds to build their own brand, and to branch out into an ecosystem of related products (home networking, fitness bands, etc.). We do not know if Xiaomi sells its users’ data, but they do install a lot of their own software on phones, trying to build an Apple-like software ecosystem lock-in.

Another way to profit in this business is to bundle phone sales with other products. For example, they can sell base stations and networking products with phones thrown in as an adder, as in “would you like fries phones with that?”. That being said, we do not know if Huawei’s handset business is actually profitable. We are not convinced that Huawei itself knows the answer to this question. Our point is just that there are someways to stay in the business.

However, for the majority of the industry, the hard, cold reality is that handset profits are non-existent. And the only way for these companies to remain viable is to sell out their users. </p>

The only exception, he notes, is Apple, which of course collects all the profits.
apple  smartphone  business  surveillance 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Sony to slash smartphone workforce 50% by 2020 • Nikkei Asian Review
Akihide Anzai and Wataru Suzuki:
<p>The decision to scale back its smartphone workforce, which could see up to 2,000 of the total 4,000 jobs cut by March 2020, is part of a move to reduce fixed costs in the business, and also includes procurement reform.

Some of the Japanese employees affected by the decision will be transferred to other divisions, but the company will offer voluntary retirement in its Europe and China operations.

Sony will limit smartphone sales in Southeast Asia and other areas to focus on Europe and East Asia.

The company's smartphone sales for fiscal 2018 are projected to come in at a dismal 6.5m units, half the previous year's figure and just one-sixth that of five years ago.

In fiscal 2014, Sony pulled 1,000 employees from its smartphone operations, but sales have plunged faster than expected, necessitating a further round of cuts.

Sony's smartphone business generates annual revenue of about 500bn yen, but is expected to post an operating loss for the third straight year through fiscal 2019. By halving operating expenses from fiscal 2017, the company hopes the business will turn a profit by fiscal 2020.</p>

So when I wondered about the magical thinking protecting jobs, I guess I wasn't accounting for the senior management who can spot it where they see it.

The mobile division is going to be on a one-way ride to the mountains pretty soon.
sony  smartphone 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Sony to close smartphone plant in China, shift production to Thailand • Reuters
Pei Li and Miakiko Yamazaki:
<p>Sony Corp will close its smartphone plant in Beijing in the next few days, a company spokesman said, as the Japanese electronics giant aims to cut costs in the loss-making business.

Sony will shift production to its plant in Thailand in a bid to halve costs and turn the smartphone business profitable in the year from April 2020, the spokesman said on Thursday. He said the decision was not related to Sino-U.S. trade frictions.

Sony’s smartphone business is one of its few weak spots and is bracing for a loss of 95 billion yen ($863m) for the financial year ending this month.

Some analysts say Sony should sell the business amid acute price competition with Asian rivals. The company has a global market share of less than 1%, shipping just 6.5 million units this financial year mainly for Japan and Europe.

But Sony has said it has no intention to sell as it expects smartphones to be central to technologies for fifth-generation wireless networks, where cars and various devices would be connected.</p>

What is the magical thinking that leads Sony execs to think that 5G will make its smartphone business profitable? Competition then will come from more places than ever, and Sony isn't in the 5G space to any appreciable extent. I suspect it comes from people whose jobs are at risk if they confess the division is never going to break even again. Which is, let's be fair, understandable.
sony  smartphone 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Sony Mobile revises downward fiscal 2018 smartphone shipment target • Digitimes
Max Wang and Steve Shen:
<p>Sony Mobile Communications has revised downward its shipment target for smartphones for fiscal 2018 (April 2019-March 2019) to 6.5m units from 7m projected previously.

The revised figures will represent a decline of 51.9% from the 13.5m units shipped a year earlier.

The company cited fierce competition from Apple in Japan, Southeast Asia and Europe, as well as increasing competition from China-based brands such as Huawei and Oppo in markets outside China.

Sony Mobile also expects its handset business to generate revenues of JPY490bn (US$4.393bn) with an operating loss of JPY95bn (US$857m) for the fiscal year.

The company expects the introduction of its high-end flagship, the Xperia 1, mid-tier Xperia 10 and the entry-level Xperia L3 will bring a turnaround of its handset business in new fiscal year.</p>

Ah, Sony, always expecting a turnaround in its mobile phone business. Of that huge loss, $153m is a writedown on "long-lived assets" - which might be factories, though who knows. Most of the rest of the business is at least static and profitable. Its smartphone division, though, is burning money.
sony  smartphone 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
2018: the year that LATAM smartphone market started to decline • Counterpoint Research
<p>Smartphone shipments in the LATAM region declined by more than 1% year-on-year in 2018, making it the first time ever that the market has contracted in the region, the latest data from Counterpoint Research shows.

While declining smartphone sales was a global phenomenon in 2018, the LATAM region caught up with the trend at the drop of a hat due to the political and economic uncertainties in the region. Commenting on the overall market, Tina Lu, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “With the exception of Chile, most countries in LATAM had a year-on-year decline in smartphone sales driven by the slowdown in the rate of replacement. The year was also marked by political and economic uncertainty across the region. Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil witnessed presidential elections which added to the political turmoil. The decline was led by Argentina and Brazil. While 2018 was particularly bad for Brazil as it was suffering from an economic crisis stemming out of the political uncertainty in the country, there could be some recovery in 2019. Argentina’s problems appear to be more long term as it is not possible to fix the inflationary economy in the short-term.”</p>

But average selling prices rose, up by 5%: top-level brands ASP rose, but second-tier brands ASP fell. A dumbbell market. Also: Samsung's leadership position under threat. The story keeps repeating around the world.
latam  smartphone 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Smartphone shipments expected to drop for the third consecutive year in 2019 • IDC
<p>the smartphone market continues to be challenged and 2019 is projected to experience its third consecutive year of declining shipments. Worldwide smartphone volumes are forecast to fall by 0.8% in 2019 with volumes dipping to 1.39bn. However, the smartphone market will begin to pick up momentum this year with year-over-year growth of 2.3% expected in the second half of the year. Over the long term, smartphone shipments are forecast to reach 1.54bn units in 2023.

"The biggest question that remains unanswered is what will bring the smartphone industry back to growth," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "There is no question industry growth has been down for reasons that have already been identified – longer replacement cycles, a challenged China market, and geopolitical headwinds – but it is shortsighted to overlook the possibilities of some important technology advancements that are within reach with 5G probably being the most significant."</p>

Essentially static - but I'd expect replacement cycles will keep lengthening as people replace elements rather than the whole of expensive smartphones.
smartphone  idc 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
People don't want to pay big bucks for a new smartphone • ZDNet
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:
<p>The survey of 1,303 smartphone buyers in the US, <a href="">carried out earlier this month for USA Today by SurveyMonkey</a>, makes hard reading for companies who expect buyers to drop a thousand dollars on a smartphone, because it seems that the majority of the market belongs to the sub-$500 smartphone.

Here's the breakdown

Sub-$300: 30%<br />$300 to $500: 26%$501 to $750: 25%<br />$751 to $1,000: 16%<br />More than $1,000: 3%

For comparison, a 64GB iPhone XR is $749, while a full-spec 512GB iPhone XS Max is a whopping $1,449. This means that the entirety of Apple's new iPhone line is at the upper end of what people are willing to pay, with the high-end devices existing at the very thinnest end of the wedge.

And it's the sort of price that most people would balk at when it comes to buying far bigger gadgets such as desktops and laptops.

Apple's cheapest iPhone currently on sale is the 32GB iPhone 7, which retails for $449. While this seems like a reasonable deal – especially when you consider that Apple's priciest iPhone is $1,449 – it's a lot of money for old hardware. It even raises the question of whether Apple could use a budget $300 iPhone designed from the ground-up to be cheap yet functional. 

That would certainly allow Apple the chance to go after a much bigger market share.</p>

In the words of Gregory House, MD, "everybody lies". Especially about what they're prepared to pay for a new smartphone. Though that $750+ group is nearly one-fifth of the whole market. And if you're looking just at revenue, 44% of the total is in the $750-1,000 space; just 9% in the sub-$300 space. You need revenue to make profit, given fixed overheads.
smartphone  pricing 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Japan smartphone market Q42018 • Canalys Newsroom
<p>Smartphone shipments fell 3.8% year on year in Japan to 9.9m in Q4 2018, marking a fourth consecutive quarter of shipment decline. In terms of shipment numbers, Japan came fourth worldwide, behind China, the US and India; 32.5m smartphones shipped in Japan in the whole of 2018, 1.9% fewer than in 2017.</p>

Really wouldn't have expected Japan to be a bigger market than, well, so many others. (Population of 126 million, <a href="">11th largest in the world</a>; China, India and US are the three largest.)
smartphone  japan 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Chinese smartphone vendors take a record 32% market share in Europe in 2018 • Canalys
<p>Canalys estimates show that European smartphone shipments fell 4% in 2018 to 197m units. In Q4 2018, shipments fell 2% to 57m, though Chinese vendors gained significantly. Samsung remained the largest vendor in 2018 but its shipments were down over 10% at 61.6m units. Apple was down 6% but clung onto second place with 42.8m units shipped. Huawei was the stand-out vendor, growing 54% with 42.5m shipments. Relative newcomers Xiaomi and HMD Global grew strongly and were fourth and fifth respectively.

<img src="" width="100%" />

"The US administration is causing Chinese companies to invest in Europe over the US. The European market is mature, and replacement rates have lengthened, but there is an opportunity for Chinese brands to displace the market incumbents. The likes of Huawei and Xiaomi bring price competition that has stunned their rivals as they use their size against the smaller brands in Europe."

Western European smartphone shipments fell 8%, the biggest decline of the sub-regions, to 128m units in 2018, the lowest level since 2013. An increase in average selling prices, caused by an uplift in flagship pricing by Apple, Samsung and Huawei, offset some of the declines.</p>

China, Europe, the US: all shrinking.
smartphone  europe  china 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Indian smartphone market grows 10% in 2018 • Canalys Newsroom
<p>India remained one of the bright spots in an otherwise declining global smartphone market in 2018. Smartphone shipments in the country were up by more than 12m at 137m, the best growth of any market in absolute volume terms. India now accounts more than 10% of the world's smartphone market, up from 6% five years ago. It is one of six markets in the top 20 that posted positive full-year growth, with its performance outshone by Indonesia (17.1%), Russia (14.1%) and Italy (10.0%). Of these four markets, India is the only one that has seen consecutive growth for the past three years.

In terms of vendors, Xiaomi took pole position for the first time in 2018, shipping 41.0m units to take 30% of the total Indian smartphone market. Despite being knocked off first place, Samsung still grew shipments by 20% and took a 26% share of the market. Vivo, Oppo and Micromax held third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

<img src="" width="100%" /></p>

Notice the squeeze on "others" there.
india  smartphone 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
UK smartphone shipments fell 14% in Q4 2018 • Strategy Analytics
<p>Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Apple shipped 3.0 million smartphones and captured a dominant 41% marketshare in the UK during Q4 2018. Apple has a prestigious brand and extensive retail presence across the UK market. Despite a slight decline from a year ago, Apple’s grip on the UK smartphone market remains fairly tight and the iPhone has two times more marketshare than closest rival Samsung.”

Woody Oh, Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung clung on to second place with 19% smartphone marketshare in the UK during Q4 2018, down from 21% a year ago. Samsung’s UK smartphone marketshare has more than halved during the past six years. Samsung is facing intense competitive pressure from Huawei, who is targeting Samsung’s core segments in the midrange and premium-tier with popular models such as the P20. Huawei’s UK smartphone marketshare has leapt from 8% in Q4 2017 to 12% in Q4 2018. Huawei is growing fast in the UK, due to heavy co-marketing of its models with major carriers like EE.”</p>

One other thing: Q4 is the biggest sales quarter of the year. Huawei is clearly eating Samsung's breakfast, lunch and tea.
Smartphone  uk  apple  samsung  huawei 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Over 40 smartphone brands exit India market owing to hyper-competition • ET Telecom
Tina Gurnaney:
<p>As many as 41 smartphone brands exited the India smartphone market in 2018 owing to hyper-competition, while 15 brands entered the market eyeing growth prospects that India has to offer, according to data shared by Cybermedia Research.

Mirroring the same pattern, more exits than entry of smartphone players is expected in 2019 as major brands like Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo continue to consolidate their share by eating into those of the smaller brands, analysts say. Counterpoint Research predicts the exit of 15 smartphone players in 2019 versus entry of five players. CMR sees nine new entrants versus 10 exits in 2019.

As per CMR estimates, India currently has around 200 smartphone players operating in the market. At its peak in 2014-15, the mobile phone market had over 300 smartphone players.</p>

<em>That</em> was the peak? Yet it's still the fastest growing (big) market.
india  smartphone 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Smartphone woes continue with worldwide shipments down 4.9% in Q4 2018 • IDC
<p>smartphone vendors shipped a total of 375.4m units during the fourth quarter of 2018 (4Q18), down 4.9% year over year and the fifth consecutive quarter of decline. The challenging holiday quarter closes out the worst year ever for smartphone shipments with global smartphone volumes declining 4.1% in 2018 with a total of 1.4bn units shipped for the full year. With challenging market conditions continuing into the first quarter of 2019, the likelihood of a declining market this year becomes more of a reality.

"Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, Korea, and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018. We believe several factors are at play here, including lengthening replacement cycles, increasing penetration levels in many large markets, political and economic uncertainty, and growing consumer frustration around continuously rising price points."

…China, which accounts for roughly 30% of the world's smartphone consumption, had an even worse 2018 than the previous year with volumes down just over 10%. High inventory continues to be a challenge across the market as is consumer spending on devices, which has been down overall. At the same time the top 4 brands, all of which are Chinese – Huawei, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi – grew their share of the China market to roughly 78%, up from 66% in 2017.

On a worldwide basis, the top 5 smartphone companies continue to get stronger and now account for 69% of smartphone volume, up from 63% a year ago. If vivo is included, which is currently number six and has been in and out of the top 5 in recent quarters, the share of the top companies is 75% and growing.</p>

OK, but I'm not sure you can call a year that saw the second-highest number of shipments recorded the "worst ever". Counterpoint Research <a href="">puts the total shipped at 1.498bn</a>, and says the market was down 4% on 2017. Lenovo looks to be in real trouble, down 23% year-on-year.
idc  smartphone 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
US market sell-through drops 10% YoY in 4Q18 • Counterpoint Research
<p>Research director Jeff Fieldhack stated, “We saw the same trends in 4Q as we saw during the whole year. Holding periods continued to creep longer. Upgrade percentages during the quarter were down and could be down as much as 3% on the year. Phone churn continues to be impressively low and was under 1% at three of the four major carriers. Lastly, carriers were more disciplined in their marketing spend and focused on EBITDA margins over winning net adds at all costs. These all contributed to lower smartphone sell-through numbers.”

Fieldhack added, “Prepaid did not consume the number of handsets in 2018 it consumed across 2017. Prepaid used to have a holding period well under one year. Today, holding periods are closer to postpaid holding periods due to the higher quality of devices. Devices with large displays and batteries, with lower-cost mid-tier processors, are the workhorses within prepaid. These devices have the longevity of higher ASP postpaid devices. In addition, the evolution of the refurbish and repair ecosystem makes it easier for consumers to either purchase a high-quality used device or repair a current device. We estimate the US absorbed almost 11.5m refurbished smartphones in 2018. These are meaningful numbers of consumers deciding not to buy new.”</p>

Then again, Apple had 47% of the market there, according to Counterpoint. Samsung was next with 23%. The biggest grower? You probably won't guess.

<img src="" width="100%" />
us  oem  apple  samsung  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei and Xiaomi near 34m customers in western Europe • Kantar World Panel
<p>Dominic Sunnebo, Global Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech comments: “The European smartphone market remains highly competitive. Despite recent negative headlines for the Chinese manufacturers, there’s no evidence that these issues have affected sales as Huawei, Honor and Xiaomi continue their concerted push into western Europe.

"Samsung and Apple still performed admirably, with disruption limited to only a marginal loss of market share.”

Xiaomi is now the fourth best-selling smartphone brand in Europe, with nearly six million active owners. The manufacturer is continuing to expand rapidly in Spain and, more recently, in Italy and France as well. Sunnebo comments: “Having only launched in the UK in November last year, Xiaomi’s presence in Great Britain is still small, but with new products already going on sale in January we expect further growth in 2019. The Chinese manufacturer has found success so far with a competitive pricing strategy which places its most expensive flagship model at around £500. This appeals to users who are looking for premium quality but are not willing or able to splash out the best part of a four-figure sum.”

“While Samsung and Apple are still doing well in Europe, the impact these Chinese giants are having on the market is causing headaches for the smaller operators. Sony, LG and Wiko are being disproportionally impacted because of their historic stakes in the ultra-competitive low and mid-price tiers. To keep up in this landscape, these brands should take heed from their competitors when it comes to marketing…"</p>

I think LG and Sony aren't going to compete in this field much longer. There simply isn't any profit in it for them.
Europe  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
How much would you pay for a foldable smartphone? • NY Mag
Jake Swearingen:
<p>There are already at least three foldable phones on the horizon this month. Of those, the most significant is Samsung’s foldable phone, rumored to be called either the Galaxy X or the Galaxy F. At the Annual Developer Conference in San Francisco in November, the device was shown onstage, but dim lighting and a stage-managed presentation meant that we only got a vague notion of what the phone would look like. More will likely be revealed at Samsung Unpacked event on February 20, where Samsung will roll out its 2019 lineup of Galaxy phones, but early rumors put the foldable phone at around $2,000, making even Apple’s highest-end phones seem like a bargain.

There’s Royole’s FlexPai, which was shown off at CES. Royole, founded by Stanford engineering grads, is first to the market, already selling the FlexPai in China for of 8,999 yuan, or around $1,300. (Americans can buy a developer’s version for about the same price.) Those who’ve gotten hands-on time with it have been less than impressed — the FlexPai may fold down, but folded down it’s a very, very bulky piece of hardware.

Meanwhile, Lenovo is set to relaunch the Motorola Razr brand with a flip phone of sorts, but with a fully foldable screen inside. The phone hasn’t been shown yet, but per The Wall Street Journal, it would cost around $1,500 and be a Verizon exclusive.</p>

Anyhow, tell me again about high-priced iPhones. I feel these aren't going to quite be in the hot cakes department.
foldable  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
China’s smartphone market falls 14% in 2018 • Canalys Newsroom
<p>In 2018, smartphone shipments in China fell to their lowest level since 2013, at 396 million units. The natural slowdown as consumers keep their smartphones for longer is one factor, but it has been amplified considerably by the economic slowdown in China and consumers&rsquo; weakened purchasing power. The latest quarter, Q4 2018, marked a 15% year-on-year drop, and the seventh consecutive quarter of decline.

<img src="" width="100%" />

As shipments tumble, the market is rapidly consolidating. The top five smartphone vendors' market share has increased from 73% in 2017 to 88% in 2018. Among them, Huawei and Vivo bucked the overall market decline, and grew 16% and 9% respectively. Oppo managed to hold onto second place, falling 2% but growing market share. Xiaomi ranked fourth, as a disappointing second half caused its full-year shipments to fall by 6%. Apple stayed in fifth place with a 13% decline in 2018. It still outperformed the market, but this was the worst growth rate in the top five, and Apple's third consecutive year of shipment decline in China.

Huawei achieved a record market share of 27% in 2018, with 105 million shipments. "Huawei has penetrated the high-end with technological innovations, and a strengthening brand, which has helped it markedly extend its lead in China," said Mo Jia, an analyst based in Canalys's Shanghai office. "Its dual-brand strategy has been a huge success, with sub-brand Honor helping it cover a broad range of price bands. China continues to be a strong foundation for Huawei, and its launchpad for overseas expansion as Huawei aims to challenge Samsung for global leadership in 2019."…

…Apple had the toughest year of the top five, with shipments falling 13%, as customers were deterred by the high pricing of its new iPhone. In addition, models such as iPhone 7 and 8 did not see significant uplift in China, even after prices were lowered after the launch of the iPhone XS. "Apple has several challenges in China, and the growing power of competitors is not actually its biggest," said Jia. "…Apple must re-examine its China strategy, and find a way to revive its high-end brand image, in order to align with the purchasing behavior of local middle-class and upper-class demographics."

Leading manufacturers will have even less breathing space in 2019, as Canalys expects the Chinese smartphone market to fall by 3% to 385 million units.</p>

I think Apple's problem was that the XS and XS Max don't look different enough from last year's (let's call it the Stratechery Thesis). This is going to be a squeeze on the "others".
apple  china  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Tim Harford: how behavioural economics helped kick my phone addiction • Financial Times
Tim Harford cut back on his digital use, starting last November:
<p>The big question was: what to do with my social media accounts? Facebook was simply too troublesome to delete, especially since my personal account is connected in opaque ways to a “Tim Harford” page maintained by my publishers. But I never had Facebook on my phone and after briefly unfollowing or muting all my contacts, I had no problem staying logged out.

My Twitter habit is more of a problem. I have 145,000 followers, gently persuaded over 10 years and 40,000 tweets to follow me — that’s about 10 books’ worth, or 20 years of weekly columns. This alone was a reminder of just what an effort Twitter could be; but deleting the account felt like the nuclear option.

So what could I do? Two years ago, I hid the “mentions” column so that I don’t see what other people say about me on Twitter. (Much is friendly, some hurtful and almost all superfluous.) Yet I was still wasting a lot of time noodling around there for no obvious gain. So I deleted the smartphone app and on November 23 2018, I tweeted that I was planning to “get off Twitter for a bit”. By a pleasing coincidence, the last person I interacted with before logging out was the man who named the endowment effect, Richard Thaler.

But time for what? One of the most important — and misunderstood — ideas in economics is that of opportunity cost. Everything we do is an implicit decision not to do something else. If you decide to go to an evening lecture, you’re also deciding not to be at home reading a bedtime story. If you spend half an hour browsing news websites, that’s half an hour you can’t spend watching football. Those 40,000 tweets cost me something, but I am not sure what and I certainly didn’t ponder the cost while tweeting them.</p>

Well worth it for the explanation of this paragraph:
<p>Fifteen years ago, I would have struggled to explain this sequence of events to my wife. But nowadays, no explanation is really needed. We all know how swiftly and easily “When will it stop raining?” can lead to “What do Tomasz Schafernaker’s nipples look like?”</p>
economics  digital  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Feds can't force you to unlock your iPhone with finger or face, judge rules • Forbes
Thomas Brewster
<p>Previously, US judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to <a href="">a ruling uncovered by Forbes</a>, all logins are equal.

The order came from the US District Court for the Northern District of California in the denial of a search warrant for an unspecified property in Oakland. The warrant was filed as part of an investigation into a Facebook extortion crime, in which a victim was asked to pay up or have an “embarassing” video of them publicly released. The cops had some suspects in mind and wanted to raid their property. In doing so, the feds also wanted to open up any phone on the premises via facial recognition, a fingerprint or an iris.

While the judge agreed that investigators had shown probable cause to search the property, they didn’t have the right to open all devices inside by forcing unlocks with biometric features.</p>

This is going to lead to all sorts of negative publicity around cases very much like this one. Imagine if there's a terror incident.
smartphone  legal  unlock 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Poland calls for 'joint' EU-Nato stance on Huawei after spying arrest • The Guardian
<p>Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudziński, called for the European Union and Nato to work on a joint position over whether to exclude Huawei from their markets.

Brudziński said Poland wanted to continue cooperating with China but that a discussion was needed on whether to exclude Huawei from some markets.

“There are concerns about Huawei within Nato as well. It would make most sense to have a joint stance, among EU member states and Nato members,” he told broadcaster RMF FM.

“We want relations with China that are good, intensive and attractive for both sides,” he added.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, is facing intense scrutiny in the west over its relationship with China’s government.

In August, the US president, Donald Trump, signed a bill that barred the US government from using Huawei equipment and is considering an executive order that would also ban US companies from doing so.

In December, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the US, which wants her extradited to face charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Seeking to distance itself from the Polish incident, Huawei on Saturday said in a statement it had sacked Wang, whose “alleged actions have no relation to the company”.</p>

How this (and ZTE's position) plays out over the rest of this year could be crucial to China's position in 5G, and the progress of 5G. If this is also applied to Huawei handsets (a faint but real possibility) it would really put a crimp on things. Expect recriminations if that happens.
Huawei  smartphone  china 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
South Korea charges 11 with selling Samsung technology to China • Bloomberg
Sam Kim:
<p>The chief executive officer of a Samsung supplier and eight of his employees received 15.5 billion won ($13.8m) after conspiring with two representatives of the Chinese company to transfer organic light-emitting diode knowhow, according to a statement from prosecutors in Suwon. The names of the companies and individuals weren’t disclosed.

Intellectual property theft is a national concern for South Korea as it tries to maintain its narrowing technology lead over China. The mainland is pouring billions into becoming self-sustaining in areas such as memory chips and displays, two fields where Samsung is the world leader. Curved-edge OLED screens have become a signature feature of the Suwon-based company’s high-end Galaxy smartphones, including the Note 9.

The US is also concerned about what it considers a state-backed campaign of technology theft by China. Earlier this year a former Apple Inc. engineer was arrested in the US on charges of stealing driverless car secrets. Earlier this month Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. and Taiwan’s United Microelectronics Corp. were indicted on charges they conspired to steal trade secrets form Micron Technology Inc…

…The South Korean supplier transferred “3D lamination” technology and other equipment to the Chinese screen maker between May and August, violating a non-disclosure agreement with Samsung, according to the prosecutors. They were caught while loading additional pieces onto a ship headed for the mainland, they said.

Prosecutors said the supplier sold the technology after its sales dipped and that the CEO set up a fake company headed by his sister-in-law. They accused him of building the equipment at another factory in an attempt to cover up the alleged plot.</p>
china  smartphone  samsung  oled  ip  theft 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Did ‘billion-dollar’ gambling loss in Saipan imperil Chinese smartphone maker Gionee? • South China Morning Post
Li Tao:
<p>“I did participate in gambling in Saipan, but how could I possibly lose that much (10 billion yuan)? If it is true, shares of Imperial Pacific [the casino owner] should have surged,” Liu Lirong, Gionee’s chairman and chief executive, said in an interview with Securities Times in Hong Kong at the weekend, responding to recent reports that his gambling loss of 10bn yuan (US$1.44bn) had resulted in the collapse of Gionee.

When asked how much he lost gambling, Liu told the Securities Times reporter, “a bit more than 1 billion yuan”.

Gionee, which ranked behind Apple in sixth place for handset sales in China last year, is now on the verge of bankruptcy restructuring as suppliers have halted component sales after failing to receive payments for several months, according to the report. Liu admitted in the interview that Gionee’s total debts amount to 17bn yuan ($2.45bn), with 10bn yuan of this owed to banks, 5bn yuan to upstream suppliers and about 2bn to advertising agencies.

As the “absolute authority” at Gionee – a company he founded – for 16 years, Liu said in the interview that he may have confused his private assets with those belonging to the company as he has borrowed frequently over the years for personal reasons…

…Liu denied in the interview that Gionee’s troubles were primarily the result of his gambling. He said the company had been losing money since the beginning of 2013, with average losses of no less than 100m yuan per month between 2013 and 2015, and the monthly loss further widened to no less than 200m yuan in the past two years.</p>

Gionee was apparently the fifth biggest phone maker in China; sold about 40m handsets in 2016; last public product launch in November 2017; <a href="">fired half its factory staff in April</a>. As I said: <a href="">time to leave the dancefloor</a>.
smartphone  china  gionee  gambling 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Meitu leaves the dancefloor – and the brutal smartphone OEM crunch begins • Medium
I wrote a piece over at Medium:
<p>“They shoot horses, don’t they?” asks the beautiful woman near the end of the film of the same name, as she and her partner consider their hopeless struggle to stay awake in a dance marathon – one of the US Depression’s little entertainments, where you could win a prize, and more importantly get food, if you could only stay on your feet.

The modern form of the dance marathon is the smartphone business. The latest to take one to the head is Meitu. It’s a Chinese smartphone company which previously attracted some attention for its “beauty shot” selfie system (and some more attention for its data-grabbing ways). The reason you probably haven’t heard of it is because it’s pretty small on a global scale: since launching in 2013, it has sold a total of just 3.5m smartphones. That’s about 0.7m per year. Apple sells about that many per day in a slow quarter.

Now, though, Meitu is interesting for a different reason: it’s an early casualty of the coming smartphone crunch. The whole business is in a recession, and small players are going to get squeezed out.</p>

Meitu said that its full-year loss will be about $144m, up from half-year losses of $18.4m. It's all going south. The Android OEM business is murderous.
smartphone  meitu  china  business 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
China smartphone shipments to fall over 10% in 4Q18, says Digitimes Research • Digitimes
Luke Lin and Ashley Huang:
<p>Smartphone shipments in the China market went down 6.9% on year in the third quarter of 2018 and are expected to continue to fall by over 10% as telecom operators have reduced subsidies for the purchase of 4G models and the device replacement cycle is lengthening, according to Digitimes Research.

On a quarter-by-quarter basis, Huawei managed to ramp up its smartphone shipments by 20% in the third quarter; Xiaomi and Oppo both saw their shipments expand by a single-digit rate; and Vivo recorded a single-digit decline in the quarter.

As compared to a year earlier, only Huawei and Xiaomi posted shipment gains in the third quarter; Oppo and Vivo both saw their shipments decline by double-digit rates during the period.

Buoyed by the Double 11 shopping festival, total smartphone shipments in China are likely to post a sequential gain in the fourth quarter, but the fourth-quarter figures are expected to drop over 10% as compared to a year earlier, Digitimes Research estimates.</p>

China is the world's biggest smartphone market; this is going to squeeze some of the small players, who will have already been going through a tough time. Likely to get worse before it gets better.
china  smartphone 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Your smartphone’s location data is worth big money to Wall Street • WSJ
Ryan Dezember:
<p>Thasos gets data from about 1,000 apps, many of which need to know a phone’s location to be effective, like those providing weather forecasts, driving directions or the whereabouts of the nearest ATM. Smartphone users, wittingly or not, share their location when they use such apps.

Before Thasos gets the data, suppliers scrub it of personally identifiable information, Mr. Skibiski said. It is just time-stamped strings of longitude and latitude. But with more than 100 million phones providing such coordinates, Thasos says it can paint detailed pictures of the ebb and flow of people, and thus their money.

Alex “Sandy” Pentland, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist who helped launch Thasos, likens it to a circulatory system: “You can look at this blood flow of people moving around.”

…Thasos won’t name its clients, but Mr. Skibiski says it sells data to dozens of hedge funds, some of which pay more than $1m a year. Thasos’s largest investor is Ken Nickerson, who helped build PDT Partners into a quantitative-investing mint inside Morgan Stanley .

This month, Thasos is set to start offering data through Bloomberg terminals. A measure of mall foot traffic will be widely available; detailed daily feeds about malls owned or operated by 30 large real-estate investments trusts cost extra.</p>
smartphone  location  data 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Smartphone battery life: iPhone XS battery isn't as good as the X. Which phone outlasts them all? • The Washington Post
Geoffrey Fowler:
<p>CNET, which like me found conspicuous dips in battery life between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X (and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S9), tests screens at 50% brightness playing a looping video with Airplane Mode turned on.

What we both discovered: phones with fancy screens that are especially high-resolution or use tech such as OLED perform worse. (That tech can require more power to push out light.) So if you want your phone to last longer, turn down the screen’s brightness. Or stop looking at your phone so many times each day, if you can break our nationwide spell of phone addiction.

Tom’s Guide throws another factor into the mix: the cellular connection. It makes phones run through a series of websites streamed over LTE. Unlike me, it also saw a big battery life hit to the Pixel 3 XL versus the Pixel 2 XL.

Another lesson: If you want the battery to last longer, use WiFi when possible — or even Airplane Mode when you don’t need to be reachable. Both Apple and Android phones also offer low-power modes (not reflected in our testing) that reduce some draining data functions without taking you offline.

The counterexample is Consumer Reports, which found the new iPhone XS lasted 25 percent longer than last year’s iPhone X. Its test uses a finger robot — yes, you read that right — to make phones cycle through lots of different functions and apps, including pauses in use where the screen turns off.

Consumer Reports is likely better testing the phone’s processor, an area where a number of companies — but particularly Apple — have made efficiency gains.

So overall, are battery lives decreasing or increasing? “You can’t make a straight trend,” says Consumer Reports director of electronics testing Maria Rerecich.

I wish companies had more standardized ways to talk about battery life.</p>

Struggling for a mobile connection will kill your battery. If you need Wi-Fi but not a mobile connection, switch to Airplane mode, and then turn the Wi-Fi back on. Boom! Longer battery life.
battery  smartphone  life 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Samsung's quarterly earnings show increased overall profit, but continued decline in mobile • Android Police
Ryne Hager:
<p>Samsung published its third-quarter financials yesterday, and results are mixed. Although profits and revenue are up (both year over year and quarter over quarter), the mobile division continues the decline set last quarter. Interestingly, that's not as a result of sales, but rather increased marketing costs and unfavorable currency developments. Nonetheless, it expects those mobile earnings to decrease further next quarter, even as smartphone shipments rise…

…Samsung's third-quarter IT & Mobile Communications (read: phone) profits are always on the lower side in Q3, and at 2.22 trillion KRW (~$1.98bn) that's a decline both quarter over quarter, year over year, and the lowest numbers Samsung has seen since Q1 2017. Interestingly, this isn't a result of a decline in flagship sales, but rather mid and low-end devices.

The company expects phone sales to rise for Q4/the end of the year, but since those late-year sales require correspondingly higher marketing costs, profitability won't be as high.</p>

Analysts reckon Samsung's phone sales declined quite sharply in Q3 on a year-over-year basis. Things are getting compressed in the phone market.
samsung  smartphone  profit 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Global smartphone shipments down 6.0% in Q3 2018 as the leading vendor and the largest market face challenges • IDC
<p>While the overall smartphone market has declined for four straight quarters, two things stand out as major factors in the third quarter. Samsung, the largest smartphone vendor in terms of market share, accounting for 20.3% of shipments in 3Q18, declined 13.4% year over year in the quarter. And secondly, China, which is the largest country market for smartphone consumption, accounting for roughly one third of global shipments, was down as well for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Samsung had a challenging quarter with shipments down 13.4% to 72.2m units shipped. The market share leader continues to feel pressure from all directions, especially with Huawei inching closer to the top after its second consecutive quarter as the number two vendor. In addition, growing markets like India and Indonesia, where Samsung has held leading positions for many years, are being changed by the rapid growth of Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo.

Meanwhile, China’s domestic market, which represents roughly one third of all smartphones consumed, has been in decline since the second quarter of 2017, and 3Q18 was the sixth consecutive quarter where the market sees contraction. China was down 11% in the first half of 2018 (1H18), and the challenges continued into 3Q18. Overall IDC expects this decline to decelerate with the market returning to flat growth in 2019.</p>

Apple down to third place, with a 13.2% share (46.9m); Huawei was 14.6% (52.0m). Xiaomi, which a couple of years ago was struggling, is now 4th, with 9.7% share (34.3m). Chinese smartphone companies thriving even as China sales slow.

The smartphone boom is over. What follows now flows from that.
smartphone  apple  samsung  huawei  xiaomi 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Royole's bendy-screen FlexPai phone unveiled in China • BBC News
Leo Kelion:
<p>A little-known California-based company has laid claim to creating the "world's first foldable phone". Royole Corporation - a specialist in manufacturing flexible displays - <a href="">unveiled the FlexPai handset</a> at an event in Beijing.

When opened, the device presents a single display measuring 7.8in (19.8cm) - bigger than many tablets. But when folded up, it presents three separate smaller screens - on the front, rear and spine of the device. The six-year-old company said it would hold three "flash sales" to consumers in China on 1 November to offer the first product run.

<img src="" width="100%" /><br />
<em>The firm says that when folded the spine of the device will be used to show notifications. Photo: Royole</em>

The phones will be priced between 8,999 and 12,999 yuan ($1,290 to $1,863; £1,011 to £1,460) depending on the memory and storage specifications selected.

In addition, Royole said it would also offer a slightly different version of the devices to developers across the world the same day. It intends to start deliveries in "late December". The launch has caught many industry watchers by surprise.</p>

Alternative futures: "Grandpa, how did Royole become the biggest company in the world?"

Or: "Why didn't any realise that nobody wants a flexible phone screen?"

Plenty of room in the middle, of course.
flexible  smartphone  screen  royole 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Tablet ownership is declining; millennials may be to blame • CivicScience
<p>In a survey of more than 269,000 U.S. adults, CivicScience found that tablet ownership has grown steadily since 2015, but peaked at the start of 2017, with 56% of adults owning a tablet. Since then, ownership has declined to 54% of U.S. adults and appears to be on a downward trajectory.

<img src="" width="100%" />

This downturn coincides with recent industry numbers. Apple, who still leads the market, along with most other tablet manufacturers, such as Samsung and Amazon, have all reported drops in tablet sales. Some analysts cite cost as a prohibitive factor driving down tablet ownership.

In fact, the survey found that tablet ownership is correlated to income. Only 46% of those who make $50K or less per year owned a tablet, compared to 65% of those who make $100-150K per year…

…When considering all age groups, Gen Xers appear to have the highest rates of tablet ownership, followed by Baby Boomers, then Millennials, and finally, Gen Z. Looking at the same tablet ownership graph, but only for the Baby Boomer population (55+), it’s clear that Baby Boomer ownership has stayed static since 2017.

However, the same isn’t true for Millennials (18-34), whose ownership rate has slid significantly since 2017 and is today closer to what it was in 2015, at the start of the survey.


Did lots of people get given tablets and then dump them?
tablet  smartphone  millennial 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Larger smartphones increase in consumer acceptance • Strategy Analytics
<p>A new report from the User Experience Strategies (UXS) group at Strategy Analytics surveying consumers in the US, Western Europe, China and India has explored consumer smartphone size preference. Flagship device sizes between 5.0in and 5.5in continue to be preferred by most, especially in China and India where a device of 5.5in is considered ‘ideal’ by most. Consumers in all markets surveyed are showing greater interest in larger devices compared to 2017.

Key report findings:

• A larger percentage of respondents in the US and Western Europe found larger devices to be an ideal size in 2018, compared to 2017.<br />• Half of respondents in India found devices with a screen size of 5.5in ideal in 2018, compared to half of respondents citing 5.0in as ideal in 2017.<br />• Around half of respondents in China found devices with a screen size of 5.5” ideal in 2018, compared to only a third in 2017.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director and report author commented, “The primary drivers for larger displays are likely to be stemming from greater productivity and entertainment capabilities, thinner more ergonomic smartphone designs, increased screen resolution, clarity, and quality, and the overall increase in resourcefulness. Smartphones are becoming the control hub for more and more connected devices/services.”</p>

The fact that, without anything else happening, people are more accepting of large screens suggests that all this stuff is just custom and habit. Look back at reviews of the first Galaxy Note, such as <a href="">this one</a> (from 2011):
<p>Now, those mobile devices we couldn't live without have screens that are much, much larger. Sometimes, though, we secretly wish they were even bigger still.

Samsung's new GT-N7000 Galaxy Note is the handset those dreams are made of - if you happen to share that dream about obnoxiously large smartphones, that is.</p>

Obnoxiously large. FIVE POINT THREE INCHES. (The iPhone at the time was 4in.) Among the cons: "Awkward to use for phone calls."
screen  smartphone 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Use of internet, social media, digital devices plateaus in US • Pew Research Center
<p>The shares of US adults who say they use the internet, use social media, own a smartphone or own a tablet computer are all nearly identical to the shares who said so in 2016. The share who say they have broadband internet service at home currently stands at 65% – nearly identical to the 67% who said this in a survey conducted in summer 2015. And when it comes to desktop or laptop ownership, there has actually been a small dip in the overall numbers over the last two years – from 78% in 2016 to 73% today.

<img src="" width="100%" />

A contributing factor behind this slowing growth is that parts of the population have reached near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Put simply, in some instances there just aren’t many non-users left. For example, nine-in-ten or more adults younger than 50 say they go online or own a smartphone. And a similar share of those in higher-income households have laptops or desktops.</p>

Notice that dip in desktop/laptop use, while tablet use inched up. Although I suspect that tablets plus smartphones have consumed that gap in PC use.

If that's continued in two years' time, it'll be a clear trend. Check back in 2020!
pc  tablet  smartphone  us  demographic 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Will phones soon finish off the camera market? • ExtremeTech
David Cardinal likes his Nikon DSLR. But…:
<p>Given the massive investment being poured into phones, it is only a matter of time before they replace every segment of the camera market of which they are physically capable. They’re not the right solution for drones, robots, or even cars, for example, and in many cases, action cameras don’t benefit from a display enough to justify a phone form factor. Of course, there will still be a need and a market for larger cameras, just like there is today for film, but increasingly it will only be out of preference and not necessity.

For several years, I’ve participated in a panel at the Electronic Imaging technical conference on what it will take for the phone to be the only camera needed. My presentation was simply a set of photos I couldn’t have taken without my standalone, high-end camera. Each year there are fewer slides in the talk.

In my case, I find the ergonomics of my Nikon DSLRs to make me much more productive than shooting with a phone. Even if my phone produced the same images, it’s more work to control for an extended shooting session. Given the form factor, there is only so much phone makers can do to address that issue. Of course, my phone is always in my pocket, so I’m finding myself using it more and more as it improves each year. And for people for whom the phone was their first camera, it will be more intuitive to use than learning the controls on a traditional camera.</p>

The latter is a good point - there's a whole generation that has never thought that a camera is a separate object.
camera  phone  smartphone 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
The Circle says a lot more about the evils of reality TV than it does about social media • New Statesman
Mic Wright:
<p>“What if phones, but too much.” Daniel Ortberg's six-word description of Black Mirror ended up reflexively inspiring “Playtest”, an episode in the programme’s third season. That joke could also have been the entire pitch for Channel 4’s latest reality TV show dolled up in the clothes of a social experiment, The Circle, in which a collection of the usual reality TV stereotypes are placed in apartments and encouraged to catfish their fellow contestants in the hope of winning £50,000. The first episode, which went out last night, introduced us to the cast, which includes a digital marketer pretending to be an oncologist (“They didn't even question it!" she crowed in delight) and a gay man pretending to be an odious straight lad, with a recently deceased dog (he also delighted when the others fell for this ruse).

The Circle’s hook is that unlike its reality TV antecedents, such as Big Brother, which is shivering its way to an overdue demise with a final series on Channel 5, face-to-face conflict isn’t on the menu. Instead, the participants are each sequestered in their own apartment and forced to communicate via a bespoke social network that comes off like the unholy love child of LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram with an unpalatable pinch of Tinder thrown in. The conclusion of episode one ended with a particularly uncomfortable date conducted via private message between a barman from Norwich and what he thought was a pretty young woman, but was in fact another young guy using his girlfriend’s pictures to aid him in the quest for the cash.</p>

Circles within circles: this sounds like the basic outline for a Black Mirror episode. No wonder Charlie Brooker is finding new episodes increasingly challenging to write: we've gone beyond navel-gazing to ourobouros to some place of infinitely reflecting mirrors.

Although I liked this detail:
<p>The pacing is deathly slow, as contestants dictate their messages to the Circle (which we’re led to believe is voice-activated but is patently the work of put-upon researchers hunched over keyboards) and read out replies. All this as the moral is tediously repeated: You never know who you’re talking to online.</p>
circle  smartphone  catfish 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Bring back the shadows: the case against HDR • Dan Bailey Photos
Dan Bailey:
<p>Call this "ode to the shadow", my attempt to rescue that wonderful, often elusive species, which has been pushed aside lately with such increasing and ruthless neglect by slider-happy photographers who banish it from existence in their images.

You know what I’m talking about. You see it every day. On Twitter, on Facebook, and especially on Instagram. Photos with such incredible, brilliant and dynamic colors that look like they’ve been cooked. Pictures with drippy, over saturated hues; like cotton candy that’s been slathered with an entire bottle of maple syrup. Google “Fantasy Art” and you’ll see the exact same tonal blueprint.

It took me awhile to figure out why I can’t stand that stuff. No, it’s not that weird alien-like edge glow that floats around the subject, or even cosmic tones that peg the gamut meter full tilt. It’s the fact that you can see everything. Nothing is hidden.

Yes, there’s some well executed HDR out there, but to me, most HDR photography, whether it’s done with a plug-in or by slamming the software sliders all the way to the right, is nothing more than sugar. Spoon fed sugar that’s shoveled right into your mouth.

It delivers calories with no work. A payoff with no effort. In every way, it’s just like that godawful, heavily compressed, crossover pop garbage that pours forth from the country stations. Noone really like that stuff, but the radio keeps playing it.

Whatever happened to subtlety? To innuendo? To suggestion?

Whatever happened to shadows…?

Whether it’s bad HDR or bad country music, if you give the viewer or listener EVERYTHING in the same level of volume, color, tone and brightness, you leave nothing to the imagination.</p>

Some lovely photos here. And he has a point.
Hdr  smartphone 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Chinese smartphone makers are winning in India -- the fastest growing market • VentureBeat
Manish Singh:
<p>India’s smartphone market is currently a key battleground for a number of phone makers from China, Taiwan, and South Korea. As the smartphone shipments slow in many parts of the globe, India’s handset market continues to grow. July saw 42 different smartphone models launched in the nation, up from 25 models during the same period last year, research firm Counterpoint told VentureBeat.

Most of the new handsets are from Chinese smartphone makers, many of whom see India as their most important market.

Leading the charge is Xiaomi, which last year ended Samsung’s five-year-streak as the top phone vendor in the nation. The period between April and June of this year was the fourth consecutive quarter for Xiaomi as the top vendor in India, according to IDC. Xiaomi (29.7% market share as of Q2) has aggressively undercut the offerings of its rivals by selling inexpensive but high-quality smartphones in India. A spokesperson for the company said that India is currently its most important market.

In the second quarter of this year, four of the top five smartphone makers were Chinese, according to IDC. In addition to Xiaomi, that number includes Oppo (7.6% market share), Vivo (12.6%), and Transsion (5%). Together with other Chinese phone makers such as Lenovo, the group held two-thirds of the local smartphone market in the second quarter, IDC said in a report published last month. Less than three years ago, the aggregate market share of these companies was under 15% in India.</p>

Apple is pretty much invisible there, with about 1% of the market. Possible clue: India is really, really price-conscious, and per-capita GDP is $1,940.
apple  india  china  smartphone 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
With expectations of a positive second half of 2018 and beyond, smartphone volumes poised to return to growth • IDC
<p>Android's smartphone share will hover around 85% share throughout the forecast. Volumes are expected to grow at a five-year CAGR of 2.4%, with shipments approaching 1.41bn in 2022. Among the more interesting trends happening with Android shipments is that average selling prices (ASPs) are growing at a double-digit pace. IDC expects Android ASPs to grow 11.4% in 2018 to $262, up from $235 in 2017.

IDC expects this upward trajectory to continue through the forecast, but at a more tempered low single-digit rate from 2019 and beyond. This is a sign of many OEMs slowly migrating their user base upstream to the slightly more expensive handsets. Overall this is a positive sign that consumers are seeing the benefits of moving to a slightly more premium device than they likely previously owned. The broad range of colors, screen sizes, features, and brands are a large catalyst for this movement.

For iOS, iPhone volumes are expected to grow by 2.1% in 2018 to 220.4m in total. IDC is forecasting iPhones to grow at a five-year CAGR of 2.0%, reaching volumes of 238.5m by 2022. With larger screen iOS smartphones coming up for launch in the second half of 2018, IDC has shifted greater volumes into the 6in to sub-7in screen size forecast for iOS. Products are on schedule to begin shipping in the third quarter and ramping up into the fourth quarter of 2018, with volumes growing to account for half of all iPhones shipped by 2022. </p>

The OS market is a complete duopoly; 85% Android, 15% iOS. And IDC sees it continuing that way. Apple gets the money, Android gets the volume.
apple  android  ios  iphone  idc  smartphone 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
How global smartphone sales growth ground to a halt • Bloomberg
Robert Fenner goes over some familiar ground, and finishes with a question:
<p>IDC expects the [smartphone shipments] market to go backward again in 2018, although by just 0.2%, which would mark two straight years of declines. This will be driven by China, where demand is falling on signs of saturation and people sticking with their devices for longer. From 2019, growth is likely to resume but at the subdued annual pace of about 3%, which will continue through 2022, according to IDC.

<strong>Q6. What will it take to turn things around?</strong>

The rollout of 5G should help provide a boost as consumers seek to get hold of devices that can download a feature length movie within seconds. IDC expects commercial 5G devices to appear in the second half of 2019 with a more substantial ramp-up in 2020. While China has certainly matured, there are still low smartphone penetration rates in India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, home to more than half the Earth’s population. New innovations could also provide a catalyst. While Samsung has been working toward making foldable screens a reality, turning a handset into a tablet, such a radical design hasn’t been released yet. A leap forward in battery technology is another change that could attract users tired of the never-ending search for a power outlet. Augmented and virtual reality have made only limited appearances on smartphones so far, but as processors get more powerful the opportunities for new content and features could spark demand.</p>

I'm not sure 5G will drive more sales; 4G is plenty fast (where you can get it) and you can bet carriers will charge a premium for it. Why pay, when you can stream a feature film, and you can't see the difference between HD and 4K on a phone screen? Though it might at least be a reason to upgrade rather than just hang on to a phone.
smartphone  5g 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
It's time to end the yearly smartphone launch event • Motherboard
Owen Williams:
<p>As smartphone sales begin to stall and phone makers clamber to figure out what’s next, we’re in a period of uncertainty: is the decade of continued, unprecedented growth going to come back? Analysts have been firing warning flares for almost a year now, saying that smartphone shipments are beginning to slow, but the effects have felt on time delay as minor innovations continued to flow in the meantime. In Q4 of 2017, analysts saw the first global decline in smartphone shipments, which hasn’t gotten any better, with reports of slowing European sales continuing and even the chipmakers themselves reporting a shift.

We’ve already seen an example of the consequences of a industry shift first hand: HTC’s gradual decline. Just a few years ago the company sold millions of phones a quarter, and was consistently a top handset manufacturer, but today, it’s essentially non-existent, with much of the handset division sold to Google in 2017.

The PC industry has already faced this problem. As it peaked and began declining, we saw dozens of device manufacturers from Compaq to Sony throw in the towel year after year, as the pie began to shrink. I believe that we’re seeing the beginning of phones lasting longer than ever, and ultimately becoming boring to the consumer. Phones are getting ever-closer to commoditization.

Samsung’s event today made it clear that the smartphone has gone over that peak, and we’re in new territory now: smartphone makers are out of fresh ideas. It’s just another beautiful, complicated, technologically advanced rectangle.</p>

Of course Samsung takes two bites at this, by having big launches for the Galaxy S and the Note, where almost everything is known ahead of time. But just as most smartphone reviews have been pointless for a year or two now - really new features apart, there's nothing new to say - so it is with these launches. But the companies rely on the media, and the media rely on the companies. Symbiosis in action.
smartphone  media 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
Xiaomi expansion into South Korea heaping pressure on Samsung • Digitimes
Colley Hwang:
<p>China-based Xiaomi launched its latest smartphones including the flagship Hongmi Note 5, in Seoul, South Korea, priced KRW200,000-300,000 (US$190-285), in cooperation with local telecom carriers SK Telecom and Korea Telecom. Their competitive pricing of less than US$300, far below Korea-based vendors' smartphone ASP of over US$500 in 2017, has quickly caught much attention in the Korea market.

Xiaomi's operating profits have always been below 5%, but the slim-profit strategy is also the China-based smartphone vendor's strongest weapon in its foray into new territories. Xiaomi has already outraced Samsung Electronics in India's smartphone market and is now looking to challenge the Korea giant on its home turf.

Currently, Samsung is the largest smartphone vendor in South Korea with a 55% share, followed by Apple at 28.3% and LG Electronics at 15.7%. The three handset vendors together already account for 99% of the market, leaving almost no room for any other players.

To nudge its way through the barriers, Xiaomi has introduced Hongmi Note 5, featuring a 5.99-inch screen, 12-megapixel back-end and 5-megapixel front-end cameras, and artificial intelligence (AI) support, priced at KRW299,000; it has been a star in Xiaomi's winning lineup for the race in India. Although Xiaomi has not revealed the number of its smartphone pre-orders from South Korea, sources from local channels have reported positive feedbacks from consumers.</p>

Which demonstrates that substitution - cheaper as-good hardware for another - is a continual risk for Android handset makers, even in their own back yard. That Apple has such a huge share - comparable with the UK (as is the <a href="">size of the South Korean smartphone market</a>) - is remarkable, though.
apple  xiaomi  samsung  southkorea  smartphone 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Be My Eyes: how can I help a blind person to see? • The Big Tech Question
Barry Collins:
<p>The headline on this story sounds like hyperbole or an advertising slogan. Trust me, it’s not. The simply brilliant <a href="">Be My Eyes</a> app genuinely lets you see on behalf of someone who is blind or visually impaired.

The app works by turning the visually impaired person’s smartphone into a live video camera. When they need help identifying something – whether it’s a caller at their door, a tin of food in their cupboard or a packet of painkillers – they put out a request for help. Within seconds, one of the app’s 1.5 million volunteers will answer the call and be their eyes, using live video to see what’s in front of the visually impaired person and tell them what it is.

It’s hard to think of a more ingenious use of a smartphone – which is one of the reasons why it picked up a BT Tech4Good Award at the ceremony at BT HQ in London yesterday.</p>

This is amazing, and as Barry says, such a good and somehow obvious - in retrospect - idea.
smartphone  app  disability  vision  blind 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
App traps: how cheap smartphones siphon user data in developing countries • WSJ
Newley Purnell:
<p>For millions of people buying inexpensive smartphones in developing countries where privacy protections are usually low, the convenience of on-the-go internet access could come with a hidden cost: preloaded apps that harvest users’ data without their knowledge.

One such app, included on thousands of Chinese-made Singtech P10 smartphones sold in Myanmar and Cambodia, sends the owner’s location and unique-device details to a mobile-advertising firm in Taiwan called General Mobile Corp., or GMobi. The app also has appeared on smartphones sold in Brazil and those made by manufacturers based in China and India, security researchers said…

…Thi Thi Moe, a sales clerk in Mandalay, Myanmar, said she was unaware until being informed by The Wall Street Journal that GMobi was collecting data from her Singtech P10 phone. She said she had become annoyed in recent months at frequent advertisements on its screen for mobile games.

“I don’t want that kind of app on my phone,” said the 28-year-old, who added that she bought her phone last year for $77. “I’m not familiar with the technology, but it seems like it shouldn’t be taking my private information.”

…Upstream Systems, a London-based mobile commerce and security firm that identified the GMobi app’s activity and shared it with the Journal, said it bought four new devices that, once activated, began sending data to GMobi via its firmware-updating app. This included 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identification, or IMEI, numbers, along with unique codes called MAC addresses that are assigned to each piece of hardware that connects to the web. The app also sends some location data to GMobi’s servers located in Singapore, Upstream said.

Upstream also said that in recent months it blocked GMobi’s app from making suspicious attempts to sign up users for paid services, such as mobile games. Had the app been successful, users would have been billed more than $7m in total across eight countries, Upstream said. GMobi’s Mr. Wu said the company wasn’t responsible for any malicious activity emanating from its app.</p>
smartphone  tracking  security  advertising  socialwarming 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Does having the best camera phone matter? • The Wirecutter
Ben Keough:
<p>Whenever flashy new smartphones debut, manufacturers inevitably claim they’ve produced the best camera phone ever. Sharper! Faster! More accurate colors! Smoother bokeh! Tech sites compare the cameras endlessly, and benchmarks like DxOMark’s mobile reviews attempt to rank them in a controlled lab setting. It’s enough to give any smartphone owner an inferiority complex, but all the experts we interviewed (including one who helped design DxOMark’s test) agree that stressing over which flagship phone has the most impressive camera is a waste of time, because they’re all impressive.

Unless your phone is several years old, we don’t recommend upgrading just to get a better camera. But if you need to upgrade anyway, we think you should go with what’s familiar—switching platforms for the promise of a slightly better camera is not worth the hassle. And unless you’re actually printing your photos, most of the differences between phone cameras get ironed out in the process of sharing photos through messages or social media, which shrink and compress images to save data.</p>

Perhaps that's part of why the Galaxy S9 isn't selling well: it's essentially just a better camera, and Samsung isn't selling a story for those whose phones are two or three years old.
Samsung  camera  smartphone 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
With stock IPO, Xiaomi is now worth three times as much as LG • Android Police
David Ruddock:
<p>Though a far cry from Apple, Google, or even Samsung in terms of overall market capitalization, Xiaomi is - on paper - now worth more than three times as much as the entirety of LG Electronics. Think about that for a second.

Of course, Xiaomi is overall a much smaller company than many of the brands it now finds itself compared to. Xiaomi's revenue goals for fiscal 2017 were around $16.8bn, a goal it said it achieved by the end of October. While LG is valued at less than a third of Xiaomi, it generated over three times the sales in 2017 (over $55bn in revenue). Major questions remain about Xiaomi's ability to profitably expand outside Southeast Asia, with competitors like Huawei and HMD Global (Nokia) - both of which are privately held companies - having already established foothelds in Western Europe and other key markets Xiaomi is likely looking to grow into.

With global smartphone growth slipping, I could see two major narratives unfold for Xiaomi - one good, one bad. The positive outlook holds that, in a market where consumers are holding onto phones longer and shopping around more, Xiaomi's value-first approach will have real appeal. If a smartphone is merely a means to an end, why spend more money than strictly necessary on one?

The other bodes far more poorly: the smartphone market has become saturated, and consumers are inundated with ads and incentives from much larger brands with more value-adds to offer than Xiaomi, especially outside of China. Xiaomi could find it intensely difficult to break into markets where Samsung and Apple are heavily entrenched, even with its price-conscious approach.</p>
xiaomi  smartphone 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Future of smartphones: folding screens, many cameras, fingerprint readers and air charging • The Washington Post
Geoffrey Fowler:
<p>Picture this: You pull your phone out of your pocket and unfold it like a napkin into a tablet. You press your finger on the screen, and it unlocks. You switch to the camera app, and a spider-like array of lenses shoot simultaneously to capture one giant photo.

These are all things I’ve seen phones do — some in prototype form, others in models you can get only in China. Analysts in Korea say we might see a folding “Galaxy X” phone from Samsung as soon as next year. When I look into my crystal ball, I’m convinced we’re on the cusp of the most significant changes to the design and functionality of smartphones since they first arrived.

The shake-up couldn’t come soon enough. You probably couldn’t live without your phone but feel as excited about it as you do running water. And the water company doesn’t hold an event every year to hype slimmer faucets. From the front, the iPhone 8 is pretty much indistinguishable from the iPhone 6 that came out nearly four years ago. Americans are holding onto old phones longer than ever — 25.8 months, according the most recent research from Kantar Worldpanel.

The tech industry has been doubling down on software and artificial intelligence capabilities, which still hold huge potential. But there’s a lot to be done on improving phone hardware, too, the number one reason most people upgrade.</p>

Sounds fun. Though still essentially phones, right?
smartphone  futures 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Non-invasive malaria test wins Africa engineering prize • Associated Press
Rodney Muhumuza:
<p>Malaria is the biggest killer in Africa, and the sub-Saharan region accounts for about 80% of the world’s malaria cases and deaths. Cases rose to 216 million in 2016, up from 211 million cases in 2015, according to the latest World Malaria Report, released late last year. Malaria deaths fell by 1,000, to 445,000.

The mosquito-borne disease is a challenge to prevent, with increasing resistance reported to both drugs and insecticides.

The new malaria test kit works by shining a red beam of light onto a finger to detect changes in the shape, color and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. The results are sent within a minute to a computer or mobile phone linked to the device.

A Portugal-based firm has been contracted to produce the components for Matibabu, the Swahili word for “treatment.”

“It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development - in this case by improving health care,” Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation judge, said in a statement. “Matibabu is simply a game changer.”</p>

Won by a 25-year-old Ugandan computer scientist, Brian Gitta. Initial accuracy 80%; they're working for 90%. The mobile phone makes it so much cheaper and flexible, too.
malaria  diagnosis  smartphone 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Why it's so hard for innovative smartphone makers to succeed • Fortune
Aaron Pressman:
<p>Most [US] smartphone sales still occur in physical retail stores, about 88% as of the first quarter, Counterpoint Research says. And, as the carriers have thousands of stores spread across the country, they capture three-quarters of the offline market, with Apple [retail stores] — not a venue that will be selling any startup’s phones ever — grabbing much of the remainder.

That has left the startups trying to sell directly to consumers, both from their own websites and those of big e-commerce retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. But, that slender 12% segment of the market is highly fragmented. Here, the carriers plus Apple combine for only about two out of every five phones sold online, Counterpoint says. Amazon sells slightly more than one out of every five phones sold online, many through its “Prime Exclusive” line up. The remainder of online sales mostly go through the websites of retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target.

A lot of smartphone buyers want either some handholding from a human sales associate or some hands-on time with the device, Counterpoint analyst Maurice Klaehne explains.

“It is a complicated purchase, as these devices are frequently sold bundled with a plan, service upgrade, or accessories,” Klaehne notes. “People often need help in these situations to get their phone set up, data transferred to the new device, and have new features explained.”</p>

I honestly don't see why anyone would start a smartphone business now. There are too many incumbents who have the top end sewn up; and the bottom end is a piranha tank with zero profits.
Smartphone  us  retail 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
Worldwide smartphone volumes will remain down in 2018 before returning to growth in 2019 • IDC
<p>After declining 0.3% in 2017, the worldwide smartphone market is expected to contract again in 2018 before returning to growth in 2019 and beyond. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments are forecast to drop 0.2% in 2018 to 1.462bn units, which is down from 1.465bn in 2017 and 1.469bn in 2016. Looking further out, IDC expects the market is to grow roughly 3% annually from 2019 onwards with worldwide shipment volume reaching 1.654bn in 2022 and a five year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%.

The biggest driver of the 2017 downturn was China, which saw its smartphone market decline 4.9% year over year. Tough times are expected to continue in 2018 as IDC forecasts consumption in China to decline another 7.1% before flattening out in 2019. The biggest upside in Asia/Pacific continues to be India with volumes expected to grow 14% and 16% in 2018 and 2019. Chinese OEMs will continue their strategy of selling large volumes of low-end devices by shifting their focus from China to India. So far most have been able to get around the recently introduced India import tariffs by doing final device assembly at local India manufacturing plants. As for components, almost everything is still being sourced from China.</p>

Europe and the US have had their rapid growth; now it's going to be the slow slide to saturation.
smartphone  idc 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report: All the slides, plus analysis • Recode
Rani Molla pulls some highlights from <a href="">the full presentation</a>; these are a few of the higher highlights:
<p>• Despite the high-profile releases of $1,000 iPhones and Samsung Galaxy Notes, the global average selling price of smartphones is continuing to decline. Lower costs help drive smartphone adoption in less-developed markets.<br />• Mobile payments are becoming easier to complete. China continues to lead the rest of the world in mobile payment adoption, with over 500 million active mobile payment users in 2017.<br />• Voice-controlled products like Amazon Echo are taking off. The Echo’s installed base in the US grew from 20 million in the third quarter of 2017 to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter.<br />• Tech companies are facing a “privacy paradox.” They’re caught between using data to provide better consumer experiences and violating consumer privacy.<br />• Tech companies are becoming a larger part of U.S. business. In April, they accounted for 25 percent of US market capitalization. They are also responsible for a growing share of corporate R&D and capital spending.<br />• E-commerce sales growth is continuing to accelerate. It grew 16% in the US in 2017, up from 14% in 2016. Amazon is taking a bigger share of those sales at 28% last year. Conversely, physical retail sales are continuing to decline.</p>
internet  meeker  smartphone  tech 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Smartphone AI: separating hype and reality • CCS Insight Research
Geoff Blaber:
<p>With artificial intelligence firmly at the peak of the hype curve, the industry must be collectively conscious that technologies deliver tangible benefits rather than an empty claim of intelligence. This should be easy given that artificial intelligence isn't a new phenomenon. What is new is the way solutions are being marketed expressly under the banner of artificial intelligence.

The advent of dedicated accelerators for artificial intelligence workloads is a mixed blessing. Even defining these is difficult because of architectural similarities to digital signal processors (DSPs). Artificial intelligence is becoming pervasive in smartphones, spanning everything from power management to predictive user interface, natural language processing, object detection, facial recognition… the list is endless. For these tasks to be entirely efficient, it's not realistic that they run exclusively on the CPU or even the graphics processing unit (GPU). Equally, developers need to have the tools to fully maximize the resources available.

This is highly reminiscent of the early days of the smartphone CPU core wars. Adding more cores created little impact beyond marketing hype until developers began writing to those cores to create multithreaded apps.

The approach taken by Qualcomm is noteworthy as it contrasts with that of Apple, HiSilicon and MediaTek, all of which are positioning a single, dedicated accelerator for artificial intelligence. Instead, Qualcomm is emphasizing its heterogeneous approach that comprises its Hexagon DSP, Adreno GPU and Kryo CPU. The Qualcomm AI Engine consists of these cores alongside software frameworks and tools to accelerate artificial intelligence app development using the platform.</p>

The idea that AI-on-your-phone would be the "next big thing" is, I'm happy to point out, what I forecast in <a href="">my TedX talk in Hilversum</a> back in November 2015. (I was explaining how "selfies" became so big and peaked in 2014.)
ai  smartphone  tedx 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
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