Archive for samsung
It isn’t very often that news in the tech world causes an actual frenzy of excitement –but when Samsung (supposedly) puts 7.5B on the table in a bid to purchase Blackberry, the interest is warranted. We knew that senior executives were chatting at CES last week, and that a possible buyout was on the table, but that means things materialized rather quickly.
Who knows exactly what Samsung has in mind for BlackBerry, though you can bet it involves having their hands on the considerable patent library enjoyed by the Canadian tech company. When you consider that BlackBerry also has the trust of the corporate sector by way of security and existing platform adoption, this merger news is probably scariest for Apple (who stood to benefit most from what seemed like the eventual collapse of BlackBerry)… though I would wager Microsoft is watching this move rather closely as well (as they struggle to maintain any kind of corporate relevance in the mobile marketplace).
Following the news of this potential transaction, share prices for BlackBerry have shot through the roof (which is something I never thought I would have the chance to say again).
It wasn’t very long ago that Samsung announced their plans to cut back their smartphone line-up –this time, it’s Sony doing the same thing. Where once it seemed like Sony was on top of the tech world and could do no wrong, now they are struggling to carve out a competitive piece of the mobile market.
Reducing their smartphone lineup by as much as 30% should help return Sony to profitability, while also giving a smaller portfolio of devices to support. Unfortunately, reducing the number of devices being offered does little to compete with smartphone leaders like Apple and Samsung.
On the plus side, Sony’s latest Android-powered handsets are receiving great reviews even though sales figures don’t support them. The reality is that there are plenty of devices to choose from, and a large number of users already have smartphones (and are upgrading with less frequency than in the past).
Sony isn’t just scaling back smartphones –their TV business is also taking a similar hit. The only divisions left untouched are related to console gaming and their image sensor equipment (currently found in devices made by companies like Apple).
Profits are down, so Samsung is making plans to streamline their product offering in an effort to get the company’s financials back on track. Selling fewer smartphone models will be Samsung’s primary cost-cutting measure, reducing their current line-up by 25%-30% overall. This news comes on the heels of the heads up given to investors that the upcoming financial results will show a considerable 74% drop in mobile profits during the third quarter of this year.
While it may seem like a huge loss, it’s actually about time (with a seemingly endless array of available devices, like their flagship Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5 Active, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, Galaxy S5 Mini, Galaxy Alpha, and more)!
If successful, Samsung will find its way back to a double-digit percentage margin:
“After maintaining smartphone operating-profit margins above 15% for 10 consecutive quarters, Samsung’s margins from its mobile and information technology business were squeezed to just 7% in the third quarter ended September—the lowest level since the end of 2008, before it launched its first Galaxy smartphone. Acknowledging the slide in margins, Samsung executives said during an earnings call last month that its new goal is to maintain a sustainable double-digit percentage margin starting in the new year. They reiterated that pledge during this week’s investor day meeting.”
Less hardware diversity means being able to share more components across devices (particularly in the mid-to-low-end models), allowing Samsung to maximize profits while they “further leverage economies of scale.”
Fewer smartphones should also make it easier for consumers to decide which device they want (not to mention making it more clear when their existing device is out of date and in need of an upgrade).
Now before people worry too much about Samsung as a whole, don’t forget that they have a lot of other irons in the fire.
According to the latest comScore metrics, Android is in the lead as the dominant smartphone platform in the mobile marketplace. With 52.1% of the market share, Android is a fair step ahead of Apple who is lagging behind at 41.7% (third place went to Microsoft at a pitiful 3.6%, with fourth landing in BlackBerry’s lap at 2.3%).
Android didn’t lead every statistic, however… with Apple leading the pack as the top smartphone manufacturer (based on 174 million people with U.S.-owned devices), securing 41.7% of that market share as well. By comparison, Samsung is next in line with only 29.0% –leaving LG to secure third place with 6.9%.
While it may seem a little difficult to understand how Android can lead in the platform category while lagging in the hardware division –it’s due to the range of OEM manufacturers. Samsung may be making the most sales, but others like LG, Motorola, and HTC are also delivering a large number of units that contribute to the overall total number of smartphones.
The comScore report also identified the most downloaded smartphone apps (for U.S. smartphone mobile media users, aged 18+ on both iOS and Android platforms): placing Facebook on top, followed by YouTube in a distant second place.
Boasting themselves as a leading Internet technology company, comScore “measures what people do as they navigate the digital world – and turns that information into insights and actions for our clients to maximize the value of their digital investments.”
A report released by J.D Power and IDC, indicates that Apple is starting to lose tablet market share again (despite remaining at the top of the list of those device manufacturers). The survey also showed that Apple has slipped into the number two slot for customer satisfaction, right behind Amazon (and their line of inexpensive Fire tablets).
Of course, if the survey is to be believed, there is no satisfying these consumers. On one hand they state that Apple isn’t innovating fast enough, but then they say that even with upgraded iPads launched this fall, users are upgrading more slowly.
It is my opinion that Apple doesn’t really care whether people are upgrading their old iPads… not really, anyway. Sure they want users to have iPads (and other iOS devices), and sure they want those users to keep them reasonably current (so they can run the latest operating system version), but hardware isn’t where they make there money. It isn’t where any of these manufacturers make their money. Profit is realized within the app ecosystem –with Apple taking a sizeable portion of the monies charged for apps and their now-famed in-app purchases.
Add to this the fact that market share does not equate to profit share. It’s easy to take a huge number of inexpensive tablets and drop them in the laps of consumers who wouldn’t be Apple customers anyway. That isn’t a loss for Apple.
With the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 shipping and the 2014 holiday season just getting started, the results from the next quarter could tell us a little more than these numbers do –which tablets are being wrapped and put under our trees? Which app store sees the most traffic in the early part of the new year?
According to the latest statistics released by Chitika, the LG user base has exhibited the greatest usage share growth as compared to any of the competing Android brands since June 2014. With a 1.7 percentage point gain and representing over 10% of the total North American smartphone and tablet Web traffic, LG should be counted as a significant player in the mobile market.
Samsung can rest easy for now, sitting comfortably at the top of the heap with 57.4% of the current Android market share –but it would be wise to keep at least one eye on their competition given their less substantial 1% gain since June 2014 (despite the release of an entirely updated line of mobile hardware during this period). Amazon is sitting precariously in the third spot (with a meagre .5% lead on Motorola), likely due in large part to their Fire tablets as opposed to their unremarkable smartphone sales.
Google was down this quarter, falling to just 3.6% –but these numbers should look a little better shortly with the release of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices.
Chitika’s report also indicated that smartphones continue to dominate the mobile Web traffic, with very little growth in this area being observed in the Android tablet space. Some speculation suggests that this is due to Apple’s dominance in the tablet arena, but it may also be due in part to the next-generation phablet type smartphones prompting users to invest in large-screen, smartphones instead of a tablet.
Founded in 2003, Chitika is an online ad network that boasts the delivery of “over four billion strategically targeted ads each month to a network of over 300,000+ sites.” Together with high profile advertising partners like Yahoo!, Chitika has developed proprietary optimization technology that promises to display the right ad, at the right time.
It is with great enthusiasm that Google released their next generation Nexus 6 smartphone yesterday. Being labelled the next in a line of phablets, the Nexus 6 is a very large mobile device that straddles the line between smartphone and tablets. Packed with features, the Nexus 6 promises to stand up proudly against the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.
Design and Display
It can’t be said that the Nexus 6 is a light smartphone, and coming in at 6.49 ounces (184g) is will feel quite substantial. By comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 is 6.21 ounce (176g) and the iPhone 6 Plus is the lightest at 6.07 ounces (172g). It is also the largest of the three phablets, with a full 6-inch display with a 1440×2560 pixel resolution and 493 ppi density. Also a very attractive feature is that the Nexus 6 is splash resistant (without needing to wrap it in a case) –other Samsung products can boast that, the Galaxy Note 4 isn’t so lucky.
The camera in the Nexus 6 is competitive with a dual LED flash, but only measures 13 megapixels (where the Galaxy Note 4 has 16, and iPhone 6 Plus lags quite a distance behind at 8).
Running the latest Android Lollipop, Google maintains their top spot as the manufacturer with the truest Android smartphone.
Powered by a quad core, 2700 MHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, the Nexus 6 should still be comparable the 8-core, 1900 MHz ARM processor found in the Galaxy Note 4 –though on paper Apple’s processor seems quite a bit behind both devices by only being dual core and 1400MHz. With that said, many of the performance tests being run are placing Apple’s smartphone performing ahead of Samsung’s, so these specifications on their own don’t carry much real-world weight or meaning. The Nexus 6 comes with 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage, but unlike the Galaxy Note 4, cannot be expanded with additional storage (using microSD, microSDHC, or microSDXC).
Google claims that the Nexus 6 will deliver 24 hours of talk time. They also say you can expect 13.8 days of stand-by time. In other news, pigs can apparently fly. I’ll believe that these batteries perform this well when I experience it for myself, but I do trust that it’s better than most of us are used to… especially if you turn off the Ambient Display.
Unlike any of the competition, the Nexus 6 does lead the pack in the power arena by offering built-in wireless charging… and using Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, a quick 15 minutes of charging should get you about 6 more hours of use.
You should have no complaints in this arena, with the Nexus 6 offering GSM at 850/900/1800/1900MHz, CDMA band classes 0/1/10, WCDMA bands 1/2/4/5/8, and LTE bands 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41.
Aside from cellular options, Google equipped the Nexus 6 with 802.11ac Wi-Fi using a 2×2 MIMO antenna, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, and NFC.
Before you salivate yourself into needing a fresh shirt, brace yourself for the $649 USD price-tag found on the unlocked model. Not surprisingly, many Android purists are already expressing their outrage at the cost –especially when previous Nexus smartphones only rid our wallets of $349 USD. While this increase is difficult to accept, it’s necessary if Google is going to produce the kind of hardware that will have the chops to compete with the quality options being released by the competition. Of course, the Nexus 6 looks to be worth every penny… but it means that carriers with contract-signing incentives will play a much more significant role in the success of this device (like they already do for the high-end hardware coming from Samsung and Apple).
Pre-order for the Nexus 6 will begin in late October, with full retail availability beginning in November.
Samsung has been enjoying the position of being the number one device maker in the world for Android driven smartphones and tablets. They have been enjoying a solid
Samsung is serving as the inaugural Innovation Partner at this years Frankfurt Book Fair. They are showcasing the company’s mobile devices and their digital reading capabilities at the world’s largest trade fair for the international publishing industry. It is currently running from October 8th to the 12th.
At the Frankfurt Book Fair, Samsung will work with its partners to engage and support both publishers and consumers through a series of events, such as panels and experiential areas. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Studio, where attendees can experience Samsung’s latest mobile devices which represent the next step in mobile lifestyle and culture, such as the Galaxy Tab S, Galaxy Note 4, Gear VR, Gear Circle and the Level series premium audio products.
“As books continue to reach consumers in various electronic forms, we strive to deliver the most advanced and innovative device options that embrace new forms of creative storytelling and content,” said Younghee Lee, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics. “In that spirit, we partnered with the Frankfurt Book Fair, where we have been demonstrating our commitment to the global publishing industry and our devotion to address the diversifying reading experience, as evidenced in our industry-leading suite of mobile products, led by the latest Galaxy Note 4 and Tab S.”
“The publishing industry is rapidly advancing as consumers move from an analog reading experience to a digital one,” said Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. “We are proud to have Samsung as our first ever Innovation Partner and are delighted to showcase the way technology is changing people’s lives and the way they consume content.”
Samsung began to focus on digital reading in 2010 when it developed the Readers Hub. This was a dedicated area that made available eBooks from Kobo, Newspapers from PressReader and magazines from Zinio. In 2013 they developed a cool feature called Reading Mode, which adjusts the background color of the tablet for easier reading.
Amazon and Samsung make for some very strange bedfellows, but earlier this year a specialized Kindle app was developed for the Samsung Galaxy S5. This gave new smartphone owners the ability to buy and read eBooks from Amazon. As an added incentive every month 4 free eBooks are made available and readers can select one to read, without having to pay a dime.
One of the largest e-reading partnerships ever struck was a deal Sasmung made with Barnes and Noble. In late 2014 the two sides formally unveiled the Sasmung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK in the United States, the first-ever full-featured Android tablet optimized for reading.
“Samsung understands the importance of digital reading as well as the challenges that face the market, from both a device and content perspective,” said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Office of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “By putting reading first with the Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK, Samsung has responded to consumers in a way previously unseen in the mobile technology industry.”
Samsung continues to develop innovative mobile technology to enhance and refine the digital reading experience. With the company’s Adaptive Display technology, the long challenge of tablet display glare has been solved, making digital reading outdoors and in low light easy on the eyes.
In June 2014, Samsung partnered with Marvel to bring its incredible library of 15,000 digital comics to Galaxy Tab S owners through its Marvel Unlimited application. The two companies are also working together to extend Marvel content into new mediums with premium content on both the Galaxy Tab S and Gear VR.
“At Marvel, we aim to create an incredible digital entertainment experience that duplicates the same joy and emotional connection users feel when reading traditional print content,” said Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. “Our partnership with Samsung has helped us maintain that level of quality with the ability to deliver our digital comics on innovative devices that not only recreate, but go beyond the colors and quality of print. We are also collaborating with Samsung to take our creative storytelling off the page with exclusive film and virtual reality content that can be accessed on their incredible mobile products.”
Barnes and Noble is offering a discount for online orders for the brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. US residents can order it directly from the Barnes and Noble website and get the tablet until September 14th for $169.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is a stark contrast to all previous Nook tablets, because it has two cameras, a vanilla version of Android and the ability to really customize your own experience. Prior models of the Nook had a UI that was hard to change, this the Samsung Nook allows you to install your own keyboards, launchers and widgets.
International users can get value from the new Samsung Nook tablet, since you can download apps now from the B&N official app store and get expanded content from Google Play. The only limitations right now is renting to buying television shows or movies directly from Barnes and Noble. eBooks, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels and kids books are all easily purchased.
Before I begin, let me assert: I do not hate Samsung and I do in fact like many of their products. Heck, in many ways I actually think that their new Galaxy Note Edge is prettier to look at than Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus. What I do find disappointing is that the day after Apple’s big announcement, Samsung responds with a series of ads that do little more than bash their competition.
Each of the advertisements centre around a couple of guys, behaving like idiots, that intentionally remind us of Apple Store employees. They mock things like the poor-quality of the Apple live-stream during the keynote at the event this week, and make jokes that are clearly supposed to poke fun at the hype surrounding the products Apple announced.
In reality, the advertisements look ridiculous and feel almost petty. Not only are they so annoying I can barely watch them, they communicate absolutely nothing of any value. Of course Apple is going to demo new products at a -product launch- (it should also go without saying that they would try to generate some excitement and hype while doing so).
Whether Samsung has a better product line isn’t clear and the company comes across as childish. Apple is probably delighted by the campaign: anybody who sees the ads is more likely to hit Apple’s website to see the new products for themselves than they are to become instant Samsung loyalists. In my view, Samsung would have been better advised to produce thoughtful (and classy) advertisements that detail exactly why their products are the right choices –comparing features, offering incentives, and providing actual details.
Curious? Watch the ads for yourself and see if you agree:
I’m impressed with any manufacturer willing to release a new product the day after a major Apple event. This go-around, Dell has announced that they have the “world’s thinnest tablet” in their new Venue 8 7000 device. Featuring an 8.4″ screen-size, the profile of the Venue 8 7000 is only 6mm thick (thin).
There are other tablets that come in close: Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S is 6.6mm thick, while Sony has their Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact that measures in at 6.4mm. For the moment, it seems like Dell is winning in this particular arena, but the rest of the tablet looks pretty decent as well –boasting a screen resolution of 2560×1600, RealSense digital photography technology (that is able to create a depth map of an image, giving a rudimentary understanding of object positions located across 3D space instead of only a 2D plane), and an Intel Z3500 quad-core CPU (running between 1.33GHz to 2.33GHz depending on the model).
There isn’t a price yet, or a specific release date –other than Intel is suggesting it will be available in time for the holidays this year.
Intel had more big news besides the release of a Dell-branded tablet: the technology giant also announced that they are working with Google to create the “Intel Reference Design for Android,” intended to serve as a developer tablet that will help manufacturers get their new products to market faster. Built with pre-approved components, the reference tablets will ship ready to pass Google Media Services standards –giving would-be OEMs something to use as a base.
Putting a big name like Intel so firmly behind Android can only mean good things going forward for the operating system.
Samsung kicked off the September of product launches with an event that brought us a new Galacy Note 4, Note Edge, Gear S Watch, and Gear VR Headset. When you are the company usually accused of copying Apple and their designs… it takes guts to hold your event first, and it takes talent to release products that get people talking. Samsung accomplished both of these things.
Galaxy Note Edge
We saw hints of this curved display (from a distance) over a year ago, but it looks even more amazing when up close. The Galaxy Note Edge is an innovative looking smartphone with a display that rounds off over the right hand side of the screen. It’s sleek. It’s sexy. It’s DIFFERENT. While it may make putting this phone inside a case a bit more of a challenge, that isn’t something consumers have to worry about. It appears practical (allowing you to slide menu items off to the side while still keeping them touchable and accessible. It’s extra screen real-estate (to the tune of 160 rows of extra pixels) without making a larger device –and it’s exciting!
While this is a bit of a monster as far as smartphones are concerned, the Edge offers a lot of function that may be attractive to power users (unless you happen to be left handed, initial reports are telling us that the screen feels sharp and uncomfortable on the tapered side).
The specs of the phone are the same as the Note 4, so keep reading to learn more.
Galaxy Note 4
Coming in at 3.8mm narrower than the Not Edge, but 2.2mm longer, the Galaxy Note 4 is apparently a little more comfortable to hold. It doesn’t have the beautiful tapered side, but it’s still an updated version of the over-sized 5.7″ Note that many smartphone users have come to love. It now has an aluminum frame, making it look classier and higher-end –which is good, when you are trying to market a device as a premium smartphone. The glass appears flat, but it is 2.5D, meaning there is a subtle bend along the edges of the screen.
Other improvements are standard fare: an improved front-facing camera (with a 3.7MP sensor and an aperture of f/1.9 giving better low-light photographs), improved battery (going from 3,200mAh to 3,220mAh), Super AMOLED screen that improves on the previous 1080p resolution (now 2,560×1,440), upgraded rear-facing camera (16MP over the previous 13MP), and a faster 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor with a 600MHz Adreno 420 GPU. The RAM remains the same as the Note 3, at 3GB. 32GB and 64GB models will be available, which means you can bump it up to 128GB with a 64GB microSD card (unfortunately the device doesn’t support using a 128GB card).
Those of you who were watching the S5 with great interest, will be happy to know that the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor are now included in the Note.
For anybody who didn’t like the unsightly USB 3.0 connector found on the Note 3, Samsung has moved back to USB 2.0 on this new phone –it seems hardly anybody took advantage of the higher speeds, so the manufacturer went with form over function in this area.
Gear S Smartwatch
Samsung has been playing in the wearables market for a while now, with the latest entry being the Gear S. It is larger than most other smartwatches, with a curved 2-inch AMOLED screen that features a 480×360 pixel resolution. Powered by a 1GHz processor and backed by 512MB of RAM, the Gear S runs Tizen capably. There are a few gadgets and gizmos of course, with a GPS sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, UV detector, barometer, and heart rate monitor.
Meant to be a compliment to a smartphone, the Gear S can function on its own as well –running many of its own apps and even featuring a QWERTY touch keyboard (which can only be described as awkward).
Gear VR Headset
Capitalizing on the virtual reality excitement in the tech marketplace these days, Samsung has announced the Gear VR headset. It isn’t a standalone product, with no CPU of its own –but it does feature the Galaxy Note 4’s quad HD display to deliver impressive and immersive graphics.
It looks a little old-school, basically looking like a large plastic rectangle when placed over your eyes –making me wonder why they wouldn’t just release a cradle style holster so any of the Note smartphones could function as this device.
There isn’t much in the way of content available for this headset just yet –but stay tuned, the more this technology is implemented, the more developers will create titles for it.
The one way Samsung failed at this event is that they didn’t tell us exactly what these new toys will cost us, or when exactly we can get our hands on them (other than saying ‘in October’). This is an area where Apple tends to excel, letting all of their announcements finish with answers to the who/what/when/where/why/how much questions we are dying to ask.
First thing tomorrow morning, September 3, Samsung will unveil their Galaxy Note 4 (their flagship 5.7″ behemoth smartphone). Microsoft is set to discuss the Lumia 730 smartphone on September 4. The following day on September 5, Motorola will give us all the details on their Moto 360 smartwatch as well as the successors to the Moto X and G. Not long afterward, Apple will launch the iPhone 6 on September 9. Not to be forgotten, BlackBerry has announced that they will host a major event on September 24.
The only company brave (or stupid) enough to follow Apple.
With the announcement that the BlackBerry event will help us to “see the bigger picture,” it is expected that their new Passport device will be properly launched (with an expected 4.5-inch square display with a resolution of 1,440×1,440 pixels). While it may seem like a ridiculous form-factor to many consumers shopping for a new smartphone, be sure to consider that most of their clients are using them in a business setting where a larger and wider screen could be put to good use. The Passport is also expected to come with a new style of keyboard that promises to be “responsive to touch, so you have more ways to control your smartphone without having to use the touchscreen.”
Even if you aren’t quite sold, it has to peak your curiosity.
One thing worth considering, is that no matter the dates of these announcements –it all comes down to two questions: what day will they ship? will there be enough hardware available in a timely manner to adequately meet the demands of the consumers?