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Could Microsoft’s Newly Announced Surface Tablet Finally Dethron

Well it’s happened, Microsoft has officially pulled the curtain on its much rumored tablet. Known as the Microsoft Surface, this tablet is already being seen as an iPad killer and it doesn’t even have a confirmed release date or pricing scheme yet. What it does have, however, is a full list...

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Could a Low-Cost iPhone Boost Apple’s Earnings and Market Share?

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 11-03-2013

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Apple BuildingAccording to BTIG Analyst Walter Piecyk, Apple needs to launch a new, low-cost iPhone in order to boost earnings and market share. Piecyk, in an investors note, stated that he has raised his opinion on Apple stock from “neutral” to “buy” based on the assumption that Apple will launch a low-cost iPhone before the end of 2013.

Piecyk predicts that nearly 36.5 million low-cost iPhones will be sold in fiscal 2014 at an average, non-subsidized price of $300. Should that ring true, the lower-cost iPhone could add $11 billion in revenue to Apple’s next fiscal year, which officially begins in October.

According to Piecyk, “As we have previously detailed, we believe a product that addresses the more than 70% of global wireless subscribers that are unsubsidized pre-paid is necessary in order for Apple to grow its EPS next year. This is not rocket science and our belief is based on basic logic, not questionable ‘channel checks’ or trips to Asia.”

The problem with a low-cost iPhone is Apple’s commitment to “only making great products”. However, Piecysk doesn’t believe that this would compromise Apple’s philosophy, noting successes like the iPad Mini and iPod Nano as testament. In addition to that, Piecyk also had some colorful words of wisdom for Apple stockholders should the company fail to deliver a low-cost iPhone.

“If the management team does not follow this basic logic, as we expect they will, investors will need to push for a new management team. At the moment they have earned the benefit of the doubt that they will go after this market,” Piecyk added.

On the flipside, Piecyk also believes that a larger-screened iPhone would also help Apple win more customers. He also confessed that he believes that Galaxy Note from Samsung is too big for him, though that a large screen like the one on the upcoming Galaxy S4 and the HTC One “look great and could generate a lot of interest in the upcoming quarters.”

Source: CNET – Apple needs a low-cost iPhone, says analyst

 

Apple Still Behind in Chinese Smartphone Market Despite iPhone 5 Sales

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 25-02-2013

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iPhone 5 blackThe iPhone 5 launched in China back in December with the company expecting it to make waves like it did in the United States. However, customers in China appear to be a bit smarter than the ones in the U.S. and don’t just run out and buy the next smartphone Apple releases just because of the symbol on the back.

The Cupertino company’s market share of smartphones in China hardly increased at all during last year’s fourth quarter. Apple retained the position as the sixth largest smartphone vendor in China that it had in the third quarter. Even though market share increased to 8.5%, which was up 0.5%, it still wasn’t enough to make a significant impact.

Samsung, on the other hand, took the top spot with a 16% market share and was followed by Chinese vendors Lenovo, Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, Huawei and ZTE. Booming growth in China’s smartphone segment overall was a detriment to Apple’s performance in the country as shipments reached 65 million units and growth was driven by low-end handsets priced relatively cheaply.

According to Canalys Analyst Nicole Peng, “The iPhone 5 is doing very well, and you saw for the first time Apple announced it had sold 2 million iPhones in the first weekend of sales in China.” Peng also added that quarter-over-quarter Apple’s iPhone shipments in China were up 30%.

However, Apple’s entrance into the Chinese market is still hindered by the absence of a low-cost smartphone in Apple’s catalog. In addition to that, the company has also failed to make a deal with China’s largest mobile carrier to offer Apple phones. “Apple can only do so much,” Peng added. “Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, their market shares have been supported by low-end models.”

The smartphone market in China is so large that Lenovo became the world’s top five vendor in the fourth quarter simply because of sales in the country. In addition to that, 98% of Lenovo’s smartphone shipments of 9.5 million phones went to China.

Source: Computer World – iPhone 5 fails to boost Apple’s market share in China

 

The iPhone 5: Nothing Special, Nothing New, Nothing Groundbreaking

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 11-09-2012

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Apple iPhone 5 Debut

Apple has officially announced the iPhone 5, an announcement that has been long anticipated and much hyped, but is the new phone worth the wait? Initial inclinations point to no. While the iPhone is lighter, thinner and faster than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, it doesn’t bring anything new or groundbreaking to the table that hasn’t already been done by Android or other smartphone developers.

If you come down off your excitement high for a moment and really look at the new iPhone, has Apple really added a single, legitimately new feature? The answer is no. There is nothing groundbreaking here, nothing that will make people look at the iPhone 5 and honestly go “wow”. I mean, the biggest thing Tim Cook and company stressed during the announcement was all the work that went into the new, larger screen, which is still smaller than other devices, like the Galaxy S III from Samsung.

The lack of any real new feature won’t mean much to the average Joe consumer. Most of these people can’t see past the words “Apple iPhone” anyway, so you could essentially hand them a brick that says Apple iPhone on it and they would think it was the best thing on the market. But for anybody with half a brain that does their research, they will see that the iPhone 5 isn’t the market buster that it was poised to be and is, in fact, just another smartphone for sale.

When you break it down, what exactly did Apple talk about during the press conference? There was a lot of talk about the addition of 4G LTE, something that has actually been on a lot of smartphones for over a year now. There was talk about the ability to take a photo directly from a video, which is cool until you realize that the Galaxy S III and One X can do the same. Putting together a group of photos in Panorama mode was also mentioned, though is also available on the new Droid Razr phones.

If you haven’t been paying attention, there is nothing here that sets a new bar for the industry, at least not in the way the original iPhone or iPhone 3G did. Everything that the new iPhone 5 has to offer has already been done before by other developers, leaving Apple, for one of the first times ever, behind the curve.

Yahoo! has actually made a nice comparison chart pitting the new iPhone 5 against some of the other popular smartphones on the market, including the phone I recently purchased, the Galaxy S III from Samsung. The list, which can be found below, compares the iPhone 5’s screen size, operating system, cameras, battery and size, offering some pretty interesting statistics if you ask me.

Screen Size

  • Galaxy Note II – 5.5 inches, 1280 x 720, 267ppi
  • Galaxy S III – 4.8 inches, 1280 x 720, 306 ppi
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 4.7 inches, 1280 x 720, 312ppi
  • Lumia 920 – 4.5 inches, 1280 x 728, 332 ppi
  • iPhone 5 – 4 inches, 1136 x 640, 326ppi

Operating system

  • Galaxy Note II – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Motorola RAZR HD – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Galaxy S III – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Lumia 920 – Windows Phone 8
  • iPhone 5 – iOS 6

Cameras

  • Lumia 920 – 8.7 megapixels (rear), 1.3 megapixels (front)
  • Galaxy Note II – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.9 megapixels (front)
  • Galaxy S III – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.9 megapixels (front)
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.3 megapixels (front)
  • iPhone 5 – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.2 megapixels (front)

Battery

  • Galaxy Note II – 3,100mAh (No official stats given)
  • Motorola Razr HD – 2,530 mAh (10 hr video playback, 6hr web browsing, 6hr GPS usage)
  • Galaxy S III – 2,100 mAh (No official stats given)
  • Lumia 920 – 2,000 mAh (10hr 3G talk time, 67hr music playback, 6hr video playback)
  • iPhone 5 – (8hr 3G/LTE talk time, 10hr web browsing via wifi)

Size

  • Galaxy S III – 70.6 x 136.6 x 8.6 mm, 133g
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 67.9 x 131.9 x 8.4 mm, 146g
  • Galaxy Note II – 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm, 180g
  • Lumia 920 – 70.8 x 130.3 x 10.7 mm, 185g
  • iPhone 5 – 58.6 x 123.8 x 7.6 mm, 112g

The stats speak for themselves. In comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S III, which is the most popular 4G LTE smartphone on the market right now, the iPhone 5 has a smaller screen, a lower-resolution front-facing camera, a weaker battery, and is generally smaller all around. In fact, the iPhone 5 ranks last in every single category out of all the phones listed (Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, Razr HD, Lumia 900, iPhone 5).

Overall, the hype surrounding the iPhone 5 was more than what Apple delivered. What we have here is a somewhat generic 4G LTE smartphone that is outmatched by at least four other phones, not to mention the fact that it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Add that to the fact that Apple could be sued by HTC and Samsung for (ironically) patent infringement over 4G LTE technology and you have one big dropped ball from Apple.

If you still think the iPhone 5 is the greatest thing since sliced bread then by all means, throw your money at Apple once again. Pre-orders for the device will become available on Friday, September 14th with actual shipments of the phone going out on September 21st. Pricing is the same as the launch of the iPhone 4S with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions available for $199, $299 and $399, respectively.

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After a Victory Over Samsung, Apple Turns Its Sights on Google

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 28-08-2012

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Apple vs GoogleFresh off its $1.05 billion patent lawsuit victory over Samsung, Apple is turning its sights on another tech giant, this one a little bigger than Samsung, however. After suing the crap out of Samsung for patent infringement, Apple CEO Tim Cook is reportedly in talks with Google CEO Larry Page about numerous intellectual property matters, including those at the center of the ongoing patent disputes between both companies.

These talks, which have taken place sort of secretively, began last week over the phone and will continue in the coming weeks. In addition to that, discussions involving lower-level executives for both companies are also being conducted. Cook has always said that these patent suits, including the one against Samsung, weren’t about attacking Android, which the late CEO Steve Jobs vowed.

Instead, Cook claims that the suits are to protect Apple’s properties. However, there is a fear now that the ruling laid forth last week has set the stage for additional lawsuits against other Android device makers. According to a statement from Google about the Apple-Samsung verdict, “The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims.”

Google also added, “Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”

However, Google and Apple are discussing infringement issues in private. One possible scenario, according to sources, that is being contemplated by the two companies could be an actual truce involving disputes over basic Android features and functions. Unfortunately, it is still unclear if the two CEOs are discussing a broad settlement covering a wide array of disputes or are focusing on a more limited set of issues.

With the recent win over Samsung, Apple may be feeling pretty good about itself, which could be why it has decided to take on Google. The problem here is that Google is a little more powerful than Samsung. I’m curious to see if Apple will be able to give a one-two punch right to the face of Android by taking down Google right after defeating Samsung.

Source: Tom’s Hardware – Google and Apple CEOs Talking Over Patent Issues

 

Judge Pleads with Samsung and Apple to Talk It Out

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 14-08-2012

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Tim Cook and Choi Gee-SungThe Federal Judge who is overseeing the insane patent feud between Apple and Samsung has requested that the Chief Executives of both companies sit down and talk one more time to try and settle the case before it is handed over to a jury. Judge Lucy Koh recently warned lawyers for both parties that she “sees risks here for both sides” in handing the case to the jury, made up of nine individuals, which is set to begin deliberations next week.

Thankfully, the lawyers agreed that the CEOs of both companies would attempt to talk. However, outside lawyers and patent experts that have been following the case believe that an 11th hour breakthrough isn’t likely. According to intellectual property consultant Florian Mueller, “I don’t think this dispute is ripe for a settlement.” Mueller also says that both sides have too much stake in the case.

The case itself is in its third week of trial and has prompted disclosures about meetings between the companies in 2010, after Apple approached Samsung with concerns about patent infringement. Judge Koh requested a pretrial meeting back in May between CEO of Apple Tim Cook and CEO of Samsung Choi Gee-Sung, to which both parties complied.

Unfortunately, that meeting, along with many other attempts, failed to result in a deal between the two companies. In addition to that, Judge Koh has been impatient with both sides and has suggested that both companies have already accomplished a lot by taking the trial this far, including raising awareness of their intellectual properties. According to Koh, “In many respects, it is mission accomplished and time for peace.”

To be honest, I agree with Judge Koh. I think this patent suit has gone on long enough and that the case can only end badly for both sides. The real question is which side will suffer the most. Samsung seems to be the one suffering the most at this very moment, though who knows what the jury will decide when they call out that final verdict.

Source: The Wall Street Journal – Samsung, Apple Urged to Talk

 

Apple Prepping for Newer, Smaller iPad?

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 03-07-2012

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new iPadIt appears as if Apple’s component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September of a tablet with a smaller screen than the current generation iPad. This news comes from anonymous people who are “familiar” with the situation, suggesting that a launch for the device is also in the near future.

Two of the sources stated that the tablet’s screen will likely be smaller than 8″, 1.7″ shorter then the current 9.7″ screen of the current iPad, a size that has remained unchanged since the very first model launched back in 2010. Officials at the component supplier, who spoke under anonymity, stated that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet.

Earlier in the year it was reported that Apple was testing a smaller version of the iPad but had yet to decide whether or not to proceed with production of the device. Many consumers would probably flock to a smaller iPad with a reduced price as it would allow them to have most of the benefits of the current iPad without the steep price tag.

One source stated that Apple is working with multiple screen manufacturers, including LG in South Korea and AU Optronics in Taiwan. Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), an Apple spokeswoman out of Cupertino declined to comment on any such allegations.

Analysts also believe that a smaller iPad could help Apple maintain the dominance it has on the tablet market, especially with stiff  competition coming from other manufacturers like Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, all of which having recently unveiled tablets of their own.

The iPad held a 62% share of the world-wide tablet market last year with tablet sales all around expected to increase 85% this year to a total of 126.6 million units. As the tablet market expands, the choices for consumers increase as well with more options and variations to choose from.

Google began accepting pre-orders for the Nexus 7, which is expected to sell for $199 and is in direct competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. In addition to that, Microsoft’s Surface tablet, which is expected to drop this fall with a 10.6″ display, is said to be the biggest new competition for the iPad.

Source: The Wall Street Journal – Apple Preps for Smaller Tablet

 

Apple Drops from #1 Spot in Mobile Market, Replaced by Samsung

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 27-04-2012

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Samsung Galaxy S2It’s finally happened. Apple has finally been knocked off the number one spot, at least as far as smartphones are concerned. According to recent reports, Samsung saw shipments of smartphones skyrocket over this same time last year, allowing the company to surpass Apple in worldwide mobile phone shipments. At the same time, Nokia saw its share drop significantly.

Samsung’s share in the global mobile phone market increased from 12.2% in the first quarter of 2011 to an astounding 30.6% in the first quarter of 2012. But just because it lost the number one spot doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t increase as well. The Cupertino company saw its share increase from an 18.1%  share (2011) to a 24.1% share (2012).

The entire market saw an increase too as overall global smartphone shipments increased 41% annually to total 145 million units in the first quarter of 2012. Apple and Samsung combined to account for over half of that number. According to Executive Director at Strategy Analytics Neil Mawston, “Samsung and Apple are outcompeting most of their major rivals and the smartphone market is at risk of becoming a two-horse race.”

Samsung’s growth is stemming from the company’s very successful Galaxy devices, as well as some other products. “Samsung’s global smartphone shipments rose 253% annually…as demand surged for its popular Galaxy models such as the Note, S2 and Y,” Strategy Analytics noted. Unfortunately, all this good news for Samsung and Apple means bad news for Nokia, who saw its shares drop heavily from 23.5% in the first quarter of 2011 to 8.2% in the first quarter of 2012.

Tom Kang, Director of Strategy Analytics, stated, “This is Nokia’s lowest market share level in the smartphone category since 2002. Nokia’s new Microsoft Lumia portfolio has recently gotten off to an encouraging start in the critical United States market, but shipments there are not yet large enough to offset the firm’s tumbling Symbian volumes in the rest of the world.”

The good news here for Apple is that they manage to remain near the top despite only having two smartphones, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, on the market. Samsung, on the other hand, has a lot of different options for customers to choose from, which means that there is a greater chance for people to find a phone that fits them the best. I feel like as soon as the iPhone 5 drops, Apple will be right back on top.

Source: CNET – Samsung tops Apple in global mobile phone shipments

 

iPad Still Dominating Tablet Sales, Though Android is Catching Up Fast

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 22-07-2011

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Apple iPad 2I don’t think this is new news to anybody out there, but Apple’s iPad was undoubtedly the indisputable world dictator in the land of technology and tablets in 2010 and still is for the first half of 2011. However, that does not mean that Apple will remain on top forever. Google’s Android platform is slowly capturing the market share from Apple like the little engine that could.

At the moment, Android is the most popular OS in the market for touch-screen smartphones and that popularity is only going in one direction, up. In addition to that, Android is also becoming increasingly popular on tablets as well, with many of the big name players (aside from Apple, of course) designing devices with the Android OS.

According to Strategy Analytics, nearly 4.6 million tablets running the Android operating system were shipped in the second quarter of 2011, a 100,000 unit increase from one year prior. During that same period, Apple managed to sell 9.3 million iPad units, nearly three times as many as the 3.3 million sold during the second quarter of 2010.

One thing to take into consideration here, however, is that there are multiple manufacturers making Android tablets and only one manufacturer making iPad tablets. Companies like Samsung and Motorola have seen success with their Galaxy Tab and Xoom tablets, respectively, while other, smaller companies, like Archos, have seen a little bit of success as well.

According to Neil Mawston, Director of Strategy Analytics, “No Android vendor yet offers a blockbuster model to rival the iPad, and demand for many vendors’ products remains patchy.” While demand may not be as high for other devices, some products, like the Galaxy Tab from Samsung, are viable opponents to the iPad, at least in my opinion.

Amazon was able to dominate the market in terms of electronic book readers and rumors are now circulating that the company is going to try its hand at tablets. With the success of the eReaders, Apple may very well find even more competition for its beloved iPad.

“If Amazon decides to enter the Android tablet category later this year,” says Nawston, “that will bring fresh excitement and buzz to the Android community, but Amazon will need to deliver a truly standout offering if it really wants to make headway against the popular iPad.”

Source: Xbit Laboratories – Tablets Powered by Google Android Grab 30% of the Market in Q2 2011 – Analysts.

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