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Samsung working out deal to compete with Apple Pay

Posted by wicked December - 17 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

The relatively warm acceptance of Apple Pay – Apple’s wireless payment system that allows owners of the latest iPhone models to wave their smartphone instead of swiping your card to pay – has probably forced Samsung to look for a competing system using its own line of smartphones. The South Korean gadget giant is reportedly in talks with US payments startup LoopPay to make this happen.

Nothing is final, and neither Samsung nor LoopPay executives would comment on the rumor, but the deal has to be hammered down pretty fast for the infrastructure and the system to be online by the time the Samsung Galaxy S6 comes out – rumored to be in March at the Mobile World Congress in Berlin. The Galaxy S6 – as with its predecessor the Galaxy S5 – will look to have fingerprint recognition in place to make the payments system work.

Apple Pay works pretty much as you imagine a wireless payment system to work – it lets iPhone owners pay for items in stores by placing their phone close to the Apple Pay checkout equipment. Users then complete the purchase by authenticating through the phone’s fingerprint identification sensor.

looppay-fob-ps

We imagine Samsung’s process would look about the same as this, only that LoopPay’s current system mimics a swipe with a card – so in theory, it might work in more locations than Apple Pay or even Google Wallet, as it utilizes the same equipment as a swipe terminal for a traditional credit card. Nothing is solid yet, and the deal may yet break down, but Samsung will feel that it is imperative for them to finalize this one in light of flagging smartphone sales.

VIA: ReCode

Samsung reportedly in talks to launch their own mobile payment system

Posted by wicked December - 16 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

samsung galaxy logo 2

Google Wallet and Apple Pay have both helped advance the future of payment technology for the better. Take your phone out, press a few buttons or swipe your finger, and you’re all set to be on your way. Naturally, Samsung would like to join in on the fun, as they’re reportedly in talks with startup LoopPay to create a mobile payment method of their own.

According to multiple sources from ReCode, Samsung has discussed a deal with LoopPay, a mobile payment startup, and already has a working prototype on a Samsung device. The rumored payment method is very similar to both Google Wallet and Apple Pay, though it differs in some key areas.

The technology would still require you to take out your mobile device to complete the payment, but unlike Google Wallet and Apple Pay, LoopPay doesn’t just work with NFC. LoopPay’s “magnetic secure transmission” technology is backwards-compatible with legacy terminals, and the built-in hardware makes payments by means of a small electromagnetic field that closely resembles that of a credit card swipe. To complete the payment, all users would need to do is tap the phone near the credit card swiping terminal… and that’s it. This allows the payment method to be compatible with both NFC payment modules as well as credit card swiping terminals. What’s more, the card information will likely be secured on Samsung devices by using the fingerprint sensor, much like we see with Apple Pay.

Earlier this month, LoopPay CEO Will Graylin told ReCode that their technology would launch in a mainstream smartphone sometime in 2015. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, Samsung hasn’t officially reached a deal with LoopPay quite yet, and sources say “the deal could still fall apart.”

Is the world ready for yet another form of mobile payment? Let us know what you think!

Xiaomi debuts as top 5 smartphone vendor while Samsung & Apple slide – Gartner

Posted by wicked December - 15 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off
Hugo Barra Xiaomi -11

Former Googler Hugo Barra has been leading Xiaomi’s international expansion in 2014

Despite what many may look at as a sign of corporate demise, the ascending and descending yo-yo effect of corporations that once dominated/underwhelmed in their sectors is often necessary in order to push innovation and re-energize creativity. Two of the smartphone industries biggest behemoths are currently finding this lesson out the hard way, with the latest sales numbers reflecting a recent decline in their dominance, while newcomer Xiaomi has now made its official debut as a top 5 smartphone vendor.

The numbers at a glance

According to Gartner, a total of 301 million smartphones were sold in the third quarter 2014, which reflects a 20% increase from Q3 of 2013. While this obviously reflects that there indeed is growth within the sector itself (66% of all phones globally used are now smartphones), Apple and Samsung’s share of those sales (37%) witnessed a combined 7% drop, mostly at Samsung’s expense:

Gartner Q3 2014

While these two companies are always the first to be analyzed due to their dominance of this sector in the past years, even the smallest decline can often make investors cringe. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Apple is expected to have very strong Q4 sales, as demand for the bigger iPhone 6 Plus is by no means lacking.

Samsung, who’s woes have been a subject in the tech world for quite some time now, is still maintaining its lead in the market (24.4%), which is far from Apple’s 12.7% share, but more than 7 percentage points less than what they sold the previous year in the same quarter.

So what is the determining factor in these numbers that is causing such a shift? In a word: China.

The impact of China and emerging markets

As displayed in the chart above, 3 of the top 5 leading smartphone makers are now Chinese companies. Samsung lost a whopping 28.6% share in China, which reflects how consumers are shifting their buying habits toward devices made in China with good specs and significantly lower costs.

Xiaomi is clearly the new kid on the block here, as the company has now made its debut as one of the top 5 vendors in the world within the smartphone market. Their numbers skyrocketed a jaw dropping 336% in Q3 to capture 5.2% of the market (16 million sales in total, which is way up from the 3.6 million sales last year), while Huawei and Lenovo also made their claim due to higher demand in China.

Considering the comments that Samsung recently made about Xiaomi, it is very clear that they mean business when it comes to making their mark on the smartphone world, regardless of who they need to go through to get there.

Android growth continues

Android as a total gained 1.1 percentage points to arrive at 83.1% market share for Q3, while iOS came in at 12.7%, and Windows at 3%:

Gartner Q3 2014 2

Making adjustments

With 3 of the worlds top 5 vendors now coming out of China, analyzing why their strategy (especially Xiaomi’s) is having such success is something that all companies would be foolish not to do. Not only are they selling devices with solid hardware at prices significantly lower than bigger companies like Samsung and Apple, but their approach to tackling developing markets that typically don’t pay $600 for a phone has in essence made them somewhat of a household name in a very short period of time.

The days of devices being sold for the same or close to the same price in an emerging market as their Western counterparts appears to be on the decline, as consumers now realize that they can own quality hardware for a fraction of the price.

xiaomi mi4 first impressions aa (1 of 13)

The Mi4 is Xiaomi’s latest flagship

Final thoughts

When taking into account that Apple’s “new” devices are bound to have a huge fourth quarter, how Chinese companies are growing at a mind blowing pace, and how companies like LG are now starting to get their act together, the real struggle will seemingly lie with Samsung. The good news is that there is now no longer room for “laziness” within the smartphone world, as minor updates and tweaks are no longer enough for consumers to open their wallets.

Samsung still holds the lead, they still sell the most, and they can still turn things around should they choose to take some of their strategy back to the drawing board. Whether or not they will do that, however, is yet to be seen.

That being said, Xiaomi also has its share of problems and accusations that it will need to confront. Should Xiaomi continue to rise, it will realize that success in this industry does indeed come with a price and a level of corporate responsibility that no amount of sales or popularity can prepare them for.

What do you think of the current state of OEM vendors, and how do you see things turning out?

Bose and Apple kiss and make up – settlement opens gates for sales to resume

Posted by Tom December - 11 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

The world of big-name electronics is a cut-throat one where friendships are good while they’re mutually beneficial, thrown out as soon as a problem a rises, and then swiftly resumed once the issue is settled and mutual money making can resume.

So it is will the short saga of Apple and Bose. Getting a product into Apple Stores is going to boost sales, so upsetting the fruity ones can have serious ramifications.

Apple banished Bose products from its website and retail stores during a patent dispute and an NFL branding bias issue. The dispute is now settled, however, so rumours suggest it’ll be business as usual in the world of Bose and Apple, with the site and stores restocking in time for Christmas.

Both sides are no doubt smiling through gritted teeth. All part of the fun world of consumer electronics.

Via gizmodo

Apple and Samsung face off in Appeals Court

Posted by wicked December - 5 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Apple-vs-Samsung-lawsuit1

Samsung and Apple are back in court again as Samsung looks to appeal the $930 million jurors awarded to Apple for intellectual property infringement. During the oral argument hearing yesterday, discussions were technical in nature, and discussed whether or not portions of the iPhone’s design was functional or ornamental. But that wasn’t the only aspect that the three-judge panel discussed.

The panel also discussed whether or not Apple was entitled to all of Samsung’s profits made from those devices found to infringe on Apple’s designs. The panel asked each side multiple questions that were probing in nature. Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan appeared to be on the defensive as she faced a more forceful barrage of questions. She pushed arguments about the large patent judgement being improper.

Apple too faced questions and the panel listened to arguments from Apple lawyer William Lee. The court did raise several questions about the $382 million in damages because Samsung’s products traded upon the iPhone’s distinctive look. According to the court, that portion of the award money may be vulnerable.

Originally Samsung was ordered to pay $1.05 billion in damages after a trial in August of 2012. Jurors found the Galaxy S II and Droid Charge to have infringed on Apple’s patents. After a retrial, Samsung was ordered to only pay $930 million.

A decision from Appeals Court appears to be at least several months away but it’s quite possible that Samsung may only have to pay about half of what they were originally required to pay if that $382 million is thrown out. That said, only time will tell.

source: Wall Street Journal

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iPhone 6 Plus dominated US phablet market in October, says Kantar

Posted by wicked December - 5 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

iphone 6 plus vs samsung galaxy note 3 quick look aa (6 of 20)

Samsung recently ran a PR campaign to remind people it created the phablet genre (well, give or take a Streak or two). The Galaxy Note was largely ridiculed when it came out for being way too big and tablet-like. Steve Jobs was so disgusted in particular, that he tried to make it the punch line of many snide remarks. In a truly ironic fashion, Apple has now discovered that the device it knew customers didn’t want is actually just the opposite. According to research firm Kantar:

On the market for just over a month of the three months ending with October 2014, the iPhone 6 Plus captured 41% of “phablet” sales—sales of smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches and larger. Phablet sales represented 10% of overall smartphone sales, up from 2% for the same period in 2013.
Carolina Milanesi
Kantar

Objectively speaking, this is an impressive performance. Apple managed to convince countless Americans that big phones are great, after Samsung and other OEMs tried and failed to do the same thing for years.

But this achievement is also a bit sad. For a company that spent years churning out phones with a scant 4 inches of screen (or less), the success can only be seen as complete legitimization of everything Samsung has done with the Note. Besides that, while Apple never hesitates to tell the world all the magic it has invented, the iPhone 6 Plus can be seen as a weaker product, for it offers no real multi-tasking, no stylus input, and save for a keyboard change, Reachability, and landscape home rotation, any kind of in-house software that was created specifically for the additional productivity. And then there’s Bendgate, Bendgazi; call it what you want, but the iPhone 6 seems to be more envious of the LG G Flex than anyone first thought. While the device has good battery life for its thickness (something Apple had long maintained was a key factor in deciding if it should release a phablet), the fact that it is far too pliable in the pocket smacks of bad design.

There are two key points that should be raised here as well, in seeking to evaluate the device’s success:

1. These sales figures come from the USA. As companies like Xiaomi and Huawei have proven, the American market isn’t the be-all, end-all by far. Likewise, Americans seem to be the most gaga over anything Apple, whereas other countries have seen a decrease in Apple related sales.

2. Apple had forced users to accept a small screen since the inception of the iPhone, and thus there was/is considerable demand for a product that has never been offered before. Likewise, the sales figures offered by this report are taken from October. Obviously a product is going to be selling a ton of units when it first releases provided it has a fair shot at success. It would have been far more telling had the data consisted of the three months following the release of the 6 Plus so that one might see if the sales drop off. The other devices included in the report had been released earlier and thus sales would have dropped significantly.

iphone 6 plus vs samsung galaxy note 3 quick look aa (8 of 20)

Still, given that the USA has accepted the iPhone 6 Plus, there are two possibilities of what might happen going forward:

Now that Apple users finally have a big screen phone, and it’s little more than a mini iPad Mini, there will come an expectation for the software to catch up to the form factor. Samsung offers an incredible amount of bundled content that make use of the S Pen, and even some that don’t require it such as the split screen mode. This is actually a great opportunity for Android OEMs to highlight how much more competent their large devices are due to more careful thought put into their development.

The success may also inspire other manufacturers to double down on the development of smartphones in the 5.5-6.X range. Likewise, it would follow that as the iPhone 6 Plus is disseminated among larger swathes of people, seeing a phablet may gain larger mainstream appeal and acceptance, thus inspiring more self-conscious customers to take the plunge.

What do you think of the iPhone 6 Plus’s initial sales performance?

Report: Chromecast surpasses Apple TV in the video streaming market

Posted by wicked December - 3 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Chromecast Belkin Miracast AA-15

The popularity of Google’s Chromecast stick shows no indication of declining , and as the number of countries the device is available in continues to grow, more and more consumers are starting to take notice of what this little device is capable of. So many in fact, that a new report by The Wall Street Journal indicates that the Chromecast has surpassed Apple TV all together in video streaming, to become the second most popular streaming device in the United States.

Market research company Parks Associates was responsible for the actual survey, which covered a span of 10,000 homes in the United States. Each home in the survey had a broadband internet connection, with the survey discovering that 10% bought a streaming stick between January and October of 2014. Chromecast came in at second place with 20% of streaming devices sold, with Roku taking the number one slot at 29%. When compared to the same survey taken for the first 10 months of 2013, it’s clear to see that Google’s device has eaten some market share, as Roku at that time came in first at 46% and Apple TV second with 26%.

The 2014 survey also shows that the Amazon Fire TV stick is already off to a respectable start, a month after its debut, coming in fourth place with 10%.

Price points would appear to be a determining factor here, as the Chromecast, Roku Stick, and Amazon Fire stick all come in at under $50, which is half the cost of Apple TV. As director of research Barbara Kraus points out, “Amazon’s Fire TV streaming stick leaves Apple as the only top player without a stick product in the streaming media device category”, with Apple instead choosing to rely on their TV top box set for streaming services.

In 2014, Google and Amazon have also released TV top box sets (Amazon Fire TV and Google’s Nexus Player) that both have optional game controllers.

With the success of Roku, Google, and Amazon stream sticks (Microsoft also recently introduced their own streaming adapter in September), might it be a signal to Apple to manufacture one of its own? As the popularity of streaming devices grows, it might not be such a bad idea. Barbera went on to state that over a quarter of US homes will have a streaming device by 2015, with over 50 million homes projected to have one by 2017.

Leak outs possible HTC One M9 details, bigger screen, new camera tech

Posted by wicked December - 2 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Chinese sources have leaked what they purport to be specs of the new HTC flagship phone that will be launched possibly during the Mobile World Congress in Berlin, March 2015. The possible HTC One M9 is said to bring a larger screen, or one version with a larger screen, as Apple did.

The specs are pretty straightforward and expected. But the main game-changer for HTC will reportedly be the huge (for them) 5.5-inch screen, packing a 2560×1440 resolution. This will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor with 3GB RAM, and internal storage options of up to 128GB (wow).

HTC_one_m9 leak

There will also be front-facing speakers possibly designed by Bose, and a generous 3500mAh battery. There is much speculation on whether HTC will finally drop the UltraPixel technology it has continued to market up until the HTC One M8 – we hope they do. The new camera is supposedly sporting a 16MP rear cam, although with HTC’s selfie phone out, we should expect something new with the M9.

This phone is physically big, that we can be sure of, but we are not doing away with the rumor that there will be an HTC One M9 “Prime”, possibly a bigger version of the smartphone. More on this as details become available.

VIA: SlashGear

Apple iPad Pro rumour: may be a 12.2-inch tablet packing a brand new A9 processor

Posted by Tom December - 1 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

The Apple iPad Pro, aka iPad Air Plus, is rumoured to arrive sometime between April and June 2015.

It’s slated to be a 12.2-inch tablet that will leave behind the current A8X processor in favour of the new A9.

Apparent schematics have been unearthed by the Japanese magazine Mac Fan. Check them out here.

Via techradar

Chromebooks now more popular than iPads in U.S. schools

Posted by wicked December - 1 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

acer_chromebook_13_clam_position_2_TA

For the first time ever, Chromebooks surpassed iPad sales to U.S. schools. According to IDC, 715,000 Chromebooks were sold to U.S. schools in the 3rd quarter as opposed to 702,000 iPads for the same period. It might not be by much, but the spread is likely to grow.

It’s obvious the lower costs that Chromebooks enjoy is a big factor. Schools can buy Chromebooks for as low as $199 vs the iPad Air, which runs $379 after educational discounts. Let’s also not forget the full keyboard that makes things a lot easier. Last but not least, Chromebooks are easier to manage.

IDC analyst Rajani Singh said, “Chromebooks are really gaining traction. The growth of Chromebook is a major concern for Apple’s iPad. As the average age of the student grows the need for a keyboard becomes very important.”

If there is one advantage that Apple has though, it’s the number of educational apps. There are over 75,000 educational apps in iTunes. However, Google recently launched Google Play for Education, which could make a run for the money especially since Android apps can be adapted to Chrome OS.

source: Financial Times
via: 9to5Google

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