Are Smartphones in the Decline?

Apple Inc reported less than expected quarterly results. Many people are starting to question if Apple Inc relied to heavily on their smartphone and if the global smartphone industry is becoming more vulnerable to economic shocks than it was during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

In Developed markets such as the UK,  1 in 2 people have a smartphone. However, when you are trying to penetrate into emerging markets, such as Brazil, it become much more difficult to implement a phone, when cheaper phones that are usually under £100 are squeezing company profit margins.

During the infancy of smartphones everyone had to have one. The demand was so high that sales were not affected during the crisis as other electronics were.

Now that there is no new breaking technology, as there was in 2007 with the iPhone touchscreen, people are not in a hurry to upgrade their phone. Which is evident with the June quarterly results; it showed a bigger hit from the European debt crisis than Wall Street expected.

No one is able to escape this recession as users who cancel their subscription to upgrade to a newer model or wait to upgrade their phones every 18-24 months are now holding on to their phone three months longer than usual.

There is no breakthrough reason to upgrade as quickly as before and now with the crisis not many are willing to shell out £400 for a new phone.

Although I don’t think smartphones are declining anytime soon, I think it has just saturated the developed market and needs to put efforts implementing into emerging markets. Although this might be difficult and much slower than it was for developed markets, analysts say it will be able to support smartphone shipments even if the global economy takes a turn for the worse. However, pricing is going to be cutthroat as Apple’s iPhones and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy will give other smartphone companies pressure to cut prices. This is also very evident with the recent results of Samsung’s quarterly earnings stating the best quarterly smartphone sales in history beating Apple. Because of Samsung’s size it is able to drive costs down and still make a profit where other companies like RIM will have difficulty in emerging markets.

 It’s going to be a very interesting rest of the year for these smartphone companies as they fight to get their share in the emerging markets in an economy that will not provide immunity to crisis.

 

 

 

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Google Nexus 7 – Demand Too Great

Today is a pretty sad day if you have been waiting to get your hands on Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. The demand has obviously surpassed Google’s expectations stating that it is currently out of stock at the Google Play store in the UK and the US.

For those of us that aren’t familiar with Google’s Nexus 7. I’ll give you a brief rundown.

Google Nexus is the first tablet designed by Google at a mere 7 inches it is deigned to compete against the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad.  It is extremely thin (10.9mm) and light (336g). You can hold it in one hand and put it in your pocket.

With a price tag under £200 it packs a lot of features. For a very budget price built by Asus it sports a   1200 x 800 HD backlit IPS display packs a respectable 216 pixels per inch onto the screen. At the bottom of there is a micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack.

Inside, the Nexus 7 you will find an accelerometer, magnetometer and a gyroscope and GPS chip, to take advantage of Google Maps’ new offline mode for navigating when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

However, the biggest draw and probably the reason why this tablet already has sold out is the Android Jelly Bean update standard for all Google Nexus tablets. Rounding out the Google Nexus is the Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. Google Nexus is sold in both 8GB and 16GB.

Although Google ran out of the 16GB version, they are still accepting orders for the 8GB version. However, if you desperately want that extra 8GB Google will allow you to sign up for an email notification when it is back on stock.

This is very interesting news in the tablet industry because this very quick sell out could only mean how it will affect the Apple iPad as well as the Amazon Kindle as supporters are very keen on not only the price point but also the size.

It has already been announced that Apple is going to create a mini iPad but the release date is still not known. With the success of this tablet, who knows how customers loyalties will stay.

There have been a lot of positive reviews about the Nexus. What are your thoughts? Were you one of the lucky few who were able to get their hands on the Google Nexus 7?

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Anonymous – Harder to Live Up to their Name

Anonymous Hacking GroupThe loosely organised hacker group Anonymous was created in 2003.  Since then, they’ve committed many ‘serious’ attacks, with many of them taking place in 2010 & 2011.  The group has been known to hack into large corporations (PayPal) and governments (US gov’t) showing how easy it is to get past their security systems, as well as take ‘revenge’ against what they believe are poor decisions and actions by such organisations.  The group tends to gather personal information from their target’s databases and post them publicly, as well as organise protests.  An example of this is how they organised protests against the San Francisco Transportation’s decision to block phone service in their stations to quell growing protests when the take place. Anonymous has also used an internet traffic blocking method called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.  This clogs the targeted organisation’s web servers so that they have virtually no use of their computer systems any longer.  This can cause major damage to daily operations costing hundreds of thousands of Pounds at times.  Often, it’s the less technically able members that carry out many of these attacks, while the technical skilled members lead.

Some love these guys, others consider them a major problem that needs to be dealt with, either way it’s clear that they believe in things and follow their talk up with action.  Doing so has landed them into a lot of hot water with the FBI and other world governments.  LulzSec is a similar hacking group primarily based in the UK, while Anonymous is mainly US based.  Governments are coming down hard on both groups.  The FBI has made over 75 raids on suspected Anonymous members and has arrested 16 people since they consider the group a national security threat.  They are trying hard to make more arrests and take the group out entirely, but the problem is that there is no central head of the group.  Members work together informally and tend to remain isolated much of the time.  Virtually anyone can hack an organisation and say they’re from Anonymous.  It’s not easy for the FBI or others to rid the world of a group that has little to no structure. The lack of structure has also drawn lines within Anonymous.  The group has stated they plan to take down Facebook in November, but there’s word that many member do not support this act. anonymous hacking

With the lack of structure within Anonymous, or any other hacking group, they are much more dangerous as anyone can do what they want and label it as Anonymous, while making it hard for authorities to catch up with them.  So whether you believe they’re a national/international threat or they’re fighting for civil freedoms, it’s interesting to watch this cat and mouse chase. I have a feeling it’s not over yet even though the FBI and others are claiming they’re disbanding the group.

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Sony Gets Into Tablet Business

Tablet S

Sony Tablets have recently been publisied hoping to take some of Apple’s iPad market away from them.  Sony has created the Tablet S, and the Tablet P.  The prior of the two is shaped as a wedge, about the size of an iPad, and can be used as a smart remote control as well.  The Tablet P is much small, being able to fit it into small bags or purses.  It is a closed face device, where once it’s opened like a book there are two screens.

Sony has decided to compete with the tops players in the computer and tablet business instead of opting to change their focus like HP has announced recently.  HP has decided to get out of the computer business after having taken major losses to competition, in particularly Apple.

An advantage with tablets and mobile phones is having a remote device to support some of the newest software applications.  For instance, Fax to Email is a relatively new way to send and receive faxes.  With a tablet or mobile phone, it’s easy for anyone to keep intouch with their fax from anywhere, which is called ‘cloud computing‘.

Sony’s Tablet S will be on sale right away with a price ranging from $499-699USD, while the Tablet P will be released later this fall for a price yet to be announced.

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Conservative MP’s Family Falls Victim to Online Bullying

Internet BullyingTory MP, Louise Mensch, has recently received threats against her children from Anonymous and LulzSec due to her stance on shutting down social media sites during specific crises.    The hacking groups are not pleased with the MP because of position of shutting down social media during riots, which is a violation of free speech.  The groups also demanded she stop using twitter, which she responded saying “I don’t bully easily, kids. Or in fact at all.”  Mrs. Mensch stated that closing down social media sites for a few hours will not disrupt people’s lives, but could help put an end to riots.  She thinks it’s no different than closing down train stations during a crisis.  This incident has been reported to the police, and she has been tweeting as much as ever or more to show that she will not be bullied by anyone.

The issue whether government should be restricting free speech on social media, even during riots, has points on both sides.  The government’s point of view is that it will put an end to people organising crimes.  This is a good point, but when does the government act on this considering there’s most likely a number of correspondences per day organizing some type of criminal activities.  The other side of the coin is freedom of free speech, and that people should have the ability to say what they want via whatever source they choose at all times.  This is all and good, and I’m sure many would agree with this statement as well, but where does one draw the line as to what’s being said isn’t illegal.  Depending on the nature of what’s said, or the crime being planned, you can imagine pretty quickly that freedom of speech is quickly thrown out the window.  It doesn’t sound like one trumps the other in all cases.Social Media Bully

Where to draw the line and how to implement this is something I don’t have an answer to.  It looks like it’s a glimpse of what’s to come in the future regarding more social media technology versus freedoms of speech and safety of the public in general.

To conclude, does anyone else find it ironic that these hacking groups threatened her to get off Twitter in the name of defending free speech???  That says something in itself don’t you think…

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Nokia & Microsoft Pair-Up

Recently, Microsoft and Nokia have met numerous times over the past months to discuss a joint venture in smart phones.  They hope that their strengths converged will produce a line of cell phones that will quickly grab market share from other industry leaders like Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android phones, and Rim’s BlackBerry line.

With a Windows mobile operating system and the Nokia phone’s, which have previously been industry leaders that have let their grip slip in recent years, announced their plan to partner first in February  hoping they can quickly bring a winning product to the global market.

The chairman of Nokia, Jorma Olilla said in February that the company’s cell phones equipped with Microsoft System will reach the market in 2012. But in a document sent to the U.S. government, Nokia has admitted that its agreement with Microsoft was not yet fully completed and added saying that the Windows Phone only become the main operating system from Nokia in 2013.  Time will tell exactly when we’ll see this line of mobile devices.  Microsoft has also said that some features of their smart phone partnership include:

  • Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas;
  • Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone. Nokia would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.
  • Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.
  • Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services. For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience
  • Nokia’s extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.
  • Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem’s global reach.
  • Nokia’s content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.

If both Microsoft and Nokia synch and develop a wide range of smart phones that are on the market quickly while RIM is struggling, they can to take a piece of the smart phone market pie instead of letting competitors like Apple and Google Android phones pick up the slack, or let RIM back in the game.  Only time will tell.

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New Messaging Platform for Facebook

Facebook Messenger, a new smartphone app released by Facebook, ties smartphone instant messaging and SMS.  Facebook has added to their existing superiority with an app that is separate from their ‘Facebook’ application in that the app is solely for instant messaging.  Users can send and receive messages live via Facebook Messenger app, but there’s an added bonus in this app being that messages can be forwarded onto phones via SMS if the recipient’s Facebook Messaging app is not online.  Even if a user happens not to have a smartphone, they only need to register their mobile phone number with Facebook Messenger so to send and receive messages through SMS .

This app is another step in which Facebook wants to retain their social communication superiorty to hold back company’s like Google, who have their own smartphone messenger app called ‘Huddle’.  This move is also an attack on existing instant messenger services like Icq, MSN, and AIM.  Facebook is truly expanding their hold on almost all methods of communication.

One communication area that they have no affect on is fax technology. Although Facebook hasn’t stumbled in this direction as of yet, there have been advances recently, mainly being ‘fax to email’.  Fax to email, otherwise known as online fax, gets rid of the need to have big fax machines, ink cartridges, and paper jams causing missed faxes since you print only what’s needed.  Faxes can be sent or received from existing email accounts like Gmail, Hotmail, and others; or service providers should offer an online interface that can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with internet connection.  It’s assumed Facebook will stay away from fax to email services since it’s a business function, while they concentrate on social communication.

More information for Facebook Messenging application can be found here.

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