Monday, November 28, 2011

China Ships More Smartphones Than the U.S. in the Third Quarter

According to a report from Strategy Analytics in terms of the shipment of units in the third quarter, China has surpassed the United States and become the largest smartphone market in the world. Strategy Analytics reported on Wednesday, November 23 that almost 24 million smartphones were shipped to China during the third quarter. During the same time period, the United States came in a close second with just over 23 million units.

"Smartphone shipments grew 58 percent sequentially to reach a record 23.9 million units in China during Q3 2011," Strategy Analytics Analyst Linda Sui said in a statement. "In contrast, smartphone shipments fell 7 percent sequentially to reach 23.3 million units in the United States. China has overtaken the United States for the first time to become the world's largest smartphone market by volume."

Nokia became the market leader in China during the third quarter, shipping more than 6.8 million smartphones to the country or 28.5 percent of all units that were shipped. Samsung came in second with a 17.6 percent market share and shipping more than 4.2 million smartphones. According to Strategy Analytics, all other vendors made up the other 12.9 million devices unaccounted for which is 54 percent of the smartphone market in China.

"China is now at the forefront of the worldwide mobile computing boom," said Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston. "China has become a large and growing smartphone market that no hardware vendor, component maker or content developer can afford to ignore."

"In the coming one or two quarters, it's going to be a seesaw game," Strategy Analytics director Thomas Kang said. "But going into next year, China will outstrip the U.S. market continuously. China is going to be larger every quarter."

In the United States it was HTC that came out on top, shipping the most smartphones in the third quarter. The company shipped more than 5.6 million units throughout the United States, 24 percent of the smartphone market. Apple came in second shipping more than 4.8 million iPhones, 20.6 percent of the market. All other smartphone manufacturers shipped a combined 12.9 million units, taking 55.4 percent of the smartphone market.

"China's rapid growth has been driven by an increasing availability of smartphones in retail channels, aggressive subsidizing by operators of high-end models like the Apple iPhone, and an emerging wave of low-cost Android models from local Chinese brands such as ZTE," said Kang.

Although China did take the spot as largest smartphone market in the world in terms of units shipped, Strategy Analytics did note that the United States remained the largest smartphone market in the world in terms of revenue.

Source: PCMag - China Passes U.S. as Top Smartphone Market by Volume and PCWorld - China Overtakes U.S. in Smartphone Shipments, Says Research Firm

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

AT&T Withdraws Merger Application

On Thursday, November 24 AT&T announced that it withdrew the application that it submitted to the Federal Communications Commission in order to acquire T-Mobile. With this withdrawal there will be more than $4 billion in “break-up” fees.

AT&T made sure to clarify that although it did withdraw the application which was submitted to the FCC, the deal is not dead. The company claims that instead it will focus on the antitrust lawsuit that the Department of Justice brought forward. The lawsuit is seeking to block the merger, due to the concern about competition issues.

"AT&T Inc. and [T-Mobile parent company] Deutsche Telekom AG are continuing to pursue the sale of Deutsche Telekom's U.S. wireless assets to AT&T and are taking this step to facilitate the consideration of all options at the FCC and to focus their continuing efforts on obtaining antitrust clearance for the transaction from the Department of Justice either through the litigation pending before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ... or alternate means," AT&T said in a statement. "As soon as practical, AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG intend to seek the necessary FCC approval."

The decision to withdraw the merger application came just two days after Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC, suggested that the merger was not in the interest of the public and advised the other commissioners to send the merger application for review to an administrative judge.

"The record clearly shows that—in no uncertain terms—this merger would result in a massive loss of U.S. jobs and investment," said a senior FCC official.

The chairman basically recommended that the deal be rejected; however, it is important to note that the FCC cannot technically block a deal. The FCC only has the ability to approve, approve with conditions or refer to an administrative law judge. When the FCC was reviewing the deal, they said that if AT&T and T-Mobile were to merge, the result would be massive layoffs. The case will go to trial in February.

There are several different consumer groups that feel that the withdraw of the merger application is meant as a last effort to save the merger.

"After today's actions, the chances that AT&T will take over T-Mobile are almost gone," President and Co-founder of Public Knowledge Gigi B. Sohn said in a statement. "While you can never count out AT&T entirely, the fact that they pulled their FCC application speaks volumes about the company's lack of confidence that it could prove in a legal setting at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the claims it spent millions of dollars to make about job creation and rural deployment of broadband, among other issues."

Sohn said that she believes that AT&T is attempting to "prevent the FCC from making public its many, well-documented findings that the deal is not in the public interest."

The Senior Vice President and Policy Director of Media Access Project Andrew Jay Schwartzman said that this decision from AT&T is an "act of desperation." "It is time for vainglorious managers at AT&T to accept that there is no way that this deal can obtain approval of the FCC and the courts," he said.

Source: PCMag - AT&T Pulls T-Mobile Merger Application From FCC, Will Take $4B Charge

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Galaxy Nexus Users Deal with "Phantom Volume" Issue

Random glitches seem to plague every high-profile smartphone that is released these days. Maybe smartphone manufacturers are working so hard at getting them to the public as quickly as possible that they aren’t testing them enough and catching these glitches. Whatever it is, there have been some major smartphone issues. Recently, we had the issue concerning the iPhone 4S battery, and now the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a “phantom volume” issue.

According to various reports from Galaxy Nexus users, their Android 4.0 phone’s volume will randomly move up and down on its own. Some users seem to be pretty fed up with the issue.

"Got my Galaxy Nexus on Friday night and so far I've been pretty impressed on the whole, however, the volume seems to have a ghost which makes it go up and down at its own accord!!" a user named finchilla wrote on the forums for U.K. wireless carrier O2. "I don't even have to be touching it and when it happens you have to wait for the volume bar to disappear before you can use the screen!!"

Finchilla even went so far as to post a YouTube video that demonstrates the issues that they have been experiencing with the smartphone.

DrGed, another Galaxy Nexus user, said that he also was having difficulties with the volume glitch. However, he did mention that he only experienced problems when he was making a phone call on 2G. "It makes phone calls pretty much impossible when on 2G!" he wrote.

On the forum, there have also been Galaxy Nexus users that have reported issues with the phone.

"I just received a phone call and the volume rocker I had to fight with to try and get it full volume. Phone won, call was quiet," wrote her0n.

"This morning the volume went down on its own. I actually saw the volume bar appear and decrease, as if I was pushing down on the rocker. It happened twice," wrote jonnyguitar. "Both times I was hammering the phone so perhaps it's related to RAM? The first time I was moving six 400mb avi files from one folder to another using a file manager app and listening to MP3s at the same time."

“I've got the volume problem too. Picked up my phone today and it’s done it about 5 times in the past hour or so while I've been playing with the phone. Usually coincides with me sending/ receiving a text message. Really annoying problem as I don’t know I have received a text most of the time,” wrote dumb donkey.

O2 was asked about the volume issue via Twitter. The company’s response this morning was that "unfortunately we don't have a fix, it has been reported to Google & Samsung though. Sorry!"

The glitch has reportedly caused Vodafone to hold off on releasing the device. "We're continuing to test the Galaxy Nexus software to ensure our customers get the best possible experience of the device," wrote Vodafone community manager Tom in a forum post on Thursday. "We'll provide concrete details on availability of the device once the testing process has been successfully completed."

The Galaxy Nexus is set to debut in the United States on Verizon Wireless; however, Verizon has not announced when it will be releasing the smartphone. Hopefully, all of the glitches will be worked out by the time the device hits the U.S.

Sources: PCMag - Samsung Galaxy Nexus Users Report 'Phantom Volume' Bug and xdadevelopers - Issues After 24 Hours

Friday, November 18, 2011

Archos Reveals Budget-Friendly Arnova 9 G2 Tablet

Archos Arnova 9 G2Tablets are amazing pieces of technology. They offer convenience and portability and also offer lots of fun interaction with touch screens and apps. However, while tablets are cool, you are going to have to fork over a nice piece of cash if you want to get a good one worth having. Thankfully there are companies out there, like Archos, that still put an effort into more low end devices, like the company's new Arnova 9 G2 tablet.

While Honeycomb may be on the minds of recent tablet developers, Gingerbread is on the mind of Archos, as that is the operating system implemented into the all new Arnova 9 G2, a 9.7" device with tablet-friendly modifications to Android. However, despite being on the low end of the spectrum, the Arnova 9 G2 does have some respectable hardware, mainly in the form of a 1GHz ARM processor and 8GB of built-in storage.

In a rather strange move, the Arnova 9 G2 tablet has a 4:3, 1,024 x 768 LCD screen, just like the one on Apple's iPad and HP's Touchpad. This is a definite departure from the "status quo" screen of most Android devices, which primarily use a 16:9 or 16:10 ratio. Due to the lower pixel density for a panel of this size and resolution, it is probably a lot cheaper to manufacture than the ones that are more prevalent on the market today.

In a not so strange move, WiFi is the only wireless option, though Archos has continued its tradition of expandibility with a microSD card slot, micro and full-size USB ports. Like many Gingerbread tablets currently on the market, Google services and Android Market access are absent.

The fact that this device users Gingerbread may be an big detriment, especially considering the fact that Ice Cream Sandwich is more or less here. However, Archos does have quite the community of modders, so you can definitely expect to see an ICS ROM show up once this tablet is officially released. Speaking of release, there has yet to be any official pricing or availability released by Archos, but I would expect the price to be considerably less than the already cheap G9 Honeycomb tablets. Keep checking back for updates as they come.

Source: Android Community - Archos Arnova 9 G2 budget-friendly tablet revealed

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

T-Mobile Reports An Increase in U.S. Customers

It was announced on Thursday, November 10 that T-Mobile has been able to increase its number of U.S. customers during the last quarter. This is the first time that the company has been able to do so in over a year.

"A decline of 186,000 contract customers in the third quarter was offset by an increase in prepay customers of 312,000," Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company, stated during an earnings report.

Deutsche Telekom seemed to be very surprised by the progress that T-Mobile had made. They said that T-Mobile had "reported somewhat more positive development than in past quarters."

Deutsche Telekom went on to say that, on average, T-Mobile brings in about $14 per customer in revenue. This is a 13 percent jump from this time last year. Although T-Mobile is the only carrier out of the four major U.S. carriers to not offer the iPhone, it reported that the number of its customers with smartphones has increased by 40 percent, reaching 10.1 million customers.

"The improvement in earnings was largely attributable to successful savings initiatives and new rate plans without subsidized handsets," Deutsche Telekom said.
So, the big question is whether or not these improvements will affect AT&T’s efforts to purchase T-Mobile. One of AT&T’s main points during a recent Department of Justice lawsuit was that T-Mobile is going downhill and can only be saved if a company like AT&T saves it.

In September, in response to the DOJ, AT&T said that different rivals like Sprint are unable to "explain how T-Mobile, the only major carrier to have actually lost subscribers in a robustly growing market, provides a unique competitive constraint on AT&T."

"For the past two years, T-Mobile has been losing customers despite growing demand, and, without the spectrum to deploy a 4G LTE network such as that deployed by the other carriers, there is no reason to expect a change in its undifferentiated competitive significance," AT&T continued.

There is also a major debate about if the AT&T and T-Mobile merger were to occur whether or not it would create or kill jobs. The Communication Workers of America put out a report on Tuesday that said that the merger would create thousands of job, and the Economic Policy Institute said that a merger between the two mobile carriers could create somewhere between 55,000 and 96,000 jobs over the next seven years. They did, however, mention that this would only occur if AT&T followed through on its promise to invest $8 billion into its infrastructure over the seven year period.

However, the director of the Center for Economics and Public Policy at the University of California at Irvine, David Neumark, said in a report released in August that "AT&T has actually told investors and the federal government that the merger would lead to reduced capital expenditures on net. If you take EPI's own logic and apply that net reduction in capital expenditures to the data, you predict fewer jobs, not more jobs."

Who knows what will happen? AT&T is clearly the stronger company, but it is also apparent that T-Mobile is taking steps towards being a much more successful mobile carrier. Who knows if T-Mobile has enough time to save themselves though? One successful quarter does not mean that they are necessarily heading in the right direction overall. We’ll just all have to wait and see how it goes.

Source: PCMag - T-Mobile Adds Customers as Battle Over AT&T Merger Continues

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Smarter, Stronger, Indoor GPS Technology Coming Soon

Almost all of the smartphones that are available these days feature GPS navigation, as well as different location-based apps; however, that doesn’t mean that you want to use them all of the time. Using these features can drain the life right out of your phone. There are also issues with using such features indoors. Most of the time you cannot even get a GPS satellite to find you when you're inside.

These are all issues that could definitely use some good solutions. CSR announced that it is working on its next generation of GPS functions for cell phones, portable navigation devices and car systems. The company has announced three main new types of technology that they will be focusing on: SiRFstar V, SiRFusion, and SiRFprima II. These will improve some of the problems that there have been with GPS navigation and smartphones.

"Traditionally, when trying to solve satellite navigation problems [on a technical level], it's been in the car—such as with urban canyons and sight line issues," said Kanwar Chadha, CSR’s chief marketing officer and founder of SiRF. "To most extents, we have solved this problem [with SiRFstar V]. However, we're still in a very early stage of what I call the indoor navigation experience, when using Wi-Fi or cellular connections, for example."

Basically, the issue right now is that developers need to find a way to make location awareness available everywhere. They also need to figure out how to provide users with a seamless experience when they transition from being outside to inside. This technology will be especially useful in places like museums, malls, hospitals, university campuses and airports.

"We're seeing a fundamental shift in how devices will be built and how content will be made available," Chadha said. He went on to say that most manufacturers tend to focus on cloud computing; however, he prefers to spend his time looking into “cloud contenting.” This has to do with individual sensors and radios in different devices including accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses.

The technology that Chadha likes to focus on would help with the battery draining issue. Instead of draining your battery every time that you utilize location-based features, something within the device would be able to take care of supervising and optimizing battery use when using the features, while also adding precision.

"Let's say you're sitting at a desk inside with your mobile device," Chadha said. "We can keep the location engine off until we receive a signal from the accelerometer that there is a movement. The device is still location aware, but until that happens, we aren't consuming any power."

Chadha also said that CSR is looking to make improvements to its automotive systems. He said that the plan is to move from self-contained systems to systems that are more connected through things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and different links to the cloud.

"We're also trying to bring the cost factor down," Chadha said. "The idea is that a complete, connected automotive infotainment system with augmented reality should cost just a few hundred dollars, rather than a few thousand dollars like current in-car navigation systems."

These will all be some great improvements to both mobile devices and automotive systems. Hopefully, it will not take CSR too long to figure all of this out, because I know that I sure can’t wait! These upgrades could make a big difference in the way that we use GPS navigation.

Source: PCMag - Indoor GPS Coming Soon to Cell Phones

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Amazon Ships Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus Early, Available Now

It appears as if Amazon has jumped the gun much sooner than Samsung expected it to on the company's new round of tablet PCs. The all new Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus was made official by Samsung in late October with a shipping and availability date of November 13. However, Amazon has been offering pre-orders since the early part of October and appears to be shipping already, with overnight delivery also available.

The Galaxy Tab 7 Plus is the replacement to the original 7" Galaxy Tab, and this device gives us Android 2.3 Honeycomb as opposed to Gingerbread as well as a pumped up dual-core processor and some other nice additions. The Galaxy Tab 7 Plus gives us a 7" 1,024 x 600 resolution display, complete with 3MP camera on the back of the device and a 2MP camera on the front for video chatting. All of this is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and Android 3.2.

In addition to that, this device comes with either a 16GB or 32GB variation and, according to the picture on Amazon, is available right now, with shipments beginning yesterday. Users should expect their device any time now and overnight delivery is also available for anybody interested. Pricing begins at $399 for the 16GB version and $499 for the 32GB version, though some are thinking this to be a bit high, especially considering the prices of the Transformer and Kindle Fire that are coming out soon.

Regardless, this is still a very portable and very powerful tablet and if you are good with the price, you should probably buy one quickly because Amazon has already started selling and there is no telling when they will sell out. I wonder what Samsung thinks about all this?

Source: Android Community - Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus shipping early from Amazon, get one today

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