Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘smartphone’ Category

The Harmony Hedge

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I wrote on Monday about the possible fork in the smartphone road between China and the rest of the world.

Today, at the Huawei Developer Conference in Dongguan, China, the company’s CEO, Richard Yu, made it official by unveiling “HarmonyOS.”

Though the OS is currently focused largely on IoT products (wearables, smart speakers, etc.), Yu explained that if and when Huawei can no longer access Google’s Android ecosystem, Huawei could deploy HarmonyOS at any time.

But the plan is to stay with Android. Until it can’t or won’t. 

HarmonyOS (formerly “HongMengOS”) is open source and microkernel-based, and Yu suggested onstage in Dongguan that Android wasn’t as efficient due to its redundant codes and general fragmentation issues.

Developers will be able to port their Android apps over to HarmonyOS using Huawei’s ARK compiler.

This is a serious chicken and egg proposition. Yu hasn’t given a full throated endorsement of HarmonyOS, avoided mentioning smartphones in the introduction, and clearly would prefer to avoid jumping off the Android ship.

But either because of market or political pressures, he has been pushed (quickly) by the powers that be to oversee a major OS hedge.

Statista’s latest estimate of the number of Chinese smartphone users exceeds 1B+, and last year China accounted for nearly half of app downloads.

I suspect Huawei (not to mention Google) clearly wants to hedge on this hedge.

Written by turbotodd

August 9, 2019 at 9:57 am

Apple’s Service, Vietnam’s Boon

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Apple made plenty of moolah in its fiscal Q3, some $53.3B, nearly half of that ($26B) from iPhones. The story: Its services was up 1% YOY to $10.2B. Wearables, Home, and Accessories generated $5.5B, a 50% YOY increase. Diversification for Apple, good, dependency on iPhone moolah, bad.

Contrast those numbers with Samsung’s, which posted an operating profit of $5.6B on revenue of $47.4B, down 4% YOY. Hurry up and make that Fold fold faster!

Some crypto news that caught my eye: Coindesk is reporting that Chinese importers in Russia are buying up to $30M a day of tether from Moscow’s OTC trading desks. They apparently use the cryptocurrency to send large sums back to China, and they use tether instead of bitcoin because tether is designed to maintain U.S. dollar parity.

Speaking of China, who’s now benefiting from Chimerica? Good morning, Vietnam!, where Samsung already assembles half its handsets. Vietnam has greatly benefited from the U.S. tariffs on China, and even Apple and Nintendo are also said to be shifting certain workloads from China to Vietnam. 

Written by turbotodd

July 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Posted in 2019, china, smartphone

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The Folding Fold

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Happy Monday.

As I expected would happen, Samsung is apparently folding on the rollout this Friday of its Galaxy Fold smartphone this Friday due to folding issues with the new device.

According to a report from Reuters, it has cancelled media events for the Fold in both Hong Kong and Shanghai.

And The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “the company’s internal investigation remains ongoing,” and that the Galaxy Fold’s reported issues “stem from problems affecting the handset’s hinge and extra pressure applied to the internal screen.”

Whatta ya think, is the Fold a solution looking for a problem? Whatever the case, the price point ($1,800) could still care off even the most audacious of early adopters.

Over at AWS, it seems that Apple has become a huuuugeee customer of theirs, having spent $350M in 2018 and now at a $30M/month run rate in 2019.

According to CNBC, Apple has a multiyear agreement with AWS, and spends more on Amazon’s cloud than Lyft and Pinterest, even as the company invests heavily in its own cloud infrastructure.

Apple’s cloud expenditure reflects the company’s determination to deliver online services like iCloud quickly and reliably, even if it must depend on a rival to do so.

The company is investing heavily to build its own infrastructure: In January 2018, Apple announced plans to spend $10 billion on data centers in the U.S. within five years. In December, Apple said it would spend $4.5 billion of that amount through 2019. The company also depends on smaller third-party cloud providers. But it also relies on the big cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services and Alphabet subsidiary Google. Microsoft has also provided cloud tools to Apple in the past.

So when Apple wins, Amazon does, too.  Coopetition is your friend!

Also on the Apple front, 9to5Mac is gathering some early leaks on the company’s coming WWDC developer event. 

What’s expected to be announced thus far? New Siri intents, APIs to port apps to Mac, a new AR content creation app (does this mean we can play Pokemon again??), support for stereo AR headsets. All the leaks thus far can be found here.

And if you’ve been wondering how the Mueller Report is going over, as I was, editions from Skyhorse Publishing and The Washington Post now a best-seller and ranked #1 and #2 on Amazon’s best-seller list. 

Which is funny that people are signing up to buy the printed book, when you consider it’s available in PDF format at any number of institutions, including here at WAPO.

I’m just curious if anyone’s actually reading it.

Written by turbotodd

April 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Posted in 2019, samsung, smartphone

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Know When to Fold ‘Em

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“You know, of all the things I wish for in this lunatic fringe of a world we find ourselves living in, if I could just have one wish…yeah, it would be a foldable smartphone.”

Said no one ever.

Well, save for Samsung, which introduced its Galaxy Fold smartphone this week at an event in London.

I watched a snapshot of the demo Samsung presented of its Fold smartphone yesterday, and it’s very Jetson-y. 

The Verge provided some speeds and feeds:

Samsung is using a new 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display that allows the phone itself to have a tablet-sized screen that can be folded to fit into a pocket. The main display is QXGA+ resolution (4.2:3), and when it’s folded, a smaller 4.6-inch HD+ (12:9) display is used for the phone mode. Samsung is using 512GB of Universal Flash Storage 3.0 (eUFS) for fast speeds, alongside a Qualcomm 7nm octa-core processor and 12GB of RAM. Samsung has even built two batteries for its Galaxy Fold, that are separated by the fold but combined in the Android operating system to represent a total of 4,380 mAh.

But the hook is its foldability, which The Verge explained this way:

Samsung has built a sturdy backbone to the device, with a hinge system that has multiple interlocking gears. All of these gears are hidden at the rear of the device, and allow the Galaxy Fold to transform from tablet to phone modes….Samsung is allowing the Galaxy Fold to run three apps at once on this Android device, and it’s using an app continuity system to adjust these apps when you move between tablet and phone modes. Apps like WhatsApp, Microsoft Office, and YouTube have all been optimized for the new display and modes, and Samsung has been working with Google to ensure Android 9 Pie fully supports this display.

In a separate story from The Verge, journalist Vlad Savov isn’t having any any of it, however. His lede~”The foldable Galaxy Fold phone-tablet hybrid is Samsung’s Google Glass: an exciting technical showcase that is hitting the market far too soon and risks souring everyone on the entire nascent category.”

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to the price tag…are you ready for it….hold on, I’ve got to figure out how to unfold this thing…okay, almost there…and, drum roll, please: $1,980 U.S.!

Now to be fair, if you compare that to the Vertu Aster P at $4,200 (a luxury smartphone made for people who have too much money on their hands), that’s a heck of a deal! And compared to the Vertu Aster P gold version at $14,120, it’s a downright steal. Right?

Rightttt.

But the real question I want to see answered by consumers is what problem does the Fold solve?  

Could it supplant the perceived need to have both a smartphone and tablet? Instead of reaching into your backpack for the iPad, you can now just crank open the Fold and voila?

IBM went down a similar path in 1995 with the introduction of its ThinkPad 701C, which had a TrackWrite keyboard (better known as the “butterfly” keyboard).  It was very cool, and it was trying to solve a similar problem: Fitting more into less.

In this case, more keyboard into a more compact form factor — it was clever and, for some, probably useful.  

One also now sits on display in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, eagerly awaiting some curator to pop the butterfly keyboard open and start a typing frenzy.

I guess we will just have to wait until the Fold is actually in market before we can determine if it will come to a similar fate.

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2019 at 11:46 am

Posted in 2019, samsung, smartphone

Tagged with ,

The Razr’s Edge

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2004 just called, and it wants its Motorola Razr phone back.

Yes, everything old is new again, and The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Motorola Razr will be attempting a comeback.

Only this time around, the Razr will apparently be a smartphone with a foldable screen and a…gasp…$1,500 price tag.

This time around, Lenovo Group will be leading the way, and partnering with Verizon on an exclusive deal to start selling the new Razrs “as soon as February.” 

The backstory: Lenovo bought the Motorola Mobility handset business from Google in 2014.

The Journal story reminds us the Razr V3 flip phone was first released in 2004, but its market success was rapidly snuffed out by the introduction of the Apple iPhone.

Samsung is also reported to be working on a foldable smartphone.

I had a Razr back in the day, and it was a cool device for its time…then again, so was the late 1990s Motorola StarTAC. Eventually, I dropped mine in a river down in Gruene, Texas, and I don’t think any amount of white race ever brought it back to life.

And on the subject of iPhones and apps, App Annie’s 2019 State of Mobile report is out, and coverage via ZDNet has a few headlines.

First, App Annie expects consumers to spend $120 billion on app stores in 2019, a spending clip that is “5X the growth rate of the global economy.”

Next, global app downloads topped 194 billion in 2018. up 35 percent from 2016 — and it was emerging markets that led the growth. And lest you think everyone is playing Fortnite all day and all night, about 65 percent of total global downloads are non-game apps.

Social and communications apps account for 50 percent of time spent in apps, a number that grew 45 percent from 2016 to 2018.

And for those concerned about mobile commerce, global time spent in shopping apps was up 60 percent last year, reaching some 18 billion hours.

18 billion hours…shopping in mobile apps…last year…

Put that in your virtual shopping cart and let that just sit there until…well, until you get your new Motorola Razr (or, you could find an original for as little as $17.99 U.S. on eBay!)

Written by turbotodd

January 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Posted in 2019, smartphone

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Bigger, Better, Badder Pixels

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Well, uh, that was awkward. 

Just a day after Google had to come clean about its Google+ privacy debacle (and announced the imminent demise of G+ for consumers once and for all), Google announced some new members of its hardware family.

I’m an iPhone guy, but I did purchase a Google Pixelbook chromebook earlier this year that I’ve been very happy with, so at minimum I wanted to pass along the speeds and feeds from yesterday’s Google Pixel 3/XL Android smartphone announcements.

The Verge has this tight breakdown:

The Pixel 3 starts at $799 for 64GB, with the 3 XL costing $899. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage option. That’s a $150 and $50 premium over last year’s models, respectively.. Core specs for both include a Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM (there’s no option for more), Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Also inside is a new Titan M security chip, which Google says provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.” Preorders for both phones begin today, and buyers will get six months of free YouTube Music service. The Pixels will officially launch on October 18th.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both feature larger screens than last year’s models thanks to slimmed down bezels — and the controversial notch in the case of the bigger phone. The 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display (up from six inches on the 2 XL), while the regular 3 has a 5.5-inch screen (up from five inches). Overall, though, the actual phones are very similar in size and handling to their direct predecessors.

And Google’s own blog post explains how the Pixel 3 will help you keep from talking to those undesirable humans you’re trying to avoid:

…Starting out in English in the U.S., Pixel 3’s on-device AI helps you screen phone calls and avoid spam calls. Imagine you’re at dinner with family or in a meeting at work and a call from an unknown caller comes in. Just tap on “Screen call” to find out who’s calling and why, as well as other information (as prompted by you). You’ll immediately see a transcript of the caller’s responses so that you can then decide whether to pick up, respond by tapping a quick reply (e.g., “I’ll call you back later”), or mark the call as spam and dismiss. Processing the call details on-device means these experiences are fast, private to you, and use up less battery.

Second, Pixel users in the U.S. will be the first to get access to an experimental new Google Assistant feature, powered by Duplex technology, which helps you complete real-world tasks over the phone, like calling a restaurant to book a table. This feature will initially be available later this year in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area to help people book restaurant reservations and will roll out to other U.S. cities in the future.

Because why talk to even yet another human to make a restaurant reservation when your Google Assistant can do all the work?

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2018 at 9:44 am

Posted in 2018, google, privacy, smartphone

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Xiaomi’s Float Stumbles

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Happy Monday.

CNBC is reporting that shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi stumbled on their debut, slipping as much as 6 percent.

The company’s Hong Kong offering was priced at 17 Hong Kong dollars, and opened for trade down more than 2 percent and slipping as much as 5.88 percent during the session.

Some analysts were quoted in the story as thinking the valuation was too high. 

Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, explained:

“The share was priced at a very high valuation multiple, substantially higher than its global peers. Even though Xiaomi remained to be a very good story, I think the market is at a stage where you have to prove yourself first before the market can give you a good valuation,” Hao Hong, head of research at BOCOM International, told CNBC.

Meanwhile, back at The New York Times, Paul Mozur goes deep on AI and surveillance in China in a piece entitled, “Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras.”

For some reason, the movie “Minority Report” kept coming to mind as I read through his chilling story.

The Net: There are an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras watching its Chinese citzens’ every move, and their surveillance system is getting smarter every day, partially due to a boom in surveillance-related startups in the country.

And no Orwell jokes, please…China is well past that point.

Written by turbotodd

July 9, 2018 at 9:56 am

Posted in 2018, china, smartphone

Tagged with ,

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