Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘smartphones’ Category

Game of Phones

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Today many eyes will be turned to Cupertino for Apple’s fall launch event.  But one of Apple’s original iPhone telco providers is where the heat is actually getting turned up.

Hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T, and is raising questions about the company’s M&A strategy and operational execution. In a letter to the company, Elliott has called for new board members and an assessment as to the capabilities of the existing leadership team, including CEO Randall Stephenson.

According to a report from CNBC, Elliott cited “the company’s history of questionable acquisition decisions, including buying DirecTV and Time Warner…In all, AT&T has spent about $200 billion in recent years on acquisitions.”

DirecTV’s price was $67B, Time Warner $104B, and T-Mobile slipped through Stephenson’s finger even as he has tried to pivot the company towards both a wireless and media company. 

But millions of subscribers have left DirecTV since the deal close in 2015, and as for the Time Warner deal outcome, it’s probably too soon to tell. For a good signal, I would suggest keeping an eye on the quality of the emerging HBO lineup, the TV canary in the proverbial wireless coalmine. 

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

Posted in 2019, apple, att, smartphones

Tagged with , , , ,

Droiding

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Happy Humpday. Well that came faster than usual. We’re already halfway through the week!

But that hasn’t stopped the tide of economic data. The Institute for Supply Management issued its manufacturing index on Tuesday, which dropped to 49.1 in August, down from 51.2 in July. When below 50, manufacturing is contracting.

Yet there’s other news actually lifting the Dow today. Hong Kong withdrew its controversial extradition bill…the U.K. parliament voted to block a no-deal Brexit…Treasury yields are headed north…and the Fed’s Beige Book on current economic conditions will be released later today.

If you’re a Droid, it’s a happy day. Android 10 launched today after six betas over six months, and will be available to all Pixel phones first (there’s a reason you paid a premium for *that* phone!)

The download on new features, as reported by Ars Technica: “Fully gestural” navigation, which includes navigational swipe gestures; a fully supported dark theme; machine learning for incoming messages with “helpful” action buttons (think Gmail “smart replies”); and “Project Mainline,” a new and more powerful file type. Android 10 also ships with foldable smartphone support(You know, in case one ever actually makes it to market) and more robust multi-screen support. 

Happy Droiding!

Written by turbotodd

September 4, 2019 at 9:50 am

Knock Knock

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Happy Hump Day.  The GZERO Signal warns this morning that the AI backlash has been recently accelerating.

Noting Bernie Sanders becoming the first 2020 prez candidate to call for an outright ban on facial recognition in policing….European policymakers weighing regs to curtail “indiscriminate” use of AI by companies and governments…Hong Kongers donning masks to prevent authorities from using their faces ID to them.

Wayback machine “Minority Report” showing, anyone? I’ll bring the GMO popcorn!

On the Chimerica front, the Google’s apparently taking no chances on the US-China trade war. 9to5 Google is reporting the Droid is set to move production of its Pixel phone from China to Vietnam, but suggest it’s unclear whether this move will affect the production of the upcoming Google Pixel 4.

If it did, that would be some awfully fast production line and supply chain retooling. Good morning, Vietnam!

Google is also putting its algos to work on the Nest Hello doorbell, which The Verge is reporting can now detect deliveries and notify U.S. users of such for a mere $5/month with its Nest Aware service.

No word yet if the Nest Hello could help say goodbye to porch thieves watching your arriving Prime packages.

Written by turbotodd

August 28, 2019 at 9:52 am

Love and Smartphones

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Okay, admit it, you’re *really* excited about the drop of Taylor Swift’s new album…Okay, maybe not.

It’s apparently official: VMWare is buying both Carbon Black and Pivotal for roughly $4.5B. Carbon Black is a cybersecurity firm, and Pivotal a hybrid-cloud infra ops player born out of assets spun off from VMWare and Dell back in 2013.

If you wonder where you fall in the buying a new smartphone spectrum, there’s a study for that. 9to5 mac cites Strategy Analytics data on the smartphone purchasing habits of U.S. consumers: They upgrade very 33 months, had their current iPhone an average of 18 months, and 7 percent plan to spend over $1,000 on their next upgrade. Now you know why Apple is focusing so much more on razors (services, infotainment…) and not just razor blades (iPhones).

Yesterday Google jumped on board the high speed Chinese anti-propaganda train campaign by suspending 210 YouTube channels after they were found to have been tied to misinformation about HK protesters.

Google Security’s Threat Analysis Group wrote in a blog post that “We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.”

Gambling? In the casino??

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2019 at 10:13 am

Samsung Hearts Microsoft

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Big announcements yesterday from Samsung re: their Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Book S devices.

They also announced an extension of their partnership with Microsoft, looking to more tightly integrate MS Outlook, OneDrive, and its Your Phone app.

CEO Satya Nadella even made an appearance on the Samsung stage.

What caught my attention was that the Galaxy Book S was developed in partnership with both Microsoft and Qualcomm, and will include LTE connectivity between phones and PCs using Microsoft’s Your Phone technology.

This will allow Galaxy Note 10 users to tie together their phones with Windows 10 PCs, and to use Your Phone apps on their computers.

ZDNet reports that later this month that Galaxy Note 10 users will be able to mirror their phone screens on their PCs and use their PC keyboards, mouse and touch screens to interact directly with their phone apps.

This is the type of PC/smartphone convergence that I believe is long overdue. Why not be able to carry our smartphones with us, no matter the brand, and “plug-carry-and-play” no matter where we are, and have at our fingertips the apps and services we need and use the most.

Maybe it’s an idea whose time has finally come.

Written by turbotodd

August 8, 2019 at 9:52 am

A Fork in the Smartphone Road

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Well, the Chimerica trade and technology war has been taken to new heights over the weekend, both in terms of policy and in global markets.

After President Trump raised the tariffs on China again, this time 10% on $300 billion in Chinese imports not covered by earlier rounds of tariffs on China, China is retaliating with both active and passive measures.

Passively, China is refusing to prompt up the devaluing Chinese currency, the yuan, allowing it to break through 7 against the dollar for the first time since prior to the Great Recession.

Actively, the Chinese Customs Tariffs Commission of the State Council has not ruled out import tariffs on newly purchased U.S. agricultural products after August 3 (this past Saturday).

While the American and Chinese leaders continue with their Great Game of Trade Chicken, Chinese state media has made an interesting announcement: That Huawei is testing a $288 smartphone running its self-developed HongMeng OS, which Reuters is reporting could go on sale later this year.

Could this eventually lead to a global fork in the smartphone OS market, which is currently largely dominated by Google’s Android (and on which most Chinese smartphones are based)?

Probably not in the short term, but longer term…?

Written by turbotodd

August 5, 2019 at 2:38 pm

It’s Tariff Time!

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TGIF. It’s a good day to take a quick glance at some key economic fundamentals that could impact the consumer tech landscape.

U.S non-farm payrolls rose by 164K in July, and the jobless rate held steady at 3.7% (near a 50-year low).

Average hourly wages for private-sector workers advanced 3.2% from a year earlier. GDP increased at 2.1% in the second quarter, down from 3.1% in the first.

Manufacturing output has declined since the end of 2018, and an overseas manufacturing decline could hold U.S. growth back.

The U.S.’ largest trading partner is now Mexico, not China — speaking of whom, President Trump hit the Middle Kingdom yesterday with 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods that included consumer products like apparel, toys, and cellphones.

Yes, that means iPhones, too!

Current estimates suggest about a 15% increase on electronics like laptops, smartphones, etc.

They go into effect August 30th, so you have 28 days to shop ’til you drop for any bargains.

Wonder if Gazelle’s traffic is seeing a post-tariff bump!

Written by turbotodd

August 2, 2019 at 11:25 am

T-Mobile Doesn’t Fold

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Apple’s deal for obtaining the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem business is a done deal. Estimated transaction value: $1B

To help pay for the deal, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple and Goldman Sachs are issuing a credit card targeted to launch as early as the first half of August.

When Apple starts issuing credit cards, it could be time to start looking for a new phone.

Alphabet (Google) announced earnings yesterday PM, reporting Q2 revenue of $38.9B, up 19% YOY. On its earnings call, the company said its sound business now has an $8B annual revenue rate, double that reported last year.

And Amazon reported Q2 revenue of $63.4B, up 20% YOY, with AWS up 37% YOY – the first sub-40% growth rate since Amazon began sharing AWS figures.

Following up on the revitalized Samsung Galaxy Fold, don’t look for it at T-Mobile, a spokesperson for which indicated that “T-Mobile will not carry the Galaxy Fold because we already offer customers a wide range of the largest smartphones.

Yes, but do any of them fold when they fold?

Written by turbotodd

July 26, 2019 at 10:18 am

A Picture’s Worth…

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If you’re wondering what happened to your images on Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger….well, you and over a billion other people.

The Verge is reporting that Facebook is working to resolve the outage and “to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

This once again proves the complexities and challenges of publishing multiple pieces of content from multiple sources into a single page. Welcome to the cloud-driven Web of 2019.

But let’s talk soccer. We witnessed yet another storied defeat by the U.S. women’s team last evening in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, beating England 2-1, in a game which missed play of wunderwoman Megan Rapinoe due to a hamstring injury.

Those women are awesome (give them a raise!).

On to the dealmaking…talk all over the place about a possible acquisition of cybersecurity firm Symantec by Broadcom, with Bloomberg reporting Broadcom is in advanced talks to buy them in a deal that could be reached “in weeks.”

From Bloomberg Intelligence:

Broadcom’s potential purchase of another asset with $4+ billion in software sales is likely its most ambitious deal yet – leaderless Symantec has been losing share, even in its core segments. Broadcom CEO Hock Tan will likely need to aggressively cut Symantec costs while keeping sales stable.

– Anand Srinivasan, technology analyst

And on to Chimerica…Mixed signals emanating from the Trump Administration on Huawei, with Reuters reporting a senior U.S. official telling the Commerce Department’s enforcement staff this week that China’s Huawei should still be treated as blacklisted only a few days after the President vowed to ease a ban on sales to the firm.

While Commerce tries to get its story straight, Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that there’s an electronics exodus from China underway:

Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country’s position as the world’s powerhouse for tech gadgets.

HP and Dell, the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 personal computer makers who together command around 40% of the global market, are planning to reallocate up to 30% of their notebook production out of China, several sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

While this is just smart supply chain management and oversight by electronics firms, it’s a blow to China, which is the world’s largest producer of PCs and smartphones.

It could be a very good time to learn to speak Vietnamese!

Okay, over and out. For those of you in the U.S., Happy Independence Day. And if you’re in D.C. for the big celebration, you can be assured the tanks brought in are expected to be stationary.

But watch your feet, just in case.

Written by turbotodd

July 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Unicorns Fold

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Well this has been a week.

If you’ve not been keeping up with the Samsung Galaxy fold saga, The Verge’s latest report indicates that iFixit has “decided to honor a Samsung request to pull its Galaxy Fold teardown off the Internet,” even though the company apparently didn’t make the request directly.

Why is Samsung doing this? We’ve asked for comment, obviously, but we suspect an answer may not be forthcoming. That leaves us with a whole pile of possible reasons we can only speculate on.
On the charitable end of the interpretation scale is that Samsung is definitely reworking the Fold, the design will change, and Samsung doesn’t want to have a teardown out there for a device it isn’t ever going to ship. Possibilities get successively less charitable from there. Perhaps the partner who provided the Fold to iFixit wasn’t supposed to, and Samsung is just enforcing a contract.

It’s too easy, I know, but I can’t help myself…

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’

When the dealin’s done

Thank you, Kenny Rogers.

Okay, well, now that the country music interlude is over, let’s see what’s up on the unicorn IPO front.

CNBC is reporting that Slack has filed for an IPO via a direct listing, indicating the company took a loss of $138M on $400M in revenue.

What, all those free Zooms I do aren’t making Zoom zoom faster??

Uber, on the other hand, has set an IPO range of $44 to $50 per share, and is expecting to raise up to $10.35B on an $84B valuation.

And here’s a blast from your DoCoMo past. For those of you remember NTT’s DoCoMo iMode phone service from Japan, one of the world’s first mobile app ecosystems way back in 1998…well, NTT DoCoMo (which is now Japan’s biggest cellphone service provider) is backing the magic AR unicorn Magic Leap to the tune of $280M.

Magic Leap has already raised $2.3B, so what’s $280M more among unicorns?

This move would obviously allow ML to make the magic leap right into the Japanese market.

The New York Times is reporting that the company is already planning to reopen its Series D fund-raising, acknowledging the “costs of its business.”

Damn, those unicorns are expensive, though some more than others.

Written by turbotodd

April 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

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