Phone making companies utilizing Samsung’s short comings to fly high

Phonemakers are piling in to fill a gap in the market left by Samsung (005930.KS), still licking its wounds from a costly recall of its flagship Note 7 and with no key device of its own to launch at the telecom industry’s biggest annual fair.

China’s Huawei [HWT.UL], the most likely contender to fill the hole in the premium end of the market, took the wraps off a new phone in its quest to displace Samsung as the world’s no. 2 smartphone maker after Apple (AAPL.O), during a rush of new product releases on Sunday ahead of this week’s World Mobile Congress.

Chinese challengers Xiaomi [XTC.UL], Vivo, Oppo and Gionee are in hot pursuit, while BlackBerry (BB.TO) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE) announced models exploiting their retro appeal.

Samsung itself presented two new tablets pending the launch of its next flagship device, the Galaxy S8, expected now at the end of March rather than at Mobile World Congress, its usual showcase.

“The past six months have undoubtedly been one of the most challenging periods of our history,” Samsung’s European marketing chief David Lowes told a news conference in Barcelona. “We’re determined to learn every possible lesson.”

Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out more than $5 billion of operating profit, and allowing the iPhone to overtake it in sales.

“The competition is feisty but I think we have a good chance,” Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business group, told Reuters in an interview.

Samsung’s smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple’s rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Independent research analyst Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile doubts whether Samsung can quickly regain its position.

“Samsung has taken a massive $5.4 billion hit to profits, apologized profusely for the recall and admitted shortcomings in its quality and assurance process but I don’t think that the full effects of this issue have fully hit home,” he wrote in a blog post. He pointed to a survey from Harris Poll which shows that Samsung’s reputation has fallen from No. 7 in the United States to No. 42, just one position above the U.S. Postal Service.

Huawei has aggressively expanded its mid- to high-end phones and is going head to head in Asia and Europe with Apple and Samsung in the premium phone market.

 

 

-Reuters

 

Apple unmasks plans to have self drive cars

In a letter to US transport regulators, Apple said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”.

It added that there were “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles” to be realised.

There have long been rumours about the firm’s plans but it has not publicly admitted them.

However, Ford, which itself plans to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021, has said it was working on the basis that Apple was building one.

The tech firm has already registered several car-related internet domains, including apple.car and apple.auto.

Sharing data

A company spokesman for Apple said that the letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was prompted by its “heavy investment in machine learning and autonomous systems” and that it wanted to help define best practices in the industry.

The five-page letter, written by Apple’s director of product integrity Steve Kenner, urges the regulator to not introduce too many rules on the testing of self-driving cars, saying that “established manufacturers and new entrants should be treated equally.”

It also proposes that companies in the industry share data from crashes and near-misses in order to build a more comprehensive picture than one company could manage alone, and therefore enable the design of better systems.

However, it adds that an individual’s privacy should not be compromised by the sharing of such data. It suggests that the industry and regulators “address privacy challenges associated with the collection, use, and sharing of automated vehicle data”, with collaboration from privacy experts outside the automotive industry.

Google is already testing self-driving cars on the roads. In October, electric carmaker Tesla announced that all the cars it now builds will have the hardware installed to drive on their own.

In the UK, an autonomous vehicle was test-driven in Milton Keynes in the summer, with further trials in London planned.

 

 

 

-BBC

Apple stirs online speculations ahead of iphone7 launch

Apple is expected to reveal the iPhone 7 in September 2016 and there’s already a huge amount of hype surrounding the next-generation smartphone.

Apple is expected to reveal the next iteration of its ever-popular iPhone on Wednesday’s next Apple Event.

The Californian tech giant usually updates its smartphone lineup in early September so it can see out the end of the year on a high.

This year it will almost certainly be the iPhone 7 that’s revealed, and the online rumour mill is going into overdrive ahead of the September announcement.

From photos leaked from factories in China, and concept images created by digital artists, to choice information from people with insider knowledge of Apple’s plans, the internet is abuzz with information on the the new smartphone.

We’ve gathered together all the latest news surrounding the phone, and will continue to update this article as we learn more.

For previous Apple models, here are the best iPhone deals this week.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has issued a new research note, claiming that the iPhone 7 will include one very useful feature for photo fanatics.

The phone will reportedly have four LED flash lights – two in cool colours, and two in warm colours – and an ambient light sensor.

While the iPhone 6s ‘ camera is widely praised, it still struggles to take good photos in low-light situations. These additions should theoretically improve image quality.

Apple has sent out invitations for an event, where it is widely expected to unveil the iPhone 7 .

The event is taking place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 7, at 10am local time, (6pm BST).

Apple often likes to include a hidden message in its invitations, but this one gives very little away.

It carries the tagline “See you on the 7th” – which may allude to the name of the iPhone 7, as well as the date.

 

 

 

-Mirror

Apple loses World’s most valuable company title to Google

The parent company of search giant Google, riding a six-month surge in its stock price, on Monday leapfrogged over Apple to become the most valuable company on Earth.

Apple had held the title since 2013.

Google parent Alphabet popped more than 5 percent in after-hours trading on Monday, putting its market capitalization at roughly $565 billion.

That put the value of the Mountain View, Calif., company about $26 billion over that of Apple, which closed Monday with a market cap of about $539 billion.

In the last six months, Alphabet has gained 21 percent while Apple has declined 20 percent.

Apple’s fall from the top marks the end of an era for the Cupertino, Calif., company, which first overtook ExxonMobil as the most valuable corporation in August 2011.

Apple and the oil giant tangoed back and forth between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots for a couple of years before Apple took it in 2013 and held it until now.

Monday also marks a turnabout in Apple’s duel with Google, which had been the more valuable tech giant as recently as February 2010, before the iPhone began its legendary growth tear.

At the time, Steve Jobs was still Apple’s CEO, the latest iPhone model was the 3GS, and the iPad hadn’t yet been unveiled. Apple’s Mac computer line was still the company’s biggest business.

Meanwhile, Google was still under the “parental guidance” of then-Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who a year later would hand back the title to co-founder Larry Page.

Since then, Page has engineered stunning growth in Google’s core business, even as he has lavished funds on a range of “moonshot” projects to tackle everything from human aging to space exploration.
On Monday, Alphabet shares, which had surged more than 45 percent since last July, rose after the Silicon Valley behemoth disclosed surprisingly strong revenue at its Google division.

By contrast, Apple shares have sunk 16 percent since last summer, and tanked even more last week after the tech giant co-founded by Steve Jobs reported only slight growth in iPhone sales, stoking worries about the company’s ability to maintain its historic momentum.

At Alphabet, sales from Google’s search engine, YouTube, and the Android mobile operating system rose 18 percent, to $21.33 billion, in the quarter ended in Dec. 31 — ahead of Wall Street’s estimate of $20.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Alphabet’s fourth-quarter profit surged to $4.92 billion, or $7.06 a share, up from $4.68 billion, or $6.79 a share, a year earlier.

Alphabet’s “Other Bets” segment — which houses a slew of risky, ambitious startups that make robots, drones and artificial intelligence — had revenue of $448 million last year, up 37 percent from 2014.

The Other Bets segment, however, also expanded its losses to $3.57 billion last year, compared with a loss of $1.94 billion in 2014.

 

-New York Post

Apple recalls faulty power plugs

After worrying sales figures and a lengthy Safari outage, the company is recalling millions of power adapters because they could cause an electric shock.

Apple said on Friday the two prong wall plug adapters affected were designed for use in continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Argentina and Brazil.

The plugs in question were shipped between 2003 and 2015 with Macs and other Apple devices, and were also included in the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit.

In very rare cases, the adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched, the company said in a statement.

“Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to exchange affected wall plug adapters with a new, redesigned adapter, free of charge,” Apple said.

The adapters affected have four or five characters or no characters on the inside slot where it attaches to an Apple power cord, the company said.

They look like this:

apple adapter affected

Redesigned adapters without the problem have a 3-letter regional code in the slot and look like this:

apple plug redesigned

Apple said it will exchange the faulty plugs at any Apple store or authorized Apple service provider.

It also said it would refund customers who may have bought new plugs because of the issue.

 

 

 

-CNN