Microsoft surprised the world when its new phone range failed to contain anything to interest business users – now it seems it is prepared to remedy that.
Microsoft promised that its Lumia range would cover the low end, business and enthusiast segments but while the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 650 should cover the low-end segment as well nothing has turned up for business users.
This was odd, given that business users want phones that play nice with their networks, something that Redmond should do much better than Google or Apple.
Microsoft’s CFO Amy Hood told the UBS Global Technology Conference that business versions of the Lumia were coming. She said:
“We launched a Lumia 950 and a 950 XL. They’re premium products, at the premium end of the market, made for Windows fans. And we’ll have a business phone, as well.”
There were no details, but we have been hearing rumours of a Surface phone being sighted on benchmarks. It was thought that his would be a Microsoft flagship, but with the launch of the Lumia 950/950 XL, it is possible that this Surface phone could be aimed at the business user. The word Surface matches nicely with Microsoft’s Surface Pro branding.
Samsung Electronics is about to decrease personnel at its Samsung Seoul R&D Campus by as many as two-thirds in order to restructure its business model and operations
A new report from ChosunBiz said that Samsung originally aimed to house around 10,000 personnel on the site. However the majority of the decreases will be applied to Samsung’s Digital Media & Communication (DMC) and Media Solutions Centre (MSC).
The campus will instead house about 3,500 staff who have master and PhD degrees and specialise in software, design and digital media development.
The move is odd as it is coming at a time when Samsung is really desperate for killer innovation to steal the march on the competition. However reading between the lines it looks like it is reducing work in its content creation side.
We are surprised that it is doing anything with its Media Solutions centre. Originally, it was established to operate as a Korean version of the App Store. But the company announced on December 10 last year that it was dissolves the organisation.
At the time it was admitted that the content business has not been as successful as the hardware business. Moreover, the worsening performance of the smartphone business arising from the increasingly saturated market forced the company to speed up the break-up process.
“We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger.”
This should sound familiar to Snapchat users who are accustomed to their messages disappearing shortly after they’re sent.
Users can turn the Facebook feature on by tapping an hourglass icon in the upper right corner of the Messenger screen. Tap the hourglass again to turn it off.
Facebook is testing disappearing messages for iOS and Android users in France only. While the feature may be available in more countries over time, Facebook didn’t have any current plans to share.
This may be a good defensive move for the social network.
Facebook has been struggling to retain, or even attract, younger users who are being lured away by apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
To deal with this problem, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for a reported $3 billion in late 2013. The offer was turned down, though.
Then in early 2014, Facebook tried to go after Snapchat’s users by unveiling a new mobile app called Slingshot. The app was designed to enable users to instantly share photos and videos with multiple friends.
Now that Facebook is taking a different tack, the question is whether it can steal away Snapchat’s user base.
The talks are ongoing and it is unclear if any of the banks have signed an agreement with Apple, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The service, which would compete with PayPal Inc’s popular Venmo, would allow users to transfer funds from their checking accounts through Apple devices, the Journal reported on Wednesday.
The service would likely be linked to the company’s Apple Pay system, which allows customers to make credit-card and debit-card payments with their mobile phones, the newspaper said.
A launch isn’t imminent, but one person told the Journal that Apple could roll it out next year.
Apple has been talking with a number of banks about the service, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Capital One Financial Corp, Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bancorp.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
It is the latest in a series of deals for the Dutch company, which also signed agreements this year to provide maps to Volkswagen and to renew a deal to supply maps for Apple’s built-in iPhone navigation app.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The deal follows the sale in August of TomTom’s larger competitor in the digital mapmaking market, Nokia’s HERE. A consortium of German carmakers bought HERE for 2.9 billion euros ($3.1 billion).
Uber, which had initially bid for HERE, instead purchased Microsoft’s imagery acquisition and map data processing operations in June, prompting speculation it was developing its own map-making capacity.
“We look forward to working with TomTom, a leader in the mapping and navigation space,” said Matt Wyndowe, Head of Product Partnerships at Uber, in a statement.
Activision Blizzard has bought King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion, marking not only one of the largest acquisitions in videogame history but one of the largest deals ever made in the entertainment business. Comparing this to previous entertainment deals highlights just how extraordinary the figures involved are; the purchase price values King at significantly more than Marvel Entertainment (acquired by Disney for $4.2 billion), Star Wars owner Lucasfilm (Disney again, for $4.1 billion) and movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (acquired by Sony for almost $5 billion). The price dwarfs the $1.5 billion paid by Japanese network SoftBank and mobile publisher GungHo for Supercell back in 2013 – though it’s not quite on the same scale as the $7.4 billion price tag Disney paid for Pixar, or in the same ballpark as the $18 billion-odd involved in the merger that originally created Activision Blizzard itself.
How is $5.9 billion justified? Well, it’s a fairly reasonable premium of 20% over the company’s share price – though if you’ve been holding on to King shares since its IPO in 2014, you’ll still be disappointed, as it’s far short of the $22.50 IPO price, or even the $20.50 that the shares traded at on their first day on the open market. The company’s share price has been more or less stable this year, but Activision’s offer still doesn’t make up for the various tumbles shares took through 2014.
A better justification, perhaps, lies in the scale of King’s mobile game business. The company is a little off its peak at the moment. Candy Crush Saga, its biggest title, is on a slow decline from an extraordinary peak of success, and other titles aren’t growing fast enough to make up for that decline, but it still recorded over half a billion monthly active users (MAUs) in its recently reported second quarter figures. In terms of paying users, the company had 7.6 million paying users each month – more than Blizzard’s cash cow, World of Warcraft, and moreover, the average revenue from each of those users was $23.26, far more than a World of Warcraft subscriber pays. King took in $529 million in bookings during the quarter, 81 per cent of it from mobile devices – a seriously appealing set of figures for a company like Activision, which struggles to get even 10 per cent of its revenues from mobile despite its constant lip-service to the platform.
In buying King, Activision instantly makes itself into one of the biggest players in the mobile space, albeit simply by absorbing the company that is presently at the top of the heap. It diversifies its bottom line in a way that investors and analysts have been crying out for it to do, reducing its reliance on console (still damn near half of its revenues) and on the remarkable-but-fading World of Warcraft, and bulking up its anaemic mobile revenues to the point of respectability. On paper, this deal turns Activision into a much more broad-based company that’s far more in line with the present trajectory of the market at large, and should assuage the fears of those who think Activision’s over-reliance on a small number of core franchises leaves it far more vulnerable than rivals like Electronic Arts.
That’s on paper. In practice, though, what has Activision just bought for $5.9 billion? That’s a slightly trickier question. The company is, unquestionably, now the proud owner of one of the most talented and accomplished creators and operators of mobile games in the world. King’s experience of developing, marketing and, crucially, running mobile games at enormous scale, and the team that accomplished all of that, is undoubtedly valuable in its own right. Those are talents that Activision didn’t have yesterday, but will have tomorrow. Are those talents worth $5.9 billion, though? Without wishing for a moment to cast doubt on the skills of those who work at King, no, they’re not. $5.9 billion isn’t “acquihire” money, and when that’s the kind of cash involved we simply can’t think of this as an “acquihire” deal. Activision didn’t pay that kind of money in order to get access to the talent and experience assembled at King. It paid for King itself, for its ongoing businesses and its IP.
Open the shopping bag, and you might struggle to understand how the contents reach $5.9 billion at the till. King has one remarkable, breakthrough, enormously successful IP – Candy Crush Saga, which still accounts (not including heavily marketed spin-off title Candy Crush Soda Saga) for 39 per cent of the company’s gross bookings. No doubt deeply aware of the danger of being over-reliant on revenues from this single title, King has worked incredibly hard to find success for other games in its portfolio. But even its great efforts in this regard have failed to compensate for falling revenues from Candy Crush, and it’s notable that a fair amount of the “non-Candy Crush Saga” revenue that the company boasts actually comes from Candy Crush Soda Saga. Other titles like Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga are no doubt profitable and successful in their own right, and King would be a sustainable business even without Candy Crush. But it would be a much, much smaller business, and certainly not a $5.9 billion business.
Despite being generally bullish about King’s prospects, then, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the company has done incredibly well out of this acquisition. The undoubted talent and experience of its teams aside, this is, realistically, a company with one IP worth paying for, and unlike Star Wars or the Avengers, Candy Crush is a very new IP whose longevity is entirely untested and whose potential for merchandising or cross-media ventures is dubious at best. King has done better than most of its rivals in the mobile space at applying some of the lessons of its biggest hit to subsequent games and making them successful, but it shares with every other mobile developer the same fundamental problem: none of them has ever worked out how to bottle the lightning that creates a mega-hit and repeat the success down the line. Absent of another Candy Crush game, the odds are that King’s business would slowly deflate as the air escaped from the Candy Crush bubble, until the company’s sustainable (and undoubtedly profitable) core was what was left. Selling up to Activision at a healthy premium while the company is still “inflated” by the likely unrepeatable success of Candy Crush is a fantastic move for the company’s management and investors, but rather less so for Activision.
Perhaps, though, the whole might be more than the sum of its parts? Couldn’t Activision, holders of some of the world’s favourite console and PC game IP, work with King to leverage that IP and the firm’s reach in traditional games, creating new business at the interaction of their respective specialisations? That’s a big part of what made Pixar so valuable to Disney, for example; the match between their businesses was of vital importance to that deal, and the same can broadly be said for Disney’s other huge acquisitions, Lucasfilm and Marvel. (SoftBank’s purchase of Supercell, by comparison, was rather more of a straightforward market-share land grab.) What could this new hybrid, Activision Blizzard King, hope to achieve in terms of overlap that enhances the value of its various component parts?
Certainly, Activision has some properties that could work on mobile (I’m thinking specifically of Skylanders here, though others may also fit); some Blizzard properties could also probably work on mobile, though I very much doubt that Blizzard (which retains a strong degree of independence within the group) is a good cultural fit for King, and is deeply unlikely to work with it in any manner which gives up the slightest creative control over its properties. King’s properties, meanwhile, don’t look terribly enticing as console or PC games, and conversions done this way would almost certainly defeat the entire purpose of the deal anyway, since the objective is to bolster Activision’s mobile business. The prospect of a mobile game based on Call of Duty or another major console IP may seem superficially interesting, but we’ve been down this road before and it didn’t lead anywhere impressive. Sure, core gamers are on mobile too, but they’ve by and large been nonplussed at best and outraged at worst by the notion of engaging with mobile versions of their console favourites. It’s genuinely hard to piece together the various IPs and franchises owned by King and Activision and see how there’s any winning interaction between them on the table.
This is what makes me keep returning to those other mega-deals – to Star Wars, to Marvel, to Pixar – and finding the contrast between them and Activision / King so extraordinary. Each of those multi-billion dollar deals was carried out by Disney with a very specific, long-term plan in mind that would leverage the abilities of both acquirer and acquired to create something far more than the sum of its parts. Each of those deals had a very clear raison d’être beyond simply “it’ll make us bigger.” Each of those companies fitted with the new parent like a piece of a puzzle. King’s only role in Activision’s “puzzle” is that they do mobile, and Activision sucks at mobile; there’s no sense of any grand plan that will play out.
In all likelihood, Activision has just paid a huge premium for a company which is past the peak of its greatest hit title and into a period of managed decline, not to mention a company with which its core businesses simply don’t fit in any meaningful way. King’s a great company in many respects, but its acquisition isn’t going to go down as a great deal for Activision – and we can expect to see plenty of that $5.9 billion being frittered away in goodwill write-downs over the coming few years.
Global smartphone sales are slowing down and while the Tame Apple Press is ignoring that even Jobs’ Mob is being affected, it seems that the industry is as bad as it was in 2009.
For those with poor memories, Apple was running its Apple iPhone 3GS. Blackberry was in trouble but not dead in the water.
Figures from Strategy Analytics suggest that the mobile phone market has only grown by 10 per cent since last year. A belief touted by Apple, that everything might be saved by selling phones in China are hopeless.
The analyst said that there was “increasing penetration maturity in major markets of the US, Europe and China”. In other words, everyone in these markets who wants one already has a smartphone.
What is also important is that customers no longer feel the need to upgrade every year.
The report said that Samsung is still cleaning Apple’s clock. Samsung is currently holding 23.7 per cent of the global smartphone market. The company has managed to sell 83.8 million handsets since the beginning of July, which is almost twice as much as Apple.
The fruity cargo cult flogged 48 million iPhone handsets in the same period, and currently holds 13.6 per cent of the global market share. Of course, its margins were considerably higher.
Samsung sold six per cent ore devices than in Q2 this year, while Apple managed to hit a 36 per cent year-on-year increase (although at this time last year Apple was not selling into China).
Huawei is still the third-placed company, and has managed to sell 26.7 million smartphones in the third quarter of this year, while it holds 7.5 per cent of the global market share. Lenovo is behind Huawei, the company has sold 18.8 million devices, while Xiaomi is right below Lenovo with 17.8 million sold handsets.
With the new Priv slider Android smartphone finally going on sale at $699, BlackBerry is chasing mainly after enterprise users who want a hard keyboard in addition to a touchscreen and who want access to Google apps and the Chrome browser, analysts said.
“All in all, it’s a bold move for BlackBerry and keeps BlackBerry relevant as they are struggling with market share,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, in an interview.
Just by the numbers, BlackBerry has faded nearly into oblivion, with just 0.3% of the total smartphone market globally in the second quarter of 2015, according to IDC.
But latching onto Android, with nearly 83% of the global market, could help.
With the Priv, “BlackBerry can chase after a niche user with a much more compelling experience,” Llamas added. “The Android OS gets knocked for not being secure and security is the special sauce that BlackBerry brings to the table. The niche they are going after is the enterprise user who wants a hard keyboard and wants to do more than only business on their phone.”
Outside of business, those users might want access to the Chrome browser or a wide assortment of Google Play apps, he said. IT shops will still be able to manage what apps are used, but the Priv usesAndroid for Work to separate work and personal data, which could open some doors for users at government agencies and in regulated industries.
“BlackBerry is targeting those organizations that want to adopt Android, but who also want to have the most secure platform to do that and avoid the notorious security deficiencies in stock Android devices,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “If you are in a regulated industry or are a high-level employee and security is paramount, then this is the phone you want to look at.”
Samsung is taking inspiration from other firms and promising monthly security packages for customers of its handsets and tablets.
Samsung’s monthly bundle follows the same sort of thing from Microsoft and Adobe, although perhaps it will not be quite as active as that pair.
We knew this was coming. Samsung and Google put up their security banners in August and promised to sweep in and make the system better.
The firm introduced its plans in a blog post in which it puffed and wheezed over how much it has its customers’ backs.
“As the leading provider of mobile devices, we recognise the importance of protecting our users’ security and privacy. At Samsung Mobile, security and privacy are at the core of what we do and what we think about every day,” said the firm.
“Our philosophy in mobile security is to take a holistic approach to security to ensure that, at all levels of the device, we are protecting users’ security and privacy at all times. Our goal is to maintain your trust and to provide agile security incident response at the same time.”
The first update contains a suite of fixes curated and collected by Samsung and Google. They offer protection for a recently disclosed screen-scraping problem with the Samsung Galaxy S5 as part of 14 Samsung Vulnerabilities and Exposures (SVE) items included in the October patch.
This all came to being in the wake of Stagefright malware, when Samsung was compelled to tell customers that it was ready, willing and able to beat such opponents off.
“With the recent security issues, we have been rethinking the approach to getting security updates to our devices in a more timely manner,” said Jin Koh, executive vice president and head of mobile research and development at Samsung.
“Since software is constantly exploited in new ways, developing a fast response process to deliver security patches to our devices is critical to keep them protected.
“We believe that this new process will vastly improve the security of our devices and will provide the best mobile experience possible for our users.”
Time will tell.
Wi-Fi Calling helps users get better connections indoors where cellular service can be spotty. Where permitted by a carrier, it can also eliminate international calling costs of up to $1 a minute.
T-Mobile and Sprint already offer Wi-Fi calls on certain devices, and T-Mobile started the practice as early as 2007 without securing the same permission from the FCC that AT&T received.
AT&T said the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will support Wi-Fi Calling if they have iOS 9 installed.
To add Wi-Fi calling to an eligible iPhone, according to Apple’s website, go to Settings> Phone> Wi-Fi Calling. You will then be prompted to answer a few questions.
With AT&T’s announcement, Verizon Wireless is expected to follow suit.
T-Mobile allows customers on certain devices to make Wi-Fi calls “virtually anywhere” there is Wi-Fi access. However, AT&T said its Wi-Fi Calling service will be available only when calling or texting from the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
AT&T didn’t offer an explanation for its restriction to those geographies.
In a blog post AT&T bemoaned that T-Mobile and Sprint were allowed to move ahead so much earlier, without receiving the same permission in the form of a waiver that AT&T sought and received.
“We are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time,” said Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external affairs at AT&T.
The FCC waiver permits AT&T to begin offering Wi-Fi calling without also offering teletypewriter (TTY) communications for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired.
AT&T wants to set up RTT (Real Time Texting) instead, arguing it works better over the Internet. Once implemented, RTT would be backward compatible with TTY, AT&T said in a blog in July.
Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, said AT&T probably sought and received the waiver to avoid an FCC fine for proceeding without permission.
He said Verizon has also proceeded slowly on Wi-Fi calling, hoping also to avoid a fine for the same reason.
“Verizon has not launched Wi-Fi calling but now that AT&T has the waiver, I would expect Verizon to launch shortly,” Entner said. “Sprint and T-Mobile didn’t bother to get a waiver and apparently they are less afraid of the FCC. Historically, they have gotten nicer treatment from the FCC.”
Samsung is expected to announce its first annual increase in quarterly profit in two years following a dismal third quarter in 2014, but word on the street is that things are not going well.
Samsung’s July-September operating profit to have risen 64 percent marking the first pickup since a record profit in the third quarter of 2013, but investors are not exactly excited.
Most of Samsung’s problems are its phone business. Though overall phone shipments likely rose, the brokerage says the greater share of lower-end products and price cuts for the Galaxy S6 models weighed heavily on the company’s bottom line.
At the lower end it launched new products targeting markets such as India, while at the high end it switched from plastic to metal, introduced curved screens and cut the price for its flagship Galaxy S6 devices after sales fell short of high expectations in the second quarter.
The smartphone market is saturated and no one is selling that many anymore. Chinese makers have eaten up its lower end market. New hardware features can be quickly matched by rivals. Samsung lacks service or software offerings that can pique consumer interest and not easily be replicated, a problem it hopes its recently launched Samsung Pay service can help address.
None of this has convinced investors that the company is back on track for sustained growth and the sustained growth is likely soon. The company is under pressure to return some of a cash pile of $53 billion through dividends or share buybacks.
Samsung’s semiconductor business probably remained its top earner for the fifth straight quarter as new premium phones came to market.
Over the last few years, competitive gaming has made huge strides, building a massive fanbase, supporting the rise of entire genres of games and attracting vast prize pots for the discipline’s very best. Almost across the board, the phenomenon has also seen its revenues gaining, as new sponsors come on board, including some major household names. Sustaining the rapidity of the growth of eSports is going to be key to its long term success, maintaining momentum and pushing it ever further into the public consciousness.
In order to do that, according to Newzoo, eSports need to learn some lessons from their more traditional athletic counterparts. Right now, the research firm puts a pin in eSports revenues of $2.40 per enthusiast per year, a number which is expected to bring the total revenue for the industry to $275 million for 2015 – a 43 per cent increase on last year. By 2018, the firm expects that per user number to almost double, reaching $4.63.
That’s a decent number, representing very rapid growth, but it pales in comparison to Newzoo’s estimates on the average earning per fan for a sport like Basketball, which represents a $14 per fan revenue – rising to $19 where only the major league NBA is a factor. To catch up to numbers like this is going to take some time, but Newzoo’s research has listed five factors it considers vital to achieving that aim.
Right now, MOBAs are undeniably the king of the eSports scene, and one of the biggest genres in gaming. The king of MOBAs, League of Legends, is the highest earning game in the world, whilst others like Valve’s DOTA 2 are also represent huge audiences and revenues, including the prestigious annual International tournament. Shooters are also still big business here, with Activision Blizzard recently announcing the formation of a new Call of Duty League.
Nonetheless, MOBAs are still the mainstay and if you don’t like them, you’re not going to get too deeply into competitive gaming as a fan. Although their popularity with the athletes is going to make them a difficult genre to shift, Newzoo says that broadening the slate is a key factor to growth.
The major tournaments bring players, and audiences, from all over the world, but it’s often only the very top tier of players who can find themselves a foothold in regular competition. Major territories like the US, South Korea and Europe have some local structure, but again League of Legends stands almost alone in its provision of local infrastructure. By expanding a network of regular leagues and competitions to more countries, eSports stands a much better chance of building a grassroots movement and capturing more fans.
Already a problem very much on the radar of official bodies and players around the world, the introduction of regulation is always a tough transition for any industry. However, when you’re putting up millions of dollars in prize money, you can’t have any grey areas around doping, match fixing and player behaviour at events. These young players are frequently thrust into a very rapid acceleration of lifestyle, fame and responsibility – a heady mixture which can prove to be a damaging influence on many. Just like in other sports, stars need protecting and nurturing – and the competitions careful monitoring – in order for growth to occur without scandal and harm to its stars.
Dishing out the rights to broadcast, promote and profit from eSports is a complex issue. Whilst games like football are worldwide concerns, with media rights a hotly contested and constantly shifting field, nobody owns the games themselves. With eSports, every single aspect of the games being played is a trademark in itself, with its owners understandably keen to protect them. However, with fan promotion such a key part of the sport’s growth, and services like Twitch a massive factor in organic promotion, governing the rights of distribution is only going to become a murkier and more complex business as time goes on. With major TV networks, well used to exclusivity, now starting to show an interest, expect this to become a hot topic.
Conflict between new and old media
That clash of worlds, between the fresh and agile formats of digital user-sourced broadcasting and the old network model is also going to be source of many of its own problems. One or the other, or even both, is going to have to adapt fast for there to be a convivial agreement which betters the industry as a whole. There’s currently considerable pushback from established media against the idea of eSports becoming accepted as a mainstream activity, fuelled in no small part by their audiences themselves, so a lo of attitudes need to change. Add to that the links between these media giants and many of the world’s richest advertisers and you can start to see the problem.
The offer, however, does excludes devices sold or running on the AT&T network. But it does apparently apply to a lease or installment plan from T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Wireless or US Cellular. The devices that are eligible are the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.
In one example, a Galaxy S6 through Verizon would require a $24 monthly payment for 24 months to pay off the device. Samsung’s offer covers those payments up to $120. The redemption period ends Oct. 9, according to online conditions.
For smartphone users switching to Galaxy from the iPhone, the $100 award will come in the form of a $100 Google Play gift card.
This isn’t the first time Samsung has attempted to lure iPhone customers. In August, Samsung offered U.S. iPhone users a 30-day test drive of a Galaxy phone for $1.
Samsung has been hot on the tail of Apple for years, and is expected to set up its own leasing program; Apple announced the iPhone Upgrade Program on Sept. 9. “If Apple does it, then it must be good enough for Samsung,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.
T-Mobile US Inc offered the least expensive option to own the latest iPhone at $5 under the company’s trade-in plan, amid fierce competition among the top U.S. carriers ahead of Apple Inc’s highly anticipated phone launch.
Customers can get a 16 GB iPhone 6s for $5 per month without upfront payment, under an 18-month lease, in exchange of an iPhone 6, 6 Plus or Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 versions under T-Mobile’s latest plan.
They can also get a 16 GB iPhone 6s Plus for $9 per month under the plan.
Sprint Corp currently offers an iPhone 6s for $15 per month, under a 22-month lease, with its trade-in plan.
U.S. carriers are also pressured by Apple’s own financing scheme for an unlocked iPhone that gives customers the freedom to switch between carriers.
Demand for new iPhones were on pace to beat the 10 million units the previous versions logged in their first weekend last year, Apple said earlier this month.
T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere tweeted on Tuesday that iPhone 6s preorders were 30 percent higher than a year earlier.
“If Apple does it, then it must be good enough for Samsung,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics. “The two companies are in an intense fight and Samsung cannot let Apple have a leg up on just about anything.”
Samsung did not comment directly on any plans to set up a leasing program, but a spokeswoman did tell Computerworld, “Samsung continuously evaluates trends and assesses business growth opportunities…. We remain committed to growing our mobile business in the U.S.”
Samsung launched its newest Galaxy devices on Aug. 21: the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Note 5.
Forbes reported Sunday that Samsung may be launching its leasing program for Galaxy devices within the next several months in the U.S., quoting an unnamed industry official.
Apple announced its iPhone Upgrade Program on Sept. 9; it lets a U.S. customer select an unlocked iPhone at an Apple retail store after making an appointment.
After the Apple announcement, several financial and technology analysts declared Apple’s move as a bold one that allows savvy smartphone users to mostly bypass a carrier. Jan Dawson, an analyst at research firm Jackdaw, called Apple’s upgrade plan a game-changer.
While Apple’s distribution of installment plan phones is limited, Samsung’s “will be even more limited, unless Samsung can get some retailers to partner with for distribution,” Entner said. Samsung today sells devices through Best Buy and other U.S. retailers, but Entner said that is still a limited channel. He estimated the top four U.S. wireless carriers together have 10,000 retail outlets.
Major U.S. carriers have mostly been quiet about the Apple announcement, and didn’t respond to questions about Samsung’s expected launch of a leasing plan.