No U.S. wireless carrier is implementing LTE-Advanced yet, though all four major carriers have expressed interest in the technology or have described plans to offer the faster speeds as early as later this year.
The four major U.S. carriers (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA) are provisioning or have recently provisioned LTE (Long Term Evolution) network switching gear and antennas nationwide that generally provide average downlink speeds of 10Mbps.
None of the four major U.S. carriers responded Monday to a request for information on their plans for LTE-Advanced networks.
Samsung is working with Qualcomm on LTE-Advanced chips for the GS4, said JK Shin, co-chief executive of Samsung Electronics, in an interview with Reuters in South Korea.
Shin told Reuters, in a story posted early today, that Samsung is talking to carriers outside of South Korea to sell the LTE-Advanced GS4. He refused to disclose the carriers Samsung is talking to.
He also claimed that Samsung will be the first manufacturer to sell a commercial version of an LTE-Advanced smartphone.
Shen told Reuters that a three-minute download of a movie using current LTE technology would take just over a minute on an LTE-Advanced network.
He did add that a Galaxy S4 that supports LTE-Advanced will be slightly more expensive than the LTE version.
Shin claimed sales of the GS4 “remain strong,” and have been thus far stronger than the GS III. The smartphone became available in April. He appeared to be reacting to analyst forecasts that demand for the Galaxy S4 is lagging.
After those analyst forecasts appeared earlier this month, shares of Samsung stock quickly dived by 6% and the company’s market value has dropped by nearly $20 billion since June 7.
The addition of LTE-Advanced to the GS4 is another example of how phone makers must constantly improve hardware and software to keep customers interested in a smartphone market that has become saturated.
Verizon Communications Inc is exploring the possibility of entering Canada’s cellular telephone business, potentially fulfilling the government’s hopes of having a fourth major wireless company, the Globe and Mail reported on Monday.
Verizon could look at taking over a smaller player in Canada, such as Wind Mobile, and participating in a new wireless spectrum auction, the newspaper reported citing two industry sources familiar with the situation.
New entrants such as Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile have helped to drive down wireless prices in Canada, but have struggled to turn a profit.
The struggles of the new entrants have frustrated the Canadian government’s hopes of having a fourth major wireless company in all parts of the country to compete with Telus Corp, BCE Inc’s Bell unit and Rogers Communications.
AT&T Corp, Vodafone Group Plc and Telenor ASA could be other possible investors, the newspaper said.
The social networking giant has begun sending out invitations to news media to check out a new product it’s unveiling, if not launching, on Thursday, June 20, in its Menlo Park, Calif. offices. In an odd move, the company appears to be getting the invitations out by snail mail instead of email.
“A small team has been working on a new idea,” the invitation reads. “Join us for coffee and learn about a new product.”
There is no word on what the new product might be. Facebook’s last big secretive product launch was for Facebook Home, its launcher for the Android platform.
Symantec has warned that a Linux kernel exploit that allows user privileges to be escalated has been ported to Android.
The Linux kernel CVE-2013-2094 vulnerability was first published on 14 May and affected a number of Linux distributions that used the Linux 2.6.x kernel, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Debian 6 and Suse Enterprise Linux 11. While Red Hat, Canonical and other distributions have long since issued patches, Symantec claimed that the exploit has been ported to Android.
Google’s Android operating system runs on top of the Linux kernel, and while Android 4.2 Jelly Bean uses Linux 3.0, previous versions of Android used Linux 2.6.
Symantec said of the vulnerability, “The Android operating system normally sandboxes every application so they cannot perform sensitive system operations or interfere with other installed applications. In the past, we have seen malware use privilege escalation exploits to access data from other applications, prevent uninstall, hide themselves, and also bypass the Android permissions model to enable behaviors such as sending premium SMS messages without user authorization.”
While Symantec correctly point out the vulnerability affected Linux 2.6, and the firm doesn’t say whether the mutated Android version affects any other versions of the Linux kernel, the problem is that many smartphone and tablet makers do not issue software updates, meaning some users could still be stuck with a version of Android that runs on a vulnerable Linux kernel.
Since Google has made it easy for Android users to download and install apps from third party sources, Android has become a target for malware. Symantec recommends that Android users running older versions stick to trusted sources of Android apps, such as the Google Play store.
Microsoft Corp said it plans on opening 500 special stores within existing Best Buy Co Inc stores in the United States selling exclusively Windows-based tablets and computers and other Microsoft products in an effort to revitalize sales of its flagship operating system.
The world’s largest software company, which already has a chain of 70 or so of its own Microsoft Stores and kiosks within shopping malls, said on Thursday the initiative would add more than 1,200 Best Buy Microsoft-trained sales associates to help customers.
Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system has sold more than 100 million copies since launch in October, but sales of new tablets and PCs running the software, and its own Surface tablet, have not been as strong as it hoped. An updated version called Windows 8.1 is scheduled for release later this year.
Part of the problem has been that Microsoft has struggled to get the attention of shoppers at large retailers such as Best Buy due to the profusion and popularity of Apple Inc’s iPad and tablets running Google Inc’s Android system.
The new store-within-a-store approach “offers a large-scale, hands-on customer experience” of Microsoft products, said Tami Reller, head of marketing at Microsoft’s Windows unit.
Microsoft’s plan comes just two months after Samsung Electronics also unveiled plans to install its brand shops in more than 1,400 Best Buy stores this year.
The store-within-a-store effort is a key plank of Best Buy’s turnaround plan, which includes dedicating more space to more-profitable products like tablets and mobile phones.
Best Buy, the world’s largest consumer electronics chain, has also been trying to use its clout with suppliers to fight online and discount rivals and boost in-store traffic, sales and profitability.
The survey found that 56% of households earning more than $75,000 have a tablet, making it the biggest category of device owners. Adults in the 35-44 make up the biggest tablet-owning age group (49%).
By contrast, smartphones are much more popular with younger adults. Those in the 18- to 34-year-old category own the most smartphones in the U.S., Pew said last week.
Pew interviewed 2,252 adults, age 18 and older, in April and May. A Pew survey in May 2010 found that just 3% of adults owned a tablet. The tablet-owning number jumped to 8% in May 2011 and to 18% in April 2012. Tablet ownership reached 34% in the latest survey.
The latest survey found that 33% of respondents between age 18 to 24 owned a tablet and 37% of 25- to 34-year-olds owned one. Only 18% of respondents over age 65 own a tablet, the survey found.
Other findings in the study:
Tablet ownership among parents with minor children living at home rose from 26% in April 2012 to 50% in May.
Tablet ownership by adults in households making $75,000 a year rose from 34% to 56% over the past year.
Tablet ownership rose from 28% to 49% of college graduates in the same period.
The decline in Samsung’s stock follows analyst concerns that a more affordable Galaxy S4 Mini or the rugged Galaxy S4 Active smartphone will cut into GS4 sales. Analysts quoted by Reuters and others even cited Apple’s reported plan to start an iPhone trade-in program as another reason to downgrade the stock.
“The mobile phone market is indeed a very volatile one,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi via email. “I was not expecting the GS4 to have the same impact as the GS3, so in that sense, Samsung faces the same issues that Apple does.”
There was disagreement over the impact of the Apple trade-in program on Samsung, and some cited it as a concern. “With Apple widely expected to announce an older iPhone trade-in program and also a new cheaper iPhone, overall growth prospects for [Samsung's] smartphone business have dimmed,” wrote Kim Hyun-yong, an analyst for E*trade Securities.
Three U.S.-based technology analysts toldComputerworld that the financial markets may have overreacted to the analyst reports prior to the Samsung stock decline. Samsung could not be reached for comment.
Some of the analysts indicated there might be softness in GS4 sales.
“The GS4 in itself is a great device, but its improvements over the GS3 are more or less incremental, and you can now buy a GS3 [with powerful features] for just $50,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.
Still, he noted that the GS4 is reported to have sold 10 million units in less than six weeks on initial sale. Also, Samsung remains the clear leader of Android devices on the market. “A ton of vendors would love to have sold 10 million of anything in such a short time,” he said.
Llamas said the real story of the GS4 will be shown over time, not by a single day of stock trading.
According to Reuters, Saudi regulators blocked the service because it was too difficult to monitor and because it sucked revenue from telecom outfits. The fact that Viber was created by an Israeli probably didn’t help much, either.
Earlier this year the Saudi Ministry of Interior complained that Islamist militants were taking advantage of social media to encourage unrest, but it did not recommend imposing stricter controls. In the end it might have a bit more to do with the three Saudi telecoms wanting to squash competition than militants or personal freedoms.
But it is a good example of how tech is bringing the world together – Islamist militants using an Israeli app to bring down the Wahabi House of Saud, what more could you ask for?
The offer is unusual not only because of the low price, but also because it comes pre-loaded with TalkBack from Google to help blind and vision-impaired users interact with the device.
The text-to-speech app will be immediately accessible to help customers activate and set up their phones.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse unveiled the phone at the M-enabling conference in Arlington, Va. He said the new phone has a robust set of features for all users, but is “uniquely empowering for people with disabilities.”
The phone also can download a new Accessible Education ID pack for K-12 students who cannot fully read the printed page because of various disabilities.
The pack includes a set of applications and Web services that customize mobile Web pages to remove clutter and present the user with the most pertinent information needed.
The Accessible Education ID pack, developed by Apps4 Android, includes six applications that provide access to WebMATH, KhAndroid and IDEAL Equation Finder, a speech recognition-based app.
The LG Optimus F3 also includes a home button that changes colors for specific functions, such as turning green for a phone call or red for a text message.
The device runs Android 4.1.2 and can handle data over 4G LTE networks that are now available in 88 U.S. cities.
It has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, a 2,460 mAh battery. a 4-in. display and front and rear cameras, the latter rated at 5 megapixels.
Fairphone has received enough orders to begin production on what it says is a smartphone that will be built according to ethical standards, designed and produced with minimal harm to people and the planet.
The Amsterdam-based company reached its goal of 5,000 pre-orders on Tuesday, which means that Fairphone supporters will probably get their devices in October, operations manager Laura Gerritsen said Wednesday.
The Fairphone project aims to manufacture a smartphone that, ideally, uses no minerals from conflict zones, is entirely recyclable and manufactured under good labor conditions, the company said. The company plans to use an open design, and make transparent what a Fairphone buyer’s money is used for, it said.
The design calls for a dual-SIM phone that has a replaceable battery, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 4.3-inch touchscreen covered with Dragontail glass and a quad-core Mediatek processor. The phone — called Fairphone, like the company name — will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with an interface developed by Kwame.
The project started in 2010 as a campaign against the use of minerals from conflict areas, but the team thought it was better to actually develop a “fair,” or ethically built, phone than start another petition, Gerritsen said.
Fairphone has been funded by several NGOs and received a!400,000 (US$522,480) in private funding to cover operations up to when its pre-order campaign ended. It has also received support from several companies, including Vodafone and Dutch telecom provider KPN.
While the company acknowledges that the first version of the Fairphone won’t be 100 percent fair, as it defines the term, it did its best to come up with a phone that is as ethically made as possible. If sales are strong, the team wants to make a second version that has more conflict-free minerals and is more ecologically sustainable, Gerritsen said.
Sixty percent of U.S. Fortune 500 firms are already testing or using the system to manage BlackBerry’s new line of devices, the company said on Wednesday, as U.S. carriers began to debut its new keyboard-equipped Q10 smartphone.
The Q10, which comes with the tiny physical keyboard that many BlackBerry fans admire, is the second device powered by the new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The touchscreen Z10 launched earlier this year.
The U.S. market is crucial for Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry as it seeks to win back market share ceded to Apple Inc’s iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and other devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.
“This is a very exciting day for us, launching with all four major U.S. carriers,” BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear said in an interview.
Tear said BlackBerry, which has long had a strong base of corporate and government users, expected the Q10 to allow it to win back customers who have been using other devices.
He believed demand for the smartphones would be helped by the fact that a majority of top U.S. companies were testing or installing the BlackBerry Enterprise Service system that would allow them to manage the new devices on their internal networks.
“Since everybody is migrating toward this, we expect it will definitely create pull for our (smartphone) products,” he said.
“There are a lot of very loyal BlackBerry keyboard users out there who have been waiting for this and I think, with the Q10, we will also be able to win back prior BlackBerry customers, who are now trying other platforms.”
The Q10 launched in Canada, Britain and a few other countries two months ago. The U.S. launch was delayed due to a longer carrier-testing process.
The device is already on sale through T-Mobile in the United States, while rivals Verizon and AT&T have begun to accept pre-orders for shipping later this month. Sprint plans to begin selling the devices this summer.
The average price of smartphone declined by 8% globally in 2012 and is projected to fall another 9% in 2013, IDC analyst Ryan Reith said.
Meanwhile, smartphones will make up 52.2% of all mobile phones shipped in 2013, while the smartphone market is projected to grow by 33% annually, IDC said.
In 2013, 958.8 million smartphones will ship, up 32.7% from the 722.5 million shipped in 2012, IDC said. “2013 will mark a watershed year for smartphones,” said Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst.
The gulf between smartphones and feature phones will grow even wider in coming years, as vendors find ways to lower production costs. One way vendors cut costs is by using older radio components that run on 3G, rather than 4G.
In some emerging markets, 3G is considered “good enough” for users, IDG said. The 3G devices will account for 71% of all smartphones shipped in 2013, and will still make up 50% of the market in 2017.
Nearly two-thirds of all smartphones shipped in 2013 will go to emerging markets, up from 43% in 2010, IDC said.
“Smartphones have become increasingly common in emerging markets and it is often the first affordable means of computing for these markets,” Reith said. Average personal income is far lower than in developed countries, forcing vendors “to create smartphone computing experiences for the low end of the market.”
Average prices for smartphones in 2013 will be $372, down from $407 in 2012 and $443 in 2011. The average selling price for a smartphone could be as low as $309 in 2017, IDC said.
Other than a couple of products, including the quite unsucessful Optimus Pad LTE, LG mostly stayed out of the tablet business but according to a latest interview with LG’s VP LG Mobile for Europe, Kim Won, it appears that we might see a new tablet from LG after all.
In an interview for Dutch site, All About Phones, LG’s Vice President LG Mobile for Europe, Kim Won revealed that LG is working on tablet hardware for this year. He also revealed that LG is not working on a Nexus 5 smartphone but did not dismiss that LG might be working with Google in the future. He also added that LG might be looking into another OS but made clear that he is not talking about Windows Phone platform.
Last but not the least, he confirmed that LG is indeed working on its own chip design for future smartphones.
Verizon Wireless began taking Web orders for the Q10 device today, with a shipping date of June 6.
Verizon will charge $199.99, with a new two-year agreement. The Q10 will be sold in Verizon stores shortly after the Web orders ship, a spokeswoman said.
Sprint and AT&T will also carry the Q10. Sprint today repeated earlier statements that it will start delivering the smartphone to users in late summer while AT&T today said again that it will start shipping the device sometime this summer.
Neither Sprint or AT&T has announced a price for the Q10.
T-Mobile has been selling the Q10 to business customers since May 14 under special plans arranged with T-Mobile business sales reps.
BlackBerry said on May 14 that it would begin selling the Q10 through U.S. carriers in June, not May as it had previously announced.
The qwerty Q10 device, which has a physical keyboard beneath a 3.1-in touchscreen, is already on sale in more than 14 other countries, including Canada.
T-Mobile charges $579.99 for the Q10, following its recent initiative to make phones available unsubsidized or nearly so. The carrier is also promoting unlimited data, voice and texting plans with no annual contracts under what it calls its Simple Choice Plan.
BlackBerry officials have high hopes for the Q10, since up to 90% of its existing 70 million-plus customers already use a qwerty BlackBerry phone like the Curve or Bold.
Samsung Electronics Co debuted a pared down version of its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone on Thursday, geared toward grabbing a bigger share in the mid-tier segment as growth in the high-end market slows.
The Galaxy S4 mini, which follows the premier of the S4 just a month ago, will have a 4.3-inch screen – still bigger than Apple Inc’s 4-inch iPhone 5 – and a 8-mega pixel rear-facing camera.
By comparison, the original S4, which hit the 10 million-sale mark last week to become Samsung’s fastest selling smartphone, has a bigger 5-inch full high-definition screen and a 13-mega pixel camera.
Samsung did not announce a price for the phone or give a launch date, but the market estimates the smaller type will be priced at around $350.
The launch comes ahead of the widely speculated low-priced iPhone later this year and as Samsung, the world’s top smartphone maker, looks to widen its lead with products spanning both the high and cheap-and-cheerful ends of the market.
Samsung is also expected to unveil more varieties of the S4 in the upcoming mobile event in London next month including a model with optical camera zoom functionality as well as a phone with water-proof features.