The phablet cannibalization trend is so significant that IDC lowered its long-term tablet forecast. The research firm slightly lowered its previous 2013 forecast from 227.4 million tablet shipments worldwide to 221.3 million.
IDC lowered its 2017 tablet forecast even further, pegging shipments at 386.3 million, down from the previous 407 million units.
In some markets, especially the Asia Pacific region, consumers have already decided to buy a large smartphone rather than a small tablet, IDC analysts said. Tablet purchases in South Korea have declined while larger smartphone purchases have increased. IDC researchers there are forecasting that 2013 tablet shipments will drop below 2012′s figures.
“Korea is a unique case, but it could very well be the precursor to that happening in more countries and regions,” said Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst.
“People in some countries have limited money to spend, so they tend to go for a large phone because they can call and browse on it and read email, as opposed to getting a small phone and a tablet,” added IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani. The phablet becomes the “jack of all trades.”
The cannibalization of tablets is less of a concern in the U.S. and Canada where expendable income is more available. In North America, analysts are more worried about market saturation, with tablets bought up in huge numbers going back to 2010. The market is set to turn from high growth to “mostly a replacement market,” Mainelli said.
IDC also found that tablets in emerging countries aren’t as popular as phablets because there is less Wi-Fi at home and less traditional home PC usage. “We think many of those cheap whitebox tablets being used in emerging markets are essentially replacing DVD players, with the content side-loaded onto them from various sources,” Mainelli said. “Also, larger smartphones took off there first.”
In addition to large smartphones’ cutting into tablet sales, Mainelli said IDC believes that wearable devices and other new computing categories will temper tablet growth in coming years. He didn’t estimate by how much, however.
As large phone use rises, Mainelli said it’s possible that the tablet market will shift back to larger tablets in a reversal of the recent trend toward sub-8-in. tablets. “I tend to think that is what will happen in the U.S.,” he said. One example is the new iPad Air, with a 9.7-in. display.
IDC predicts about 220 million tablets with screens that are under 8 inches will ship globally in 2017, with another 145 million tablets shipping that are between 8 inches and 11 inches, and about 20 million with screen sizes of more than 11 inches.
Analyst firm Canalys said in November that phablets larger than 5 inches accounted for 22% of all smartphones shipped in the third quarter.
The phablets, made mainly by Samsung and running the Android operating system, include the 6.3-in. Galaxy Mega and the 5.7-in Galaxy Note 3. Apple’s new iPhone 4S and 4C are still 4-in. devices, but the company launched a smaller tablet, the iPad mini, with a 7.9-in. screen in November 2012.
Canalys recently predicted that tablet shipments will reach 285 million units in 2014, about 15 million higher than IDC’s forecast for 2014 of 270.5 million.
Also in 2014, Canalys said tablets will almost outship all PCs combined, a category including desktops and laptops.
The first group of around 11,000 phones will leave the factory on Dec. 23, and will be sent to people who bought them during the pre-order campaign, CEO Bas Van Abel said in a blog post. Fairphone will then ship a second batch on Jan. 10 to “everyone else who joined us along the way.”
“We know it’s been a long journey (it feels quite long for us too!), and so we’re really excited we’re coming into the final stretch to deliver phones to our most committed supporters. Thanks again for your patience,” Abel wrote.
The company’s original goal was to ship the 25,000 phones it has sold this year, but in the end that wasn’t possible due to manufacturing and administrative issues. These included capacitors that got stuck in customs; a month-long wait for a certificate needed to transport batteries by airplane; and a major mix-up by a supplier that accidentally sent Fairphone’s order to someone else.
The struggles highlight how difficult it is for a small vendor to make its way in a sector that’s dominated by big companies like Apple and Samsung. But it isn’t alone. Last week Geeksphone killed its Firefox OS-based Peak+ smartphone because of problems with components and its manufacturing partner.
For its first smartphone, Fairphone has sourced conflict-free tin and tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The company is still working on a way to make sure the tungsten as well as all the gold it uses is conflict free, according to a spokeswoman. Fairphone’s low volumes make it difficult to ensure that all the gold used in the printed circuit boards is conflict free. But the company is working to change that, she said.
The dual-sim Fairphone has a 4.3-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 960 by 540 pixels, an 8-megapixel camera and quad-core 1.2GHz processor from Mediatek. There is also 16GB of integrated memory and 1GB of RAM. The smartphone costs $440 before taxes.
On the software side, the phone runs a customized interface on top of Android 4.2. An upgrade to Android 4.3 will arrive soon after the phone has shipped, according to Fairphone.
Earlier this year Intel caused quite a stir when CEO Brian Krzanich announced the company’s ultimate goal is to make $99 tablets a reality. So far Intel has failed to gain much market share in the tablet space, dominated by cheaper ARM application processors and Android.
However, Bay Trail-T has a good chance to turn things around. The new chip can easily take on high-end ARM parts and in most cases, wipe the floor with them. Since it’s an x86 part, it can also be used in Windows 8.1 tablets. However, the price was a problem. Intel’s official Bay Trail-T prices range from $32 to $37, making the chips significantly more expensive than mid-range and low-end ARM parts. However, many vendors are said to be getting discounts and paying a bit less, in the $20 to $30 range.
Things may be about to change. According to Digitimes, Intel is planning to spend up to $1 billion on tablet chip subsides. The cash should sweeten the deal for vendors willing to give Intel SoCs a go. Since we are talking about relatively low average selling prices, Intel could use the cash to practically halve the prices and offer Bay Trail-T parts for as little as $10. This would make them competitive overnight, as high-end ARM SoCs like the Exynos 5 and Tegra 4 are estimated to cost well over $20.
Intel has a long tradition of overspending on marketing. A few years ago it showed Ultrabook vendors with $300 million worth of market development funding and it has a huge Core marketing program. Intel recently announced that it would start treating Atom and Core equally, hence the move would make sense. Since Core lifecycles are getting longer, Intel could simply shift some of the funding to Atom products, namely tablet parts like Bay Trail-T.
The only problem? Well the report comes from Digitimes and the site’s hit and miss track record has been on the “miss” side lately, so take it with a grain of salt.
The issue was discovered by Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at Dutch IT services company Levi9, and affects all Android 4.x firmware versions on Google Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Alecu demonstrated the vulnerability at the DefCamp security conference in Bucharest, Romania.
Class 0 SMS, or Flash SMS, is a type of message defined in the GSM specification that gets displayed directly on the phone’s screen and doesn’t automatically get stored on the device. After reading such a message, users have the option to save it or dismiss it.
On Google Nexus phones, when such a message is received, it gets displayed on top of all active windows and is surrounded by a semi-transparent black overlay that has a dimming effect on the rest of the screen. If the message is not saved or dismissed and a second message is received it gets placed on top of the first one and the dimming effect increases.
When such messages are received, there is no audio notification, even if one is configured for regular incoming SMS messages. This means that users receiving Flash messages won’t know about them until they look at the phone.
Alecu found that when a large number of Flash messages — around 30 — are received and are not dismissed, the Nexus devices act in unusual ways.
The most common behavior is that the phone reboots, he said. In this case, if a PIN is required to unlock the SIM card, the phone will not connect to the network after the reboot and the user might not notice the problem for hours, until they look at the phone. During this time the phone won’t be able to receive calls, messages or other types of notifications that require a mobile network connection.
According to Alecu, a different behavior that happens on rare occasions is that the phone doesn’t reboot, but temporarily loses connection to the mobile network. The connection is automatically restored and the phone can receive and make calls, but can no longer access the Internet over the mobile network. The only method to restore the data connection is to restart the phone, Alecu said.
On other rare occasions, only the messaging app crashes, but the system automatically restarts it, so there is no long term impact.
A live test at the conference performed on a Nexus 4 phone with the screen unlocked and running Android 4.3 did not immediately result in a reboot. However, after receiving around 30 class 0 messages the phone became unresponsive: Screen taps or attempts to lock the screen had no effect. While in this state, the phone could not receive calls and had to be rebooted manually.
A second attempt with the screen locked also failed to reboot the phone because only two of over 20 messages were immediately received. This may have been caused by a network issue or operator-imposed rate limiting. The messages did arrive later and the phone rebooted when unlocking the screen.
Alecu said that he discovered this denial-of-service issue over a year ago and has since tested and confirmed it on Google Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones running various Android 4.x versions, including the newly released Android 4.4, or KitKat.
Around 20 different devices from various vendors have also been tested and are not vulnerable to this problem, he said.
The phone is a variant, though not an outright successor, of the Lumia 520, and helps Nokia offer Windows Phone at a more accessible price to a larger number of users, a spokeswoman said via email.
The smartphone will go on sale before the end of the year in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Singapore and Russia. In China, it is priced at 1099 yuan ($180) before taxes and subsidies. It will then go on sale in Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Khazakstan and parts of Africa during the first quarter of next year, according to Nokia.
During the third quarter, Lumia sales increased by 19 percent quarter-on-quarter to 8.8 million units, reflecting strong demand particularly for the Lumia 520, Nokia said. The Lumia 525 and the expanded distribution it brings, then, is important to Nokia.
Other than 1GB of RAM, rather than 512MB, the specs of the Lumia 525 are identical to what users get with the Lumia 520. That includes a 4-inch screen with a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, a 5-pixel camera and dual-core 1GHz processor. There is also 8GB of integrated memory and a microSD card slot.
The market for sub-$200 smartphones is at a crossroads, mostly thanks to Google’s efforts. The recently announced Moto G from Google-owned Motorola Mobility costs as much as the Lumia 525, but is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and has a 4.5-inch 720p screen.
Even though the Lumia 520 has helped increase the popularity of Windows Phone, Nokia and Microsoft can’t afford to rest. Their main priority should now be to bring down the cost of Windows Phones to below $100 without a contract, said Pete Cunningham, principal analyst at Canalys.
Nokia shareholders last week voted to approve Microsoft’s acquisition of “substantially all” of the company’s Devices & Services business. The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of next year.
It is not known for which applications Apple aims to use the PrimeSense technology or the price it has paid for the Tel Aviv, Israel, company. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet emailed the company’s standard statement after an acquisition.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” she wrote.
PrimeSense technology was used to power the Kinect motion sensing input device in the original Xbox from Microsoft.
The Calcalist newspaper in Israel reported on the deal about a week ago, and said Apple would pay $345 million for the company.
PrimeSense said earlier this month that its sensor was used by 3-D printing company 3D Systems for its new 3-D scanner called Sense.
The company’s sensors have applications in other areas, ranging from retail to healthcare, which suggest that Apple has a number of alternatives for deployment of the technology in its own devices. Its Capri sensor is a small-size device designed specifically for integration with mobile phones, TVs, tablets and PCs.
PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and has operated as a fabless semiconductor company. Its technology already powers over 24 million devices around the world, enabling natural interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings, the company said on its website.
The Galaxy Grand 2 has a number of hardware improvements over the first Grand, which was announced last December. The Grand 2′s processor has four cores, twice as many as its predecessor’s, but runs at the same speed, 1.2GHz. Its screen measures 5.25 inches across the diagonal and can display HD video with a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, an improvement on its predecessor’s 5-inch, 800-by-400-pixel screen.
To power those performance improvements, Samsung has increased the battery capacity from 2,100 mAh to 2,600 mAh. The bigger battery and screen has had little effect on the size and weight of the Grand 2 compared to its predecessor. It is one gram heavier and a couple of millimeters longer and wider. The thickness is virtually the same at 8.9 millimeters versus 9.5 millimeters, according to Samsung’s spec sheets.
The Grand 2 has the same resolution and basic processor configuration as the recently announced Moto G from Google-owned Motorola Mobility, which set a new performance benchmark for devices costing around $180 without a contract.
Like its predecessor, the Grand 2 has an 8-megapixel camera, while the Moto G only has a 5-megapixel camera. Neither device supports LTE. For storage, Samsung has stuck with 8GB of integrated storage and a microSD card slot, while the Motorola device is available with 8GB or 16GB of built-in storage, but no card slot.
Both devices run Android 4.3, but while Motorola has said it will upgrade the Moto G to version 4.4 in January, Samsung is mum on its upgrade plans. Samsung also isn’t saying what the Grand 2 will cost, so for now its hard to say which is the better value.
Esoteric business software maker, which no one is really certain what it does, SAP is debating whether to accelerate moving more of its business to the cloud.
The move would be a change in strategy which might initially have only a small impact on its sales. Co-chief executive Jim Hagemann-Snabe said the change would generate more sales by 2017 particularly in markets like the US where there is a big push onto the cloud.
Talking to a Morgan Stanley investor conference this morning, Hagemann-Snabe said that this would have impact on the 2015 level, I don’t expect enormous impact but it would have some impact because you are delaying some revenues. In the long term however it makes a lot of sense, which is not the sort of thing people expect from SAP.
Even if it means that it will be the first to make ARM’s 64-bit chips, Intel said that it wants to expand its contract foundry work. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he would expand his company’s small contract manufacturing business, paving the way for more chipmakers to tap into the world’s most advanced process technology.
Krzanich told analysts that he planned to step up the company’s foundry work, effectively giving Intel’s process technology to its rivals. He said that company’s who can use Intel’s leading edge and build computing capabilities that are better than anyone else’s, are good candidates for foundry service. Krzanich added that the slumping personal computer industry, Intel’s core market, was showing signs of bottoming out.
Intel also unveiled two upcoming mobile chips from its Atom line designed interchange features to create different versions of the component. A high-end version of the new chip, code named Broxton, and is due out in mid-2015. SoFIA, a low-end chip was shown as an example of Intel’s pragmatism and willingness to change how it does business. Krzanich said that in the interest of speed, SoFIA would be manufactured outside of Intel, with the goal of bringing it to market next year.
Intel will move production of SoFIA chips to its own 14 nanometer manufacturing lines, Krzanich added.
Intel has confirmed that it is working on 64-bit Bay Trail Atom chips for Android tablets, which are likely to debut in 2014.
Apple’s iPhone 5S was the first commercial mobile device to ship with a 64-bit chip, and this was quickly followed by the iPad Air. Samsung soon spoke up about its own 64-bit chip plans for 2014, and it looks like Intel is the latest to get caught up in the hype.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told attendees at an investors meeting on Thursday that the company is working on 64-bit chips for Android, adding that it likely will release the chips after its Bay Trail 64-bit chips are released for Microsoft Windows 8.1 devices early next year.
Krzanich said that Android tablets with Bay Trail Atom 64-bit chips could become available starting at $150, according to PC World, around £95 for us Brits.
So, what might this mean for Android tablets? 64-bit chips are capable of supporting more than the 4GB of RAM that 32-bit chips are limited to, which in turn will make for more graphically intense gaming and 4K Ultra HD support.
Intel didn’t reveal when we’ll be seeing the first 64-bit Bay Trail Android tablet, but the firm usually has a large presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, so we could see the first 64-bit Android devices as early as January 2014.
Intel’s comments are part of its effort to recover from its recently stagnant PC chip sales, with the firm admitting during its investors meeting that it cannot make the same mistakes again.
Speaking to investors on Thursday, Kraznich predicted that sales of Intel based tablets will quadruple next year, to more than 40 million.
The company wants to load mobile devices with its Zeroth processor, which is being designed to mimic a human brain, Jacobs said, during a speech at the company’s annual investor meeting in New York. The chip can learn human patterns and anticipate actions, which could make interaction with mobile devices easier.
“This is the beginning of devices that are smart,” Jacobs said. “It is a far-out research project, but it works.”
The Zeroth chip is designed around neural systems and mimics the brain’s structure and operation through circuitry and algorithms.
Brains are “low-power, highly parallel systems,” Jacobs said. The size of a brain is one aspect of learning capacity, so Qualcomm will build smaller brains for smaller devices, and larger brains for larger devices, Jacobs said.
Qualcomm is one of the world’s top mobile chip makers. Its Snapdragon chips are used in many of the top smartphones and tablets.
The Zeroth chip can dynamically rewire to sense, understand and act on input from information sources. Qualcomm has already shown a robot equipped with Zeroth that was able to make correct decisions based on progressive learning and input.
Zeroth’s computing mechanism is a step up from current computing methodologies, which require set programming by humans to generate results. Current computers also have scaling issues tied to power consumption.
“Instead of preprogramming behaviors and outcomes with a lot of code, we’ve developed a suite of software tools that enable devices to learn as they go and get feedback from their environment,” wrote Samir Kumar, Qualcomm’s director of business development, in an October blog entry explaining the Zeroth processor.
This is not the first effort to reverse engineer the brain into silicon. IBM is trying to develop a neuromorphic chip through its SyNAPSE program anddemonstrated a prototype chip in August 2011. Intel has also proposed a neuromorphic chip design. The Human Brain Project, funded by the European Union, aims to re-create the spiking neurons and synapses phenomena in brains on silicon chips within a power budget of 1 watt.
Even now, phones are learning a lot based on patterns, Jacobs said, but Zeroth chips could help build more sophisticated devices.
“We are investing in a lot of cool technologies,” Jacobs said.
LG is investigating claims that its TVs send details about their owners’ viewing habits back to the manufacturer.
Blogger Jason Huntley detailed how his Smart TV was sending data about which channels were being watched. It appears that TVs uploaded information about the contents of devices attached to the TV, which is probably illegal. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating too.
When Huntley contacted the South Korean company he was told that by using the TV he had accepted LG’s terms and conditions so there. Huntley said details of what channels he had been watching had been sent even after a privacy setting had been changed.
He first come across the issue in October when he had begun researching how his Smart TV had been able to show his family tailored adverts on its user interface. When he looked at the TV’s menu system, he had noticed that an option called “collection of watching info” had been switched on by default.
After switching it off, he had been surprised to find evidence that unencrypted details about each channel change had still been transmitted to LG’s computer servers, but this time a flag in the data had been changed from “1″ to “0″ to indicate the user had opted out.
The Guardian has the papers, and it shows a US National Security Agency (NSA) memo that talks about how it can collect information about unsuspected UK citizens and keep hold of their data, meaning their phone communications and their email contacts. This can then be used to build up information about links between people.
“Sigint [signals intelligence] policy … and the UK Liaison Office here at NSAW [NSA Washington] worked together to come up with a new policy that expands the use of incidentally collected unminimized UK data in Sigint analysis,” says the memo
“The new policy expands the previous memo issued in 2004 that only allowed the unminimizing of incidentally collected UK phone numbers for use in analysis. Now SID analysts can unminimize all incidentally collected UK contact identifiers, including IP and email addresses, fax and cell phone numbers, for use in analysis.”
The agreement has its roots in the 1946 UK/USA Signals Intelligence Agreement, which should prevent allied intelligence agencies from monitoring each other’s citizens without permission. However, it includes a caveat, which is that this can happen, as long as it is done in secret and in the best interest of nation states.
Governments reserved the right to stop behaving so polititely earlier, and “when it is in the best interests of each nation,” reports the Guardian, which has reproduced part of the memo.
“Therefore,under certain circumstances, it may be advisable and allowable to target second party persons and second party communications systems unilaterally, when it is in the best interests of the US and necessary for US national security…,” it adds.
“There are circumstances when targeting of second party persons and communications systems, with the full knowledge and co-operation of one or more second parties, is allowed when it is in the best interests of both nations.”
Selfie, which means a photo taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone, and posted on a social network, was called out this year because of its sheer popularity.
“Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research program, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year,” said Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, in a statement.
Actually, a study conducted by editors at Oxford Dictionaries showed that the frequency of the word “selfie” in the English language increased 17,000% since this time in 2012.
“Selfie can actually be traced back to 2002 when it was used in an Australian online forum,” Oxford Dictionaries noted in a blog .
According to the dictionaries’ editors, this was the first known usage of the word selfie, “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
The word gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013, evolving from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand.
Dictionary editors also noted that the popularity of the word “selfie” can be seen in the number of “spin-off terms” that have cropped up. For instance, a helfie is a picture of one’s hair and a belfie is a picture of one’s posterior.
And a welfie is a workout selfie, while a drelfie is a drunken selfie.
Other contenders for the International Word of the Year included bitcoin, a digital currency, and showrooming, meaning to visit a store to see a product before buying it online at a lower price.
Also making the short list were twerk, which means to dance provocatively in a low, squatting position, along with binge-watch, which means to watch multiple episodes back to back of a television program; and schmeat, a derogatory term for synthetically produced meat from biological tissue.
Chip Designer Mediatek has unveiled the first octa-core system on chip (SoC) for mobile devices.
The MT6592 is an ARM based processor capable of running all eight cores at up to 2Ghz and offers a scheduling algorithm to ensure that all eight cores are being managed effectively to control power draw and temperature.
The chip uses its Heterogeneous Computing (HC) architecture to act as foreman, distributing tasks to the best processor for the job, covering CPU, GPU, DSP, and multiple connectivity, multimedia, camera and display engines, including navigation, and sensor cores.
The chip is equipped with Mediatek Clearmotion for automatic upscaling of standard 24/30 frames per second video to high-quality 60fps video. Also onboard is support for 802.11n WiFi, Miracast, Bluetooth, GPS and FM tuner functions. It is also capable of running Ultra HD H.264 and new video standards including H.265 and VP9.
Mediatek Smartphone Business Unit general manager Jeffrey Ju enthused, “The MT6592 delivers longer battery life, low-latency response times and the best possible mobile multimedia experience. Being the first to market with this advanced eight-core SOC is testament to the industry-leading position of Mediatek.”
The prospect of octa-core mobile devices could have huge ramifications for the buying public. Although most everyday web surfers will probably not notice the difference, gamers and multimedia users are likely to find that the next generation of gadgets that have octa-core processors offer an experience on a par with their desktop cousins.
The MT6592 is expected to appear in Android 4.4 Kitkat devices in early 2014, though as yet no manufacturers have announced that they will be using it in their products.