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Are Smartphones Taking Over?

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Are Smartphones Taking Over?

According to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, the combined total market of smartphones, tablets plus 2-in-1s, and PCs is set to grow from 1.8 billion units in 2014 to 2.5 billion units in 2019. During that time, smartphones will grow to represent the overwhelming majority of total smart connected device (SCD) shipments, dwarfing both tablets and PCs in terms of shipment volumes.

As recently as 2010, PCs still made up the lion’s share of the total SCD device market, with the combined desktop and notebook categories accounting for about 52.5% of shipments versus 44.7% for smartphones and 2.8% for tablets. By 2014, smartphones had grown to represent 73.4% of total shipment, while PCs had slipped to 16.8% and tablets had increased to 12.5%. By 2019, IDC expects the distribution to be 77.8% smartphones, 11.6% PCs, and 10.7% tablets.

“Smartphone growth continues at an astounding pace, while growth in the PC and tablet markets is proving to be more challenging,” said Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President for Devices at IDC. “There are clearly some bright spots in both markets: Detachable 2-in-1s show strong growth potential in tablets, and convertible notebooks are beginning to gain traction in PCs. But ultimately, for more people in more places, the smartphone is the clear choice in terms of owning one connected device. Even as we expect slowing smartphone growth later in the forecast, it’s hard to overlook the dominant position smartphones play in the greater device ecosystem. And it’s not likely that anything—including wearables—will unseat it from this dominant position anytime soon.”

“Not all smartphone growth will be equal. Going forward, the future of smartphones lies in emerging markets, sub-US$100 price points, and phablets,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager for Mobile Devices. “In 2014, 73% of smartphones were shipped to emerging markets, 21% were priced below US$100, and 12% had screen sizes between 5.5 and <7 inches. By 2019, these categories will all increase – 80% of smartphones will be shipped to emerging markets, 35% will be priced below US$100, and 32% will have a 5.5–<7-inch screen size. So far the market has very much focused on premium models and brands, but emerging market consumers are looking for greater value from a single device.”

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Vietnam Smartphones Increase by 57% in 2014, Says IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Vietnam Smartphones Increase by 57% in 2014, Says IDC

A total of 28.7 million mobile phones were shipped to Vietnam in 2014, reflecting an annual growth rate of 13% year-on-year (YoY), according to IDC’s Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, 2014 Q4. Smartphones enjoyed the highest growth with total shipments of 11.6 million units, reflecting a YoY growth of 57%. Smartphones also represented 41% of all mobile phones shipped to Vietnam last year and are expected to eclipse feature phones in 2015.

“Rapidly declining smartphone prices has led to the rise of smartphone penetration rates in Vietnam throughout 2014,” says Võ Lê Tâm Thanh, Senior Market Analyst, Mobile Devices at IDC Vietnam. “The low-cost segment has been the main driver, with six out of ten smartphones as budget models priced below US$150 are shipped to Vietnam.”

Samsung remained the king of Vietnam smartphone market although its market share has fallen considerably over the past few years, from 54% in 2012 to 26% in 2014. Nokia/Microsoft on the other hand continued to grow strongly in Vietnam, climbing from 16% in 2013 to 24% in 2014.

prVN25480615 1 254826 Vietnam Smartphones Increase by 57% in 2014, Says IDC

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There Is Now a New iPhone App that Encrypts Calls and Texts

WIRED

IF YOU OWN an iPhone or Android handset and care about your privacy, there’s no longer much of an excuse not to encrypt every conversation you have. Now a free, zero-learning-curve app exists for both text and voice that can keep those communications fully encrypted, so that no one but the person holding the phone on the other end can decipher your words.

On Monday the open-source encryption software group Open Whisper Systems announced a new upgrade to Signal, its iOS app that enables end-to-end encrypted voice calling. With the update, Signal will end-to-end encrypt text messaging, too. And in WIRED’s testing of that updated all-in-one app, it’s just as idiot-proof as the two most basic, lime-green iPhone communication buttons it replaces.

“The objective is to be a complete, transparent replacement for secure communications,” says Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike. “We want to have a texting and calling experience that’s actually better than the default experience and is also private.”

In fact, the Signal update completes a suite of mobile encryption apps that Marlinspike has been developing for nearly five years. In May of 2010, Marlinspike released Redphone and Textsecure for Android, two apps that enabled end-to-end encrypted voice calls (using VoIP and the ZRTP protocol developed by PGP creator Phil Zimmermann) and text messages. But users of those apps could communicate only with other Redphone and TextSecure users, leaving iPhone users in the cold. Soon after, Marlinspike’s startup Whisper Systems was acquired by Twitter, putting his encryption app work on a two-year hiatus.

Marlinspike left Twitter in 2013, and in July of 2014 his newly recreated Open Whisper Systems released Signal, a free voice-calling app that’s interoperable with Redphone. That meant iPhone users could have free, secure voice conversations with their Android owning-friends (and each other).

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IDC: Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of global smartphone shipments in 2014

VentureBeat

Android and iOS accounted for 96.3 percent of all smartphone shipments in Q4 2014, and coincidentally, 96.3 percent for all of last year as well. That means the duopoly grew 0.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year (95.7 percent in Q4 2013) and 2.5 percentage points on an annual basis (93.8 percent in 2013).

The latest figures come from IDC, which puts together these estimates every quarter. Here is the breakdown for the full year:

idc smartphones os 2014 IDC: Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of global smartphone shipments in 2014

Above: Volume units are in millions.

Google’s mobile operating system remained the clear leader in 2014, pushing past the 1 billion unit mark for the first time. This was a significant milestone in itself, but also because it meant that total Android volumes in 2014 beat total smartphone shipments in 2013. Samsung retained the leadership position “by a wide margin,” shipping more than the next five vendors combined, but its total volumes for the year remained essentially flat as Asian vendors (including Huawei, Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola, LG Electronics, Xiaomi, and ZTE) took up the task of fueling growth for Android.

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Infographic: Enterprise Mobility in Asia/Pacific

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Infographic: Enterprise Mobility in Asia/Pacific

Improving employee productivity, business agility and customer experiences are the top three reasons companies are supporting enterprise mobility. However, despite the relatively low increase in cost, IDC sees that more organizations testing mobility management are opting for Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions rather than more holistic Mobile Enterprise Management (MEM) ones. IDC examines the state of place in Asia/Pacific.

For more IDC infographics, click here

APAC enterprise mobility infographic1 Infographic: Enterprise Mobility in Asia/Pacific

 

Android One: Google’s push to rule the smartphone world

CNET

Google just took an important step toward cementing its dominance over the world with its Android mobile operating system.

In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, almost 8,000 miles away from its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Google launched its Android One initiative in New Delhi, India. The project, originally announced at the company’s I/O conference in June, is essentially a way for Google to guide handset manufacturers in bringing affordable smartphones to emerging markets.

The initiative is designed both to reduce the ultimate price tag of Android smartphones, giving more budget-conscious consumers a chance to try out the devices, and to bring a more consistent Android experience, ensuring that those consumers are using Google services. That the Internet giant is making so much noise out of Android One underscores the importance of those markets, which are a critical source of future user growth — and where Google isn’t the only company looking to plant its flag.

Android One is first rolling out in India, then in Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia by the end of the year. For the launch, Google has partnered with three Indian device makers — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — to create three $100 smartphones, as well as teamed up with the wireless provider Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile carrier in India, with 40 percent of smartphone users in the country on that network.

Phones made under the Android One rubric will also run “stock” Android, an unmodified version of the software, without the technical and user interface flourishes that manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC typically add to make their smartphones stand out from the competition. The company has already designed its most current version of Android, called KitKat, to run on low-cost hardware.

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IFA September 2014: World Tech Update

IDG News Service

From Samsung’s new curved Note Edge to the flurry of Google Android Wear watches from LG, Sony and Asus, we’ve got you covered on the hottest products launched at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Mobile users focus on just a few apps

Warc

American smartphone owners use their favourite app for 42% of all the time they spend accessing apps, a new report into iPhone and Android behaviour has revealed.

According to the US Mobile App Report from comScore, the internet technology research firm, app usage now accounts for over half (52%) of all digital time in the US, but only a few well-known app brands dominate overall usage.

As reported by MediaPost, six big tech brands – Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay – account for nine of the top 10 most-used apps, 16 of the top 25, and 24 of the top 50, with Facebook leading for both the largest base of users and the most time spent.

Nearly three-quarters of the time US smartphone users spend with apps is concentrated on just four apps, the report also found, while more than half (57%) access apps every day.

While Facebook and some other brands remain dominant, smaller apps can still achieve success, said Adam Lella, a marketing insights analyst at comScore.

“It certainly means there might be some challenges for smaller players on this medium, but success is also very possible,” he said in comments reported by AdExchanger.

He explained: “We have seen some standalone apps achieve huge audiences on mobile, for example SnapChat and Pandora, while others have found ways to monetise through non-advertising business models that don’t require competing with the larger companies on audience size, like Uber and certain gaming apps.”

The report also noted some behavioural and demographic differences between iPhone and Android users with the former being younger and wealthier.

The median iPhone user earns $85,000 a year compared to $61,000 for Android users, and 43% of iPhone users are aged 18 to 34 versus 39% of Android users.

iPhone users are more likely to use apps to consume media, such as general news and social networks, while Android users focus more on apps for search and email, which comScore attributed to the strong presence of Google Search and Gmail on the platform.

Why I’m Already Giving Up on Android Wear

Mashable

I believe in wearable technology. From Google Glass to smartwatches, the idea that you can have access to useful and essential information right when you need it — without digging a smartphone out of your pocket — is compelling. Once you have that convenience, you don’t want to go back.

That’s why it’s so jarring when that ability disappears after you’ve grown used to it. Ever since Google I/O in late June I’ve been wearing an Android Wear smartwatch, the Samsung Gear Live, fairly regularly. But too often I’ve picked up the watch from my desk or nightstand only to be greeted with a dead screen where my faux-sophisticated digital watchface is supposed to be.

It’s technically my own fault. This happens whenever I take off the watch and forget to put it back in its charging cradle. Android Wear smartwatches are designed to provide “all-day” battery life; the device expects — in fact, depends upon — me to remember to recharge it every single night, or else it reverts to what I like to call bracelet mode.

This is why Android Wear stumbles so badly right out of the gate. Although it feels logical to expect users to simply mirror their nightly smartphone recharge habit with another gadget, as I’ve discovered, that’s a wrongheaded assumption.

While a smartphone is easy to keep in a pocket in almost all situations, I often find the watch inconvenient to wear while playing with my kids (who are still young enough to be picked up) or, say, cooking. In those cases, off it goes to the coffee table, kitchen counter or nightstand — usually for the night.

That habit is deadly to an “all day” smartwatch because of its secondary role. For my smartphone, I will almost always remember to charge it because it’s my primary window into my digital life; if I forget to juice it up, I’ll be cut off from what’s now a fundamental part of the way I (and millions of others) live.

Smartwatch habits

For a smartwatch, though, things are different. While its notifications are convenient, they’re not always essential. I really only “need” the notifications when I’m working and tend to mute them at home. Add to that the expectation created by decades of wristwatches that a watch can be put down for days, weeks and even months and still just work (“Take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’,” etc.), and you practically guarantee that all but the most anally retentive will occasionally forget to charge their smartwatch.

Android Wear does give you warnings when the battery is running low, but given the poor battery life you probably won’t see them in the case of a forgotten overnight charge. If you’re at, say, 30% when you go to bed, the 20% alarm won’t trigger until a little later, and by morning the watch will probably be completely dead — especially if you have the watch face permanently displaying the time.

It certainly doesn’t help that most smartwatches require a cradle to charge, which usually means there’s no way to quickly recharge it with any cable you have conveniently lying around the office.

Pebble Chief Evangelist Myriam Joire recently said battery life was the biggest challenge facing wearables, and she’s dead right. Wisely Pebble built its smartwatch to run for several days at a time, which I now regard as table stakes for any device in the market.

Battery futures

There are more than a few positives about Android Wear — the gesture-based UI is quite good and setup is nice and simple — but the poor battery life is such an issue that the platform should never have been released in its current form. I have high hopes that future models (including the beautiful Moto 360) will last longer, but the first two products hint that that’s probably unlikely. After all, if it were possible to create a lightweight smartwatch with four- or five-day battery life using Android Wear, why didn’t Samsung and LG do that in the first place?

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But really — what IS the point of Windows Phone?

CITEworld

Tech blogger and former Microsoft employee Robert Scoble drew some attention today for suggesting that Microsoft should abandon Windows Phone.

Scoble is an easy target — he’ll never live down the Google Glass shower thing — but in this case he’s making a pretty rational point.

Windows Phone was Microsoft’s attempt, four years ago, to grab a profitable chunk of the smartphone market from Apple and Google before it was too late.

It didn’t work. Microsoft’s share of the smartphone market is still well under 5%– as it’s been since Windows Phone launched in November 2010. Windows Phone shipments are growing overall, and it’s the number-two platform in some countries like Italy, but overall, worldwide, its market share makes it insignificant to most developers, users, and companies.

(I don’t always subscribe to the church of market share, as installed base is more important for drawing developers, but every year that Windows Phone stays a bit player means it will have to take even more market share in the future to make a dent in the installed base. Also, I know that Android isn’t really a single platform but has multiple versions and forks and runs on all kinds of devices with different screen sizes and specs, but in general the various Android platforms are closer together than Android and Windows Phone are — and in most cases, an app maker starting from scratch will get more users with an Android app than a Windows Phone app.)

Microsoft’s dreams of achieving 10 or 15 or 20 percent market share with Windows Phone look to be just that — dreams. It could happen, but based on all evidence so far, there’s zero reason to assume it will.

So if it’s doomed to be a perennial also-ran, what is the point of Windows Phone? Why should Microsoft keep investing in it? If Microsoft under Satya Nadella is really serious about making the cloud the platform for the next generation of the company, why not just build cloud services and clients that work equally well on competing client operating system platforms?

Here are a few possible reasons.

The developer argument. PC sales are flat. Most of the growth in computing platforms over the last few years has been in mobile devices, particularly smartphones. As Microsoft pursues its “One Windows” vision, in which the various versions of Windows — desktop, tablet, and phone — get closer to the “write once, reuse most of the code and tweak slightly to run everywhere” ideal, it must have a feature-competitive mobile platform to keep developers engaged. If Microsoft were only to focus on the PC and tablet, it would lose all those developers who believe the future of apps is mobile-first.

Yeah, but: With insignificant market share, Microsoft is basically irrelevant in smartphones anyway. It’s hard to imagine a mobile-first developer investing in Microsoft before iOS and Android, unless they already have a big Windows app business or a ton of Microsoft-platform experience anyway and want to leverage that into mobile platforms, perhaps via Xamarin.

The lock-out argument. Microsoft’s biggest business today is selling productivity and back-end infrastructure servers and the client apps that go with them. Its most promising business is selling cloud services that replace or augment those servers — and still work with the same client apps. If Microsoft allows Apple and Google to control the smartphone market, those companies could make arbitrary, secret, and/or difficult-to-reverse-engineer changes to their platforms that block these Microsoft apps and services from working properly. Having Windows Phone gives Microsoft a trump card — at least for enterprises who rely on Microsoft’s productivity servers, services, and software and want to enable a mobile workforce. (Consumers may not care as much, or at all, given the well-developed ecosystem of apps and services on iOS and Android for every imaginable personal productivity function.)

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