Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Spillikins #100. Samsung wants to become No 1
I planned to write this 100th issue of the Spillikins in a calm atmosphere without any haste and chaos. Instead I am sitting in a Las Vegas hotel early in the morning and understand that cannot miss this issue. I have to write it now when the impressions are still fresh. I want to share different ideas from CES and other events, which happened during the week. I have too many ideas at the moment, so I would rather write them down. Otherwise, they may start their own journey never to be pinned down and classified.
What does it mean to reach the milestone of 100 articles? Imagine that 100 weeks with two holiday breaks these articles were published without exception. I enjoy this continuity and an opportunity to communicate with our readers and share information on interesting events of the week. I am especially proud that Spillikins lead to heated discussions on our forum. All opinions have supporters and opponents, which makes our communication fruitful, albeit a little emotional at times. I am extremely happy that this column is a must read for employees of almost all market players and they start the week with Mobile-Review.com. Thank you very much! I would like to express special gratitude for your active participation, because e-mails and comments often trigger new materials, which are published on our web site. Courtesy of this we feel comfortable in the same boat. Now I have to start the traditional Spillikins in order not to take the valuable time with further philosophy and analysis.
I got an external had drive as a Christmas present. It was an excellent idea, because there is always not enough of space. You need to create archives, copy video files and be fussy. The solution is wonderful, but when I started unpacking my present I became slightly disappointed. There was a small box, which had to contain a low capacity drive. As any ordinary person I do not follow the developments in drive capacity changes, market shares of different manufacturers and other interesting details. I am not a professional in this area. Historically I got accustomed to Western Digital products and stayed their loyal customer. I will describe one of my first external drives. I guess it was called myBook Premium 500 GB with external power supply in a large silver box, which took a lot of space on my table. The drive was noisy, but in 2007 it seemed to be cutting edge. The drive was easily filled with different files and I had to buy several more. At the beginning of 2009 I purchased a dozen of 1 ТB drives I have been using ever since.
When I took the drive out of the box I sighed, because it was tiny and could not offer high storage capacity. The name WD Elements suggested an entry level product. This tiny black box is small enough to fit one hand. There was no external power source and the only accessory available was the cable. When I connected it to the computer I had to be surprised again. The capacity was 1.5 ТB. For years ago a drive 3 times less efficient took a part of my table. Now the same space can host 14 new drives of 1.5 ТB each, which is a miracle. I discussed this phenomenon with everybody and we came to an agreement, that this is the way for technology to show how powerful it is. We don't mean speed, cache size and other special terms here. People see the difference with the naked eye and understand the progress.
I never imagined that I could store on one drive all work files. After several years it even became possible on Flash memory. Life is changing fast and technology gets new features. I remember early 1990s when I had to travel with 2 boxes of 5″ floppy disks (or 5.25″ to be more precise). They contained essential applications – MS DOS, games, word processor and a programming compiler. In several years we got 3″ floppy disks boasting 1.44 MB of storage (if I am not mistaken). Boxes became smaller, but still required considerable space. Now my phone has enough of memory to compete with the whole room full of 5″ floppy disks. We seldom think about such developments, but they change our life and scenarios of behavior. This brings us to another topic.
In 2007 Apple made a revolution we are still contemplating today. By launching a phone for the first time the company put phone features into the background. Phone features were one of many sides of the gadget. According to Steve Jobs there are three key elements of Apple iPhone – player (audio and video), phone and Internet access. This concept is now supported by many companies. For example, Android has the same philosophy. Surprisingly, we use the word "phone" to label gadgets, which are more than that. They have many additional characteristics now. Some use these additional features (camera, player, Internet) more than the original ones. I know many people who use the second phone not for calls, but for Internet surfing or mail only. The world has changed and we already see the trend.
What is the next step? It has been already made by Motorola as I mentioned in my CES 2011 article on the manufacturer.
Let's look into the future. In 2011-2012 many top range smartphones will use dual core processors from Nvidia or Qualcomm. We are interested in the trend not in the manufacturer of processors right now. At the end of 2012 and in the beginning of 2013 four core processors will be up and running. There is a question why ordinary handsets need such powerful capabilities? By learning how to handle graphic on small screens phones will eat into the area of laptop expertise. The scenario of operation was displayed by Motorola, which offers Laptop Dock for ATRIX 4G. It is a screen, battery and a keypad in the shape of a laptop. Insert you phone and start working. The laptop body has no electronic components and functions entirely as an accessory for the phone. We should not believe that mobile phones will oust laptops from the market. It will not happen in the foreseeable future. In the next 10 years similar bundle solutions will compete in some segments only because requirements for mobile phones and laptops are too different and we cannot easily come up with a hybrid device. For example, performance is not that important for a mobile phone, while operation time is crucial. In laptops operation time is equally important, but many devices are intended to be used near reliable sources of power. Memory must be maximum to store your data in a laptop, but in phones we do not keep all data we have. This comparison can be continued.
Many limitations have a cultural and not a technological nature. For example, we usually do not store all data in a phone. When this scenario changes, which is quite possible with the advent of Gmail, Google Docs and so on, we will get a bigger group of people who can view a smartphone as a replacement for a laptop. The revolution will happen then. Prior to this event we need high performing, but energy efficient processors, Flash memory of 500 GB and appropriate software from Microsoft and colleagues. It will take around 10 years.
The majority of people use computers only to check mail, create short texts and watch video. Even today phones can do all that and even more. The picture can also be transferred to a bigger screen. Add accessories like Motorola Laptop Dock and you are done. Motorola understood the potential of this market and made another step. They offer software, which can distinguish between two environments. When you hold the phone in your hands it employs a standard browser, but when you insert it into the Dock you get a fully functional desktop browser. Did you get the main idea? You can have software to view office documents on your phone and turn it into MS Office by connecting to the Dock. The same applies to other apps and your software with settings is stored in your phone.
There are many scenarios how to use such gadgets, but we need a standard to describe extensions of mobile phones and how they are connected to external accessories. I imagine how easy it can be to connect your phone to a jack in an Internet cafe and get access to all your apps and settings together with a secured connection and reliable passwords.
At the same time laptops will continue their development and will be more performance oriented solutions. Not everybody will use them and could be satisfied with phones only. This huge market has not even been created and it is likely to be born soon. Possibilities are infinite for many companies offering accessories or software.
Remember my words please. In 2012-2013 we either have to receive a new type of batteries for mobile phones or face the crisis because the record of one day of operation will be broken downwards. Even today you can make you gadget check mail all the time, be online in an IM client and surf the web via EDGE to get no more than 4 hour of operation. In the US I did not use my HTC Desire for data transfer much. Few calls are complemented by many text messages and you easily get two days of operation. It all depends on features you use in your phone.
In recent years the number of features and power used to service them have increase. Batteries have a limit of 2500 mAh and beyond their size becomes too big, which influences the weight of handsets. We need a technological breakthrough, but there is none in sight to offer a required solution to current woes.
The market of external batteries is growing rapidly. I could not resist the temptation and purchased a 1000 mAh battery for 30$, though in some countries the price can be around 20-25$. In my case HTC Desire needs slightly more than one hour to get around 50% of the charge. It gives me one day of active use, which is nice. As you can see on the body we have a miniUSB jack alongside microUSB. They can be used for charging too. This gadget is useful and inconspicuous. If we do not get any revolutionary technology soon and I am a bit skeptical now we will use similar external batteries more often. The market of accessories will boom.
The first thing you become aware of in Heathrow Airport is the advertisement of Vodafone that data roaming became more accessible. For 2 pounds a day you can use data transfer in any European country. The daily limit is 25 MB. Other European countries received better options from Vodafone. For example in France you can get 50 MB per day for €2.
Taking into account the above mentioned it is simply a disgrace that my Russian mobile operator offers only 100 KB for 1$. Striking deals with partners is not easy, but it is essential for customers. In the USA I purchased a local SIM card for around 20$ for several international calls. I ended up paying 11 times less for 1 minute if compared with roaming charges offered by my operator. There is no point in using roaming, especially for data transfer at such prices.
I wrote about the intense battle between Nokia and Samsung as early as autumn of 2009. I have been an impartial observer ever since. The fact that Nokia is weak and has been on defensive for some time does not mean that I support Samsung or Nokia. I am just looking at corporate wars. So far Nokia has been predominantly losing to Samsung and shedding its market share across the board. To keep performance indicators sound Nokia even decided to fire several thousands of employees and decrease the production cost of phones at the expense of quality. In other words the Finnish manufacturer is trying to stay profitable as hard as it can.
Samsung is aware of it and decided to increase pressure on Nokia. Korea Herald published an article that within three years Samsung is planning to become No 1 in the mobile phones market (and displace Nokia from its current position).The plan is quite ambitious as even though Nokia lost a sizeable share of its market last year (accurate figures may vary, but the tendency is quite clear) it is still a powerhouse. Samsung knows that 2011 will be a key year for this plan to succeed. It is time of investment.
Are you surprised? While Nokia and Sony Ericsson are actively downsizing, Samsung is doing the opposite and with a bang. Unfortunately, I don't have exact figures as to how many people will be recruited for research and development, marketing or telecommunications. I can only say that as of the end of 2010 the company employed almost 275,000 and in 2011 Samsung plans to add 25,000. This figure is staggering.
Investments planned in 2011 are even more impressive in the form of 43.1 trillion won (38.4$ billion). 29.9 trillion won will go to new plants (for example, the production of new generation OLED screens (SuperAMOLED) will require 5.4 trillion won. R&D will get 12.1 trillion won.
The company invests into its future with generosity understanding that funds spent today on plants and research will return with interest soon. Big companies often have ambitions similar to plans of Samsung to dethrone Nokia in three years time. On the other hand it shows the strength the company feels about itself and aims even higher. Nokia has to understand it sooner rather than later. Passive defense and PR alone are not enough to return its leadership status. In minds of consumers Nokia has already lost and it can soon happen in reality.
I mentioned many times that Sony Ericsson lacks resources to develop the software in its models. Two new events confirmed my theory. First, the UK office of SE tweeted that the company will not upgrade its Xperia range above 2.1. It applies to all Sony Ericsson X10 versions (X10, Mini, Mini Pro) and Sony Ericsson X8. It is a sad story, because the company still views X10 as a flagship model.
The second news is also exemplary. Having spent time and money on Mediascape Sony Ericsson decided to ditch this feature in its models. The majority of phones in 2011 will have no appropriate support. It is the next step of savings, which now apply to software support as well.
It's a pity but SE is creating more problems, being reluctant to invest in new products and software.
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Published 12 January 2011
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