Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...
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Spillikins ¹133. HP Says Goodbye to Palm Legacy and PCs
This week was more tumultuous than the entire summer before that. I can easily claim the week to be the revolutionary for the market of mobile devices. On the downside was the end of Motorola snapped up by Google. To confirm my views HP single-handedly got rid of Palm legacy. The same will happen to Motorola inside Google, though the search giant will use engineers from Motorola and the main casualty is the brand itself. I would like to believe in this outcome and not the complete disappearance of all Motorola achievements.
A funny piece of news came from Japan where was unveiled a Yahoo! Phone powered by Android. It is a curious hybrid, because Google is a direct rival of Yahoo!. The plan was masterminded by Softbank and has no connection with Google.
During the last month there was more news about the strengthening of Samsung Mobile with new designers, developers and engineers. The company hires people from around the globe trying to create a dream team. They even lured Steve Kondik also known as Cyanogen famous for firmware adding blocked possibilities to various Android devices. In Samsung he will be responsible for optimizing proprietary developments of the Korean manufacturer. They say that Samsung plans to offer models with several shells to boot. It will take more than several months, but it is a good sign that against the background of rivals demise Samsung invests heavily into future products and technologies feeling the possibility to make a big leap forward.
Now let's move to the main news of the week.
When HP released its 3rd quarter results it was accompanied by tectonic shifts in the company. Its CEO Leo Apotheker mentioned that HP will no longer develop tablets and phones based on WebOS, but the OS itself will still survive. I would like to remind you that WebOS was part of the deal to purchase Palm for $1.2 billion in April of 2010. A year and a half afterwards HP admits its failure to change the negative trend for Palm phones despite its developed retail channels. Moreover, the company promised to leave the PC market completely. It heralds the end of the HP era in computers, which will be well remembered in the US. Instead of participating in competition of hardware HP decided to concentrate on software development.
In 2010 the previous CEO Mark Hurd cited the necessity to add the OS to printers as one of the key reasons behind the acquisition of Palm. He thought that WebOS could become popular with the help of HP printers. This announcement made a splash, but the majority of analysts could hardly stop laughing. It is difficult to consider printer an intellectual device capable of competing with computers, smartphones and other related devices. This is a printing appliance and additional features will not change its main function.
In March of 2011 Leo Apotheker came up with the sensational announcement that starting with 2012 every HP computer will be shipped both with Windows and WebOS on board. HP planned to increase the pool of WebOS users dramatically to promote it heavily for phones and tablets. As far as the company sells around 60 million computers annually even with the low conversion rate sales had to increase. The plans sounded like dreams, because HP and WebOS never had enough developers, while the same applied to the number of apps for Palm Pre. They appeared too slowly in comparison with rivals. PCs would require separate applications and the company did not have enough developers. The strategy was a faulty one.
At the moment HP tries to calm down existing developers and on the official Palm blog appeared an appropriate entry.
Nevertheless it means that HP does not know what will happen with WebOS. The decision has not been taken yet. This department will be probably closed as well as the production of PCs, tablets and phones with WebOS inside. You cannot sell the OS, which the company does not need itself. If you make it free and open then it will be used by one or two second tier developing companies and it will lack funds on support. I think HP understands it pretty well.
Unfortunately, this means the end of the Palm story. The company, which created the market of PDAs, will disappear completely. The brand will die unless someone buys it, which makes no sense. Another era comes to an end.
TouchPad hit the shelves in the US on July 1, 2011 priced at $499 for the 16 GB version and $599 if equipped with 32 GB of memory. This WebOS device was slated to compete against Apple iPad as all other rival models before. iPad is a benchmark on the market in terms of features, price and popularity among customers. Every company keeps iPad in mind when launching its own models, which adds to the popularity of the Apple product. No one will compete with weak gadgets.
The failure of TouchPad from HP became clear within two weeks and the manufacturer even "temporarily" reduced its price by $100 for each model. Even at discounted prices not many wanted to buy the tablet from HP, because the market already had iPad2, which is superior in all respects according to consumers. After 6 weeks of sales HP decided to stop developing and marketing tablets altogether. The company decreased the price of its first and last tablet to $99 and $149 for the two models. The only explanation of this generosity is an attempt to take the unwanted product off the shelves and storage facilities. Unsuccessful TouchPad will cost HP next quarter around 5 cents per share. With 2.07 billion shares in circulation the losses will constitute $103 million, which is the biggest flop in the recent history of mobile devices. Even losses of Blackberry from PlayBook or damage done to Motorola by Xoom are much lower.
What is the reason of such a market disaster? The culprit is Stephen DeWitt responsible for the development of WebOS in HP. When the new product was announced many criticized the lack of apps for WebOS and inferior craftsmanship in comparison with iPad 2 among other things. Unfortunately, HP did not listen to the feedback and Stephen DeWitt opposed every single piece of criticism aimed at TouchPad. Sales showed that analysts and first owners were right. Ironically for the price of $99 the gadget will become extremely popular, but it has no future whatsoever.
Today Stephen DeWitt says that WebOS will survive without hardware and may become open source, which attracts the attention of companies failing to offer their proprietary solutions. In real life no one needs an OS, which failed to catch up. WebOS is dead and HP is unlikely to invent an application for the software in its portfolio.
In the previous issue of the Spillikins we discussed how Apple managed to ban the sales of Galaxy Tab in Europe and Australia.
Much water has flown under the bridge since then. For instance, Samsung managed to have the ban lifted in Australia starting from September 1. Similar developments took place in the majority of European countries apart from Germany. Surprisingly, the ban was introduced without any participation of Samsung representatives. It became known that the German court had no jurisdiction in any other country, but its home land?
IDG decided to read the claim documents furnished by Apple and found that one photo was artificially altered to highlight the resemblance between the model from Samsung and Apple iPad 2. Judge for yourself though. At the top there is an original photo with the altered image below. So far we heard no comments from Samsung, but such actions of Apple lawyers can easily weaken their position in patent wars.
I have no doubts that Galaxy Tab 10.1 will become the most successful Android tablet on the market despite the raw nature of Honeycomb, which makes Android tablets not ready to be used straight from the box. The main drawback is software and not the engineering part. The hardware is perfect.
Conflicts with Apple generated additional publicity for Galaxy Tab, but it is still an open question if it will pay off in terms of actual sales. I think aggressive promotion from Samsung will do the trick. For the first time the Korean manufacturer uses the strategy of Apple by creating hype prior to the launch of the product. For example, in Russia during the first day of sales the model will be present only in 25 stores. In each of them the first 20 buyers will get a $50 discount, while the next 100 will receive a Bluetooth keypad for free. Such an approach will surely increase the traffic in shops. It is a far cry from the Apple effect, when people start lining up for new products without any external stimulation, but it took Apple years to achieve this following, while Samsung has just started adopting similar tactics.
Samsung also wants to highlight sales figures on particular markets, for example in the US. It will be difficult to compete with Apple here, especially if the price of products is the same. That is why the company is coming up with versatile promotion campaigns. For instance, those who buy Samsung 3D HDTV UN46D6900W can get a free Galaxy Tab 10.1. The TV costs $1500, which is not that high. This way Samsung will attract attention to the TV and the tablet.
In future Samsung will be even more aggressive and ingenious. We are in for a fast ride.
The last week I did not manage to discuss the part of the Samsung roadmap that leaked into the web. Luckily, this week a new and updated version has become available and I want to discuss it now. The leaked roadmap covers fall 2011, the week designates the release date. The company focuses on Android which is Samsung's main priority.
The company is going to release three new high range phones – Samsung i9250 (W48) with the updated SuperAMOLED screen with the resolution of 1280x720 measuring 4.65in. This will be the first smartphone running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It will feature a 5MPix camera and will be released under the name of Google Nexus Prime. Besides the new Android version there are no serious changes to the phone. It will be a key product for Google but Samsung presents another flagship – Samsung i9220 (W43) which also has the new screen but sized differently (4.3"), the Exinos processor now runs at 1.4GHz (1.2GHz in Galaxy SII) and it also has an 8MPix camera. This product will be a Galaxy SII updated version. The direct successor of Galaxy SII for a number of carriers will be i9210 (W48) with 4G, a 4.5" regular SuperAMOLED screen with the same resolution as in Galaxy SII. Besides 4G support it is almost identical to the original SII only the body has gotten bigger due to a bigger battery.
The company will also be updating the mid-range phones with Samsung i8510(W40) – a typical phone with a 3.7" TFT screen, a 1.4GHz processor, HSDPA, 4GB of inbuilt storage space and a 5MPix camera. The phone will be replacing the first Galaxy S and the price will probably be very attractive.
Samsung intends to boost sales in the low-range with an interesting QWERTY model Samsung B5510 (W41) running on the old Android 2.2.2 Froyo with a 2.8" QVGA screen which is really a downer. The processor runs at unimpressive 800MHz, it will have a 3MPix camera and a very low price.
S5610 (W41) is a slightly more expensive model with a 3.4: screen with the same resolution, Android 2.3.3, a 5MPix camera and 3G support.
S5360 features a 3" screen and only a 2MPix camera but the price will be lower too.
Samsung continues experimenting with phone/tablet crossover devices and the company is going to release one running on HoneyComb with a 7" (SuperAMOLED) screen with SVGA resolution (1024x600). It will feature two cameras 2 and 3MPix and a standard set of features comparable with the first Galaxy Tab. P6200 (W44) will support 3G while P6210 will be the cheaper Wi-Fi version.
Bada will see a new flagship – S8600 Wave III (W47) – it will have a 4" Super AMOLED screen, a 5MPix camera and 3GB of inbuilt storage. It is an interesting product and it will be priced similarly to the first two models by the release time. S7250 Wave M will be a cheaper variant with 3.5" HVGA screen. The budget range will receive a successor of inexpensive Badas – S5380 (W47) with a 3.2" screen also running on Bada 2.0.
And for dessert, there are new Windows Phone 7 models. The company will be releasing only one WP7 phone in Europe which tells us a lot about how Samsung values this platform. I8350 Omnia W (scheduled for October) has a 3.7" WVGA screen, a 1GHz processor, a 5MPix camera and runs on Mango. The specs aren't impressive but Samsung will try to win the customer with the low price. The company does not see a big future for this platform and subsequently pays little attention to it.
I have noticed a long time ago that whenever I'm browsing bookshelves in a big bookstore no matter in what country I am I always find books about phones or related to them. I mention this because there aren't a lot of books on this topic out there and they are always hidden on remote shelves. I think I find them because this kind of items is of great interest to me. My latest Hong Kong catch is The Disconnect by Devra Davis. The subtitle is scary - The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.
I have scanned the book before buying it I could not find any actual proof of issues raised by the author. There are no facts but merely same old scary stories. I have just started reading the book and have gone through only 20 pages so I will leave reviewing this book for a later Spillikins issue. I have mentioned this book just to give an example of cause and effect – if I didn't spend a bit of my time on this book I wouldn't have learnt about the latest research on mobile phone safety.
Italian scientists from the University of Catania researched the effects of cellular phones on male infertility. Full version of the report.
Unfortunately, this detailed report raises more questions than gives answers. Are cell phones bad? Scientists don't really have an answer – research results are controversial. Some experiments show lower sperm motility in rats after exposure some don't. Can in vitro sperm experiments be valid since in reality it is protected by skin? But the main corollary of the research is solid – the more you use your phone the higher is the risk of adverse effects on sperm. So, it is bad too use a phone all day long, as well as any other electronic device. I am sure that 5-6 hours on a stationary phone a day will harm your health. This is just common sense and you don't need any experiments to understand that. The paper gave me an impression that the point of the research was to prove the need for further research. The authors seem to be avoiding stating anything clearly or providing solid proof.
What do you think? Are cell phones bad for you? How bad? What can you do to lessen the effects? Here are my tips for reducing the effects of prolonged exposure:
Another issue concerning mobile phone safety is the microorganisms that thrive on phones. In these terms phones are as dirty as cash bills so it is well worth the time to clean your phone with a tissue every once in a while.
The book became gave a topic for conversation on mobile phone safety I had with my friends and I heard someone mention that since cellular networks came to be there are no more cockroaches in cities. I have heard this one many times and it seems like another urban legend to me though in my layman opinion there is some truth in it. When I was a kid scientists were coming up with lots of different vermin repellents that used certain frequency sounds beyond human perception mosquitos, moles and other animals could not stand. Some of those technologies are now forgotten, some however are still used. May be the electromagnetic radiation of cellular networks is a cockroach repellent? Do they run from it because it is dangerous or is there another explanation? It is a very interesting issue and I hope scientists will look into the matter of cockroach exodus from cities. I remember being told in school that it will be cockroaches that will live through the nuclear winter but it seems they are not that tough and radiation resistant after all or may be it is some other factor that drives them away.
Vertu has been preparing a touchscreen phone for a long time now but with the kerfuffle going on right now they will probably abandon the Symbian version and release it on Windows Phone 7. Considering that this was a Stephen Elop's request I believe this is what's going to happen. However, there are small companies that manufacture phone bodies and they are keeping up with the time. Canadian Mobiado decided to make a body for Google Nexus S and called their creation Mobiado Grand Touch. It will have a metal body probably made of aluminum and the exact same specs as the original. Mobiado has mastered disguising inexpensive phones. In my taste the phone does not look very attractive but this will push other manufacturers to start producing expensive bodies for touchscreen phones. This market will flourish despite very limited demand for such phones.
The list of updates brought by Anna reminds an archeological research – you start remembering how long ago all these appeared on other systems and far Symbian is falling behind. Symbian is hopelessly outdated and that is why I call the Anna update Ugly Anna.
Anyway, now you can update your Nokia C7/C6-01/N8/E7 to this Symbian version. On the first date of the update release Nokia servers were, as usual, down and a lot of users could not receive the update. Now everything is working fine but I believe it is well worth buying a new phone than updating I-don't-know-what-it-is. Unfortunately, Nokia is no longer associated with quality but quite contrary. By the way, we'll be hearing more news from this company in the following weeks – it won't be sensational but will illustrate just how fast the formerly grand company is dying.
I find Gartner's Q2 2011 report on phone sales extremely interesting. While most companies provide numbers on shipments from manufacturers Gartner tries to assess actual market sales. If you compare these numbers you will see just how hard some companies are trying to spruce their reports up. Also these reports can tell how many handsets are piled up in warehouses not demanded. I think the table speaks for itself. The decline of Nokia continues as the company now occupies only 22.8% of the market versus 30.3% in the previous year – this is the death of this brand.
The distribution of mobile OSs according to Gartner looks very amusing – Android's share went up to 43.4% of the market, iOS – 18.2%, Symbian – 22.1%. but the shock comes with Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile and Bada numbers – Bada is more popular than both Microsoft OSs thanks to the low average price of Bada phones. On the other hand, the ad campaign budget for WP7 is around half a billion dollars which Bada could never afford. If you remember previous market data Windows Mobile sales are better than WP7's.
This news caused quite a stir among Microsoft fans. WP7 lovers claimed that the market was simply waiting for the Mango update and current market indicators are irrelevant. I find that this permanent waiting has become a part of Microsoft's corporate culture as far as Windows Phone 7 is concerned. Well, we can wait another few years but it won't change a thing.
If you are one of our regular readers then you surely are familiar with MIUI – we have one of the most comprehensive reviews of this alternative Android interface. As part of my work on a number of phones I have addressed its authors asking about a possibility of licensing MIUI for certain phones but they refused. It was then when I realized that MIUI authors had bigger plans.
Last week on the presentation we learned what their plans were. The company will be offering their first phone for 9990 Yuan (about $330). It will only be available in China via the online store – no retail sales are planned so far. Preorder will be available by the end of this month with first shipment scheduled for October.
The name newly born company sounds bizarre for Europeans – Xiami, though the phone's name sounds much better – MI-One. The specs are unusual and according to Xiaomi this will be the first phone with Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 1.5GHz dual core processor. The rest of the specs are also impressive – a 4" screen (by Sharp so it has to be good despite the regular TFT matrix), the resolution is regular – 480x854. The graphic accelerator is Adreno 220 – also the record today. The phone will have 1GB of system memory, 4GB of inbuilt storage space and a microSD slot. The body will be plastic with replaceable back panels. The phone looks a lot like iPhone and that might be the reason why it will only be sold in China.
Xiaomi took the presentation of their first product very responsibly – they have gone through the hardware, prospects and possible sales problems in great detail. They gave an impression of very down to earth guys who will be steadily making their way into the market and try to earn reputation with this one good product and continue with the business respectively. It is a nice approach that works. I think this company can make it and we already have a similar Chinese example – Meizu that offers a number of interesting products less attractive in terms of the price but successful nevertheless in competing with much more famous brands. The market is huge and there is enough room for everyone. I like to see lesser manufacturers to come up with good phones – it spurs the market for further development.
We will try to get MI-One prototypes as soon as possible and share our impressions with you.
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Published 29 August 2011
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