Gartner: 443.5 million mobiles will be sold in China in 2014. 90% of them will be smartphones
Jan21

Gartner: 443.5 million mobiles will be sold in China in 2014. 90% of them will be smartphones

Gartner is doing a media blitz today in China, highlighting some interesting numbers about the biggest smartphone market in the world. Among the highlights – China now has more than 1 billion of mobile phone users. Which is a bit strange number to focus on, since Chinese government announced as much 8 months ago, last May. Another interesting number is the mobile sales forecast for 2014. According to Gartner’s chief analyst Lu Jun,  443.5 million mobiles will be sold in China this year. 400 million of them will be smartphones. With new smartphone penetration rate in the Middle Kingdom reaching 90%, it is no wonder Nokia is thinking about scrapping its faux-smart Asha OS and switching to Android. It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft will follow through with the Ashadroid, or will simply let Nokia feature phones wither and die after the acquisition. Gartner also sees some serious growth in the high-end of the market in China for the next few years. According Lu Jun, high-end devices will make up 20% of overall mobile phone sales in 2014. By 2017 their share should increase to 32%. Now that iPhone is on all Chinese carriers, this sounds like a great news for Apple. Talking about the specific companies with good prospects, Gartner analyst mentioned all the usual suspects – Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, etc.  But he also suggested that we pay close attention to TCL, selling their smartphones under the Alcatel brand worldwide. They have shipped only 16 million mobile devices last year, which is not much. But TCL’s growth doubled through 2013, and they have a very interesting year ahead of them. Source: Sina Tech,...

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Apple may start 4.7” iPhone 6 mass production in May, lauch in June. 5.7” iPhone scheduled for later
Jan20

Apple may start 4.7” iPhone 6 mass production in May, lauch in June. 5.7” iPhone scheduled for later

Apple may launch 4.7” iPhone 6 this summer, with bigger 5.7” version coming later this fall. According to Chinese analyst Sun Chyang Xu, who was pretty spot on about Google X phone developments last year, Apple may start the trial production of 4.7” iPhone 6 as early as next month. Then, if things go as planned, it will begin a full scale mass production in May. Which is about right for iPhone 6 announcement during Apple WWDC conference on June 10th. According to Chyang Xu, the 4.7” iPhone will keep the 1136×640 pixel screen resolution of its predecessor. With higher resolution displays reserved for the bigger 5.7” iPhones later. With the addition of Japan’s NTT Docomo and China Mobile, Apple more or less exhausted the easy growth avenues through iPhone distribution expansion. In fact, most of distribution growth potential was used up already a year ago. To keep up with competition, Apple had to move away from its 1 iPhone launch a year product cycle, which it did with the introduction of iPhone 5S and 5C. The next logical step – is to have two big iPhone launch events a year for 2 very distinct iPhone models. Which seems the direction Apple is headed in right now. Source:...

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Apple is working on Optical Image Stabilization and improved Autofocus for iPhone camera
Jan10

Apple is working on Optical Image Stabilization and improved Autofocus for iPhone camera

Apple never cared much about megapixel count in iPhone cameras. They started with 2 megapixels in the original iPhone, when Nokia was already shipping smartphones with 5 megapixel modules. It took Apple 3 years to get to by then standard 5 megapixels in iPhone 4. And its latest iPhones are still stuck with 8 megapixel sensors, when every other flagship smartphone comes with 13 megapixels or more. Despite that, every iPhone review comes to the conclusion that Apple’s handsets are among the best camera phones out there, handily beating any rival Android, with only viable competition coming from Nokia.  Which proves that Apple was right to focus on better lenses, bigger pixels and sensors, advanced image processing algorithms, and not the pixel count. The only thing disappointing about 8 megapixel iPhone 5S  camera was the lack of optical image stabilization, which allows for much better low light performance and better videos. But the lack of OIS in iPhone 5S doesn’t mean that Apple is doesn’t care about it. In fact, we can now confirm that Apple is indeed working on optical image stabilization and improved autofocus system for iPhone cameras. Yesterday Apple’s patent application called “VCM OIS actuator module” was published on USPTO. It describes how Apple plans to go about adding OIS and improved autofocus in future iPhones. Apple will be using voice coil motor actuators to move the camera lens in various directions around the optical axis to provide both – better autofocus and OIS: Actuator module may have integrated therein a mechanism to provide the AF function and a mechanism to provide the OIS function. The AF mechanism is configured to both move the lens along the optical axis and actively tilt the lens. The lens tilt may be used to compensate for parasitic lens movements due to, for example, tilting of the device within which actuator module is implemented. The OIS mechanism is configured to move (e.g., shift) the lens in directions orthogonal to the optical axis to correct for handshake motions in the center of the image. By shifting, as opposed to tilting the entire camera (e.g., the lens and image sensor together as a rigid body), the associated image sensor substrate can remain stationary, substantially simplifying both camera manufacture, size and packaging in the mobile electronic device. It is unclear how far Apple has advanced with its OIS/AF system. But patent filing dates show that they have now been working on it at least since early 2012, and should be pretty far along towards a viable commercial product. Yesterday’s rumors about iPhone 6 camera with OIS point towards the same, as well. Source:...

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Xiaomi’s Lei Jun: iPhone is still the best smartphone on the planet
Dec04

Xiaomi’s Lei Jun: iPhone is still the best smartphone on the planet

The debate which one is better – iPhone or an Android phone – has been raging for years, and will probably never be settled. It is common for a fan in Android camp to boldly proclaim that this latest flagship from HTC or Samsung leaves all the iPhones in the dust. Or for an Apple fan to state that the latest iPhone just announced, gives competition no chance to catch up. It is not so common for an Android OEM exec to tell all the world that iPhone is better than his own company phones. But that’s exactly what Lei Jun, CEO of one of the hottest Android smartphone startups in China, just did. When asked to compare iPhone 5S, 5C and his own company handsets, he didn’t have any doubts. “iPhone is still the best smatphone on the planet. For Xiaomi there’s a lot of space for learning and talent”,- Jun told Beijing News in a recent interview. Xiaomi is one of the hottest smartphone companies to emerge from China in the last couple of years. Except that it isn’t a smartphone company anymore. It may have started there, with heavily customized MIUI Android skin, smartphones and innovative online flash sales business model. But today Xiaomi sells its own set top box, TV set, a bunch of accessories and will soon launch ultra cheap wireless router. My guess – Xiaomi will sooner or later make any kind of device that helps to connect you to the Net. And they all will be just a sideshow, driving its online services via MIUI community and user interface.  Xiaomi is already rapidly moving in that direction, selling most of its hardware almost at cost, making it up with online sales and investor money for now. And they are  pretty great at that. Xiaomi’s MIUI community is already 20+ million strong, they recently became profitable, boasted $90 million of sales in a single day and,  during the latest financing round, were valued at $11 billion. That’s for a start-up that is barely 3 years old, and operates almost exclusively in China. Not that they don’t have some ambitious plans to break out abroad. Xiaomi raised a lot of eyebrows few months ago, when it managed to nab Google’s Hugo Barra to lead its international expansion efforts. There’s a rapid blurring of  lines between software, online services and hardware. Apple has been doing all three ever since it launched iTunes Store  back in  2003. Google now owns Motorola, designs and markets Nexus devices. In addition to XBox and Surface tablets, Microsoft will soon own Nokia’s mobile business. Amazon gets more and more aggressive with its Kindle tablet line, and will sooner or...

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4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C
Dec04

4G TD-LTE licenses officially issued by MIIT. Here comes China Mobile’s iPhone 5S and 5C

After months of waiting and dithering, China has finally entered 4G era. Today Chinese Ministry of Industry  and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued the first batch of 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile got access to 130MHz of spectrum (1880 -1900 MHz ,2320-2370 MHz ,2575-2635 MHz), China Unicom will get 40MHz (2300-2320 MHz ,2555-2575 MHz) and China Telecom will also have 40MHz (2370-2390 MHz ,2635-2655 MHz) for their homegrown TD-LTE offerings. 4G licenses for FDD LTE services for China Unicom and Telecom will be issued separately. Why do we care so much about China’s 4G? Mostly because of iPhone on China Mobile, of course. The new 4G services should boost the sales of approved 4G handsets of all smartphone OEMs.  But it’s Apple who will benefit the most, finally getting world’s biggest mobile carrier  to officially promote the iPhone. According to some sources, there are 42 million unofficial iPhone users on China Mobile already. Due to the technological issues, none of them can access  operator’s 3G TD-SCDMA network, and are stuck with  Wi-Fi or slow GPRS/EDGE. When iPhone 5S/5C with TD-LTE support becomes available on China Mobile, there will be a pool of millions of customers just from those rushing to upgrade. Add to that  possible subsidies, other promotion activities, the upcoming Chinese New Year Gift Giving Season, and you can expect millions of additional iPhones sold in the next few months. There’s no official confirmation yet, but the general consensus is that Apple already has  a deal with China Mobile to finally start offering iPhone. But the companies have been waiting for China Mobile to launch its 4G network, with iPhone as a hero device showcasing the new services. The exact date for CM iPhone announcement is not known yet. It may be December 18th, when Chinese carrier holds its partner meeting day, and plans to announce its new 4G services brand. But yesterday China Mobile sort of already confirmed that they are getting ready for the iPhone 5S/C launch, doing a limited test run for Apple’s smartphone pre-order site. And with the 4G license in hand, the announcement may come earlier. Via: Tencent, Sina...

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China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order site goes live for a few hours. Racks-up very impressive numbers
Dec03

China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order site goes live for a few hours. Racks-up very impressive numbers

Those China Mobile iPhone 5S/5C pre-order page screenshots we told you about yesterday? They were genuine. Late this night China Mobile did actually start taking online pre-orders in one medium sized (for China) city of Suzhou, through a site 139life.com, owned by its local subsidiary. We checked the WHOIS data, and domain 139life.com indeed belongs to China Mobile. The page has been taken offline after just a few hours,  but you can still see Google’s cached version of it here. So, was it a mistake by some China Mobile contracted web developer? Maybe. But it looks much more like an early test run to gauge the potential iPhone demand and see what resources will have to be deployed, so China Mobile’s biggest launch of the year does not go the way of HealthCare.gov and Moto X Cyber Monday deals.  And that demand, if  limited only to Suzhou – a city  of just 4 million, was impressive indeed. During the few hours that the page was live, it racked up more than 1200 pre-orders (1249 was the number I last saw). Now consider that those were just early registrations, with no devices available for more than two weeks. And think about what will happen when China Mobile’s iPhone 5S/5C becomes available to everyone. Or just every one of CM’s  755 million customers. Or, if you are really picky, just take 170 million of their 3G customers. Anyway you look at it, there is going to be a huge boost to iPhone 5S/5C sales as soon as it becomes available on China Mobile. Well, no surprise there. After all, world’s biggest carrier in worlds biggest smartphone market already has 42 million iPhone using customers, even though those customers are stuck with the old 2G/GPRS/Edge network. How many of them, do you think, are ready for an upgrade? Via:...

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iPhone 5S/C made up 76% of new smartphone sales in Japan this October
Nov27

iPhone 5S/C made up 76% of new smartphone sales in Japan this October

Japan is probably the second best iPhone market, after U.S.  At least in market share. China either already is, or will soon be bigger in absolute numbers. Apple  has been doing very well in Japan for years. And now that country’s biggest mobile operator – NTT DoCoMo – started carrying iPhone 5S and 5C, it is doing even better. How much better? According to Kantar World Panel, 76% (!) of new smartphones sold in October were iPhones. Including 61% on NTT DoCoMo. IPhone always performed best in carrier controlled and heavily subsidized markets, where the average Joe can see little difference between buying $650 iPhone and $400 Android phone with a traditional two year contract. But the amount of interest it is now generating in Japan, is simply amazing. Source:...

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Alleged Apple iPad Mini 3 prototype with Touch ID pictured
Nov25

Alleged Apple iPad Mini 3 prototype with Touch ID pictured

Touch ID, Apple’s own fingerprint identity sensor, introduced for the first time on the iPhone 5S, might be also used on the next-generation iPad Mini (possibly called iPad Mini 3). Sure enough, the iPad Mini 2 has just been released, so a new generation is unlikely to be announced anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t already developing it. Nowhereelse.fr has received an image which supposedly shows an iPad Mini 3 prototype with Touch ID. While the website has proven over time that it can be trusted, this particular image comes from a source they can’t verify. So it may be fake. Or, it may be real, but the alleged iPad 3 could be just a Chinese knock-off. Apple will certainly not disclose anything about its third-generation iPad Mini until the very moment that the tablet gets to be officially announced (sometime next year). But we can hope that more leaks will provide new details in the near future,...

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Apple is testing iPhone 6 with 4.9″ display. 5C successor will get bigger screen too
Nov21

Apple is testing iPhone 6 with 4.9″ display. 5C successor will get bigger screen too

The rumors about the big screen iPhones Apple is planning to release next year, have been flying around even before iPhone 5S/C was officially announced. And they came not only from Apple or technology blogs, but were confirmed by old school news publications like WSJ and Bloomberg. Now Chinese site C Technology, which has been pretty good at this, claims to have received an insider tip that Apple is testing iPhone prototype with 4.9” display. According to Ctech, both iPhone 5S and 5C will get a display size bumps next year, though they are not sure how big the screen of C line will be. While there are a few tens of an inch variations between reports of Bloomberg, WSJ and Ctech, by now it is pretty certain that iPhone displays are getting much bigger next year. The only question at this point is how big will Apple...

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Apple starts smartphone trade-in program for iPhone 5C&4S in India. Try&buy offer may come soon too
Nov20

Apple starts smartphone trade-in program for iPhone 5C&4S in India. Try&buy offer may come soon too

On Monday we told you about smartphone trade-in program Apple planned to start in India to boost iPhone 5C sales. Well, according to the Times of India, the program started today. If you want to get a discount of Rs 13000 ($208) or more on your iPhone 5C or iPhone 4S purchase, you should bring one of the smartphones  eligible for trade-in. These are: iPhone 4 BlackBerry Z10, Q10 Nokia Lumia 925 HTC One, One Mini, Desire 500, Desire 600 Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, Note 3, Note 2, S4 Mini, Mega 6.3, Mega 5.8 Sony Xperia Z1, Z, Z Ultra, ZR and C Rs 13K is the minimum discount you can expect if you exchange iPhone 4 for 4S or 5C. Newer phones can fetch even more, with discounted iPhone 5C prices starting at  28.9K Rs ($463), and 4S going for 18.5K rupee ($296). According to industry sources, Apple tripled its sales in India when it offered Rs 7000 ($112) cashbacks on select smartphones for iPhone 4, earlier this year.  So it is happy to do it again with the poorly selling iPhone 5C. The trade-in program was agreed in Apple’s meeting with Indian retailers last week. Other iPhone sales promotion initiatives were discussed too. One of them included a try and buy program, where customer can take Apple’s device home for a few days without paying for it. Full price of the handset will be reserved on a client’s credit card to make sure he returns or pays for the iPhone. No decision on this program has been reached yet. Source: Times of...

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