Samsung are pretty much the fighting force against the dominant player in the smart device market, Apple, but it looks like their 2012 success has come at a huge cost to the company in terms of their marketing expenditure.
Samsung thus have lower gross margins on their smartphones, with Asymco's Horace Dedieu tapping down on his calculator working out some of the numbers associated with Samsung's profit margins on their smartphones.
It's sitting pretty at 17%, but it is far behind even struggling players like RIM who used to rake in 30% margins, and Nokia used to enjoy a slice of 25%. Dedieu says that Samsung spends more on marketing than every other competitor, pegging their advertising expenditure at an insane $4 billion for 2012 alone. Comparing this to Microsoft, who spent half of that, and even Apple - who surprisingly spent just a quarter of that number.
Sony is probably happy with their sales numbers, though not as happy as Microsoft is with theirs. We reported how Microsoft sold 750,000 Xbox consoles during the week of Black Friday and now Sony has come out with their sales numbers. Sony says they sold 525,000 PlayStation 3 consoles last week.
While not as impressive as Microsoft's sales numbers, they certainly did better than Nintendo, who only moved 400,000 Wii U consoles. However, Nintendo also saw still-strong sales of the Wii, which when combined, make Nintendo a strong performer.
Sony's Vita saw pitiful sales and only managed to move 160,000 units. The Vita, like the PS3, is seen as overpriced. One of the reasons the PS3 is finally doing so well is that Sony has been taking an aggressive approach to pricing the newest PS3 bundles. However, it appears that the Xbox 360 is likely to claim a 23rd month at number one.
Consumer Reports has yet again deemed AT&T the worst U.S. mobile carrier for 2012 in its yearly report taken from its mobile carrier satisfaction survey. Even though it received the worst grades in its voice quality and text services, its 4G LTE network did receive the most praise compared to competing carrier's 4G services.
On the other side of the spectrum, Verizon Wireless once again is deemed the best U.S. mobile carrier in 2012 with Sprint and T-Mobile close behind it.
In the prepaid market, TracFone received the most excellent marks compared to competing services.
There was a time when the iPhone and iPad were the absolute undeniable champions of the industry - breaking records on quarterly shipments, and market share in their respective fields - smartphones and tablets. The iPad pretty much created the tablet market on its own, and has enjoyed complete dominance since its launch.
Well, Apple may still lead the tablet market in terms of their share of the pie - but this number has dropped to its lowest point since the original, first-generation iPad launched in 2010. In ABI's latest estimate report, Apple's share of the worldwide tablet market dropped to just 55% in Q3 2012 - a 14% sequential decline.
We all knew this was coming, but it looks like there's now more movement in the news department from DigiTimes' latest report. Industry sources are now claiming that Apple could move from Samsung to TSMC for their A-series production.
At first, you would think this only effects Samsung - as they'd lose Apple's huge business, but TSMC would also benefit, greatly. But remember, TSMC have some gigantic clients in NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Broadcom and more, and this move would effect every single one of them, considerably. At the moment, Samsung is the only source of production for Apple's A-series of processors, which include the A5, A6 and A6X processors.
These chips are baked into the latest and greatest iDevices, such as the iPhone 5 and iPad (new, new one - the fourth-gen, yes it's confusing). Rewinding back to the A4 and A5 processors, which were designed by Intrinsity, but had input from Samsung in terms of their design. Apple acquired Intrinsity in 2010 - but they may have had some interesting intellectual property that Apple couldn't take over to share with TSMC, forcing them to make a custom-designed processor which materialized into the A6.
The Canadian-based maker of the popular smartphone range BlackBerry has lost a contract dispute with Nokia. As of late both companies have been losing market share to Android and iOS devices and this latest dispute could end up being the proverbial straw for RIM as it looks to streamline and reduce costs ahead of its BlackBerry 10 launch early next year.
A Swedish arbitrator has decided that RIM is in breach of contract regarding a cross-licensing deal the two have. The deal, originally signed in 2003 and revised in 2008, cross-licensed standards-essential cellular patents and RIM sought to arbitrate the contract in March 2011 saying that it should extend to WLAN patents.
The Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has decided that this is not the case and RIM will need to pay royalties to Nokia or it could face a sales ban. Nokia has been looking to turn its patent portfolio into royalty revenue as it struggles to modernize and produce devices that customers want to buy.
Samsung fans in the Netherlands may have trouble getting certain Galaxy devices in the country now that Apple has won a sales ban against the electronics giant. The Dutch court has ruled that Galaxy products infringe upon an Apple patent that dictates a way to navigate through photos using a touchscreen.
The ban prevents any Galaxy devices running Android 2.2.1 or higher and not using Samsung's proprietary photo app from being sold in the Netherlands. This is just the latest in a series of cases between the two smartphone manufacturers. Samsung had already lost a case over this patent last year, which also resulted in a ban.
Samsung has been ordered to tell Apple its net profit from sales of infringing products since June 27, 2011. Another court procedure will calculate how much will go to Apple. Furthermore, if Samsung continues infringing on Apple's patent, they will be forced to pay Apple 100,000 euros for every day it violates the ban.
Two text message spammers in the UK have been fined $700,000 for sending out millions of unsolicited text messages to cell phone owners. The Information Commissioner's Office handed down the fine to Gary McNeish and Christopher Niebel. The two operated the business Tetrus Telecoms and claimed they could send up to 800,000 text messages every day.
The system was pretty slick. The two used more than 70 SIM cards each day to send out the mass text messages. the ICO says that the SIM cards were combined with a card reader and each SIM sent out texts until it hit the daily limit imposed by the telecom operator. Reportedly, the business made up to $11,000 per day in revenue.
The two continue to claim that they did nothing wrong and insist that they had all of the needed paperwork and consent to engage in the mass messaging. The companies which used the service, of course, weren't exactly people that you'd want to do business with in the first place, but that's a minor detail.
Ah, the Maps debacle continues to grow in size today with news that the executive in charge of Maps, Richard Williamson, being fired by Apple for his role in the mapping application. The failure of the Maps app is said to have hurt the debut of the new iPhone 5.
Williamson has now become the second executive to be relieved of his duties, with the first exec seeing the door being the Senior Vice President of iOS, Scott Forstall. Forstall's departure saw Eddie Cue in charge of the Maps department - let's hope he found his way there and wasn't using Maps on his iPhone 5.
Cue is said to be looking for advice from "outside mapping-technology experts" and has put pressure on TomTom to fix their landmark and navigational information in the data that they share with the Cupertino-based iPhone maker. Apple doesn't have any replacement set in stone for Williamson just yet, but Cue is reportedly looking to create a new leadership team for the group.
Apple aren't the only ones that get mixed up in the news over work practices, as Samsung have come under fire from a rights group on Tuesday over illegal work practices at its Chinese suppliers. The company admitted just 24 hours previous, that excessive overtime and fines for employees in China.
The New York-based China Labor Watch have said that employees working at Samsung's suppliers sometime work a crazy 16 hours per day, with just a single day off per month. Samsung said on Monday, after a review of 105 of its Chinese suppliers, which involved more than 65,000 employees, that illegal work practices were found. But the South Korean company said that the companies involved would be given two more years to change their ways. Two more years! Samsung said in a statement:
We have identified the need for initiatives to reduce employee overtime as a top priority, and we are researching and developing measures that will eliminate hours beyond legal limits by the end of 2014.
If you ever thought that Google just waved their fingers and had magical algorithms working their search results, you'd be flat out wrong. The Register has opened up the Google 160-page guidebook, which is a reference manual for human "raters".
This has revealed that there's a big human involvement in the results provided by Google when a user runs a search. Google actually outsource to a few different crowdsourcing agencies - Lionbridge and Leapforce, where they use real people and their real-life opinions on search results. The Register refers to one Leapforce job ad, where they employ around 1500 search assessors which is a great work-from-home job.
Before landing this glorious work-from-home job, a potential employee must first pass an initial examination. After this, search assessors will receive periodic Google evaluations to ensure they're doing a standup job on grading search results. The 160-page manual also informs raters about how to rank search results basic on multiple metrics, such as quality, relevance and spamminess. Google's search assessors will judge the results for various queries and choose from different tiered grades, including "Not Spam", "Maybe Spam", "Porn", "Off-Topic", "Unratable", "Vital" and more.
Samsung just can't seem to escape being sued lately. After losing to Apple to the tune of $1 billion, Ericsson has now filed a lawsuit against the South Korean electronics giant claiming that they have refused to sign licensing agreements for some of Ericsson's patents, even after two years of negotiations.
Ericsson issued the following statement on their website:
The dispute concerns both Ericsson's patented technology that is essential to several telecommunications and networking standards used by Samsung's products as well as other of Ericsson's patented inventions that are frequently implemented in wireless and consumer electronics products. Ericsson has concluded that it has no option other than legal action after negotiations have not been successful since Samsung has refused to take a license on FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) terms
Chief Intellectual Property officer at Ericsson, Kasim Alfalahi, has said that this is the last resort and that the company did their best to try and settle the matter with Samsung without having to involve the courts. The lawsuit has been filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
"Ericsson has tried long and hard to amicably come to an agreement with Samsung. We have turned to litigation as a last resort," Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in the statement.
Google has settled with Immersion just nine months after it was sued by Immersion, a company that develops touch feedback systems. The deal sees Google licensing the patents for use in future Motorola devices, along with compensating the company for using the technology in prior Motorola devices.
The lawsuit was filed against Motorola before Google officially acquired them in May 2012. The original lawsuit alleged that Motorola infringed upon six of Immersions patents and was filed with the US ITC, which has the power to block imports should a device be found to be infringing. CEO Victor Viegas:
The successful resolution of this case is a critical step in our overall strategy of enforcing and monetizing our intellectual property, including Basic Haptics, and we're pleased to achieve a settlement that is consistent with our business model, which is largely based on per unit running royalties.
We remain fully committed to enforcing our IP rights while continuing to innovate and create new technology and solutions for the mobile space. While the terms of the settlement will remain confidential and are not anticipated to have a material impact on our financial results for 2012, this settlement is a great step forward in validating the value of our IP portfolio and the investments we have made in the mobile market.
Immersion has outstanding lawsuits over similar technology against HTC.
Amazon is touting that Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the best days for the Kindle family in terms of sales. They say that Cyber Monday more than doubled last year's numbers for the Kindle family, which puts this at the single best day. These sales were certainly helped by the fact Amazon put the Kindle Fire on sale.
Amazon provided the following as the milestones for the holiday shopping weekend:
- Cyber Monday 2012 was the biggest day ever for Kindle sales worldwide.
- The top 4 spots on the worldwide Amazon best sellers list since launch nearly three months ago are Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fires.
- To celebrate Cyber Monday, Amazon.com offered a special deal-just $129 for the Kindle Fire. Customers flocked to the deal, making this the biggest Cyber Monday deal ever for Amazon.com.
- Kindle Fire HD is the most gifted and most wished for product on Amazon worldwide since launch.
- 9 out of the top 10 best-selling products on Amazon worldwide since 9/6 are Kindles, Kindle accessories and digital content.
Back in 2007, NEC gave the world a glimpse at portable forensics in the form of a portable DNA analyzer but between then and now, not much has happened, nor materialized.
Well, there's a next-generation analyzer due in 2014, which would put the full DNA extraction, amplification and separation process on a newer chip that meets NEC's goals of producing output within 25 minutes.
The new analyzer is set to weigh around 70.5 pounds, and have a cost of $120,000 - so it'd most likely only be for guys like Dexter Morgan with the Miami Dade PD. The new DNA analyzer will come in the form of a small, rolling suitcase - so not only will it be capable of all sorts of lab geek stuff, it'll also look cool while doing so.
Crowd funding and project pushing site, Kickstarter, have announced that they've seen 3 million people back projects on the site. Kickstarter have launched a total of, and still counting, 78,497 projects on the site.
Donation numbers are huge - seeing $362 million in "successful" donations, with 3,242 donations currently live and the success rate of projects is currently sitting at around 42%.
It was only back in April that Kickstarter came out and announced they had raised $119 million with $6 million in commission. Some projects are obviously more successful than others, but we're continuing to see records broken on funding amounts. I haven't backed many projects myself, outside of the Ouya console. What about you?
Apple no longer needs to fear being sued over its use of the word "Lightning" to describe its new dock connector. On Thanksgiving Day it was made official that Apple could use the trademark to market products in the audio and video equipment, TV, telephones, software, pinball machine, and eyeglasses categories.
The fact that Apple has only received these applications of the trademark indicate that they were fairly specific in what they wanted from the trademark. The owner of the original trademark retains licensing rights for clothing, footwear, and other applications that were in the original application.
The owner of "lightning" is H-D Michigan, LLC, which is believed to be Harley-Davidson, the makers of those gorgeous motorcycles. It's not perfectly clear that this is owned by Harley-Davidson, but their holding company is located in Michigan, so it makes sense that they are one in the same.
A collection of adult movie companies aren't happy with Verizon. They say that the ISP defends BitTorrent pirates by systematically rejecting court-ordered subpoenas for information and they claim that these objections are in bad faith due to Verizon supposedly getting profit from users who are BitTorrenting.
A court has previously ruled that an IP address is not enough to hold someone responsible for pirating, but that hasn't stopped companies from trying. Adult movie companies are still filing the mass lawsuits using IPs as the identification of the users. They then ask the court to subpoena the ISP for subscriber information.
Verizon currently rejects these requests systematically as the subscriber isn't necessarily the one who did the illegal sharing. Verizon argues that "[The subpoena] seeks information that is protected from disclosure by third parties' rights of privacy and protections guaranteed by the first amendment."
"Verizon's current Objections can only be seen as being asserted in bad faith, and with the expectation to continue to profit from BitTorrent infringement at the expense of other, lower-tier ISPs and the consuming public at large. There is seemingly no incentive for ISPs such as Verizon to aggressively identify infringers on their network," the plaintiffs argue.
There were wonderful stories through Black Friday, as usual, with people camping out for days on end, and I even heard that a woman gave birth at a shopping centre throughout the Black Friday sales - but just how well did retailers go, sales wise?
Well, according to comScore, 57.3 million Americans took part in Black Friday sales, spending a record-breaking $1.04 billion. ComScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, has said:
With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channel marketing phenomenon.
ComScore also said that digital content sales are on the up and up, with a 29% increase in digital content sales year-over-year. Fulgoni has projected $1.5 billion or more in Cyber Monday sales, which we should hear about in the coming hours.
The whole debacle with MegaUpload founder, Kim Dotcom, has been pretty bad since day one - but now new evidence has popped up and has Dotcom seeking to have the case against him dismissed.
The new evidence suggests the FBI forced Dotcom to preserve 39 pirated movies from another case unrelated to us, with Dotcom's lawyers saying that the 39 movie files were uploaded after the FBI investigated a website called 'ninjavideo.com', this site used a cloud storage database from megaupload.com to store the movies in 2010. The FBI then made a seizure on megaupload.com.
The 39 files were identified during an investigation into the NinjaVideo site, which used MegaUpload's cloud storage for their pirated movies. The FBI later took down the MegaUpload site, based that seizure on the same files being stored, even though Dotcom says he was cooperating with the FBI as much as possible.
Apple just doesn't stop - asks judge to add Samsung's Galaxy Note II and other smartphones to latest suit
Seriously, Apple - innovate instead of suing. You have one god damn smartphone on the market, the iPhone 5, in a single size - and yet they just continue bashing forward with lawsuits. Their market cap has experienced over $150 billion in drops in the past two months - and it has no signs of slowing.
Well, today Apple have launched yet another suit, adding the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III with Android 4.1 and four other products to their latest lawsuit against Samsung. Apple have already added some of those devices, such as the Galaxy S III, but between then and now, they've received software updates - which leads us to another round of requested inclusions, sigh.
The other four devices added are Samsung's Galaxy S III mini, Rugby Pro, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi and the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. With these devices, we could see the lawsuits (plural) dragged out into 2014 - hearings are expected to take place early next year.