Apple Inc. (AAPL) isn't doing too well in China it seems, with main competitor, Taiwan-based HTC Corp. (2498) doing surprisingly well in China. This is thanks to the allies found in three companies, China Unicom (Hong Kong) LTD, China Telecom Corp. and China Mobile Ltd.
The news comes from a meeting of the leaders of China's largest state-owned enterprises on Friday at China's 18th Party Congress. Chang Xiaobing, China Unicom Chairman said that there is a rare positive for HTC's shareholders, after so much doom and gloom, continuing with:
Well-known Taiwan brand HTC's smartphones are selling great in China, and their cooperation with China Unicom and with other carriers in China is proceeding smoothly.
He added that China's smartphone demand in 2013 would continue to increase, hoping to "implement stronger cooperation with Taiwan companies in similar industries". The three allies HTC finds themselves partnered with, control much of where the smartphone subsidies and marketing dollars are spent, and could be the heroes that HTC need right now. HTC have also said that the China market is a key part of their future in the mobile industry.
Android continues to dominate, Q3 sees 122 million sold, just 24 million iPhones and if it counts - 4 million Windows Phones
Apple may brag their quarterly results, but you should know how I feel about that - our various editorials and news stories on their fall from grace (which won't stop for quite a while) is happening right before our eyes, and the true king is rising - Android.
Q3 2012 numbers are in from Gartner, showing that mobile phone makers sold more than 122 million Android-based smartphones in the quarter, compared to just 24 million iPhones and just 4 million Windows Phone-based handsets. Windows Phones crappy performance can be attributed to consumers waiting for Windows Phone 8 - but overall, they're not even comparing to Android right now.
GeekWire have been great, compiling Gartner's stats for the past two years into the chart shown above. As you can see, Android has really been smashing it for a homerun in the last six months, shipping some 60 million units, compared to iPhone shipments which have dropped.
Samsung, as most of you would know, have found great success in the form of their Galaxy-branded smart devices, so much so that their mobile division is making quite a sum in profits. This sum has eclipsed Google's entire profits - wow.
This is according to a new study from market analysis firm Asymco, who sees income from Samsung's mobile division completely outstripping Google's operating income over the past three quarters. Their findings are quite amazing, that just two years ago, Samsung's income from smartphone sales edged on near zero.
The most recent quarter saw the South Korean device maker reach record-breaking performance, where they saw $7.4 billion in profits. This was largely thanks to their mobile division, where they reportedly shipped 58 million smartphones in the quarter, with the Galaxy S III making up around 18-20 million of that total. Asymco estimates that Samsung's mobile division income total is sitting at around $5 billion for the past quarter, comparing it to Google's entire business operations recording $3 billion profit for the third quarter.
It looks like Amazon are in trouble in France, with local tax authorities sending the US retail giant a bill for back taxes amounting to a tidy $252 million. This news follows previous news of the same manner, with Google and Starbucks hitting the headlines in British press for avoiding UK taxes through schemes and loopholes.
France is now clamping down on Amazon, with the 2006-2010 period under examination for missed tax payments to the French Tax Administration (FTA). The FTA has asked Amazon for payments of interest and penalties in relation to "the allocation of income between foreign jurisdictions". The retail giant intends to fight the FTA claim.
A lot of multinationals operating within Europe push their tax affairs through the lowest-rated countries within the Union, with Amazon and its European HQ in Luxembourg. Luxembourg offers very sweet tax breaks for companies based there, with Amazon EU Sarl, which would be on UK-based Amazon invoices, making $9.1 billion in revenue last year but only paid $8 million in tax in Luxembourg. Considering the retail giant pulled in a turn over of £3.3 billion in the UK last year, they paid no corporation tax in the UK, period.
One would think this rule would've been enforced on day-one, but another NASA employee's laptop was stolen from a locked car two weeks ago, containing "personally identifiable information". Officials are now concerned that NASA workers are at risk of identity theft.
The laptop's HDD that was stolen wasn't encrypted, and no top of that, neither were the included sensitive documents. The theft is being used as a wake up call for NASA to severely increase security standards on employees' laptops. This isn't the first leak, as in March of 2011 a laptop was stolen which contained - wait for it - control codes for the damn International Space Station and since, the space agency hasn't beefed up security, until now.
NASA Inspector General, Paul Martin, has told Congress that from April 2009 to April 2011 - a two-year period - that an estimated 48 laptops and mobile devices had been lost or stolen, and worse, just 1% of agency devices were encrypted. Associate deputy administrator Richard Keegan Jr. has, effective immediately, required that "no NASA-issued laptops containing sensitive information can be removed from a NASA facility unless whole disk encryption software is enabled".
On top of this, the space agency plans to have all laptops encrypted by December 21.
Texas Instruments, a company that makes wonderful calculators and a variety of other silicon chips, is axing 1,700 jobs in a move to save money as it moves away from mobile chips, a market now dominated by Qualcomm and Samsung. This layoff will cost TI roughly $325 million for the current quarter.
1,700 jobs is nothing to scoff at. This layoff will see Texas Instruments losing five percent of it's total workforce around the globe. However, it could be worth it as they are expecting to see a savings of $450 million by the end of 2013. It's OMAP program will no longer be invested in, and TI is looking to see it possibly to another company.
Amazon is seen as a possible purchaser of the mobile processor business. TI's shares fell by two percent during trading only to rise to $29 after-hours. Who knows, maybe Apple would be interested in acquiring the company, especially since they are looking to design more and more processors in-house.
This should really come as a surprise to, well, no one. The consumer tech world has changed, and gone are the requirement for desktops for productivity work or surfing the web - you can do all of this on a smartphone, or a notebook. Recent figures have pointed toward a decline for this year in relation to PC sales, a first in 11 years.
More and more consumers are grabbing smart devices, and while some analysts have hopes for Windows 8, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, isn't so sure on PC sales. Reitzes says that PC sales could decline "for years to come" and has now reduced his estimates for 2012, all the way up until 2016. Reitzes wrote in a research note that Forbes reported on:
We are lowering our 2012-2016 PC forecasts due to weak macro conditions, confusion around Windows 8, ongoing cannibalization from tablets, and an elongation in replacement cycles.
Reitzes estimates a 6% year-over-year decline for the PC industry in Q4, and a 3% year-over-year decline for the entire of 2012. He expects the market to continue to slide in 2013, dropping another 4%,"as the consumer market remains weak and the tablet and smartphone markets continue to cannibalize the PC market; the iPad mini, new iPad and iPhone 5 could continue to take wallet share". The analyst isn't a big fan of Windows 8, noting that "Windows 8 and ultrabooks are creating confusion within the PC ecosystem, which has hampered execution and worsened the downturn".
PayPal is about to get to know your face a whole lot better, with the company looking to use facial recognition technology in a trial in Australia for in-store payments. All you'll need to do is finish your shopping, "check-in" at a store on your smartphone, place an order, and have the sales assistant check your photo ID when it pops up on their terminal.
The facial recognition-based tech is said to ramp up over the next three years, as Australians become more and more technology dependant. They're becoming much more comfortable using them to shop, and online payment provider PayPal is jumping at the chance.
Nielsen's latest figures have shown that an estimate of annual purchases of goods and services using smartphones was just $155 million two years ago, that figure has now rocketed up to $5.6 billion. To say that this is a large jump would be a severe understatement. At the end of this week, PayPal's new technology will be unveiled at Sydney fashion outlet Glue Store's Pitt St flagship site, after which it will begin its rollout at other locations across Victoria, NSW and Queensland before the end of the year.
Zynga isn't doing very well, as most of our readers will know, and today continues to show that they will likely continue to do poorly. Zynga's CFO has said adios to the sinking ship and jumped on over to the still-floating-though-possibly-sinking Facebook ship. CFO Dave Wehner has taken a senior position at Facebook, according to a memo released today.
CAO Mark Vransesh has been appointed to CFO, a position that he has served in before. There were a round of other promotions and title changes amongst upper management, as well, today, though none quite as headlining as the CFO leaving for Facebook.
Pincus, CEO of Zynga, said that the financial outlook is still accurate. Zynga has been focusing on being the Epic of Facebook gaming by providing a platform for third-party developers, instead of trying to produce their own games. This is probably a good idea as their games have had mixed success as of late.
Reuters is reporting today that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. The job they are tasked with is rumored to be explore potential options, which may be finding a buyer. AMD has been continuing to have trouble being competitive in the marketplace, with its CPU performance falling further and further behind Intel.
According to Reuters' sources, the sale of the company is pretty low on the list of options, with others, such as a sale of its patents, being considered first. AMD, of course, has denied this statement, e-mailing Reuters and telling them that they are not actively pursuing a sale of the company or major assets.
"AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by leveraging AMD's highly-differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value," spokesman Drew Prairie said.
The marketplace would not be the same without AMD remaining as Intel would basically be left without competition in the traditional x86 market. However, both AMD and Intel were caught off guard by the rapid transition to mobile, where ARM and companies that use ARM designs have the stronghold.
Everyone loves a good sale, but it looks like China's equivalent to America's Cyber Monday shopping frenzy on November 11 saw Alibaba rake in a record $3.1 billion in sales within 24 hours - a number that is up 367% year-over-year.
A bulk of the sales came from the company's B2C site Tmall.com, with its C2C brand Taobao taking in a large chunk too. Alibaba has said that it saw 10 million visitors in the first sixty seconds alone, and reached over $40 million in gross merchandise value (GMV) in just 10 minutes.
Tmall is one of Alibaba's newest sites, opening in 2008, and has expanded rather quickly. Its GMV totaled $16 billion last year, and is expected to double that this year reaching $32 billion. Alibaba expects sales on its platforms to exceed that of both eBay and Amazon, combined.
This can't be good - Microsoft's long-time employed executive and Windows lead, Steven Sinofsky, has just left the company, effective immediately. Julie Larson-Green, who currently is the Internet Explorer, Office and Windows interface guru will step into his shoes for most duties, heading up all Windows development, including hardware "opportunities" such as Surface.
CFO and CMO Tami Reller will steer the pure business and marketing sides of Windows. The Redmond-based company has refused to comment on Sinofsky's shock exit, with AllThingsD reporting that there were "growing tensions" between Sinofsky and other execs.
Windows-based writer Paul Thurrott has gotten his mits on a copy of Sinofsky's e-mail, which hints toward reason for his departure. He portrays it as the outcome of some post-launch reflection, and a chance to "seek new opportunities" based on his experience.
Sinofsky backs it up by saying his departure from MS is a personal decision, and not the result of an internal mix around. The sudden exit, as he claims, is to help make "space" for his new replacements.
Apple must really be regretting some decisions made in the past, their stock prices are looking like they've been a stock market piñata and now main competitor and the receiving end of their nasty patent lawsuit, Samsung, are increasing the prices on the components that get baked into Apple's bread and butter, the iPad and iPhone.
Chosun Ilbo has said that Samsung have just increased the price of manufacturing Apple's application processors by close to 20%, where they also note that this is the first time that the South Korean Galaxy device maker has increased the pricing on processors to Apple, but with a lack of alternative options, Apple has had to agree.
Apple's A-series of processors are custom-designed by Apple, but they are actually built by Samsung. This relationship, as you can imagine, is beginning to really whither away. Apple have slowly been diversifying away from their reliance on Samsung, but unfortunately no one can match the production volume that Samsung has to offer - leaving Apple stuck for the time being.
A court in Australia has ruled that Google published defamatory content linking Milorad Trkulja with gangsters in Melbourne. The issue in question is whether or not Google publishing links to other sites constitutes publishing defamatory content, if the links point to sites where possibly defamatory content is posted.
In this case, the top links pointed to sites which linked Trkulja with references to Melbourne's gangs. Google of course denied that they published any material--after all, they didn't write these other websites. Google also argued that the material in question did not convey the defamatory implications that Trkulja said they did.
"What the court's said here is that this isn't just innocent architecture, what this is is human-designed software to showcase information in a certain way," Bond University media law expert Mark Pearson told AFP. "The judge has said that because you (Google) have designed (the search results) to appear in this way, you are the publisher of the material."
"Google's search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web," a Google spokesman told AFP. "The sites in Google's search results are controlled by those sites' webmasters, not by Google."
It's really a bit scary that a precedent like this could be set. The rankings of webpages in Google's search results are influenced heavily by how many clicks they get and other user-generated metrics.
SEAL Team Six members reveal secrets with EA for the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter, have been disciplined
Uh oh, a group of US Navy SEALs have been disciplined over leaking out secret practices to Electronic Arts earlier this year. At least seven members of SEAL Team Six, an elite special forces group, have reportedly worked as paid consultants for EA over a two-day period this past spring and summer.
Four members have since left the unit, and are also under investigation. The soldiers reportedly talked to EA and their work in special missions, all as data for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The report states that the SEAL members used classified information that may have been given to them by the Navy and that they voluntarily violated the understanding that SEALs are silent warriors that don't like the public spotlight.
But, given that SEAL Team Six were involved in the raid that assassinated Osama bin Laden last year, that whole "we don't like the public spotlight" thing, has been kinda hard. Hollywood have two movies locked and loaded, one regarding the rescue of the captain of a container ship that had been kidnapped by Somali pirates, and the other centered on the raid itself on bin Laden.
I have no idea why Google haven't acquired Spotify to combat against iTunes yet, but the music streaming and discovery service is looking to raise $100 million in a financing round that would see the company valued at $3 billion.
Spotify is hoping to raise new funds from a bunch of investors, including Goldman Sachs. If the report is true, we're looking at a valuation target 25% lower, as earlier reports had them pegged at seeking $200 million on a valuation of $4 billion.
Reuters has reported that Spotify has already raised around $189 million in funding in previous financing rounds from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Accel Partners and more. Spotify, since its launch, has grown into a formidable competitor in the music industry, and is proud to be the number two source of revenue from the major record labels, only behind Apple's iTunes.
It looks as though Apple aren't having much luck in court rooms outside the United States, as the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has ordered the Cupertino-based company to pay the legal fees of Samsung on an 'indemnity basis' after the company published a "false and misleading" notice in the aftermath of a patent lawsuit over the iPad.
The judgement looks to embarrass Apple, requires the iPad maker to pay for all expenses associated with Samsung's legal defense, with any disputes over the exact amount likely be to resolved in Samsung's favor - ouch.
After losing an appeal in October, Apple were ordered to publish a notice on their front page of their UK website which has been deemed inaccurate. Apple complied with the court's wishes, but were sly and added some statements which according to the court were "calculated to product huge confusion". Included in these statements were a reference to a separate US verdict that saw Apple awarded more than $1 billion in damages.
On one side of the fence, I like patents - it protects important intellectual property - but on the other hand, it can really hold back essential building blocks for our future.
Well, one would think that the space venture from entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX, would hold tonnes of patents. The answer is a flat 'no'. During an interview with Chris Anderson at Wired, Musk was quoted:
We have essentially no patents in SpaceX. Our primary long-term competition is in China. If we published patents, it would be farcical, because the Chinese would just use them as a recipe book.
We might see SpaceX adopt patents in the future, but for now they're just holding their special eleven herbs and spices as trade secrets.
Well, what's going on here you ask? Apple and HTC have come out over the weekend announcing that there's been a settlement agreed to, that resolves all of their existing patent disputes - yes, Apple have settled a patent agreement nicely for once.
The agreement is a "global settlement", dismissing all currently Apple and HTC complaints under a new ten-year license agreement, covering current and future patents held by each company. Both companies have said through a press release that the terms of the settlement are confidential.
HTC rep Jeff Gordon told The Verge that the company "does not expect this license agreement to have any adverse material impact on the financials of the company", this means that it won't cost HTC an arm and a leg. We're seeing HTC have some wins here, as they can now use some features that Samsung can't, such as slide-to-unlock, universal search and other disputed features.
It looks as though Apple have paid $21 million to settle a copyright dispute with SBB over their iconic railway clock, reports Mobile Geeks. At the time of iOS 6's launch, the news started floating out that there was an agreement between SBB and Apple.
This agreement didn't come with a monetary value attached to it, but The Daily News have reported that neither party would disclose whether the payment was above 20 million Swiss francs. Apple would've been stuck between a rock and a hard place with this decision.
On one hand, Apple were very quick to just throw a huge sum at SBB - but there could've been a nasty lawsuit and a ban on any device which sports iOS 6 out of the box - such as the iPhone 5. On the other hand, they could've reworked the design but this would've taken both time and money.
Lenovo has announced today that they are planning on sharing their proprietary battery design technology with the PC industry "in the interests of public safety and improving the level of engineering in notebook personal computer designs worldwide." This is more likely a ploy to get good will, but it will surely be appreciated by end-consumers who should receive better products.
"Battery design is an issue of crucial importance to business and computing," said Peter Hortensius, senior vice president, Lenovo notebook business unit. "As the personal computer business examines standards and design criteria for the best use of lithium ion batteries, Lenovo is contributing its engineering and design leadership. No make of battery is 100 percent immune from failure, but Lenovo strongly believes in safety first. These engineering specifications show our approach to battery management, and we believe they will move the PC industry as a whole toward safer battery standards."
The shared information will include redundant protections, failure detection, thermal conditions and protection, charging methodology, voltage protection, and mechanical design. The information will be shared with industry standards organizations so that other manufacturers may take advantage of advancements that Lenovo has made.