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Google Android may dominate the smartphone software market with 81 percent control, but it looks like the Apple iPhone clearly has strong grip on the smartphone hardware market.
The company sold a massive 74.5 million iPhones during Q4 of 2014 - and has 42 percent of the US smartphone market share, according to comScore. Trailing behind Apple is Samsung (29.7 percent) and LG Electronics (7.6 percent), as both companies struggle to close the gap.
Despite iOS holding a significantly smaller share of the software market, it looks like current iPhone owners are willing to upgrade their devices sooner than Android smartphone owners.
According to rumors, the newest Samsung flagship mobile product will be running an almost-completely stock Android operating system, free of the plethora of bloatware that's currently included with their smartphone models.
Gizmodo has compiled some rumors, stating that the Galaxy S6 is looking to run a minimalistic version of TouchWiz, currently described as Samsung specific software that is an add-on to Android offerings.
Sammobile has also let loose that not only will TouchWiz be put on a diet, but Samsung are set to make their specialty programs like "S Voice" and "S Translator" a complete optional-install process - meaning that if you don't want your phone being clogged up like things that you're likely to never to use, you don't have to!
Samsung is rumored to unveil the successor to the Galaxy S5 in the near future, but could the Galaxy S6 come in two versions? The latest rumors are that Samsung will launch a regular Galaxy S6, alongside a Galaxy S6 Edge.
South Korean publication, Korea Herald, is reporting that Samsung has plans to launch an "innovative premium handset" this year that will feature some form of a "special function". Samsung teased the news during its recent earnings call, but didn't add anything more. We could expect some innovation version of the Galaxy S6, or two separate models, no one knows for sure just yet.
ZDNet Korea is also chiming in, with Samsung Mobile Vice President, Park Jin Young stating that the Galaxy S6 will launch on schedule with no supply shortages. This even takes into considerations that Samsung has ditched Qualcomm and its reportedly problematic Snapdragon 810 processor for its own Exynos chip, as well as an all-metal chassis.
Google Android smartphones had a great 2014, surpassing 1 billion units shipped worldwide, according to the Strategy Analytics research group. The Android OS has a dominant 81 percent mobile OS market share, with Apple in the No. 2 position at 15 percent, according to research numbers.
"Android shipped 1 billion smartphones worldwide in 2014, rising from 0.8 billion units in 2013," said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. "Android has become the first ever smartphone operating system to ship more than 1 billion units in a single year."
Overall, the smartphone market had a good year, growing 30 percent and topping 1.3 billion units shipped in 2014 - as analysts previously showed concern of market saturation. However, Android devices are reaching first-time smartphone owners in emerging markets across the world.
Apple has taken the top spot in the Chinese smartphone market. China has the largest population in the world, and dwarfs most of the nearest countries, with the exception of India. India isn't nearly as developed, or experiencing the massive growth rate China is, so the China market holds tremendous strategic potential for Apple.
Xiaomi and Huawei are entrenched competitors that are slowly eating away market share, particularly from Samsung. Apple seems to have deflected their rising market share with popular new smartphones. Apple also has the notable accomplishment of unseating their bitter rival Samsung from the top spot. The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been big contributors to Apple's rise in the market with a 70% sales increase in Q4'14.
Apple's rise in China comes in spite of the fact their phones cost nearly double that of the competition. Apple devices are coveted in China, even resulting in large smuggling rings that bring them in to avoid taxes.
The FTC has ordered mobile phone provider TracFone to pay a hefty $40 million fine for throttling data for users with 'unlimited' data plans. This fine has wide-ranging implications for the mobile industry overall, as several carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, still have users with unlimited data plans. Neither company currently offers new unlimited subscriptions, but they still have to honor their plans that are grandfathered in from past agreements.
In addition to the fine, the FTC has ordered TracFone to provide refunds to customers who experienced data throttling. TracFone not only throttled speeds when customers reached two to three gigabytes of used data, but they were also shutting off customers who reached between four and five gigabytes.
The FTC issued a blunt assessment of the situation. "The issue here is simple: When you promise consumers 'unlimited,' that means unlimited," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
In a bid to win back over the Chinese market, Motorola has returned with their new smartphone offering - the Moto X.
Said to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd by providing advanced customization, Motorola are hoping that giving users the ability to change the back panels on their devices will win over a large amount of consumers. Marking two years out of the Chinese scene, Motorola's new Moto X smartphone comes packed with a 4.7" AMOLED screen displaying at 720p, a Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running at 1.7GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 2200 mAh battery and Android 4.4.2 Kitkat as standard.
Although not the highest-rated smartphone component wise, we've seen that high-end expensive phones don't really fare too well in the Chinese market - which is constantly being dominated by domestic brand offerings.
Listed for a start-price of 3,000 Yuan ($480 US), we'll be very interested to see how it performs.
It looks like LG is about to jump ahead of the competition with an impressive successor to its flexible OLED displays, which will have double the bending radius. Right now we have 2.95-inch (or 30mm), but the new displays will flex much more, right up to an insane 1.18-inch (or 75mm).
Not only will the new screens be much more flexible, but they'll be shatter-proof, too. This is thanks to LG adopting a "true flexible" plastic OLED display instead of using glass. Tech spec wise, this is what we can expect: 60lm/W efficiency, 75lm (807 nits) peak brightness output, 3000K in color temperature, and CRI over 85.
What devices will these new all-plastic flexible OLEDs be going into? We don't know just yet, but we could expect the G Flex 3, G4 and many other devices. Maybe a new wearable, too.
According to Qualcomm's Q4 earnings release, we have learned a few things. We've seen that the chip giant has revised its profits estimations to between $26 billion and $28 billion, compared to $26.8 billion and $28.8 billion.
But, it was something else stated in this release, that should have people opening their eyes. The company said "Expectations that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device". We would dare say that this would be the Samsung Galaxy S6 not using its Snapdragon 810 processor, with the South Korean giant being a "large customer", something most could agree on.
According to Nikkei business daily, Sony is planning to cut another 1,000 workers from their mobile division in order to bring it back to profitability.
These layoffs are said to affect the European and Chinese branches, with the cuts expected to be made public knowledge soon as part of an announced restructuring plan. Rumors state that this information will be brought to light on February the 4th, during their quarterly result report.
After acquiring Sony Ericsson fully in 2012, Sony has been on the warpath to increase their smartphone operations with limited success. Q3 2013 results for Sony reported sales of $2.8 billion, showing a small 1 percent rise. This was coupled with reports that then mentioned Sony was thrown $27.56 billion into the red thanks to a "large write-off in the perceived value of the company's brand" as explained by PC World.