Tag Archive | Mobile

Verizon Profit Jumps 40 Percent on Wireless Subscriber Growth

Verizon Communications Inc. said its third-quarter profit improved 40 percent as the largest U.S. phone carrier continued to build up its base of wireless and FiOS customers.

Verizon last month agreed to purchase Vodafone Group PLC’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, granting Verizon full control of their joint venture. To help fund the deal, Verizon sold $49 billion in bonds, making it the largest corporate-debt sale in history.

Verizon reported a profit of $2.23 billion, or 78 cents a share, up from $1.59 billion, or 56 cents, a year earlier. Excluding special items, per-share earnings were 77 cents in the latest quarter. Revenue improved 4.4 percent to $30.28 billion.

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Samsung Accounted for a Third of Smartphone Sales Last Quarter, While Apple’s Share Fell

Samsung’s second-quarter smartphone shipments hit 76 million last quarter – up 56 percent from the prior year, and giving the company a 33 percent share of the global market.

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iStockphoto | aluxum

Apple, meanwhile, shipped 31.2 million iPhones, a 20 percent year-over-year rise, and good for second place worldwide. However, that trailed the overall smartphone industry, and meant that Apple’s market share fell to 14 percent – its lowest level since the second quarter of 2010, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

“The current iPhone portfolio is under-performing and Apple is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between rival 3-inch Android models at the low-end and 5-inch Android models at the high-end,” Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston said in a statement.

Overall, smartphone shipments hit 230 million for the second quarter, up 47 percent from a year earlier, and representing 59 percent of all mobile phones sold.

“The smartphone industry’s shipment growth rate, which is higher today than a year ago, is being driven by surging demand for 4G models in developed regions like the US and 3G models in emerging markets such as India,” Neil Shah, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Korea’s LG doubled shipments from a year earlier to 12.1 million units, enough to give it five percent global market share and the No. 3 spot, just ahead of China’s ZTE and Huawei, each of which shipped more than 11 million smartphones.

Apple Takes Home Three Brand of the Year Awards

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Here’s an achievement certain to be trotted out at Apple’s next big media event. Harris Interactive on Thursday declared the company the top U.S. brand across a trio of consumer electronics categories – the only three in which it’s rated.

According to Harris Interactive’s 2013 EquiTrend survey, which polls some 38,000 U.S. consumers about their brand preferences, Apple dominated not only the tablet segment, but the mobile phone and computer segments, as well.

Quite the hat trick, and one Apple has pulled off for two years running now, beating out some serious competition. In the computer category, Apple bested Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sony; in the tablet category, it surpassed Amazon, Google and Samsung; and in the mobile phone segment, it beat HTC, Samsung and LG.

Said Harris Interactive senior VP Manny Flores, “… What really stands out is that in all three of the categories Apple brands are measured – Computer, Tablet and Mobile Phone – its Brand Momentum scores are in the top 30 of all 1,500 brands evaluated in the study.”

And that’s worth noting. Harris Interactive’s Brand Momentum category measures – among other things – ubiquity, future outlook, leadership and popularity. In the eyes of U.S. consumers, Apple clearly meets its brand promise.

T-Mobile’s Latest Promo Offers Entire Lineup of Phones for No Upfront Payment

T-Mobile is continuing to shake things up.

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The No. 4 U.S. carrier on Friday announced a promotion that will offer its entire lineup of phones for no upfront payment. It isn’t really dropping the price of phones, just spreading the entire cost of the phone over 24 months instead of using a mix of an initial down payment and monthly payments.

Still, the move shows the flexibility T-Mobile has since moving to a model in which it separates the cost of the phone from its monthly service.

“The number of reasons not to switch to T-Mobile this summer is ZERO,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. “This is a fantastic offer and we’re making it easier than ever for customers to get the latest amazing devices.”

Under the new promotion, which starts on Saturday, customers can get a 16 gigabyte iPhone 5, for example, for no upfront fee and 24 monthly payments of $27 per month. The Samsung Galaxy S4, BlackBerry Q10 and HTC One are all $25 per month, while the entry-level Nokia Lumia 521 is just $5 per month.

The device fee is then added to T-Mobile’s monthly service fees. Options range from a $50-per-month plan that includes unlimited talk, text and 500 megabytes of high-speed data to an option for $70 per month that includes unlimited high-speed data. Additional lines for family members cost $30 for the first extra line and $10 per additional line after that.

Though not cutting device prices, the move could nonetheless be attractive to those looking to get a new phone without a big initial cost.

Update: In a telephone interview, T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said that the new option came in response to a move by AT&T to offer some devices for no money down.

“This is really about being fast and highly competitive,” Sievert said. “We aren’t going to cede one inch of the territory and of the momentum” it has gained from its “un-carrier” approach.

As part of its Next early-upgrade program, AT&T is offering a number of phones for no money down, with installment payments of $15 to $50 per month for 20 months. A Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, would cost $32 a month for 20 months under that program. (Customers would also pay AT&T’s standard monthly rates in addition to the device financing payment.)

Sievert did not give an end date for T-Mobile’s new offer, but said promotions such as these tend to run days or weeks, and not for months.

He also said this move was not the next step that Legere had hinted will come in the fall.

“Un-carrier 3.0 is still to come,” Sievert said.

L.A. Unified School District Wants iPads for All 640,000 Students

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Back in June, the Los Angeles Unified School District awarded Apple a $30 million contract to provide its students with iPads. Under its terms, the company will supply about 31,000 iPads to 47 LAUSD schools, each preloaded with a bunch of educational software. But evidently that’s just the first phase of the program.

According to an LAUSD representative, the nation’s second-largest school district hopes to provide iPads to all 640,000 students by late 2014. Which means it’s going to buy a few hundred thousand more iPads over the next year – though it’s not yet sure how it’s going to do it. “We’re hoping that we will get a lot of private donors,” Mark Hovatter, chief facilities executive for LAUSD, told CITEworld.

That’s very good news for Apple. If LAUSD is able to pull together the money to realize this plan, it will be purchasing hundreds of thousands of additional iPads. Which potentially means another big iPad contract in the offing, and the chance to expose thousands of kids to the iOS ecosystem.

[Graphite Series] Universal Mobile Phone Cover Wallet fits Motorola Defy Pro XT560 Case – BROWN & ORANGE

[Graphite Series] Universal Mobile Phone Cover Wallet fits Motorola Defy Pro XT560 Case – BROWN & ORANGE

  • Snap button closure that will hold your belongings in place
  • Made of high quality PU / Bicast leather material
  • Additional card slot on the back of the wallet for more storage
  • Approximate phone pouch dimensions: 5.4 x 3.2 x .7 inches
  • A separate pouch for your device that makes it easily accessible in a flash

Ekatomi will process and ship available item(s) within 1-2 business day(s); from California, USA. Bonus Ekatomi’s reusable sticker, mini screen cleaner to help remove dust / dirt from any gadget.

This universal, unisex bi-fold wallet is suitable for a anyone at any age for whom both fashion as well as price is important! This wallet is useful for running errands, getting gas, grocery trip, walk / run on the park, a day or night out; or any day that you don’t feel like bringing a bigger

BlackBerry Lays Off 250 Employees From Its New Product Testing And R&D Department

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Layoffs at Waterloo-based smartphone industry pioneer BlackBerry cut deep last year, with around 5,000 employees being let go. Those cuts continue into 2013 as BlackBerry undergoes what CEO Thorsten Heins called a “complex transition” earlier this month, and the latest is that 250 employees of its core R&D and new product testing facility have been let go as of earlier this week, as confirmed by Canada’s CTV News and by BlackBerry itself to TechCrunch.

That number pales in comparison to some of the massive cuts that came in big batches last year, including one 3,000 person block in August 2012. Last year, however, BlackBerry reportedly told its employees that if they were working on services or projects key to BlackBerry 10, they’d mostly likely be safe. These cuts appear to be closer to the bone, however, coming as they do at the heart of BlackBerry’s innovation efforts, which is why it’s perhaps more worrying for the company’s overall outlook than the big sweeping trimming of potentially redundant or sub-optimal departments last year.

BlackBerry is saying the change to employee count is all about efficiency, in a statement provided to TechCrunch (included in full below), but it’s hard to see a big batch of layoffs so near to R&D, which should be the lifeblood of any technology company, as a good sign. Heins’ strategy of cost-cutting and efficiency has helped BlackBerry manage to stay relatively strong on revenue, however, and to keep a healthy cash reserve on hand.

BlackBerry has a number of products in the pipeline, apparently, including the leaked A10 (and the somewhat unimpressive Q5), a new touchscreen flagship that’s rumored to be launched later this year. But that device looks to be quite far along already; this fresh report of staffing changes begs the question of how much more new hardware we have left to see beyond that.

The full statement from BlackBerry’s Lisette Kwong follows:

I can confirm on the record, that BlackBerry on Tuesday informed 250 employees of their termination in Waterloo. These employees were part of the New Product Testing Facility, a department that supports BlackBerry’s manufacturing and R&D efforts.

This is part of the next stage of our turnaround plan to increase efficiencies and scale our company correctly for new opportunities in mobile computing. We will be as transparent as possible as those plans evolve.

A Year In The Making, Machine Zone Launches Game of War, An Impressively Large MMO For iOS

WorldMap-War

While iOS games started out as either simple physics or casual simulation titles when the platform launched about five years ago, the bar has gotten steadily higher and more hard-core. Midcore studios like Kabam started to rise in prominence.

Now the iOS platform might be seeing is most hardcore title to date – a very, very massive multi-player title from YC- and Menlo Ventures-backed Machine Zone.

The company, which started out doing text-based RPGs a couple years ago like iMob, is launching Game of War: Fire Age. It’s a title where players build and grow empires, train massive armies, forge alliances with other players to win kingdoms.

The game can handle hundreds of thousands of players concurrently in the same universe, which is not an easy technical feat. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, in contrast, typically handles a few thousand players simultaneously in a single realm. All movement on the game’s map is visible to everyone else.

“We wanted to take the company to the next level and be really ambitious,” said Machine Zone CEO Gabriel Leydon. “We decided to build some things that had never been done before. We had the capital to do it and the willpower.”

Leydon didn’t hire just typical game designers to build the title. He also found people who had experience in scaling massive systems. The game’s user interface is in HTML5 and is rendered natively, allowing the company to handle different screen sizes.

The other really cool thing about the game’s social capabilities is that there is a mechanical turk-like translation system where the players themselves translate chat in exchange for virtual currency rewards. That helps Game of War have really interactive play with a proper critical mass of users who can talk to each other, even if they don’t speak the same language. The in-game chat system helps Game of War get manage slang and gamer speak, which a third-party translation system probably wouldn’t handle correctly. If say, 50 players translate the same words in the same way, then the game will start using that translation automatically.

“It’s like a highly structured Facebook,” Leydon said. “My goal as a game designer was to create a feeling of what it would be to be a king, where you’d have a lot of people under you. You’d have to subjects, wealth and land.”

Assuming say, the game grows to 1 million players, there might only be 20 kings in the game. To reach that level, players have to woo others to form alliances with them. Within those alliances, there are ranks for different officers.

“This is a very hardcore game. This is not Candy Crush,” he said. “This is a complex system with a lot of potential trees of outcomes. If you’re the type of person that’s fascinated by systems like this, then this is for you.”

Machine Zone used to be known as Addmired, and rebranded last year when it took $8 million in funding from Menlo Ventures. Leydon said this is what the company took the round for, even though its older titles like Original Gangstaz and iMob 2 were pretty lucrative early on.


FitBark Has Another Go At Proving Its Health Tracker For Dogs Isn’t Barking Mad

fitBarkVisual

Bored of quantifying your self already? Why not quantify your pet instead? FitBark is a Fitbit style health tracker for your under-walked canine companion. We’ve covered this (frankly) barking mad gizmo before, back in May, when its creators were exhibiting at Hardware Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt NY but they’ve now taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to get the device out in the wild. Again.

It’s actually FitBark’s second attempt at Kickstarting the gizmo. As Gigaom points out, its creators pulled an earlier attempt at crowdfunding the device in order to rethink the business model, scrapping the monthly subscription fee and opting for a fixed price-tag of $69 via Kickstarter or $99 for general retail.

FitBark are after $35,000 to cover manufacturing costs this time around, and are more than half-way to achieving the target with 32 days left to run on the campaign – so crazy or otherwise, this is one hardware startup that’s pretty much a dead cert for its first manufacturing run-around-the-park at least.

Now I say barking mad but that’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, being as FitBark is not the only health tracker angling for pet owners’ cash. Whistle, a startup backed by $6 million in Series A funding, launched a $99 wearable activity tracker for dogs only last month. There’s also Tagg, which combines activity and location tracking by including GPS in its device. So underestimate the pet-owning dollar at your peril.

So what does FitBark actually do? Attach it to your dog’s collar and it tracks daily’s activity levels, sending the data back to FitBack’s servers when your smartphone is in range, or throughout the day if you purchase a dedicated FitBark base station (and keep you pet penned up at home while you’re out). The latter scenario would allow owners to keep remote tabs on their pet’s activity levels when they’re not at home, but unless you own a mansion (or employ a dog walker) your dog isn’t going to be able to do a whole lot of running around without you. FitBark then crunches all the activity data, offering customisable daily activity goals, and delivering the results back to you via an app. So far, so kinda sane.

At its more barking mad fringe, the FitBark also lets pet owners compare – well, they say “unify” – their own fitness with their dog’s fitness/activity. So yeah, boasting that you are fitter than Fido is apparently a thing now…

FitBark is also the first platform that leverages existing APIs of human fitness trackers to bring you a unified view of your fitness level and that of your dog. From the outset, FitBark will seamlessly receive input from your Nike Fuelband, Fitbit, Withings Pulse, or Bodymedia Fit. We’ll look to expand the list as we learn about new open APIs or partnership opportunities. If you’re not only a devoted dog parent but are also serious about tracking your own fitness, you’ll love this.

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