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5 years ago

Should poor manufacturer earnings reports matter to Android consumers?


There hasn’t been much to cheer about on Wall Street lately when it comes to Android manufacturers' earnings. HTC and Motorola have both issued relatively disappointing quarterly results for long enough to annoy the investment community. In the case of Motorola, the big GOOG has come to their rescue anyway.  Motorola didn’t even hold a conference call to discuss its latest quarter (because of the Google deal, it said). They’re getting assimilated into the Google unless something goes haywire with the merger. 
But HTC is still an almost perfect pure play on the Android smartphone market. Yeah, they support Windows Phone too, but almost all the volume is on Android right now, and I think it’s a safe be that this will continue to be the case in 2012.

Neither Motorola or HTC seem to be performing very well. Motorola can’t seem to get enough volume shipped to make a profit on phones, while HTC’s profitability has slipped considerably. The latest quarterly forecast from the Taiwanese giant is for an operating margin of only 7.5 percent.

So what does all this mean to investors and consumers?

I think investors need to keep in mind that Android vendors don’t have much ability to differentiate on software. Especially with the release of ICS, the features and capabilities of the OS are much improved and there is less of a need for vendors to mess around with something that is already very good.

This leaves vendors to compete on hardware. And even there, it’s a challenge.  Most of the volume is for the same old sheet-of-glass form factor that we’ve all grown to love since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007. So we watch vendors compete on gigahertz, megapixels, screen resolution, size, milliAmp hours, and so on.

And of course they compete on price. All of the big Android vendors make good hardware, and carriers are naturally interested in reducing the subsidies on these small computers. Especially those who also get stung by the massive subsidies that are applied to iPhones. The iPhone 4S, for example, is believed to cost carriers more $600, meaning there is a massive $400 subsidy for a device that fetches the carrier a two-year contract. (Something Sprint alluded to in its earnings call Wednesday.) Apple makes the money. Carriers just help them do it. 
So the Android vendor community is under immense pressure to cut costs, and this means fewer dollars of profit on the latest phones. 

Making matters worse for HTC and Motorola (and others) is the necessity to fight against Samsung, a vertically integrated vendor who just so happens to make its own screens, memory and the exynos processors. (Along with being more diversified in the electronics space.) Vertical integration often allows vendors to produce at a lower price, or at least the illusion of lower price depending on internal corporate accounting.

My belief is that we’ve moved past the big innovative period in the smartphone market. RIM got things interesting with the QWERTY-focused BlackBerry lineup. Then iPhone changed the game entirely, and finally Android brought in some much needed competition and, of course, openness. 

The hardware battle is now all about cost. The Android vendors are probably not the best way to play the trend. In a war, people on both sides of the fight die. But it’s the arms dealers that make money. 

My good friend Ed Zabitsky from ACI Research, and co-host of Mobile Nations Stock Talk has been educating me on exactly what’s happening within this supply chain. I find it fascinating. We’ll definitely be talking about this in the next live podcast.

So does this mean most Android vendors are doomed? No, of course not. It just means that people who compete on hardware are likely destined to earn the kind of margins that PC vendors make.  There’s always a profit to be made by someone even if it’s thin. So long as there is demand for Android smartphones, there will be enough companies who can get by on slim margins to make them. The stock market will value these companies the way they should be valued in the long run.

Should consumers worry? Nope. Not any more than they worry about PC box makers disappearing. There are always enough competitors to supply our needs. 

Chris Umiastowski is a former sell-side equity analyst at Orion Securities and TD Securities. Before that, he was an engineer for Nortel Networks. Chris is co-host of the Mobile Nations Stock Talk podcast.

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5 years ago

Sprint adds 1.6 million subscribers in Q4 2011, posts a $1.3 billion net loss


Sprint this morning announced its Q4 2011 earnings, which, basically, were all about the iPhone and the revamping of its entire network. It added 1.6 million net subscribers in the fourth quarter -- the best three-month result in six years, Sprint says, with the bulk of that being from wholesale and affiliate outlets.

Despite that, Sprint still posted a $1.3 billion loss for the quarter, due to a variety of factors that outweigh the addition of new subscribers, record average revenue per user -- and the sale of some 1.8 million iPhones. Major changes to Sprint's network is costing a lot of money, and the company continues to cut costs on the operationsi side.

Source: Sprint

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5 years ago

Sprint adds Baltimore, Kansas City to its upcoming LTE roster


Sprint this morning announced that Baltimore and Kansas City will be the beneficiaries of its new LTE network when it launches later this year. That's to go along with Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, which were named previously.

Baltimore and Kansas City have some historical significance, with the former being the carrier's first Wimax city (way back in the XOHM days), and the latter being its backyard. Oh, and the two cities also will be getting enhanced 3G speeds. So they've got that going for them, which is nice.

Still no firm date on when we'll see the LTE network launch ("mid-2012" is all anyone's saying), but we do know we've got the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the LG Viper waiting for us when it does.

Source: Sprint

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5 years ago

White HTC Sensation XE revealed, due Feb. 20 in the UK


Last week we saw that HTC's planning to launch a white HTC Sensation in parts of Europe from the beginning of next month, and now it seems its big brother, the Sensation XE, will also be getting a fresh coat of paint.

UK retailer Clove Technology sends word that it'll be stocking a white version of the Sensation XE from Feb. 20, with SIM-free prices coming in at £408 (~$640). The Sensation XE, which first launched towards the end of 2011, is a refresh of the original Sensation. It's got a faster 1.5GHz dual-core CPU (up from 1.2 in the original), a larger battery and Beats Audio support, complete with bundled earphones. While the dimensions are the same, the XE comes with red accents and Beats branding, which we have to admit looks a lot better on the white version than it did on the original grey model.

With HTC expected to launch a range of new handsets just a week later, we're not sure whether too many people will be lining up to part with £400 for Sensation XE. But if you do, you'll be getting a pretty powerful dual-core phone, with an ICS update on the way in the months ahead.

Source: Clove Technology

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5 years ago

Sony Tablet P started life as a wallet, almost ran Windows


Sony's Honeycomb-powered clamshell device, the Tablet P, isn't what you'd call a conventional Android tablet. So it should come as no surprise that it had a fittingly unconventional path to release, with a variety of different sizes and form factors being considered before everything was finalized.

According to Engadget Chinese, which was recently given a tour of some early Tablet P prototypes, the device started life as a mock-up made out of a cheap wallet, before a host of more practical designs were considered. These included various 5 to 7-inch setups, and during the height of the netbook craze, Sony was even considering going with a Windows/Intel x86 combo for the device's hardware and software base.

Eventually, due to battery life and heat dissipation issues, that idea was dropped, paving the way for the Tegra and Honeycomb-based device that we're all familiar with today. The Tablet P may not have set the world alight just yet, but at least the story of its development shows how Android's versatility can leads to all kinds of unique products finding their way into being.

Source: Engadget Chinese

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5 years ago

BaconReader gets major update, adds Android Beam support, scrollable widget and more


If you frequent Reddit, you may be aware of BaconReader, a highly polished and fully-featured Reddit client for Android that launched late last year. Today sees developer OneLouder release a substantial update for the app, bringing some major improvements across the board.

BaconReader 1.25 introduces performance improvements, including hardware acceleration for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices. Honeycomb and ICS users will also get access to a scrollable homescreen widget, and the existing 4x1 static widget has been redesigned to better fit with the Android 4.0 design language. And Android Beam support has been added, allowing you to share Reddit posts over NFC the same way you can with videos, web pages and other content on certain devices.

It's great to see BaconReader going from strength to strength with each update, and we're sure all you Redditors on ICS devices will appreciate this latest update. If you've yet to give the app a try, we've got Android Market links to the free version after the break.

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5 years ago

HP releases Android TouchPad kernel to CyanogenMod team


Remember how we saw some HP TouchPad devices mysteriously show up running Android, and the ensuring HP investigation as to how they ended up in the hands of consumers? Well, there was no conclusive answer as to how that happened, however HP has now released the kernel source code for that version of Android for the Touchpad to the CyanogenMod team.

Wifi drivers aren't included, but this is still great news for those toiling away to bring the latest version of Android to TouchPad owners. The information derived from the kernel brings some interesting info to light, as RootzWiki user Green notes --

"It seems to be a totally separate development from the webOS kernel (this was suspected from the very beginning), but now the comments in the code seem to imply that HP had another team working on Android port to Touchpad and that team appears to be totally separate from the webOS team. I wonder if that means there was a plan to ship the Touchpad with Android that were then preempted by webOS plans after Palm purchase."

What it all amounts to in the long run isn't really known just yet, but hopes are that portions of it will be adopted into the CyanogenMod 9 Android 4.0 port for the HP TouchPad. Bugs aside, the TouchPad make a great little tablet when Android is loaded on it (and, some would argue, when it's not).

Source: RootzWiKi; via: webOS Nation

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5 years ago

Steam beta for Android updates with hardware acceleration, stability fixes


Valve Software has updated its Steam beta app for Android, bringing the application up to version 1.0.3. There's a sizeable list of changes in this latest update, including stability fixes and hardware acceleration for Honeycomb and ICS devices, which should fix some of the jerkiness that's been reported. Czec and Thai language support has been added too, in addition to Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Hungarian Norwegian, Polish and Turkish, which came in version 1.0.2.

Steam for Android is a community app that gives gamers access to Steam community news and chat, along with the all-important Steam store for impulse PC and Mac game purchases on the go. We went over it in more detail a in our hands-on feature a few weeks back.

If you've yet to grab the Steam for Android, it's now open to all Steam account holders, so you can pick it up using the Market link after the jump.

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5 years ago

Motorola confirms UK Motoluxe launch for late February


Motorola has confirmed its UK launch plans for the Motoluxe, a new Android smartphone that aims to deliver an attractive, lightweight design at an affordable price point. In line with what we heard at the device's CES unveiling (and later from retailers), Moto is planning to bring the Motoluxe to British shores from late February. There's no official price point provided alongside today's announcement, but earlier reports indicate it'll set you back around £260 (~$400) SIM-free. As such, we're sure to see it it offered for free on-contract when it eventually hits the carriers.

Under the hood, the Motoluxe provides a modest hardware package -- an 800MHz CPU, 4-inch screen, 8MP camera and Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread backed up by Motorola's MotoSwitch UI (which seems to be the new name for PhilBlur MotoBlur in Europe). As we saw at CES, the device incorporates a unique grid-shaped widget that provides links to your most-used apps and contacts. All in all, it's not going to knock your socks off, but it looks like a decent mid-range Android smartphone.

For more on the Motoluxe, be sure to check our CES hands-on feature from the show floor.

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5 years ago

LG Optimus Vu teases a 5-inch display with 4:3 aspect ratio


The first half of 2011 was all about 3D displays for Korean manufacturer LG, with the likes of the Optimus 3D and the Optimus Pad. Looks like LG has something new cooked up for 2012. The LG Optimus Vu has bade an early appearance on LG's Youtube channel. And, yeah. It looks a little squat there. That's a 5-inch display you're looking at with a 4:3 aspect ration. Not something you see every day. 

Other hardware features we've been able to glean from the video are a couple buttons (or maybe screws?) on the top bezel (perhaps three, actually), along with a USB port that appears to be hidden behind a door, and a headphone jack. The volume rocker appears to be on the right-hand side.

Other unofficial specs are said to be a 1024x768 display, a dual-core Qualcomm WPQ8060 processor running at 1.5GHz, 1GB or RAM, 8GB of ROM, and an 8MP camera.

Interesting here is that most of the phones we've seen leaked for the first half of the year have gone to three capacitive buttons -- including the already released LG Spectrum on Verizon -- presumably in preparation for an Ice Cream Sandwich update. We've got no idea when an Ice Cream Sandwich update might be in store for the Optimus Vu (though it's said to be destined for one), nor if it's intended for any markets outside Korea.

Check out the video for yourself after the break, and stay tuned, as we're willing to put money down that we'll see this guy at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.

Source: LG Blog (Korea); via Datacider (translated), The Verge

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5 years ago

Late-nite poll: Is no Flash on Chrome a non-starter?


So we've finally got a Chrome browser on Android. Huzzah. But it's missing Adobe Flash support. Uh, not huzzah. That is, for some. While Flash is going the way of the dinosaur -- an extremely slow-moving, refuses-to-die dinosaur -- being phased out it is. And for that reason, says Adobe, the new Chrome browser for Android doesn't support it. (And let's face it -- while Flash may have an expiration date, nobody actually knows what it is.)

So is that a deal-breaker for you? Will you stick with the (current) stock Android browser, or a third-party browser, to get you through the interim? 

Is a lack of Flash on the Chrome mobile browser a deal-breaker?

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5 years ago

Microsoft's OneNote now available on Android



OneNote, Microsoft's popular Office-bundled software, is now available in app form on the Android Market. OneNote allows users to take notes on the go, complete with photos, bullets, and to-do lists. Notes will sync with OneNote on your computer, and will also be available to view and edit online using the OneNote Web app at

OneNote began shipping with Micrsoft's Office Suite in 2010 and has since landed on iOS, Windows Phone 7, and now finally Android. The free app lets you create and edit up to 500 notes, with unlimited views and syncing. You'll need a Windows Live ID and Android 2.3 or higher to use the OneNote app, and to sync with your computer, you'll need OneNote from Microsoft Office 2010. Give us some quality time with OneNote for some deeper thoughts, and hit the break for the Market download link.

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5 years ago

Minus for Android - Updated with bug fixes, stability improvements, and optimizations


Minus has rolled out its latest release for Android users, bumping the app up to v3.0.17. If you're currently using Minus on your device for your file sharing needs you'll want to make sure you grab this update as it brings some much needed changes:

  • Basic searching for users/folders
  • Upload multiple files at once with new built-in picker
  • Upload faster and more stable than before
  • User profile added, with folder lists and avatars
  • Copy Link button returns, now with options!
  • Updated Image Editor to use new Aviary Feather 2.0
  • Invite and follow friends on Minus for Android
  • View all of your folders, and all files in a folder
  • Context Menu in Folder View
  • Clearer error messages
  • View captions and other file info
  • SSL connections added for more security
  • Many other stability and bug fixes

As a reminder, Minus will give you to 50Gb in storage for your hosting needs and files as large as 2GB can be uploaded to your account, although you'll likely want to use their desktop solutions if you're moving that much content. The updated release can be found past the break for you all.

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5 years ago

DroidDoodle - Still a Nexus -- really

5 years ago

What is a widget?


What is a widget?  In Android, the word widget is a generic term for a bit of self-contained code that displays a program, or a piece of a program, that is also (usually) a shortcut to a larger application. We see them every day on web pages, on our computer desktop and on our smartphones, but we never give too much thought into how great they are. Widgets first appeared in Android in version 1.5, and really gained traction thanks to HTC's Sense-flavored version of the operating system. Prior to the release of the HTC Hero and our first taste of HTC Sense, widgets were functional, but pretty bland in appearance. Since then, the people making our phoines and independent developers alike have done some marvelous things with widgets, and it's hard to imagine using Android without them.

Android widgets come in all shapes and sizes and range from the utilitarian 1-by-1 shortcut style to full-page widgets that blow us away with the eye-candy.  Both types are very useful, and it's pretty common to see a widget or two on the home screen of any Android phone. A full-page widget, like HTC's weather widget for late-model Android phones, tells you everything you need to know about the current conditions, and is also a quick gateway to the weather application where you can see things like forecasts and weather data for other cities.  At the other end of the spectrum, a 1x1 WiFi widget simply opens the WiFi settings when pressed.  Both are very handy, and add a lot to the Android experience.  

Most Android phones come with a handful of built-in widgets.  Some manufacturer versions of Android offer more than others, but the basics like a clock, calendar, or bookmarks widget are usually well represented.  This is just the tip of the iceberg though.  A quick trip into the Android Market will dazzle you with the huge catalog of third-party widgets available, with something that suits almost every taste. As newer and better APIs are added to Android with each release, there will always be space for the widget.

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