Samsung, Apple Intensify Battle for Smartphone Users -By  Timothy W. Martin and  Tripp Mickle March 31, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET

Owners of Apple and Android phones rarely switch brands—but this year offers a rare chance for industry leaders to win (or lose) fans

D.J. Koh, Samsung's mobile chief, shows the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones on Wednesday in New York.

D.J. Koh, Samsung’s mobile chief, shows the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones on Wednesday in New York. Photo: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

It’s shaping up to be a big year in the smartphone wars.

Samsung Electronics Co.  fired the first shot this week with the unveiling of its newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, which won strong initial reviews. That comes about six months ahead of Apple Inc.’s launch of a 10th-anniversary model of its iPhone, which analysts expect to be its most innovative handset in years.

The new devices are coming as the industry’s boom times have faded. Brands in recent years have struggled to develop impressive new features, and consumers are holding on to their devices longer. Global sales growth has fizzled and most phone buyers stick with the brands they know, meaning Apple, Samsung and others generally have been competing over a relatively small share of consumers whose loyalties are up for grabs.

“There are fewer new customers and you’re having to fight to get your customers to upgrade,” said Jan Dawson, an independent technology analyst with Jackdaw Research.

But in 2017, several factors are creating a rare chance to siphon away—or lose—consumers.

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Science Says FitBit Is a Joke – —By Jenna McLaughlin | Tue Feb. 10, 2015 4:44 PM EST

Your smartphone is much more accurate and consistent than wearable devices.


Recently, bands in assorted colors began appearing on the wrists of everyone from young athletes to old lawyers. FitBits, FueldBands, and other wearable fitness trackers promised to enhance the health of the wearer by accurately monitoring every step, calorie, and sleep pattern. But, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA), the apps on your smartphone do the job just as well, or even better—at least in terms of measuring your steps and your calories.

“There is strong evidence that higher levels of physical activity are associated with weight loss,” says Mitesh Patel, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of medicine and health care management at the University of Pennsylvania. “For most adults that want to track their general activity, smartphones will meet their needs.”

Penn researchers compared 10 of the top-selling smartphone fitness applications and pedometers with wearable devices, tracking 14 healthy adults as they walked on the treadmill.

According to the results, the smartphones were just as accurate and consistent as wearable devices. Wearable devices had as much as a 22 percent variation in the range of step counts compared to the observed number of steps taken. There was only a 6 percent difference in the range of the step counts from smartphones in comparison to observable steps. The number of steps is important to accurately estimate the number of calories burned, which the apps and devices track by detecting the shifting position of your body.

If smartphones are just as accurate, why spend $100 or more on a fancy tracker bracelet?

“Smartphones may be harder to carry with more vigorous activity such as running or biking, and that might be one reason an individual chooses to use a wearable device,” explains Patel, pointing to an obvious objection for people who might reject smartphones as fitness trackers.

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Samsung Electronics forecasts 60% fall in quarterly profit 6 October 2014 Last updated at 20:50 ET

Pedestrians walk past a sign board advertising Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 3 smartphone at a railway station in Seoul

Samsung has been struggling to maintain sales because of an oversaturated market for mobile phones

Samsung Electronics has forecast a 60% fall in quarterly operating profit from a year ago because of slowing Galaxy smartphone sales.

The world’s biggest mobile phones and TV maker said it expects an operating income of 4.1tn won ($3.8bn; £2.5bn) for the three months to September.

That is below analysts’ expectations for earnings of 5.2tn won.

The South Korean company will publish full financial results later this month.

“Start Quote

Smartphone shipments increased marginally amid intense competition”

Samsung Electronics

Samsung’s mobile division, its biggest business, has been struggling to maintain its dominance against rivals such as Apple and Chinese smartphone-makers Xiaomi and Lenovo.

Its flagship Galaxy smartphone line has been losing market share to cheaper models that also have large screens and multiple features.

The firm said quarterly sales amounted to 47tn won, which was below analyst estimates for 50.3tn won.

“Smartphone shipments increased marginally amid intense competition,” Samsung said in a statement.

“However, the operating margin declined due to increased marketing expenditure and lowered average selling price.”

The company also said it is “preparing new smartphone line-ups featuring new materials and innovative designs, as well as a series of new mid-to-low end smartphones”.

Samsung shares rose about 1.6% in Seoul despite the weak profit outlook.

Chip plant

Samsung announced on Monday that it would spend about $15bn on a new semiconductor plant in South Korea, to meet the growing demand for memory chips.

It is set to be the biggest single investment in a chip factory, and construction will begin in the first half of next year with operations due to start in 2017.

Samsung is a major chip supplier to other electronics firms, including major rival Apple.

Samsung is also facing some pressure at its consumer electronics division, which makes televisions, air conditioners and other appliances.

Sales and overall profit are forecast to have dropped because currency fluctuations made Japanese-made rival products cheaper to buy.

The Korean won strengthened about 3.5% against the Japanese yen in the third quarter.

How Smartphones Have Unleashed Humanity’s Creative Potential – BY ROBERT CAPPS 07.22.14 | 12:01 AM

 Andy Gilmore

Look at your smartphone. Think about the decisions you will make on it today. You may snag a dinner reservation, tell your spouse you’re running late, or craft a response to an email from your boss. But you might also decide that the light peering through the trees is worth an Instagram or figure out how to describe your exasperation with a troubling new development in Iraq in 140 characters. You may write something longer on Facebook about the joy of seeing your 5-year-old make a new friend at the park, or the frustration of watching your father get old and need to move into a home. You may choose a song on Spotify, stream a movie on Netflix, or open a Kindle book. You may decide how to frame a selfie to send to a friend or lover.

It’s easy to think of our digital revolutions—the desktop computer, the Internet—as purely technological achievements. Cheaper microprocessors let everyone have a PC at home. Internet protocols allowed computers to talk to each other. But that doesn’t capture the reasons these breakthroughs mattered so much to us.

At their core, these were also creative revolutions. The PC didn’t truly touch us until the rise of desktop publishing, followed by the rise of multimedia development tools, followed by the rise of web development tools. Its emotional power arrived with the ability to create amazing things on it. Likewise, the Internet revolution really took off when we used it not just to download facts and figures but as a platform to share music, writing, movies, and pictures. The number one site on the web may be Google, but number two and three are Facebook and YouTube, respectively—both primarily outlets for personal expression. We created the desktop computer and the Internet as tools for efficiency, productivity, and communication. But they came to have real meaning for us when our natural creative drive took them over.

Now it’s the phone’s turn. The smartphone began with a promise of productivity. Its first “killer app,” in the parlance of those developing for it, was email. Smartphones let us send messages without launching a computer; that’s what made them smart. Web browsing followed, but the device was still seen as a surrogate for the computer at your desk—something to keep you productive while out in the world. Today, though, the phone has become something else. The smartphone, like the PC and the Internet before it, has turned into a unique outlet for our creative impulses, and it will affect our creative lives even more fundamentally.

It’s a cliché in the tech and business realms to say that the world is going mobile. Mobile first! Mobile only! Mobile native! We accept that this is happening, but we seldom explore what it means to us as people. Our phones, always connected and always with us, have become incredibly personal. Theybelong to us, to an extent that no previous device ever achieved. Because of that we belong to them too, and it’s a bond that shapes us at the deepest level—in how we express ourselves, in what we hold out as beautiful and compelling, in how we try to emotionally connect, in ways abstract and literal, with our friends and muses. Our phones are now indelibly bound up with our aesthetic souls. And today both are always on.

Why GoPro’s Success Isn’t Really About the Cameras BY ISSIE LAPOWSKY     06.26.14  |     11:42 AM  |  

GoPro: GoPro pioneered the category of affordable high-def anywhere. Apple could launch an iPhone-GoPro hybrid in a matter of months.

There’s a good reason we haven’t seen any consumer electronics companies go public recently (Skullcandy’s $189 million IPO in 2011 is the most recent), and that’s because smartphones—and the gargantuan companies that make them—can do and build almost everything and anything. On any given day, our phones can act as a GPS system, a video game console, a fitness tracker, a stereo, a camera, and oh yeah, a telephone, all in one. To launch a standalone consumer electronics company that does just one thing, even if it can do that one thing really, really well, is a risky endeavor in the age of the smartphone.

All of that makes GoPro, which raised $427 million at a valuation of $2.96 billion in its IPO, something of an anomaly. After all, it was just a few years ago that the Flip Video camera, another gadget that dominated the camcorder market for a time, foundered, rendered obsolete by the proliferation of smartphones with ever-improving cameras. Even as the Flip floundered, however, GoPro, which sold its first camera in 2004, flourished. What separates GoPro from Flip is that all along, GoPro has sold consumers not on the camera, itself, but on something the smartphone can’t easily replace: the experience of using the camera.

“They don’t just sell a video camera, they sell the memory of the wave or the ski trip down the slope,” says Ben Arnold, a consumer technology industry analyst at The NPD Group. “I think we are entering an age where lifestyle in technology is becoming very important.”

That’s the reason, Arnold says, that brands like Beats and FitBit have done so well. They say something about the people who wear them. The iPhone might have been a status symbol when it was first introduced. Now, it’s a utility that says as much about its owner as the fact that she is wearing shoes. But when you see someone with one of those GoPro Hero 3 cameras strapped to her chest, it’s a signal to the world that she is about to do something awesome.

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Why American Express Wants to Kill Credit Cards BY MARCUS WOHLSEN 06.05.14 | 6:00 AM

Illustration: Getty


There are two things you always have with you: a credit card and a smartphone. The day is coming when we combine them.

At a recent event, hosted by Andreessen-Horowitz, on the future of retail, Berland pointed out that there are two things you always have with you: a credit card and a smartphone. The day is coming when we combine them. “What we are hyper-focused on is how do we merge those two things,” she says. “Especially as one day the physical card will disappear.”

Berland is not alone in thinking plastic is on its way out. Figuring out how to make smartphones the primary way we pay for things is one of Silicon Valley’s great white whales. The same minds that have put airline boarding passes on our phones alongside every song ever recorded and video calling a la The Jetsons are trying to crack this problem. Everyone from Google and Apple to Square is pondering this.

So far they’ve had little success. But, ironically, this creates an opportunity for the very industry these tech giants are trying to disrupt. A company like American Express has every reason to want things to stay as they are. But if it’s willing to concede its core product’s days are numbered, it has a chance of beating the Apples and Googles of the world in the race to redefine payment tech. That’s because it’s got a key advantage over Silicon Valley: Amex already is in people’s wallets.

Scalia set to play key role in Supreme Court smartphone case – By David G. Savage April 27, 2014, 8:58 p.m.

With the conservative justice emerging as a foe of ‘unreasonable searches,’ the court will decide whether police can examine phones seized during arrests.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia

WASHINGTON — Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s new champion of the 4th Amendment, is likely to play a crucial role Tuesday when the court hears this year’s most important search case: whether the police may routinely examine the digital contents of a cellphone confiscated during an arrest.

Civil libertarians say the stakes are high because arrests are so common — 13.1 million were made in 2010, according to the FBI — and smartphones hold so much private information.

Under current law, officers may search a person under arrest, checking pockets and looking through a wallet or purse. The question is whether a smartphone carried by the person is also fair game.

“It’s all of your personal information,” said Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which opposes giving police such powers. “It’s an incredible exposure of your privacy.”

In the past, defense lawyers did not look first to the conservative Scalia as an ally. But in recent years, he has insisted on forbidding the kinds of “unreasonable searches” that he says would have troubled the framers of the Constitution.

Last week, he slammed the high court’s majority for serving up a “freedom-destroying cocktail” in an opinion that gave police a free hand to stop cars on the highway based solely on an anonymous tip.

Last year, he fired off a fierce dissent when the court ruled that police may routinely take DNA swabs from people who are arrested.

He wrote the decision that accompanied a 5-4 ruling last year banning police from using drug dogs to sniff at the front of a house and a 2012 ruling barring police from attaching a GPS tracking device to a car.

With an eye toward Scalia, lawyers in the cellphone case have carefully quoted the 4th Amendment, which protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects.” In the 21st century, they say, many people store their “papers and effects” on a mobile device.

“Private information used to be kept at home on paper, including your photos,” said Elizabeth Wydra, counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Now they’re in your pocket on a phone. With a smartphone, you can literally look into a person’s home.”

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A Smartphone That Tries To Slip You Off The Grid – by AARTI SHAHANI February 28, 2014 3:30 AM

The Blackphone, an Android software-based mobile encrypts texts, voice calls and video chats.

The Blackphone, an Android software-based mobile encrypts texts, voice calls and video chats.

Albert Gea/Reuters/Landov

Mike Janke used to be a Navy SEAL sniper. These days he’s taking on the government and corporate America. He’s the founder of Blackphone, an Android-based smartphone with privacy as its main selling point.

It’s not NSA-proof — in that everything is hackable if you try hard enough. But Janke says it’s taking on the entire mobile economy that lets law enforcement and companies in way too easily.

Take apps that look free but mine your data to earn big dollars. Facebook tries to get your contacts, Google Maps tries to get your geolocation, Pandora gets your music preferences. Blackphone has a default setting: no — unless you proactively choose yes.

Blackphone also rebels against smartphone norms. Say you want to spend Sunday afternoon lost in a coffee shop or a clothing store. You might think you’re off the grid, but your phone, using Wi-Fi, is talking to beacons “finding out where you’ve been, making offerings to you,” Janke says. “What Blackphone does, it’ll automatically stop that beacon activity, shut off any Wi-Fi pinging to protect you from those type of stalking things.”

In addition to hiding identity, Blackphone stores user data in a secure vault in Switzerland — kind of like those no-questions-asked Swiss bank accounts. It sounds like the digital equivalent of wearing sunglasses and a trench coat everywhere. So I ask the obvious follow-up question: Is it mostly for criminals?

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Sony and Microsoft don’t just want to win your living room — they want your smartphone, too. BY HAYLEY TSUKAYAMA November 29 at 1:30 pm

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 file photo, the new Sony Playstation 4 is on display at Lincoln Park BestBuy store, in Chicago. There's a couple of new foes affecting gamers who are proving to be far more destructive than any on-screen villains. With foreboding nicknames like

Yes, but how does it work with my smartphone?  (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Microsoft and Sony have made it clear that they want their consoles to be more deeply connected with gamers’ lives. One easy way to do this is to hook into the smartphones we already carry in our pockets, and both firms have released companion apps for their consoles. But, as they stand, both apps are more experimental download than gaming necessity.

Allowing players to plug their mobile devices into the console is a smart move from the companies’ perspective. Most people are always in easy reach of their smartphone, and there’s certainly something appealing for gamers, developers and the console makers about having a gamer-to-console hotline running all day. For example, just as someonline games allow players to monitor what’s going on even when they’re away from their computers, it’d be easy to imagine that console developers would want to make similar tools for their own games.

Sony and Microsoft allow users to control the console by way of a virtual controller, and the apps also let gamers use their mobile devices as a second screen in some cases. On either, you can see video clips of games you’ve saved, information on what your friends are doing and a rundown of your own personal achievements.

Overall, the Xbox team has done more to incorporate the app into the console. For the most part, users who already have the Smart Glass app for the Xbox 360 will see a lot that’s familiar about Smart Glass for the Xbox One. (It is, however, a separate app.)  The app displays all the basics of your own profile: your achievements, the apps you’ve used most recently, and access to any messages left on your account. In a nice touch, users can also pin favorite apps on the console by way of their mobile device and the app will sync it automatically. If you’ve got your app open while you’re playing, you can also choose from recently opened or favorite apps to run alongside your game with the “Snap” feature.

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Amazon Is Reportedly Considering An Audacious Price For Its Phone: $0

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at Sep 9, 2013 1.27
Amazon’s long-rumored smartphone may be available to customers for free when it arrives in stores and online, even if it’s not sold with a carrier contract.

This is according to a Friday report from former Wall Street Journal reporters Jessica E. Lessin and Amir Efrati, who quote people “familiar with Amazon’s effort.” The report comes only days before Apple is expected to announce a budget “iPhone 5C” on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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