Thursday, 31 October 2013

Phonebloks: Conceptually complete - yet still not enough

If you haven't seen it already - here's a really interesting crowdsourcing concept, based around a simple insight.

Phonebloks tries to tackle the problem of mobile phone wastage by allowing the user to purchase the individual elements of the phone and replace them when they break or become outdated. Therefore, instead of having a fixed specification, you can tailor-make your own phone using ‘bloks’ – individual modules such as cameras, processors and batteries – to suit your needs. 

Say, for example, you wanted to upgrade the phone processor, you could just remove the blok and replace it with another blok. Perhaps you wanted a higher resolution screen? Then this could also be replaced as a blok. 
     The camera could include a basic 5-megapixel blok, a mid-range 10-megapixel blok with a better lens and maybe a professional-grade 20-megapixel blok with an optical zoom lens for the keen amateur photographer.

There isn't an option for recycling from Phone Bloks as yet, but as a key ethical selling point, this is sure to be introduced. 

Anyway, here's the official video to explain it a bit better:

Obviously this is a brilliant concept, with an insight behind that is spectacular. With Motorola's support, there may well be less concept and more reality, but it's still not for me. Part of my love for a new piece of technology is the brand new piece of hardware - something aesthetically different. I would always be keen to switch bloks and update.

This will certainly work for some, and rightly so, but I'll still follow the materialistic, environmentally unfriendly route... Sorry!

What do you think of the concept? Could it work? Would you buy one?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The night of numbers: How smartphone manufacturers fared in Q3 2013

Yesterday evening saw the release of several big financial indicators of smartphone development, and how the manufacturers within the market were getting on.
      Overall it was a big marker for global smartphone sales, as they passed 250 million units for the first time ever this past quarter. That meant that 60% of all phones sold worldwide were smartphones. Of these 250m phones, a huge 88.4m were Samsung - over 35% of the marketshare in Q3 2013. 

Here's a quick summary of what happened with the individual manufacturers:

First off, the big news from the night came from Apple, who announced their results for fiscal Q4 2013. As always, they made for interesting reading.

As always for Apple, the financial results were pretty healthy. Of the $37.5bn revenue, Apple made $7.5bn profit. That contributed to a whopping annual fiscal revenue record of $171bn. Tim Cook announced an expectation of around $55bn for the Christmas quarter.
     Whilst the finances look strong enough, it wasn't all plain sailing for Apple. iPhone market share dropped to 13% over the quarter and analysts put this down to products failing to address the low-end of the the smartphone pricing market. For example, the Android-based 'Red Rice' smartphone in China costs $130, compared to $549 for Apple's cheapest offering, the iPhone 5c. This contributed to a slightly underwhelming 33.8m iPhones being shipped.
     The stale news didn't stop there, iPad revenues were down, with sales staying flat on the 14m sold in the same period in 2012. Mac sales dropped to 4.6m and iPod shipments dropped by nearly 50% to 3.5m.

Understandably, the value of shares in Apple initially fell over 3% during a press conference with Tim Cook. At end of trading, Apple's stock was down 5%.

The first of the big winners from last night was Nokia. Over 8.8m Nokia Windows Phones were shipped in the last quarter - 19% up from the previous quarter. Notably, Nokia reported an incredible 367% year-on-year rise in the number of Lumia devices sold in North America. Understandably Nokia are delighted with this and attributed the increase of 6m handset sales over 2012 to the widening range of Nokia Windows Phone handsets, in particular the Lumia 520.

This is of course great news for Microsoft as well, as the more people operating the Windows RT interface, the more consumers will be comfortable with the switch to other Windows 8 devices.

Nokia wasn't the only manufacturer patting themselves on the back, Huawei's global shipments grew by 67% to an impressive 12.7m in Q3 2013, becoming the world's third largest smartphone vendor in the period. Whilst this was mostly in China, it is understood that Huawei will be aggressively targeting Europe and the U.S over the next 12 months.
     Behind Huawei, LG also reported strong results by growing the fastest among the top five smartphone brands, up 71% year-over-year to ship 12 million smartphones worldwide for a market share of 5 percent in Q3 2013.

Obviously these aren't exhaustive. HTC have been reporting bad news all year, as have Motorola and BlackBerry; but these figures show that despite Samsung and Apple are still dominating the part,y there is plenty for the smaller manufacturers to fight over.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Is marketable wireless charging is close to becoming a reality?

After several years of wireless charging being a bit of a myth, reports are emerging that Samsung are aiming to have long-distance wireless charging enabled by mid-2014.

So far Nokia and LG are the only ones to break into the space of wireless charging, and it’s gone unnoticed in marketing whilst falling flat with consumers. Why? Because either you charge from within a pointless distance (say 1metre) or you have to put your device on a mat, or an ‘orb’. As you’ll agree, this renders the practice relatively pointless as you might as well stick it into a plug. However, ET News are reporting that Samsung have invested into New Zealand-based company “PowerbyProxi” to look at incorporating long-distance wireless charging into their future smartphones, and finally making the feature a ‘must-have’.

Theoretically, a feature like this would completely revolutionise the design of a phone, where manufacturers could focus more upon aesthetics and features, as the battery would be less vital. Still, it’s only reports, but hopefully this is being pursued because if it were to become reality, it would be a revolutionary moment in technology.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Rejoice! Finally, Samsung produce a good TV ad!

It has been a while since my latest blog, but I return with good (and totally unexpected) news - Samsung have produced a good advert! The ad is for Samsung's entry for the smartwatch category - Galaxy Gear.

Titled 'Evolution', the ad walks through the history of the futuristic watches and finishes with 'After all these years, it's finally real'.

Have a watch (no pun etc), and let me know what you think...