MediaFile

SanDisk on bullets and phone wars

Eli HarariWatch out for that smartphone! The iPhone, Android phones and the like are the weapons of the latest technology war, in the view of  flash memory maker SanDisk, which supplies the memory chips that hold pictures, video and apps to the phone makers.

“We sell them ammunition. There is a war going on and we sell the bullets,” Eli Harari told the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

And bullets are selling briskly, even in the developing world, where people without computers are buying $20 phones and then adding a gigabyte or two of memory to hold all their pictures, the CEO said.

Apple’s iPhone is coming under more fire from Google’s Android platform and world handset leader Nokia. “Android phones are exploding,” he said.

“The Android operating system on various platforms is going to give the industry a fighting chance against Apple. It remains to be seen what Nokia is going to do. I would definitely not write them off, although they clearly have fallen behind,” Harari said.
(Picture by Reuters/Bob Galbraith)

CES: Nokia CEO says 4.6 bln mobile users, 5 mln Ovi email users

nokiaNokia Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo spent much of his keynote speech at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas talking about the growth prospects for emerging markets.  He showed moving videos about people in India and other parts of the world using cellphones for everything from finding out crop prices and ordering fabric, to mapping the spread of killer diseases and learning English.

Kallasvuo noted that big areas of opportunity include mobile banking, as the number of people with bank accounts — a stunning 1.6 billion — seemed tiny in comparison to the world’s 4.6 billion mobile subscriptions (out of a population of 6.8 billion).

Kallasvuo also noted that while many find email annoying, about 75 percent of the world’s population still hasn’t used it.  This was his way of plugging Nokia’s Ovi mobile email service, which apparently attracted more than 5 million users in the first year of operation. He said that this beat first-year sign-ups of all the most popular email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail, a claim that skeptics might find surprising.

Nokia shows off first netbook

Cellphone giant Nokia showed off its first netbook on Tuesday and announced that it would go on sale at Best Buy and would connect to the Web using AT&T’s network.

John Hwang, general manger for Nokia’s brand new connected computers division was coy about discussing future plans for Nokia computing products except to say that “there are other products in the works.”

Hwang said he would look at all options for future products when asked whether Nokia, currently using the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system,  would consider making netbooks using other technologies such as systems from Google, a rival in the cellphone world.

from Breakingviews:

Put BlackBerry on hold – but not for long

Blackberry TourBlackBerry-maker Research In Motion is a victim of its own success. Having dominated the market for corporate e-mail devices for years, it is being forced to seek out growth in consumer markets, where, so far, it has had trouble differentiating its products.

Going mainstream has helped vastly expand its consumer base -- which now represents half of all BlackBerry subscribers. Fully 80 percent of its new subscribers now come from outside its traditional corporate base.

But that success is coming at a growing cost to the once lofty average selling price of its phones, the latest quarterly results show. Profits for its second fiscal quarter dipped 3.5 percent, amid weak subscriber growth. Product prices appear under pressure at both ends of its business, both among corporate users and with consumers.

from DealZone:

Pricey Palm attracts attention

If you want to take a bite out of Apple’s piece of the staggeringly huge (but difficult to quantify in $$$ terms) smartphone market pie, you’d better either have the magical new “thing” or be willing to spend to buy it.

As Anupreeta Das reports, Palm – one of the stalwart originals in the mobile handset space -- has remade itself into a terrific target with the success of its Pre. Palm’s stock got a jolt this week on talk that Nokia could be considering a bid. But as she explains, Palm may prove to be too pricey a purchase, even for those with deep pockets.

Since introducing the Pre, Dell, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola have been mentioned as possible suitors. If one of these cash-rich companies was to bid for Palm today, it would be targeting a stock that has quadrupled this year. Complicating matters, “details on how many units it has sold are skimpy, making it difficult to value the success of Palm's turnaround story,” she reports.

Cliq or Dext? Whatever you call it, Motorola’s big play

Motorola launched its Hail Mary pass in the smartphone market and it goes by the name of Cliq, or Dext, depending on where you live. One would assume plenty of branding research went into the names (Cliq in the U.S. and Dext elsewhere), as this is the company that created such easy-to-remember names as Razr, Rokr and Rizr.

Motorola, once a cellphone leader producing iconic products, has fallen well behind the competition as the smartphone market continues to sizzle and consumers flock to devices like the iPhone (which, incidentally, goes by the name “iPhone” everywhere it sells).

With so many new smartphones coming to the market, analysts say the key to success is differentiation — which is often a software issue rather than a hardware one. Motorola hopes its MOTOBLUR software, based on Google’s Android platform, will help it carve out a niche.

from Commentaries:

Humbled giants eye business phone market

Nokia e71LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Once they were warriors battling one another on the digital battlefield. Nowadays, Microsoft and Nokia are worriers, huddling together for comfort.

The world's top phone and software companies need each other to compete with Apple, Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), whose products increasingly define what users expect from phones and charge premium prices in consequence.

In the market for so-called "smartphones", Deutsche Bank estimates Apple and RIM now take home more than half of all profits, despite producing less than a third of high-end mobile phones. Nokia held a 45 percent share of the smartphone market in June, according to Gartner Inc. (Table 2 in Gartner release)

Is WiMax the Betamax of mobile space?

Is WiMax wireless technology headed for the same fate as Betamax, which lost the battle against VHS as the video cassette standard in 1980s? A senior Verizon executive thinks so.

Recall that WiMax and Long Term Evolution (LTE) are key technologies for operators to cope with surging data traffic from smartphones and laptops with mobile data cards. At the moment, it’s a heated fight to become the industry standard.

“It’s going to be like VHS-Betamax thing,” Stuart Curzon, vice president of Verizon Business unit, told a news conference in Helsinki, Finland. “WiMax has been around for a few years now. If it would’ve taken off, it would’ve done it by now.”

Nokia to give away 100 ideas for others to make money

News from Helsinki:******In a spurt of generosity, the world’s top cellphone maker Nokia plans to pass on to smaller Finland-based firms some 100 ideas for which it has not found any use in its core business, figuring the move could lead to new business opportunities for others.******”The current economic climate is just right for a critical evaluation of intellectual property portfolios and the release of the innovations that are more suitable for others to exploit,” Esko Aho, Nokia’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Relations and Responsibility and Finland’s former prime minister, said.******Some expect Finland’s economy to sink about 5 percent this year due to its heavy reliance on exports, and the country is looking desperately for new ideas to boost its economy.******Nokia itself is expected to recover from the market slump faster than its rivals, but it reported its first-ever quarterly pretax loss for the January-March quarter.******The new public-private initiative includes opening access to Finnish state investments for companies involved in the program. So far, some 300 firms have said they are interested in participating. Most of these firms are outside the IT industry — even a concrete foundry from Tampere, Finland’s third largest city, has said it would like to get access to Nokia’s bag of ideas.******Nokia’s Aho said it would be easy to see additional value from mobile services for the concrete foundry.******”With location-based services they can make sure the concrete is poured down at the right plot,” he said, adding that if all goes well, some of the ideas could end up with Nokia in the end anyway.******”It would be easy to see this river flowing also in the other direction,” Aho said. “It could well be that some idea lead to the situation where the result can later be added to Nokia’s offering.”******Smart thinking, right?

Cellphone touch screens to bring drawing messages?

The traditional art of drawing could see a renaissance helped by the boom in touch-screen mobile phones following the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, says British artist Derrick Welsh.

“The touch has tipped, and drawing messaging is where touch leads,” said Welsh.

It could also create the next money-spinner for mobile operators, for whom text messages are still the key data revenue generator in 2009.