MediaFile

Tech wrap: Samsung closing in on Apple?

It’s no secret that Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones are leading the Android-powered pack of handsets. What may be less obvious is just how quickly the company is closing in on Apple’s title of world’s biggest smartphone vendor in unit terms. Samsung announced on Friday it expects its third-quarter profit to top even the most bullish market forecasts, driven in large part by booming smartphone sales. “The Galaxy S II probably played a key role in boosting the company’s earnings and it will continue to do so pretty much unchallenged, until Apple unveils a better new version of iPhone,” said Kyung Woo-hyun, a fund manager at Daishin Asset Management.

Sprint had a rough start to the week and an even rougher end to it. The No.3 U.S. wireless carrier signaled on Friday that it could spend more money than it brings in over the next few years, even without accounting for the high costs of selling the Apple iPhone, sending its shares down 13 percent. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sprint would likely lose money on its deal to sell the iPhone until 2014.  Sprint outlined a plan on Friday to spend $7 billion on a network upgrade, which it said it would pay for with cash from its balance sheet and by raising capital. The company refused to address the cost of selling the iPhone.

If you were one of the keeners waiting for the clock to strike 12:01 a.m. PT so you could pre-order your Apple iPhone 4S, there was a good chance you may have had a bit of trouble. CNet reports that pre-orders of Apple’s latest smartphone were beset by a slew of problems. For starters, Apple, AT&T and Sprint were late opening their digital doors to customers looking to buy the new device. On top of that, both Apple and AT&T’s sites were having trouble processing orders from customers looking to upgrade, presenting them with error messages. Perhaps it’s no surprise: both Apple and carriers ran into similar issues last year with the release of the iPhone 4.

Doubtful that Groupon remains committed to an initial public offering after the recent accounting mini-scandal, a slew of cash-outs by early founders and investors and an overall economic environment that remains uncertain? Don’t be. At least that’s the message the online daily deals firm sent when it filed an updated version of its IPO paperwork with the SEC on Friday. As GigaOm reports, the latest filing details the company’s plans to tighten up its marketing budget and shows that its revenue bookings increased slightly in the second quarter.

Microsoft secured approval of its Skype acquisition from European authorities. The European Commission said that its investigation of the takeover showed that the firms’ activities mainly overlapped for video communications, where Microsoft is active through its Windows Live Messenger.”However, the Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present,” it said in a statement.

Tech wrap: Intel and Google launch Android partnership

Intel Corp and Google Inc launched a development partnership aimed at accelerating the chipmaker’s foray into smartphones. They will work together to optimize future versions of Google’s Android mobile software for Intel’s “Atom” processors, hoping to speed the development and time-to-market of future Intel-powered smartphones.

Microsoft Corp handed out sleek new tablet computers with a test version of Windows 8 at its annual developer conference, to spark excitement over its new operating system.

Cisco Systems Inc CEO John Chambers said he remained upbeat about technology spending by customers despite an uncertain economic outlook.

Tech wrap: Bad smartphone bets burn investors

Smartphones are constantly reaching new heights in sleekness and cutting-edge technology, but investors in the U.S. wireless sector seem unconvinced. Weak results and poor growth in both major and minor telecoms firms nationwide helped spark an investor exodus from the sector, and analysts say small operators like MetroPCS and Leap Wireless have indicated they’ve simply lost faith in the promise that smartphones can boost growth. Popular with consumers and heavily subsidized to encourage uptake, investors now look to be assessing whether a future of ever-increasing costs for carriers is one they’d like to take part in.

In tech company earnings, professional networking site LinkedIn reported that its quarterly revenue more than doubled as the company endeavored to prove it can fulfill the promise of its splashy IPO. Used by professionals seeking jobs or contacts and companies seeking qualified applicants, LinkedIn was the first prominent U.S. social networking site to make its public trading debut.

The massive hack attack recently revealed by security company McAfee does much to underscore the fact that governments and companies are losing the war against cyber thieves. Security experts uncovered an unprecedented five-year series of cyber attacks on 72 organizations worldwide, including the United Nations, governments and major corporations. In this analysis, Reuters’ security correspondent William Maclean argues that it’s unclear if the unsettling disclosure will actually prompt rapid global action against cyber attacks – partly due to the reluctance of stigma-conscious companies and states to report the attacks.

Tech wrap: Apple ousts Nokia as top smartphone vendor

Apple jumped to the top of the global smartphone sales rankings in the second quarter, ending Nokia’s 15-year run as the lead smartphone vendor, according to new research from Strategy Analytics. Apple sold a record 20.3 million iPhones during the quarter, which amounts to about a fifth of the global smartphone market. Impressive considering its iPhone 4 model was released more than a year ago. Samsung also surpassed Nokia to claim second spot, with 17.5 percent of market share. Nokia fell to third place as its market share tumbled to 15.2 from 38.1 percent a year ago.

As if Apple’s new royalty status isn’t enough, the gadget maker can also lay claim to being the most profitable in the smartphone business. According to a chart on Business Insider, Apple pulled in two-thirds of all profits in the mobile phone sector last quarter. That’s twice as much as Samsung, RIM and HTC combined.

Did Yahoo get a raw deal when it signed a pact with Alibaba and SofBank to resovle a dispute over online payment service Alipay? That’s the case being made by some analysts. The trio announced it had struck an agreement after months of wrangling over the lucrative asset, under which Alibaba gets up to $6 billion if the mobile payments firm goes public or gets sold. But investors are bothered by the deal, saying it reaffirms perceptions on Wall Street that Yahoo has little say in Alibaba, the e-commerce company founded by Jack Ma and which is 43 percent-owned by Yahoo.

Tech wrap: Apple vs HTC, round two

Apple has kicked its intellectual property dispute with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC up a notch. The company filed a new complaint against HTC with a U.S. trade panel over some of its portable electronic devices and software, according to the panel’s website.  Apple filed a similar action against the company last year and could be trying to strengthen the case against its rival by adding new patents to its claim this time around, notes AllThingD’s John Paczkowski. “It’s another broad warning to the industry,” he writes.“If you’re bringing a new smartphone to market, you had better make damn sure it doesn’t infringe on Apple’s IP.”

The first e-reader to fully integrate Google’s eBooks platform into its design goes on sale exclusively at Target stores across the U.S. next weekend, Google said in a blog post.  The iRiver Story HD lets users buy and read e-books from the service over Wi-Fi and store their personal collections in the cloud. Google offers more than 3 million free titles for download through its eBooks service, with hundreds of thousands more for sale.

LinkedIn, the online networking website aimed at professionals, surpassed Myspace in June to become the second-most popular social network in the United States, according to a new survey from comScore. Just how much more popular is LinkedIn now? According to the figures, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors in June, a jump of about a half a million from May. Myspace, on the other hand, saw its traffic decline to 33.5 million American visitors, a drop of about 1.4 million users from the previous month.

Nokia’s first Windows phone is N9 redux

The walking dead lives!

Two days ago, I suggested that Nokia’s newly introduced N9 phone based on the MeeGo zombie OS was released to generate buzz around the features and form we could expect from the Finnish company’s first handset based on the Microsoft’s Windows phone OS.

It turns out I was right, literally. CEO Stephen Elop naively or more likely, coyly, offered a large crowd a sneak peak of handset codenamed “Sea Ray” running the Mango iteration of Windows 7 phone OS on condition it was kept secret. To no one’s surprise, it wasn’t, and in due course a video of Elop’s top secret meeting appeared on YouTube.

While little is know about the guts of the Sea Ray, the exterior looks identical to the N9, save for an extra button to operate the same 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens found on the N9 and different placement of an LED light on its back.

Nokia’s N9 is Windows phone preview

The walking dead never looked so good.

Yes, Nokia promised to release a phone this year based on the MeeGo OS, a merger between the company’s Linux Maemo software platform with Intel’s Moblin, also based on Linux. But the soon-to-be former No.1 handset maker later announced that it would be their last, relegating MeeGo and Nokia’s other OS, Symbian, to zombie status.

Would-be smartphone buyers don’t fancy buying into an apps ecosystem with no potential for growth. And Nokia’s announcement that it would abandon its Symbian OS platform in favor of Microsoft’s Windows phone software should have been a lesson. Yet, Nokia still has plans to release Symbian-based models while it loses ground in key markets like China as smartphones become cheaper and alternatives proliferate.

Never mind that the N9 is as good looking as they come. Made from a single piece of polycarbonate plastic, it won’t leave unsightly marks if the body is dented. And the 3.9″ curved screen won’t easily scratch since it’s made from Corning’s ultra-tough Gorilla Glass. Wired’s Charlie Sorrel compares the N9’s aesthetics to “a giant iPod Nano, in a very good way.

Tech wrap: Samsung to take smartphone crown

Samsung will become the world’s largest smartphone maker this quarter followed by Apple, overtaking struggling Nokia which has lead the market since 1996, Nomura said. Research firms Gartner and Canalys both said they saw Nokia — which created the smartphone market with its 1996 launch of the Communicator model — losing smartphone volume leadership later this year.

Facebook is preparing to file for an initial public offering as early as October or November that could value the social networking site at more than $100 billion, CNBC reported. Goldman Sachs is leading the chase to manage the offering, which could come in the first quarter of 2012, CNBC said.

The Wall Street Journal’s Shira Ovide sums up what is known about Facebook’s IPO. Perhaps one of the most interesting facts is only a couple dozen U.S. companies, such as Exxon Mobil, GE and J.P. Morgan Chase, have stock-market values above $100 billion.

Tech wrap: Wozniak open to active role at Apple

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Inc., pauses before answering a question from the floor after speaking on ''Innovation and Creativity in the 21st Century'' at a seminar in Singapore March 8, 2011. Reuters/Tim ChongApple co-founder Steve Wozniak told Reuters he would consider returning to take an active role at the consumer electronics giant. Wozniak, a lifelong hands-on engineer, said he liked technology to be relatively open so that he could add his own touches. “My thinking is that Apple could be more open and not lose sales,” said Wozniak, but added: “I’m sure they’re making the right decisions for the right reasons for Apple.”

The Justice Department approved Google’s purchase of ticketing software company ITA Software as long as Google licensed the software to rivals, continued to upgrade it and created firewalls to hide ITA clients’ proprietary information. Google said it would soon bring out a new travel search tool.

Google CEO Larry Page moved to streamline decision-making at the company’s key social network, mobile, Internet software and YouTube product groups. Social networking chief Vic Gundotra, Android head Andy Rubin, Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai and YouTube head honcho Salar Kamangar were given a direct reporting line to Page and greater autonomy, according to a source familiar with the matter.

New York Times aware of buggy iPhone app

iPhone Frequent users of the New York Times iPhone application likely have noticed that the app has been a bit buggy of late. The New York Times developed a nicely designed means to get the latest news on your smartphone — when you can update it that is. 

This reporter, who uses the app almost daily and depends upon it to catch up on news during subway rides, noticed that the app is having problems refreshing.  Apparently others have noticed too. 

A sample of some comments about the NYT from Apple’s App store:

 

  “Freezes a lot”

“Cmon nyt pls fix the “no update” problem otherwise it’s a great app”