Android Security Report Published by Google

Compared to Apple and their almost uncrackable iOS, security on Android has always seemed poor. Despite the constant security patches, it seems like Google’s mobile OS is fraught with security flaws with new flaws like Stagefright appearing and reappearing with troubling frequency. Google don’t agree with this image, however, and their second annual Android security report seems to back up their stance that Android is, in fact, quite secure.

The majority of the issues identified with their security came from apps not loaded through the Google Play Store. Between 2014 and 2015, attempts to load malware through the Play Store dropped drastically with only 0.15 percent of users being infected with rogue code from the app platform. When you compare this to the 0.5 percent of all Android users that have been hit with malicious code, it shows an increase in attempts to attack Android devices without going through the Play Store.

Lead engineer of Android Security, Adrian Ludwig, released a few snippets of data to illustrate the lengths Google go to in order to keep Android secure.

  • Google checks six billion installed apps daily for malware (Potentially Harmful Apps in Google’s parlance).
  • A total of 400 million devices per day are scanned for network-based and on-device threats.

Android’s security is only set to improve too, with the monthly security updates able to respond to new threats quickly after they emerge. Google are also pushing for device manufacturers to keep up to date with the monthly updates that are automatically rolled out to their Nexus devices.

The full 2015 security report is 48 pages long and can be found on Google’s website.

HTC Confirms Date of Vive VR Headset Pre-Orders

HTC has confirmed the date on which it will begin taking pre-orders for its Vive VR headset. Cher Wang, CEO of HTC, has told The Telegraph that pre-orders of the Vive, produced in conjunction with Valve, will be available from 29th February.

Five years ago, HTC was one of the leading smartphone manufacturers, but after a decline in quality of its handsets and the emergence of Chinese upstarts Xiaomi and Huawei saw the company fall into financial disarray, with dire predictions that it could fold within two years. Wang, however, sees the company’s refocus on virtual reality as the key to reviving its fortunes.

“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important,” Wang told The Telegraph.

HTC showed off its latest Vive headset, the second-generation developer kit Vive Pre, at CES in Las Vegas last week, showing off a refined version of the headset that debuted at the Mobile World Congress last year.

“Now we are more realistic,” Wang said on the future of HTC. “We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors.”

HTC is yet to reveal how much the Vive VR headset will cost when pre-orders go live on 29th February.

Microsoft Admits Nokia Deal Failure – 7800 to Lose Jobs

It was coming. Microsoft has announced that up to 7,800 employees of its phone division could be made redundant, implicitly admitting to the failure of its $7.9 billion purchase of Nokia in 2013. The move follows the company’s decision to write down $7.6 billion-worth of losses due to the floundering of its smartphone division.

Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s smartphone operations – the premier developer of Windows Phones – two years ago was met with a degree of confusion from commentators and even some resistance from within the company itself, with current CEO Satya Nadella famously opposed to the deal.

“I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” Nadella wrote in an e-mail to employees that was later posted online. “However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention. We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.”

“They were hoping to quickly be able to hit the jets and double or triple market share over what they had,” Frank Gillett, analyst for Forrester Research, says of Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s phone division. “And it didn’t happen. It’s the last disappointment of the previous generation of Microsoft’s leadership,” he says, referring to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the instigator behind the deal.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

PC Sales Expected to Nosedive This Year, Despite Windows 10

Shipments of personal computers are expected to drop by -6.2% this year, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, marking the fourth year in a row that PC sales have declined, despite the release of Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system this Summer, with tablets and smartphones set to continue to dominate the market.

“Microsoft and PC vendors still need to convince users of the advantages of the new OS and new PCs, which will take some time,” Loren Loverde, Vice President of Worldwide PC Trackers, said. “In addition to educating clients, they’ll face tough competition from other devices, and weak spending in many regions. As a result, we see PC shipments stabilizing in 2016, followed by limited growth for the next few years.”

PC Shipments by Product Category and Region (Shipments in millions)
Product
Category
Region 2015
Shipments
(M)*
Market
Share
2019
Shipments
(M)*
Market
Share
5-Year
CAGR
Portable PC Mature 87.9 30.4% 90.4 30.7% 0.7%
Emerging 79.3 27.4% 85.0 28.9% 1.7%
Portable PC Total 167.2 57.9% 175.4 59.6% 1.2%
Desktop PC Mature 47.1 16.3% 45.4 15.5% -0.9%
Emerging 74.7 25.8% 73.3 24.9% -0.5%
Desktop PC Total 121.8 42.1% 118.8 40.4% -0.6%
Total PC Mature 135.0 46.7% 135.9 46.2% 0.2%
Emerging 154.0 53.3% 158.3 53.8% 0.7%
Grand Total 289.0 100.0% 294.1 100.0% 0.4%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarter PC Tracker, May 29, 2015

The IDC suggests that the PC market could recover, but that “Microsoft and PC vendors still need to convince users of the advantages of the new OS and new PCs, which will take some time.”

Thank you VR-Zone and Business Wire for providing us with this information.

Kids Do a Lot Better When Schools Ban Smartphone usage

Tap, Tap, Tap. Smartphones are rapidly taking over children’s free time and social life, but is it affecting them at school?

A recent study undertaken by the London School of Economics showed some very interesting results. Students that were banned from carrying phones showed a clear improvement in their test scores.

“We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days,” researchers Richard Murphy and Louis-Philippe Beland said. That is quite a substantial figure, especially with the curriculum as vast as it currently is.

91 policies in regards to mobile phones have changed since 2001 and that data has been compared to exam results from national exams that students sat at the age of 16. In total, the study covered 130,000 pupils across the UK. It showed that after a ban was put in place, the students average test scores rose by 6.4%. It also showed that the impact on underachieving students was even more significant, a whopping 14% rise.

“There are, however, potential drawbacks to new technologies,” Murphy and Beland said, citing the temptation to text, play games or chat on social media.“Schools could significantly reduce the education achievement gap by prohibiting mobile phone use in schools, and so by allowing phones in schools, New York may unintentionally increase the inequalities of outcomes.”

Thank you to CNN for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Aol

EE Introduce Two Affordable Smartphones With 4G Capabilities

In the growing market of smartphones there is no denying that whilst the technology improves dramatically, prices still remain unaffordable to many, with new phones costing over £600 for a top of the line model. But now the UK mobile operator EE has announced 2 new smartphones, both of which have full 4G mobile internet support as well as WiFi calling, all whilst being under £200.

The 2 phones, named the Harrier and the Harrier Mini, offer up powerful competition to the current market giants, with the Harrier boasting an impressive 1.5Ghz 8-core processor, a 13MP rear facing camera, and a 5.2 Inch full HD screen all at £199.99 whilst the less powerful Harrier Mini crams in a 1.2hz quad core processor, 8MP Rear camera and a 4.7 inch 720p display at only £99.99. The phones are set to release of the 28th April, with EE rightfully called the Harrier Mini the “UK’s most affordable 4G smartphone with Wifi calling”, with the new phones holding the potential to revolutionize the current premium prices associated with the smartphone market or at least pave the way for more easily affordable and powerful phones in the market.

As well as the phones EE have announced 2 new mobile 4G hotspot device, the Osprey 2 and the Osprey 2 mini. The 4G devices will provide coverage for a total of 10 devices and are available at £69.99 for the Osprey 2 and £49.99 for the mini, although you may be able to get some free on selected contracts.

Hopefully we can expect other companies also trying to capitalise on the budget smartphone market, but will you sacrifice power over price?

Thank you Tech Radar for providing us with this information.

Samsung Targets Fast 128GB On-Board Storage for its Smartphones

Samsung is planning to integrate its new 128GB Universal Flash Storage (UFS) memory chip into its smartphone models. Such large drives used to be slow, but by utilising command queuing and serial interface, the UFS chip can handle speeds that compare favourably to Solid State Drives. A UFS chip is 2.7 times faster at reading random data than the average flash drive found in other smartphones.

The UFS chip (also available in 32GB and 64GB models) could even make it to the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Images of both models were leaked and released earlier today.

Source: Engadget

Kodak Launching Android Smartphones in 2015

Kodak is launching some Android smartphones, with the first to be shown at CES in January. However, this is not a comeback for Kodak in a different business per say, this is more like Kodak licensing their brand to someone else’s phones.

As well as that first phone, there will be a “4G handset, a tablet, and a connected camera” all designed by British company Bullitt Group.

“Kodak is one of the world’s most recognisable brands. It is trusted by consumers as a marque of quality and innovation,” says Oliver Schulte, CEO Bullitt Mobile. “We’ve taken that heritage and used it to inspire a range of beautifully designed devices that will let users take great pictures and edit, share, store and print them in an instant.”

This is a practice that isn’t too rare these days, especially for now former giants like Kodak. Polaroid for instance slaps their logo on TVs they don’t even have a say in. The question is though, will this help a previously almost bankrupt Kodak get back on its feet?

Source: The Verge

Xiaomi Now in Top Five Global Smartphone Manufacturers

Xiaomi is now the fourth most successful smartphone manufacturer in the world, according to researchers at Gartner. During the third quarter of 2014, Xiaomi sold 18.8 million handsets. Over the same period in 2013, it only sold 3.6 million. Total smartphone sales between July and September were 301 million units, up 20.3% on last year, Gartner’s report lists. Over the third quarter of 2014, the top five smartphone manufacturers sold the following number of units:

  1. Samsung: 73.2 million
  2. Apple: 38.1 million
  3. Huawei: 15.9 million
  4. Xiaomi: 18.8 million
  5. Lenovo: 15.01 million.

The bottom three of the top five phone companies are Chinese. Roberta Cozza, Research Director of Gartner, spoke about the rise of Chinese manufacturers, saying, “With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too and address the needs of upgrade users that aspire to premium phones, but cannot afford Apple or Samsung high-end products.”

Source: Android Central

Sony Slashes TV and Smartphone Lines

Reuters reports that Sony is to cut its losses and slim down its product line.

Sony has been losing money in the last few years, largely due to the decline of its TV and smartphone businesses – two businesses that have suffered thanks to Samsung and Apple’s success.

They say that they’re going to put their all into the PlayStation and image sensor business – two of the most successful and profitable components of Sony. The PlayStation has been performing incredibly well, with the PS4 beating its rivals, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U, by a significant margin. As for the image sensor business, Apple uses Sony sensors in their iPhones, the recent success of which is no doubt helping Sony, which is bizarre, considering Sony’s smartphone business is at a slump thanks to Apple.

Sony’s executives have said that they don’t care whether the changes shrink their business – all they’re after is profits to keep things moving forward.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” – Hiroki Totoki, Chief of Sony’s Mobile business.

Apple pretty much saved itself from oblivion in 1997 by doing the same thing, but obviously on an extreme scale. Let’s hope Sony never arrives at that position.

Source: Reuters 

Google Search Updated for Phones and Tablets

Google search on phones and tablets has received some major updates to its shopping feature.

Searches for products can now deliver 360 degree images and much more detailed information, along with handy customer reviews.

By tapping on a an image of a product, Google search will now bring up a Street View-style view of the item (if the seller has posted such an image) that allows you to see it in all its glory.

Reviews now come with helpful charts that allow you to get a good idea of whether something is worth buying, as well as access to customer feedback and tips.

Source: VentureBeat

Samsung Invests $3 Billion in a New Vietnamese Manufacturing Plant

In an interesting move, Samsung have announced that they are to spend up to $3 billion on a smartphone manufacturing plant in Vietnam.

The new plant will join their existing $2 billion factory in the country, making the Korean giant’s presence in Vietnam even larger. There seems to be a rather noticeable shift in manufacturing from China to Vietnam, as Samsung’s plans add to Intel, LG, Panasonic and Microsoft’s expanded manufacturing presence there. It seems that it is becoming cheaper to manufacture in Vietnam over China, as tax breaks and very cheap labour make it very attractive to companies like Samsung.

Daniel Gleeson, a senior analyst at the IHS Technology consultancy told the BBC “In a way China is a victim of its own success – it’s becoming so successful as an economy that it’s becoming too expensive to do a lot of the manufacturing it used to attract”. It’s been observed that China is becoming more involved with the design and development of consumer technology devices, with the advent of companies like Xiaomi and Lenovo.

Source: BBC News

Your Phone Could Be Spying on You Using Its Gyroscope

Lately, it seems that there is a lot of surveillance paranoia about and people are being a bit more careful what apps they are allowing to use the microphone on their device. This new trick could make your phones gyroscope act as a crude microphone and there is currently no way to stop it.

In a presentation at the Usenix security conference, researchers from Stanford University and Rafael, Isreal’s defence research group are planning to present a technique they have found to eavesdrop on people using gyroscopes that are already in smartphone devices. Gyroscopes are tiny sensors that enable the device to find out its orientation and allows motion-based games, auto-rotate and even camera stabilisation. Now researchers have found that they are sensitive enough to turn into crude microphones because they can pick up soundwaves. For android users, unlike the microphones that are built into the phones, there is no way to deny an app or website access to the sensor or data, meaning there is no way to turn it off.

Due to the crude nature of the microphone it’s certainly not very practical, only certain sounds and words are clear enough to understand. However, Boneh says that more work on speech recognition algorithms could refine the quality and make the audio far clearer. He also has said that this should serve as a warning to google to change how easily Android apps could exploit the sensors and that its actually quite dangerous the amount of access they have to them. Iphones do have gyroscopes in them, but they are limited to how sensitive they are, this means that they are not susceptible to this trick, but also means that google could just tweak the software and make sure that Android devices are private.

Thanks to Wired for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of Rob Rogers

BT Launches “One Phone” Mobile Service For Businesses


BT is returning to the mobile market for the first time in 10 years with its “One Phone” service that allows business users to make fixed-line and mobile phone calls using the same handset.

Designed specifically towards small and midsize-businesses (SMBs), One Phone lets users to transfer all home, office and mobile calls directly to a smartphone.  All that is required is a BT SIM card and a picocell in the office to help broadcast the 4G signal.

Once an employee leaves the office and enters the field, calls will be transferred to EE networks – and includes access to BT’s Wi-Fi hotspots, which number more than five million.

Here is what Graham Sutherland, BT business chief executive said:

“With an increasingly mobile and demanding workforce, businesses need communications technology that is as flexible as they are.  Missed calls mean missed business.”

Mobile is an “exciting area” for the company, as the communications market is largely leaving behind traditional land lines and transitioning towards mobile solutions.

BT One could also be a test platform for the company to jump into the consumer mobile market before the end of the year, though nothing has been confirmed just yet.  However, the consumer offering is expected to transfer between 4G in the office/home and use EE’s network or Wi-Fi.

Thank you to FT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Manchester Evening News

Samsung Struggling to Keep up With Chinese Smartphone Rivals


Korean electronics company Samsung has emerged as a global smartphone and tablet powerhouse, but is now struggling to woo consumers in emerging markets.

Three major Chinese manufacturers, Lenovo, Xiaomi and Huawei are stepping up to the plate with powerful devices, available at a more affordable price point.

Here is what Kevin Restivo, an IDC European mobility analyst, recently said:

“Samsung has depended on smartphones to act as the profit engine for the company, but the phones don’t have the same luster.  There’s no question the market has entered a different phase, has evolved – and part of that evolution is falling prices.”

As consumers in the United States, UK and established western markets become familiar with smartphones, there is a sales and marketing shift towards emerging markets.  However, Apple and Samsung have largely priced themselves out of these markets, opening the door to cheaper Chinese smartphone manufacturers to step up.

It’s curious that Samsung has fallen in the same trap that Apple did with its iPhone and iPad tablets – a trend the Korean company tried to follow – and will need to be fixed as quickly as possible.

The company must also try to deal with slowing brand loyalty, a problem that Apple didn’t need to worry about for a long duration.

Thank you to The Globe and Mail for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Hot Digital News

Selling Your Google Android Smartphone? Might Want to Double Check All Data is Wiped

Consumers reselling their Google Android smartphones need to focus on overwriting data because simply deleting files isn’t enough anymore, AVAST Software recently discovered.

The security company was able to easily retrieve personal data from smartphones it purchased online, including 40,000 personal images, emails, and text messages.  In a small number of cases, AVAST was also able to identify the previous owner of the device.

As for the exact rundown of what was found on the devices, Avast offered this rather amusing – yet frightening assessment:

  • More than 40,000 stored photos
  • More than 1,500 family photos of children
  • More than 750 photos of women in various stages of undress
  • More than 250 selfies of what appear to be the previous owner’s manhood
  • More than 1,000 Google searches
  • More than 750 emails and text messages
  • More than 250 contact names and email addresses
  • Four previous owners’ identities
  • One completed loan application

Here is what Jude McColgan, AVAST Mobile President, in a statement:

“The amount of personal data we retrieved from the phones was astounding.  We found everything from a filled-out loan form to more than 250 selfies of what appear to be the previous owner’s manhood.  We purchased a variety of Android devices from sellers across the U.S. and used readily available recovery software to dig up personal information that was previously on the phones.  The take-away is that even deleted data on your used phone can be recovered unless you completely overwrite it.”

On popular auction website eBay alone, there are more than 80,000 used smartphones for sale everyday – not including Craigslist, Internet forums, and exchanging phones among friends and family.

Thank you to Avast for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Xda Developers

Gartner Believes PC Industry Will Receive Brief Reprieve in 2014

Shipment of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will grow 4.2 percent from 2013, reaching 2.4 billion units this year, according to research group Gartner.

It’s a welcome sign for PC OEMs, trying desperately to get consumers and businesses to upgrade their computers, which have a longer lifespan.  For those shopping for new PCs, they will find a number of competitively-priced models that should pique their interest, as the devices should last a minimum of five years.

Even though the PC business is expected to do better than previously, tablets should still outsell PCs in 2015, researchers note.

Here is what Ranjit Atwal, Gartner Research Director, said in a recent statement:

”2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market.  Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in western Europe.  This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”

Meanwhile, the tablet market is expected to slow down in 2014 while reaching 256 million units – but is still estimated to reach 320 million units next year, which will be higher than the traditional PC business unit.  However, analysts also believe tablet manufacturers are going to cannibalize their own market, with consumers keeping mobile devices longer – but with growing cost, many owners end up sharing their devices with friends or family.

Thank you to Gartner for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of New Anglia

China’s Xiaomi Smartphone Sales Booming, Quadrupled in One Year

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has enjoyed a busy first half of 2014, shipping 26.1 million units during the first two quarters.  It’s an impressive sales figure considering the company shipped just 7 million units year-over-year – as Chinese smartphone manufacturers are finding success selling lower-priced models.

In all of 2013, Xiaomi shipped 18.7 million units, according to company spokespeople, indicating a significant sales and marketing effort is finding success.

Xiaomi wants to ship 100 million units in 2015, as the company expands to Russia, India, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, and other select markets not yet controlled by Apple and Samsung.  The company is No. 3 inside of China and No. 6 worldwide, focusing on expanding its product portfolio as device technology increases.

Here is what Nicole Peng, Canalys analyst, said regarding Xiaomi:

“They are starting to sort out their supply chain issues.  When they launched their first phone, Xiaomi had very high pre-orders, but it was doubtful whether they could fulfill them.  Consumers would just be forced to order something else.”

To cater to international phone users, Xiaomi recruited former senior Google executive Hugo Barra to drive sales outside of China.

Although Apple and Samsung dominate in the United States and in Western Europe, there is great potential in China, South America, Africa, and select countries where a demand for affordable smartphones is rising.

Thank you to PC Advisor for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of 9 to 5 Mac

Samsung Knox Mobile Security Platform Receives Support From Governments, Companies

The current shift of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, as part of ‘bring your own device’ efforts, has confused companies trying to keep their networks secure.  To entice organizations to use its smartphones, Samsung is heavily promoting its Knox mobile enterprise security offering.

The Korean electronics company hopes to see B2B mobile security evolve into a big business, and the company wants to include enterprise solutions alongside its strong consumer product catalog.

The U.S. FBI has ordered 26,500 licenses of Samsung Knox 2.0, which will be used on Galaxy S5 smartphones, according to reports.  Longtime enterprise giant BlackBerry, which has struggled to compete with the Apple iPhone and Google Android, wants to limit losses to competitors.  However, seeing Samsung and Apple encroach on its territory must be signaling alarm bells.

Here is what Graham Long, Samsung UK Enterprise Business division VP, in a statement to V3:

“They know there are three vendors their employees are using.  They’re using an iPhone or Samsung, and occasionally, maybe one of the other vendors.  They’re talking to us because they know our relationship with their employees who are choosing our technology in their personal lives and, by extension, work.  [When wrestling with BYOD, they know they have to talk to us.”

Thank you to The Mobility Hub for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of All About Samsung

Amazon Offers Developers Money in Exchange For Mobile Apps on Fire Phone

Amazon wants to entice developers to create mobile apps for the recently introduced Amazon Fire Phone, providing up to $5,000 USD (£2,938) in virtual currency. The popular etailer will also include up to $500 in Amazon Web Services credits for interested app developers.

Each interested app developer can receive Amazon Coins for up to three apps, and owners can purchase apps, games, app technologies or shop on the traditional Amazon store.

The Amazon app store, which has around 154,000 apps that will run on the custom-Android “Fire OS” designed for its smartphone. Many popular apps already are released for iOS and Android, so including Fire OS support might be initially difficult to implement at first.

Apple, Google and Microsoft are locked in fierce competition to woo developers to create apps for their respective platforms – and Amazon wants to make sure designers don’t forget about its inaugural smartphone. Some early reports indicate consumers are interested in the Fire Phone, while others are hesitant to leave behind their Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones.

Thank you Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Emerging Markets Embracing Low-Cost Smartphones as Competition Rises


The Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S smartphones dominate the United States and Europe, but struggle to sell their pricey models in emerging markets.  Meanwhile, local smartphone makers are finding great success selling their low-cost devices in China, India, Africa, and other select locations.

Handset makers Spice, Intex, Celkon and other companies release devices with starting prices as low as £17 to consumers, wooing first-time smartphone users.  Micromax, Lava Play and Karbonn have 31 percent of the Indian smartphone market, releasing smartphones for £50 – but lower-cost devices will make the booming market even more competitive.

Here is what Vishal Tripathi, Gartner research firm principal research analyst said:

“There may be a plethora of devices in the ultralow-cost smartphone price band, but their success will not be determined only by providing basic connectivity and access to app store, but they meet users’ expectations of decent camera quality, acceptable battery life, quick touch and response time, no heating issue at minimum usage.”

Mozilla also plans to jump into the market in India with its low-cost device running the Firefox operating system.  The popular software company looks to make it easier and more affordable for consumers transitioning from feature phones to smartphones.

Although many western smartphone users wouldn’t be interested in purchasing low-cost, entry-level models, expect Google to push its Android platform to eager first-time smartphone customers.  Chinese manufacturers such as Xioami, Zopo, JiauYu, Mogu, Meizu and Iocean also ship their products outside of China, prompting a price war in South America, Africa, and other select Asian markets.

Thank you to The Economic Times for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SCMP

European Union Will Work With South Korea in Push to 5G


The European Union (EU) and South Korea plan to join forces in developing and promoting the next-generation 5G wireless standard – and they hope to provide a better glimpse of what can be expected by the end of 2015.

Assistance from South Korea is expected to be important for the EU, which initially struggled to roll out the 4G standard, due to slower – and inconsistent technologies.  South Korea has more than 100 percent mobile phone penetration rate, indicating everyone in the country has at least one device.

A one-hour high-definition movie takes about six minutes to download using 4G, but would take only six seconds on a 5G network.  It will be curious to see what is defined as 5G, because some believe it’s nothing by marketing hype.  However, officials in Seoul will set to create an official definition of what standards are defined as 5G moving forward, though will be important to promote the “Internet of Things.”

Furthermore, the agreement will lead researchers on both sides to “explore further possibilities” in their effort to coordinate research – Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, and other major phone manufacturers are expected to create devices based on guidelines agreed upon by both sides.

Thank you FT for providing us with this information.

Patent Royalties Getting Out of Hand: Could Exceed $120 Per Smartphone

Anyone who follows smartphones will know that the rise of patent wars, patent trolls and massive battles over intellectual property has already started to get out of hand – you only have to look to the endless lawsuits between Apple and Samsung to see that. However, to paraphrase the latest report in some London slang “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. The latest report, which is a working paper by an Intel in-house counsel and two Wilmer Hale lawyers, suggests that the licensing cost of patents and intellectual property per smartphone is rising rapidly. The term “Royalty Stacking” is used to describe the way in which the cumulative cost of patent licenses is growing so high per device that it is increasingly unprofitable to produce smartphones. The estimates suggest we could observe up to $120 patent licensing costs on a $400 smartphone, which equals the costs of the components! The conclusion is that “those costs may be undermining industry profitability–and, in turn, diminishing incentives to invest and compete”. Of course this is a hypothetical study based on industry document analysis, so this is not what is actually happening right now. However, the potential is there: if all potential royalty demands end up being converted into royalty payments then the price of smartphones could continue to soar and as a result the industry could be brought to its knees by a generation of “patent trolling” and patent wars. Check out a detailed analysis of the working paper below at Foss Patents or check out the actual working paper at the source link.

Source: Wilmer Hale (Working Paper), Via Foss Patents

Image courtesy of Ideas2Market Blog

Google Demanding Android Smartphone Makers To Only Use Android KitKat

Google is about to get tough on Android smartphone makers. Google is seeking to enforce a new rule that all smartphone makers must ship their smartphones with Android 4.4 KitKat if they offer their phones with access to Google’s Services Framework and the Google Play Store. Google have apparently spoken to all major smartphone vendors like Samsung, HTC, LG, ZTE, Motorola and others to inform them of the change. The main justification for a new strict policy on the Android operating system is because of the criticism Android has faced for its version fragmentation.

That is to say that currently the Android market is comprised of a wide range of smartphones and tablets running on different versions of Android which makes it problematic for developers to develop apps that work on all versions. According to the most recent figures Jelly Bean is installed on 59.1% of devices (35.9% 4.1.X, 15.4% 4.2.X and 7.8% 4.3), Ice Cream Sandwich on 16.9% (4.03-4.04) and Gingerbread on 21.2% of devices (2.3.3-2.3.7). Android KitKat (4.4) has just 1.4% of the market share which is barely ahead of Froyo (2.2) which has 1.3%.

Google’s memo apparently reads:

“Starting February 2014, Google will no longer approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship older platform releases. Each platform release will have a “GMS approval window” that typically closes nine months after the next Android platform release is publicly available. (In other words, we all have nine months to get new products on the latest platform after its public release.) “

Given Android 4.4 was released on the 31st of October a 9 month window gives Android partners until the 31st of July to ship everything with Android 4.4.

Google getting tough on its partners certainly could work to the consumer advantage. The measures will mean that whether you buy a budget smartphone or a high-end smartphone you will still have the latest version of Android which should bring better performance and better features across the board. However, some partners and consumers will not like the idea that they are being “forced” to run the latest version of what is supposedly an open source operating system. Some hardware may simply not be compatible with Android KitKat so how will Google deal with those instances?

Image courtesy of Google (Android.com)

Source: MobileBloom

Survey Suggests iPhone Owners Have Blind Loyalty To Apple Brand

A survey conducted by SIMOnlyContracts.co.uk reveals that iPhone users display blind loyalty towards the Apple brand and its products. It is a revelation that isn’t surprising and most Android users will now be saying “I told you so”. 78% of 2000 iPhone users said that they “couldn’t imagine having a different type of phone now” while 52% said that they had been really impressed with the iPhone. Of course nailing the down the reason why they actually bought their iPhones was quite difficult. 37% continue to buy iPhones just because they are used to iOS, 28% because they believed it was the best phone for them at the time of switching and 25% because they wanted to be able to stay in contact with family and friends on Facetime.

17% of respondents had switched from a BlackBerry phone, 14% from a Nokia, 9% from a Samsung, 4% from a HTC and 2% from a Sony Ericsson. A whopping  52% of users were using the iPhone 5, 10% the iPhone 5S and 5C and 29% on the iPhone 4 or 4S. Just 9% were using the iPhone 3 or 3GS.

Roshan Bholah, founder of SIMOnlyContracts.co.uk, which conducted the survey, said: “It’s really interesting to discover this blind loyalty amongst iPhone users – they’ll no longer consider other mobile phones on the market, purely because they trust Apple and perhaps like being associated with the brand. However, the old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ could ring true here, as it’s clearly a case of them having a positive experience with the handset. It’s ultimately the loyalty all brands hope to achieve with their customers – old and new. Product lifecycles are fickle, so it’ll be interesting to see how long Apple can maintain this relationship with its customers, not forgetting to mention how long they can keep their competitors at bay.”

Image courtesy of Apple

Samsung’s Context Service May Take Data Collection And Surveillance To Worrying Levels

A report by TheInformation, via the Verge, suggests that Samsung is working on a new service that will allow app developers to know even more details about mobile users. The new service is to be called “Context” and the service would collect data on what apps people use, what data their phone’s sensors pick up, how long they use apps for and so on. This data is then accessible to app developers to allow them to develop better apps which to you and me translates into apps that are more effectively monetised. For example a developer of an app with in-app video adverts or videos might use details about your video search history to know to target you with sports videos.

The service has reportedly been delayed due to internal disagreements over whether the service would actually help Samsung sell more smartphones, as a result the proposal is not finalised and may or may not happen. The “Context” service is apparently a direct result (or reason for) the meeting Google and Samsung had recently to decide on how to change Android in the future. Interestingly that meeting also took place just a day before Google announced the sale of Motorola to Lenovo. Without an involvement in hardware Google will definitely be relying more on partners like Samsung to implement new software features. However, does Context really sound like something you would want on your phone? As if most companies (and governments) didn’t have enough data on you, now they will be able to get their hands on even more!

Image courtesy of Samsung

Criminals Can Recover Personal Details From Used Phones, Even After Factory Reset

A recent Channel 4 investigation into the used phone trade in the UK has exposed some worrying privacy concerns. An investigation into two of the largest pawn brokers that are selling second-hand phones, CEX and Cash Converters, revealed that many phones still have recoverable details on them once sold. Some of the data that is left behind on the devices, or is recoverable, includes photos, text messages, passwords, credit card information and internet history. This comes despite Cash Converters and CEX telling customers that their devices will be wiped clean of all personal data before they are sold.

The issue arises from the assumption by these companies that a “factory reset”, or something of that equivalence, is enough to wipe all personal data from the device. The reality is a factory reset doesn’t completely eradicate all personal data as it is still recoverable from the memory. One security expert that Channel 4 spoke to claims that data can be easily recovered using freely available software and about 10 minutes of your time.

“The phones look like they’re completely blank, but the data is still there in the memory,” said Glenn Wilkinson of SensePost. “You can use software to find it, and that software is freely available for download. I can teach you how to access the data in 10 minutes.”

The extent of information that people store on their phones means that for criminals and fraudsters second hand phones are a goldmine of valuable and sensitive private information.

The Chief Executive of one of the major pawn brokers, Cash Converters, stated that:

“All phones are wiped to a standard level and full factory restores are carried out,” said Mr Patrick. “It is our understanding that specialist software may still be able to recover certain information stored on the phone, but we do everything in our power to ensure all personal data is removed from the device.”

However, the clear moral of the story is that if you’re selling your phone make sure you have securely removed all your data to the best of your ability. In some cases the manufacturer reset function will be enough but in others it may not and specialist data removal software may be needed.

Image courtesy of the Guardian