Displaying items by tag: Consumers

Global smartphone sales saw their worst contraction ever in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 isn't much better, new surveys show. Worldwide handset volumes declined 4.1% in 2018 to a total of 1.4 billion units shipped for the full year, according to research firm IDC, which sees a potential for further declines this year.

“Globally the smartphone market is a mess right now,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith. “Outside of a handful of high-growth markets like India, Indonesia, (South) Korea and Vietnam, we did not see a lot of positive activity in 2018.”

Reith said the market has been hit by consumers waiting longer to replace their phones, frustration around the high cost of premium devices, and political and economic uncertainty. The Chinese market, which accounts for roughly 30 percent of smartphone sales, was especially hard hit with a 10% drop, according to IDC's survey.

IDC said the top five smartphone makers have become stronger and now account for 69% of worldwide sales, up from 63% a year ago. Samsung remained the number one handset maker with a 20.8% share despite an eight percent sales slump for the year. Apple managed to recapture the number two position with a 14.9% market share, moving ahead of Huawei at 14.7%, the survey found.

IDC said fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 4.9% - the fifth consecutive quarter of decline. “The challenging holiday quarter closes out the worst year ever for smartphone shipments,” IDC said in its report.

A separate report by Counterpoint Research showed similar findings, estimating a seven percent drop in the fourth quarter and four percent drop for the full year. “The collective smartphone shipment growth of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and others was not enough to offset the decline in China,” said Counterpoint associate director Tarun Pathak.

Published in Devices

Blow for Samsung US as CEO steps down

Written on Sunday, 03 February 2019 10:08

South Korean conglomerate Samsung has suffered a blow following the announcement that the CEO of Samsung Electronics in North America has decided to retire.

Tim Baxter has been with the company for over 12 years and has played a pivotal role in establishing Samsung as a powerhouse in the North America ICT market in his role as CEO.

Baxter has shown incredible leadership and vision and as ensured Samsung’s products has resonated with American consumers. He announced his decision to retire in a LinkedIn post, and confirmed that he pass the reins to his current deputy in North America Young Hoon Eom.

Samsung confirmed the departure in an official statement to Mobile World Live and placed on record its sincere thanks to Baxter who they described as an ‘exceptional business leader’ that has helped define Samsung as a pioneering innovator in the consumer electronics industry.

Baxter joined Samsung as EVP of sales and marketing for consumer electronics in 2006, and held various leadership positions before being appointed to his current post in July 2017. The role gave him full autonomy of Samsung’s $30 billion consumer and enterprise businesses in the US and Canada, including oversight of teams across mobile, consumer electronics, home appliances, customer care, services and new business.

The move comes at a pivotal moment as mobile operators across the US and Canada, start the transition towards the deployment of 5G. All four tier-one US operators have confirmed that they are working with Samsung on 5G handsets set for release in the first half of 2019.

Published in Telecom Vendors

The US government has confirmed that the proposed merger deal between telecommunication operators T-Mobile US and Sprint will undergo a forensic examination in an effort to determine whether or not the deal represents the best interests of consumers.

Published in Telecom Operators

A catalogue of exciting products are set to the hit the American market in the new year but experts warn that 2019 could bring trust-related challenges for the tech industry.

US retail revenue is expected to climb to a record high of $398 billion this year, with upcoming releases such as 8K TVs, Alexa-controlled pianos and motion-detecting drones. The trade group behind The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) predicts sales of gadgets will be unaffected despite the privacy scandals and ongoing geopolitical tensions.

"There are so many cool things happening in the consumer electronics industry right now," said CTA vice president of market research Steve Koenig. "We are fast approaching a new era of consumer technology."

The Las Vegas trade fair will showcase an array of futuristic innovations; including foldable phones, super high resolution 8K televisions, driverless cars, gunfire-blocking drones, and will even demonstrate child-monitoring Lovot robots.

The 2019 event will focus on artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart homes, smart cities, and health wearables. They will feature 4,500 exhibitors across 2.75 million square feet of exhibit space, with 182,000 trade professionals expected to attend.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) predict revenue growth in the US for smart phones, speakers, homes and watches along with televisions, drones, 'in-vehicle tech,' and streaming services, despite an array of 2018 scandals involving technology giants.

Last year, Amazon was forced to explain how virtual assistant Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to an Echo user without their knowledge. Facebook have also seen their shares plummet in the wake of privacy issues and face lawsuits in regards to their lax security of user data.

Published in Gadget

Nokia partners with Vodafone Qatar on network modernization

Written on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 10:06

Nokia and Vodafone Qatar are modernizing Vodafone Qatar's core network using Nokia virtualized applications to meet growing high-quality voice and data demands of customers living in and visiting Qatar.

The modernization of the network will provide increased capacity, scalability, flexibility and performance in the delivery of services such as high-definition Voice over LTE (VoLTE) to Vodafone Qatar's more than 1.4 million mobile subscribers.
Nokia began deployment in November 2017, leveraging its hardware, NFV applications and global services expertise. The first test call was completed in March 2018 and Nokia will complete the deployment in 2019. As part of the agreement, Nokia will provide care services for five years and managed services for 20 months.

Ramy Boctor, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone Qatar, said: "We are working with Nokia to deploy virtualized core network capabilities that will enable us to provide world-class services. Our aim is to deliver superior customer services leveraging this 'Telco over Cloud core' network."

Deon Geyser, head of South Africa and Vodafone (SAV) Market Unit at Nokia, said: "We are pleased to continue a long-standing relationship working with Vodafone Qatar on this Telco over cloud core modernization project. With a history of proven deployments in the field, we are able to leverage our breadth of cloud core capabilities and services expertise to deliver a network that will deliver new flexibilities in the delivery of services such as VoLTE."

Published in Telecom Operators

South Korean smartphone colossus Samsung has announced that its pre-orders for its Galaxy Note 8 have surpassed the highest-ever for the Note Series. Samsung believes its latest premium smartphone which exceeded the pre-orders enjoyed by the Note 7 – will protect the market dominance it currently assumes as it faces a stiff battle with Apple to remain on the top spot.

Apple has aggressively marketed its latest iPhone - as it focuses on the tenth anniversary of the inception of the inaugural iPhone, which was first launched in 2007. Apple’s newest iPhone will be formally unveiled to much media hype later this week.

Samsung have announced that sales of its Note 8 devices will hit markets in the US and South Korea on Friday – and management within the South Korean conglomerate buoyed by impressive pre-order numbers have expressed their confidence that the Note 8 will be a bug hit amongst consumers.

The smartphone incumbent claimed that it had 650,00 pre-order for the Note 8 handsets over a five day period, with orders coming from over 40 countries. President of Samsung Electronics mobile communications business DJ Koh said the initial response to the new smartphone was ‘very encouraging’.

Samsung suffered a mitigated and well-documented disaster with its Note 7. Reports of the devices catching fires and in some cases self-combusting due to faulty batteries forced the company to recall all of its Note 7 units from the market just a short few months into its life-cycle. Samsung lost billions of dollars due to the Note 7 fiasco, but it also more significantly tarnished its reputation amongst many of its customers.

However, the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer by market share took the decision to retain the Note brand after Samsung conducted a survey of 5,000 Galaxy Note users. 85% of respondents expressed brand loyalty, so executives decided to continue the Note brand. Samsung launched a lengthy investigation into the Note 7 scandal and discovered the root cause of the issues before embarking on the development of Note 8 handsets.

The Note 8 will retail at between $930-960 in the US, and that will include a number of attractive call and data packages incorporated in that deal. When US smartphone giant Apple introduce its new iPhone to the market it will squeeze the Note 8. However, many analysts have claimed that the excessive cost of the iPhone which will reportedly retail at around $1,000 has drained the enthusiasm amongst a lot of consumers worldwide.

Published in Telecom Vendors

WhatsApp, which is one of the world’s most popular messaging applications - has finally announced a strategy for the monetization of its service in an effort to address issues regarding its ‘sustainability’. Concerns have long been raised over its sustainability, but now the application which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion has revealed its plans.

WhatsApp published a blog post in which it outlined its plans to launch a new innovative service that specifically targets large businesses, with green tick verification badges and a host of other communications tools. In addition to this, it also plans to introduce a ‘free app’ for SME’s.

A spokesperson for the messaging platform said, “Over a billion people use WhatsApp every day to stay connected with their family and friends, and over time, more people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about too.”

Analysts have claimed that WhatsApp have identified a gaping hole in the market for businesses all over the world, especially those located in Asia, where the platform is a staple, use the service as a free way of connecting merchants and consumers. On the company’s blog post it highlighted information gathered from a survey it conducted, which indicated that users prefer when businesses use WhatsApp as it makes them feel more comfortable buying from a retailer that establishes a connection between the invisible sides of a digital transaction.

The blog post added, “We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic.”

The issue of monetization has always been an issue for technology products as companies have to engage in an education process in order to convince users to get past the notion that digital services are ephemeral enough to not warrant a cost. That’s fine, but tech firms have overheads and employees to pay, which makes it extremely challenging in the sense that one of the biggest problems in the industry are its most integral.

WhatsApp COO, Matt Idema confirmed that the firm does plan on introducing fees for businesses, but claimed that he didn’t yet have the details of what services would be monetized. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said: “We do intend on charging businesses in the future. Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”

The COO also disclosed that WhatsApp will commence tests on tools that enable users to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. This could for example allow you to communicate with financial institutions such as a bank over a recent transaction which you believe to be fraudulent - or with an airline over a cancellation or a delay.

WhatsApp continues to appear reluctant to want to go down the advertising route, which is in stark contrast to its parent company, Facebook, whose entire business is funded by huge advertising revenues. Facebook began introducing sponsored posts in its Messenger app in July of this year as it seeks new ways to engage users of its messaging service with advertising clients. However, it’s plain to see that Facebook is now pushing for WhatsApp to make its acquisition worthwhile.

Published in Apps

The CEO of Australia’s leading telecommunications firm Telstra has warned operators that consumer data prices will soon be a thing of the past. Andrew Penn issued the stark statement when delivering his keynote address at Mobile World Congress Shanghai. (MWCS 2017)

According to Penn operators need to prepare for already declining consumer data prices to reach zero within the next 5-10 years. Telstra’s CEO insisted that it was critical that operators diversified away from being just ‘connectivity providers’ - and that they must focus on providing other services for consumers on top of connectivity.

Penn said: “There is a real possibility that the price for data to the consumer will go to zero in the next 5-10 years. Operators must ensure that they can offer customers wider, consumer-friendly services in order to ensure relevance, sustainability and new revenue streams which will help them avoid falling further down the value chain.”

In addition to this, Penn warned of the dangers of spending too much time focusing on ‘cool technology’ being displayed at MWC Shanghai – and not enough on how innovations would be delivered for the good of the customer. Penn added: “We need to ensure that new products that are designed are intuitive and customer friendly.” Telstra’s CEO highlighted Netflix as a successful example of this.

Telstra have introduced a series of new initiatives specifically designed to improve the user interface of new services after conducting an investigation of its customer service calls. Penn revealed that a staggering 90% of queries which were made to Telstra’s customer help center could’ve been avoided if improvements in technology or customer care had been implemented with new technologies.

Telstra have come under scathing criticism in recent weeks in Australia, following the organization’s decision to axe over 1,500 members of its workforce, citing increased competition as the main factor in its decision to reduce staff.

Published in Telecom Operators

South Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics has expressed its delight at how their new Galaxy S8 flagship series smartphone has been initially received by consumers. There had been fears amongst Samsung executives and stakeholders that the Galaxy Note 7 debacle last year would impact negatively on the new S8. However, it seems that consumers are unfazed by the Galaxy Note 7 fires and pre-orders for the S8 have exceeded those of its predecessor.

The S8 is set to go on sale in the US, South Korea and Canada on April 21st – and analysts are predicting that the device will be central to Samsung’s recovery from the swift forced withdrawal of the Note 7 in October last year. The device has been well received by both analysts and investors – with many suggesting the S8 could represent a first-year sales record for the global smartphone giant.

Mobile Business Chief, Koh Dong-jin confirmed that the organization were delighted at the response so far, but did remain cautious offering a reminder that it was still very early days. He said: "It's still a bit early, but initial response to the pre-orders that have begun at various places across the world have been better than expected.”

Samsung’s latest device is set to be the safest smartphone ever created due to the safety measures they had to implement in the S8 in an attempt to avoid the battery failures that caused some Note 7’s to go on fire and in some instances self-combust. Stakeholders will be further boosted by the news that many analysts expect the South Korean firm to record its best-ever quarterly profit in April-June – which will be buoyed by S8 sales. In addition to this, a memory chip market boom that will deliver record revenue for the industry will further strengthen Samsung’s finances.

Samsung’s S8 has won acclaim with consumers due to its design and comes equipped with either a 5.8 inch or 6.2 inch curved screen – in fact it’s the largest screens to date among all of Samsung’s flagship phones due to a redesign. Koh also disclosed that Samsung intends to use the S8 in an effort to recover in China. It has been dislodged from the top five vendors in the region as a result of heightened competition from local rivals such as Huawei. He concluded by stating that Samsung aims to regain market share in China, but didn’t elaborate on how or what strategies it would implement in order to achieve this.

Published in Devices

US tech giant Apple has unveiled their latest version of its popular iPad tablet – and it’s set to retail at the lowest-ever price for a full-sized tablet from the company. The newly updated product will be available to order from Friday and has a starting price of $329. In addition to this, Apple also disclosed that its smaller iPhone SE model will be available in 32 and 128 gigabyte (GB) versions which will subsequently replace the 16GB and 64GB models.

The tech colossus also revealed that the hardware updates in the product are incremental improvements that were announced without a major media event to publicize the new technologies. It has also been reported in recent months that Apple is set to unveil an update to its flagship iPhone this autumn that may have a series of new features such as wireless charging, 3-D facial recognition and a curved display. The new iPad model starts at 32 GB of storage and replaces the iPad Air 2. It will be slightly less expensive than the smaller iPad Mini 4, which starts at $399 for a 128 GB model.

Apple also unveiled a new app for creating videos which also enables you to share them with friends on its iOS devices. This new feature, coupled with extra iMessage features released in the last number of years have ensured that the organization is competing with features in social networking applications such as Snap Inc. Their new app has been named ‘Clips’ and it allows users to add captions and speech bubbles to videos which they can subsequently share on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Apple’s own messaging app, where videos can be sent to contacts with a single tap. But unlike applications like Snap or other messaging apps, users can add captions to videos using their voice.

Published in Devices
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