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April 27, 2013

Mobility Techzone Week in Review

For months, we've made pronouncements that Apple has to finally deliver on an entirely new level of innovation this year. And the time to deliver on that innovation - or at least to share a detailed view into the vision for significant new innovation - needs to be during the company's annual World Wide Delivers' Conference (WWDC). The missing piece to that puzzle has been when exactly WWDC would be held, and finally we have those dates in hand, along with a detailed list of everything we believe Apple needs to deliver on.

Apple also happened to report its fiscal Q1 2013 earnings this week. The good news for Apple is that, in spite of countless pundits making endless noise about Apple delivering a losing financial quarter, the company beat analyst estimates on both revenue and net income. It's true that Apple suffered its first year-over-year quarterly decline in profits, but in a world of endless and relentless competition, perhaps it is simply silly to think that any company can deliver endless skyrocketing profits. In fact, no company can, and Apple is no exception. But we refer back to our first paragraph above; Apple needs to deliver real innovation before this year is out.

Samsung, which has been on a tear to deliver pseudo-innovation (another way to think about it is lots of apps that appear to offer innovation), has managed to at least convince some folks that the Galaxy S4 is going to deliver on such. For example, Avanti, a research division of TrendForce, recently completed a study, “Samsung Galaxy S4 China Market Report,” to determine the Chinese market’s interested in the S4. There is so much hype behind the new phone that more than half of the people surveyed admitted they would consider switching from their iPhone to the S4. The news isn't good for Apple, and given that we refer you again to our opening paragraph.

Aside from the pseudo-innovation, Samsung is certainly also working on real innovation. Recently it became public that the company is deep into research that is looking into using brainwaves to control a tablet computer. There is some very interesting work going on here, which Samsung is conducting in partnership with the University of Texas.

Samsung is also looking at branching out into other areas of mobility - such as the ruggedized mobile device market. Yes, there have been rumors floating about that Samsung is planning to deliver a ruggedized tablet, possibly as early as June 2013, and a ruggedized S4 immediately following in July. We ourselves are pretty much convinced that Samsung doesn't really understand what the ruggedized world is really about, but we will say that the S4's five-inch screen would play well in the space - if it can overcome a wealth of other issues. We sincerely doubt this effort will amount to much, but Samsung may just end up surprising all of us.

As Samsung and Apple continue to roll along, HTC cannot seem to catch a break. This week, an Amsterdam-based court granted Nokia an injunction over HTC's use of an STMicro camera, which Nokia claims it has an exclusive deal with STMicro to use. Well, the court sided with Nokia and HTC is now left scrambling to find another camera to use, which may be more difficult to pull off than one might imagine, given that the entire camera assembly in the HTC One is rather unique. We hope HTC pulls it off - the HTC One is an awesome device and we really want to see it get into peoples' hands in large numbers. In the meantime, as Nokia looks to keep HTC's hands off its advanced camera Nokia is taking its downscale Asha phones into a perhaps unexpected and far less state of the art direction - Nokia is returning to creating a mobile phone that has a…keyboard! Perhaps it thinks BlackBerry's Q10 will pose a grave threat?

If you happen to use your iPhones or iPad to take a lot of photos, there is a new app you might be interested in. You can now add a little fun to your photos with the new photo app SpeakingPhoto, which allows users to add voice and sound to any photo and instantly upload them to Facebook, YouTube and e-mails. SpeakingPhoto is not only for social use, but can also be used to increase the productivity of companies. Insurance adjusters for example can save time by talking about the details of what is taken in a photo, rather than stopping to take notes and then having to transcribe them later. You get the "picture."

We'll sign off this week by noting that the wait is finally over: Firefox OS smartphones are here at last. The company delivering them is a Spanish startup called Geeksphone. The company, which consists of 12 people, including its 20-year-old CTO and co-founder Javier Agüera, is soon opening an online store. People will be able to start placing orders for their Geeksphone Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. The startup's first offerings are the entry-level Keon, and the company's more powerful model, Peak.


Have a great weekend!

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