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August 10, 2013

Mobility Techzone Week in Review

It's been a busy August for smartphones so far. Last week Google and Motorola Mobility introduced the Moto X, their new flagship and a smartphone we find to be very useful and mostly gimmick-free but likely not a device that will drive madcap dashes by consumers to the local Best Buy or wireless carrier storefront. This week brought us the new flagship LG Electronics G2, another sweet smartphone that looks to us to be very useful and also not weighted down by gimmicks. It's all muscle, with no fat anywhere to be seen.

We will offer one caveat on this however -- its major key to potential fame and fortune is that LG has moved all of the control keys to the back of the smartphone. This leaves the G2 looking sleek and clean. But is it a revolutionary and extremely useful new capability or… a gimmick? We think the former, and believe we'll see consumers prove us right. Meanwhile, we can next look forward to the HTC One Max, about which we are beginning to hear rumors. We love the HTC One but we suspect we won't like the rumored Max very much -- it'll be too big. We'll see.

LG's new device is of course an Android smartphone (running jelly bean 4.2.2). It should add to Android's ongoing and seemingly endless worldwide growth -- which some research firms are now projecting to be nearing 80 percent of the market for smartphones. An interesting offshoot of this growth is that the market share for iOS continues to decline as a total global percentage. To which we always respond with a hearty "so what?!"

Apple doesn't bother itself with building cheap, exceedingly low margin phones that kill margins and add nothing to profitability -- market share be damned. Far better to own the majority of the profits. Apple laughs all the way to the bank whenever yet another report suggests its market share is dipping. The funny thing is that we are now hearing some reports that perhaps Android itself is finally leveling off in global market share -- we have to laugh at this! If you own 80 percent of the market where else can you go?

With that entire global market share we can expect hackers to continue to have a field day with launching new security-defying exploits. In fact, it is now expected that Android apps containing malware will exceed one million apps before 2013 is out! So we can only applaud the news that Google is at least taking some defensive measures by adding seven new security features to Android jelly bean 4.3. Is this a good thing? Maybe, but on the other hand it offers more challengers for ever more hackers to take a whack at. We hope for the best.

Microsoft meanwhile has recently had to acknowledge that its Windows Phone OS suffers from a potentially dangerous security flaw of its own -- a Wi-Fi exploit. The new hack affects both Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8 and allows hackers to leverage a weakness in the Wi-Fi authentication process, Microsoft's own PEAP-MS-CHAPv2 (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol with Microsoft Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol version 2), to gain access to users' login credentials. It's too bad -- to date Windows Phone has remained clean on the security front though this may only be because its market share is so small.

On a more positive note Microsoft just released a new version of Skype for WP8. And Microsoft has also released a brand new Windows Phone App Studio for developers. The hope is that the new and easy-to-use platform will foster a slew of new WP8 apps. It may work -- immediately following its release Microsoft has claimed over 38,000 new apps have appeared! That's progress -- another 930,000 apps to go to crack a million!

We're beginning to hear some rumors that BlackBerry is considering taking itself private. We don't have anything of any consequence to report on this yet aside from having heard the company's board and largest shareholder are now considering it. That isn't quite as interesting, in any case, as the news that the company may finally be getting around to releasing the Android version of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). BBM is perhaps the one thing that BlackBerry can still consider a huge success -- with over 60 million avid users sending 10+ billion text messages a day.

BBM's outsized use underscores the ongoing use of text messaging. Infonetics Research is projecting a 9X increase in growth for SMS/MMS by 2017, and we suspect all wireless carriers are happy about this. Of course the Over the Top (OTT) text messaging players are no doubt thrilled as well. WhatsApp, for example, the leading OTT text messaging player in the industry now has over 300 million active users. That represents phenomenal growth for the company.

We'll sign off for the week with this bit of info: The latest release of iOS 7, Beta 5, has a lot of new Apple TV features in it. Hmm.

Have a great weekend!

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