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August 17, 2013

Mobility TechZone Week in Review

A few weeks ago, Google and Motorola Mobility introduced the new Moto X. We asked the question of whether or not the new supposedly "super" smartphone reminded us of Superman or Clark Kent. We sided with good old Clark, for reasons that have to do with Superman using Clark to hide his superman self and the fact that the Moto X exterior can be highly customized. Now our colleague Rob Enderle asks - and answers - a related question:  Does the Moto X customization capability mean that we Americans are a vapid bunch? Make sure to read both as Superman or Clark Kent is a relevant preface to asking if we are vapid. Meanwhile, also unique to us Americans apparently, is that those of us who are iPhone users tend heavily towards being very loyal iPhone users.

It's no secret that this last year has not been the best of years for United States wireless companies in terms of smartphone turnover. A lot of people have held on to their phones and have not upgraded to either the new Samsung Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 5 in the sorts of numbers one might have expected. This could conceivably change once Apple tosses some new stuff into the field in a few weeks, but perhaps the issue isn't one of compelling new products but one of no longer effective mobile subscriber contract policies. It is also true that smartphones have moved passed feature phones as the dominant market makers. Now may be the time to move to new ways to allow subscribers to upgrade sooner and quicker than has been the case.

It is somewhat ironic that as smartphones finally become the dominant industry devices that the creator of the smartphone, BlackBerry, is finally on its last legs as an independent smartphone, e-mail and mobile enterprise vendor. Alas, CEO Thorsten Heins was not able to move BlackBerry beyond the abyss of hubris the co-CEOs that preceded him had cast BlackBerry into. The company has announced it is exploring its options. As it does so it has also suffered the indignity of being formally surpassed by Microsoft's Windows Phone-based devices for third place on a list where third place still means hanging out in the bottom 8 percent of the smartphone market. It is also no doubt a safe bet that the company's recently leaked Z30 phablet will never see the light of day - probably a good thing.

As BlackBerry prepares to disappear, North Korea of all places has proudly proclaimed that it has in hand its own North Korean developed mobile phone! Dubbed the AS1201 Arirang after a famous local song, the device - supposedly a smartphone - offers a way for the North Korean regime to control Internet access and calling from the source. But of course.

As if that weren't enough of a frightening thought, Samsung has unveiled a positively hideous new flip smartphone, the Hennessey SCH-W789. It targets the Chinese market so we will likely never need to really worry about seeing one in person. It has respectable specifications but a decidedly old fashioned keypad - that's right the kind that looks like an old fashioned phone. And dual screens like those old flip phones used to have as high end features. Oh, and it runs Android 4.1. Enough said.

We'll sign off for the week with two last bits of news. First, it appears that Facebook has acquired a speech recognition provider. Imagine all the friends and updates that we'll be able to uncover with that feature in hand!

Finally, it is worth noting that Samsung has begun to ship what it refers to as 3D Vertical NAND Flash Memory. It is the very first manufacturer to do so and Samsung believes it is a legitmate manufacturing breakthrough that gives the company an interesting edge in terms of what the new chips are able to deliver. For the most part it means that users will see device speed improvements - always a welcome thing. Further, Samsung is able to mass produce these - we are not simply looking at an experimental stage of development. Perhaps it will deploy it in the new Hennessey flip phone!

Have a great weekend!

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