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November 02, 2013

Mobility Techzone Week in Review

Let's end our week in mobility by noting how it began, with Apple reporting a hugely successful and record setting fiscal Q4 2013 and an excellent full fiscal 2013 year as it heads full steam ahead into its fiscal Q1 2014 holiday buying quarter (Q4, 2013 for the rest of us). All signs point to what we can expect to be hugely successful iPad Air and new iPad mini retina display launches, in tandem with the new iPhone 5s, not to mention the iPhone 5c and the still existing iPhone 4 (which will be provided with only 8 MB of user memory for $0.99 with new contracts).

During the earnings call Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that while Apple knows how many of the new iPad minis with retina display it will have on hand for the holiday buying season, it is pretty clear to all of us that Apple won't have nearly enough of them to sell. Will this simply create pent up demand that Apple will be able to capitalize on immediately after the holiday buying season or will it drive potential buyers into the hands of Amazon and Google, with their far cheaper $229 devices? Our bet is on the former, though the latter remains a real threat.

Also short on supply in the United States will be the brand new LG G Flex curved smartphone that LG announced at the beginning of the week. Of course the reason for that is that LG will only be selling it in South Korea when it launches. The company hasn't noted that it will bring the new curved phone - which curves along the horizontal axis rather than the vertical axis (as the new Samsung Round does) - elsewhere as yet so we may never see it. Does the world really need curved phones? Let us know your thoughts. BlackBerry is expected to begin shipping the large display Z30 in the United States in November. Does anyone care?

One thing consumers seem to be caring about more about is Windows Phone 8 devices. Recent research clearly notes that Windows Phone 8 device sales are soaring in 2013, at least according to ABI Research. The claim is no doubt true, and we suspect it is also true that Nokia Lumia smartphones sales are also exploding in the United States - to the tune of 366 percent year over year growth for Q3 2013. None of this is surprising - the fact is that Windows Phone 8 and Nokia's Lumia devices are becoming quite fashionable. Of course that growth is still tiny relative to iOS and Android, but however modest the inroads are, they are still inroads that mark real growth.

It was reported earlier this week that Samsung was caught recently (or perhaps we should say is "suspected of") engaging in hiring marketers to post negative comments about its competition. Or at least the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission started investigating such allegations back in April 2013. Given Samsung's penchant for stepping outside the bounds of patent laws on various fronts, we certainly would not be surprised to find out there is truth in the allegations. It isn't clear to us why Samsung continues to engage in such practices (if indeed it does).

Smartphones beat out feature phones in overall sales in Q3 2013, so there are enormous sales going on - surely enough to keep Samsung flush without the need to resort to negative tactics. Tablet growth is also on the cusp of enormous new levels of shipments. Gartner in fact expects tablet sales to increase 53.4 percent in 2013, with even greater growth projected for 2014.

Google got into the new smartphone act this week as well, announcing both the Nexus 5 as well as Android v4.4 - better known as KitKat. The new Nexus is at the same time quite nice yet also entirely mundane. It is one specific thing in any case - very affordable for the high end features it offers. Just don't expect to see it in any of those snazzy Moto X colors - you can have whatever color you prefer as long as it's either black or white. KitKat meanwhile has had a lot of optimizations built into it specifically so that device makers can cram it into smartphones with small memory allocations - in this case 512 MB. By doing so Google hopes that a much larger collection of smartphones will ship with the latest version of Android - hopefully reducing fragmentation.

Have a great weekend!

Edited by Tony Rizzo

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