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January 11, 2014

Mobility Techzone Week in Review

It has certainly been a diverse week of mobile technology news. Some of it was of course driven by the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and we'll take a look at some of the 2014 CES doings first. To begin with, there was of course a lot of mobile-focused stuff. Perhaps most interesting here is that LG is looking hell-bent to bring its curved screen LG G Flex smartphone to the United States market ahead of the crowd. At CES LG announced as much, claiming it will bring the G Flex to the U.S. in Q1 2014. It is expected that they will show up at AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the not far off future. It is worth noting here that T-Mobile is continuing its aggressive ways, and is now offering to pay termination fees for other wireless carriers if subscribers switch to T-Mobile - now they can get a Flex on the deal.

It's clear that LG is rushing ahead to beat Samsung to the curved smartphone game here in the U.S. We absolutely believe that Samsung's next flagship smartphone - possibly to be called the Galaxy S5 - will come equipped with curved display edges and as many as three separate display segments within the single larger display. This is decidedly different from what LG will offer - a truly entirely flexible smartphone, where the entire body will flex along with the curved display. Samsung's likely approach, on the other hand, could deliver a new and quite useful access to multiple screens of display, which if done right might prove to be extremely useful. Whether either or both prove to be gimmicks or much-desired features remains to be seen.

 Samsung, meanwhile, in addition to showing off a monster 150 inch curved screen TV (which leaves us wondering how anyone could possibly get such a thing into one's home - even large higher end homes), also showed off several new tablets at CES - which it has labeled the Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro. That "pro" moniker represents a shift for Samsung to attempt to sell higher priced mobile devices into the enterprise and to professionals and prosumers. It all makes senses to us for Samsung to try and deliver into these markets - which to date have remained for the most part steadfast iOS/iPad environments.

CES has never really been much of an event for the C industry, although over the years it sort of inherited this mantel from other enterprise computing events, such as the old Comdex. Never the less, there are always PCs to be seen even as the PC industry itself continues to decline as far as the consumer market is concerned. This year Lenovo has taken on a leadership role in trying to show the world PCs and laptops are still relevant.

We'll leave CES 2014 at this point, but before we do we want to take note of one very interesting idea that Intel presented during a CES keynote - that of the magical smart recharging bowl! The idea is to have a bowl that is packed with charging technology in its base where a user can simply place devices that need to be charged. Have some extra mail you don't know what to do with> Toss it in as well. The idea is to provide technology that doesn't look or feel like technology and fits into the common every day things consumers at home are used to seeing and used to using for certain things - like dropping mail and car keys into. Heck, it's even rather stylish!

An interesting idea popped up this week - AT&T is going to offer "sponsored" data plans. With this sponsored data service, data charges for participating apps and services will be billed directly to a sponsoring company, much as Kindle content downloads have been paid for by Amazon, directly to AT&T. Speculation about toll-free data usage began to surface in the spring of 2013, when it was reported that ESPN was talking with at least one service provider about using such a service to encourage mobile users to consume ESPN content on their mobile phones. It's an interesting idea - but it remains to be seen how exactly it will work in the real world.

Well wrap up the week by noting that Android still rules the roost in terms of overall market share globally. Apple, on the other hand, is not only dominating sales in the U.S. but has actually increased its share since the iPhone 5s and 5c were announced. And by the way, consumers spent $10 billion on mobile apps across both ecosystems in 2013!

Have a great weekend.

Edited by Tony Rizzo

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