Tag Archives: iPhones
(Credit: Silverline Mobile)
Here’s a crowdfunding project with a twist: instead of pledging a certain amount to buy a new gadget for yourself, an underserved senior citizen will receive said product instead.
The project in question is Silverline, which is seeking funding on Indiegogo to equip senior citizens with smartphones preloaded with essential apps.
Silverline Mobile’s Singapore-based creators, Jason Aspes and Lilin Phng, have developed senior-friendly iOS apps that provide useful information and keep them connected to loved ones. The five apps that have already been developed are:
- Discover: Snap automatically geotagged photos and add captions to document activities for the day.
- Well Being: Reminders to drink water, take medication and watch videos for health tips.
- Inspire: News stories delivered in the form of text, images and videos.
- Connect: Tap a contact’s photo to call him/her immediately.
- Emergency: Tap simple icons to call for emergency assistance.
(Credit: Silverline Mobile) If you pledge $ 79, an underserved senior citizen will get a refurbished iPhone 3GS with the Silverli… [Read more]
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Hon Hai Precision, also known as Foxconn Technology, has reported its earnings for the year and notched a net income of $ 3.2 billion according to the Financial Times. Most familiar as the manufacturing muscle behind Apple’s iPhones, iPads and the like, the Taiwan-based manufacturer beat analyst predictions on high margins for those products. Its subsidiary, Foxconn International Holdings, is the world’s largest cellphone maker and produces devices for companies including Nokia and Motorola, but suffered a net loss of $ 316.4 million. As a result, some are concerned about Foxconn’s heavy reliance on Apple as a customer going forward.Still, the company is reportedly continuing a plan to increase vertical integration, by manufacturing the parts for devices and not just putting them together — we’ll see if anyone notices changes in the final product anytime soon.
For the first time ever, the iPhone was the most popular smartphone in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple sold 17.7 million smartphones during the quarter, which just barely edged out Samsung, which sold 16.8 million smartphones during the same quarter, according to Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Strategy report published Friday. All told, 52 million smartphones were sold in the U.S. between October and December, and Apple and Samsung dominated the competition: together they sold two out of every three smartphones.
The iPhone’s distinction as most popular phone during the quarter comes on Apple’s strength: holiday sales. However, for all of 2012 Samsung still bested all others including Apple — for the fifth year in a row — selling 53 million smartphones, and maintaining a 32 percent share. Apple’s full year share of sales was 26.2 percent.
You’ll note that this chart is, somewhat unusually, only comparing three vendors: Apple, Samsung, LG and then “others.” But that essentially sums up the state of the U.S. smartphone market: Apple versus Samsung, and that’s about it.
Apple’s 34 percent share of U.S. smartphone sales during the fourth quarter is not likely to be a pattern we’ll see repeated outside non-holiday quarters: Samsung puts out many different models of smartphones throughout the year, compared to Apple’s single annual refresh, and barring something catastrophic happening at Samsung, it’s is likely to continue as the biggest smartphone vendor in the U.S. for 2013.
What could boost Apple’s chances of overtaking Samsung outside of holiday sales is if Apple started releasing multiple models of iPhones to reach many more new customers, either through more price options, new subscription options, as T-Mobile is planning, or more screen size choice — as some estimate could start as soon as this year.
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It doesn’t matter how long AT&T has had the iPhone; it just keeps selling more. Ma Bell had another record-setting quarter thanks to Apple, activating 8.6 million iPhones and selling a total of 10.2 million smartphones overall in the last three months of 2012.
Of those 8.6 million iPhones, only 16 percent of their owners are new to AT&T, meaning the device is really more a tool for it to keep current customers by upgrading them from other phones or earlier iPhone models. But keeping customers happy with iPhones has benefits as well. AT&T’s contract churn rate (the percentage of its customers that depart every quarter) fell to 1.19 percent from 1.21 percent in last year’s fourth quarter. That puts it just a little bit behind Verizon Wireless, which has the most enviable churn rate in the industry at 0.95 percent.
AT&T added a net total of 780,000 new contract subscribers while increasing its overall number of connections by 1.1 million. Verizon added 2.2 million new subscribers, meaning Verizon grew at a much faster rate. But AT&T and Verizon were much more evenly matched in smartphone performance with Verizon activating 9.8 million devices. The difference was primarily in the mix of devices. With only 6.2 million iPhone sales, Verizon leaned much more heavily toward Android devices.
AT&T’s iPhone prowess over the years largely explains its huge smartphone penetration. Seven in 10 contract customers now has a smartphone on the AT&T network.
On the wireline side, AT&T added 192,000 U-Verse TV customers and 609,000 U-Verse broadband customers, giving it 8 million U-Verse customers in total. In Q4, the number of U-Verse broadband customers surpassed the number of DSL customers, a measure of DSL’s decline as well as U-Verse’s popularity.
Like Verizon, AT&T’s bottom line suffered due to higher pension costs and the expense of recovering from Hurricane Sandy. It posted a Q4 loss of $ 3.9 billion off of $ 32.6 billion in revenues. AT&T’s LTE network now covers 170 million people, but in 2013 its capital outlays will increase as it fills out its 4G footprint to cover 250 million people and engages in the massive undertaking of transforming its old-school telephone systems into an all-IP network.
This post was updated at 2:18 p.m. to add more details on AT&T’s financial and operational performance.
For its first fiscal quarter of 2012, Apple posted its largest quarterly revenue ever: $ 54.5 billion. It also netted $ 13.3 billion in profits and earnings per share of $ 13.81 billion. Earnings were right in line with what Wall Street was looking for: between $ 52.01 billion and $ 59.55 billion in revenue, and earnings per share between $ 11.97 and $ 15.50.
As expected, the iPhone blew away the previous record, 37 million units, set during the same quarter a year ago. Here are the device sales numbers:
- iPhone: 47.8 million, up from 37 million a year ago.
- iPad: 22.9 million, up from 15.4 million a year ago (how many were iPad minis? Hopefully we’ll find out on the call later.)
- Mac: 4.1 million, down by more than a million units from the same quarter a year ago, a result which IDC had foreshadowed earlier this month.
- iPod: 12.7 million, down from 15.4 million last December quarter.
In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said, “We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $ 54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter.” He also made a subtle reference to the ongoing handwringing among Apple investors that the iPhone isn’t expected to sell as well going forward: “We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”
One of the metrics — that analysts will pay a lot of attention to — is Apple’s decreased gross margins for the quarter. Despite skyrocketing sales of its mobile devices, Apple’s gross margins fell to 38.6 percent, compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter in 2011. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer had warned analysts about this last quarter, and blamed the sheer number of new devices it was building.
It’s not expecting much better for next quarter either: the company is forecasting gross margins to be somewhere between. 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent. Apple is also forecasting lower revenues for Q2, between $ 41 billion and $ 43 billion, which is typical for the first quarter of the year following the big holiday quarter.
This post was updated several times with more information about earnings.
Smartphones are predicted to account for half of all handset shipments in 2014 and are estimated to increase to 69% over the next five years. Despite the expanding market, however, Apple (AAPL), like many others, will apparently be unable to keep pace with Samsung (005930). According to a report from ABI Research, Apple’s smartphone market share is expected to peak at 22% this year and remain flat through 2018.
“Barring an unlikely collapse in Samsung’s business, even Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software, and device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future,” said senior analyst Michael Morgan.
On the back of Android, Samsung’s market share has increased from 8% in 2010 to 30% in 2012. The firm notes that Samsung is so massive that the future of the mobile OS landscape will be heavily influenced by the products it releases.
ABI Research expects growth in the industry to be driven by “the rapidly growing low-cost smartphone segment.” The firm estimates that by 2018, smartphones that are offered for less than $ 250 will account for 62% of all smartphone shipments.
Apple is rumored to be planning a cheaper iPhone that could help the company further compete with Samsung and capitalize on the low-end market. Until such a device is announced, however, Apple’s market share is expected to suffer.
As we’ve mentioned countless times, it’s a good thing that RIM (RIMM) will release BlackBerry 10 soon, because otherwise Apple (AAPL) and Android will continue to wreck its market share among enterprise users. Benzinga reports that Trip Chowdhry, a managing director at Global Equities Research, has put out a research note estimating that Apple sold between 3 million and 4 million iPhones to businesses over the past quarter, some of whom have switched over from BlackBerry.
“This figure emerges from a combination of new purchase of iPhones and users switching to iPhones from Blackberry,” Chowdhry writes. “After the two-year contract expiration on Apple iPhone[s], [the] majority of the enterprises have replaced their employees’ current phones with the new iPhone 5.”
As for reasons why more companies are switching to the iPhone, Chowdhry says that salespeople for key enterprise apps such as Salesforce, Workday and VMware are increasingly “demonstrating their enterprise offering on iPhones, which is also acting as a trigger for enterprises to purchase iPhones for their employees.” Chowdhry also thinks that the advent of mobile device management software has boosted the iPhone’s security capabilities and has made it less risky for companies to adopt.
Updated: As we reported earlier this year, PG&E is the first utility that has been piloting the smart thermostat collaboration between thermostat giant Honeywell and energy software startup Opower. And some early results (collected by PG&E) are in: customers like using the smart thermostats and particularly like being able to remotely control the thermostat using their iPhone. However there were some issues in the trial’s recruitment and installation processes.
Remote control of the smart thermostat could prove to be one of the first smart grid applications that is a clear benefit to consumers. One of the major problems with smart meters is that consumers haven’t really seen the direct benefits (beyond savings) of having the smart meter installed at their homes — a lot of the benefits of smart meters are actually for the utility. But remote control of a thermostat is a service that even companies like Comcast and Verizon are looking to sell to their customers.
For the PG&E trial it’s still early days. So far the pilot program is pretty small, and PG&E is still recruiting customers to it. According to a report issued last week, there are currently 888 customers involved in the smart thermostat trial, but only 276 of those actually had one of the thermostats installed. 421 of the group were chosen to get a smart thermostat installed (the rest were in the control group that didn’t get thermostats), but 145 of those homes didn’t have a successful installation for whatever reason.
The main reason that the thermostat installation didn’t work even for customers that had been chosen, was that the homes were actually found to be ineligible for the program (say, because of a faulty or incompatible HVAC system, or lack of a broadband connection). But often times that ineligibility wasn’t determined until the installer was at the home, which is inefficient. The report says:
The number of treatment group customers without a thermostat installed is a problem that could compromise the precision of energy savings estimates when the impact evaluation is conducted once the trial is fully enrolled.
So for future recruitment the program needs to be tweaked to evaluate if the home is eligible before the installer gets there.
PG&E is looking for more pilot participants for the trial and eventually wants to have 500 homes with the thermostats installed. Future participants need to own their homes, have central heating and cooling, not move for at least a year, have a broadband connection, and live in certain zip codes like in Fresno and Bakersfield.
PG&E isn’t the only utility trialling smart thermostats. Texas energy service provider Reliant is offering smart thermostat services from two Silicon Valley startups Nest and EcoFactor. Startup EnergyHub is also working with cooperative utilities Gibson Electric Membership Corporation and Mid-South Synergy — the EnergyHub service, called Mercury, reduces customers’ heating and cooling consumption at times of peak demand.
One of the earliest utilities to tap smart thermostats for energy management was Nevada utility NV Energy. NV Energy is providing 50,000 customers with a home energy dashboard from Control4 and a programmable thermostat. Another 50,000 are supposed to be signed up down the road.
Utilities can use smart thermostats to collectively and remotely manage home energy consumption at peak times. They can also just use the thermostats for energy efficiency, and for having customers cut their energy bills. Earlier this year I wrote a report on the battle for the smart thermostat, GigaOM Pro (subscription required). Increasingly energy software startups like Opower and Nest are competing over the home smart thermostat.
PG&E is expecting the smart thermostat service to lower its customers’ energy consumption by 5 percent, and potentially by more for customers that use gas for heating and cooling. Update: The Honeywell/Opower thermostat can specifically reduce a home’s heating and cooling by 15 to 25 percent. In comparison Nest says its thermostats can cut 20 to 30 percent of a homes’ heating and cooling
energy consumption. So they are about the same in terms of their energy reduction potential. The software is a little bit different though, in that Opower’s thermostat software doesn’t use learning algorithms.
Wireless charging is set to take off this year with the likes of HTC’s (2498) Windows Phone 8X, Nokia’s (NOK) Lumia 920 and 820 and Google’s (GOOG) Nexus 4. By comparison, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 feels decidedly last-gen without wireless charging or NFC. Apple’s reason for omitting wireless charging is that smartphones still need charging stations/plates plugged into the wall to work. A new Apple patent discovered by AppleInsider suggests the company is investigating a more elegant solution – wireless charging that uses “near-field magnetic resonance” to recharge an iPhone’s battery. The patent details a “virtual charging area” about one meter wide that can be used to provide electricity to devices simply by stepping within a certain radius of a power source. The patent calls the idea a “realistic and practical approach to wireless transferring.”
The filing, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, indicates Apple filed the patent in November 2010, meaning the feature could already be in development and could make it into a future iPhone.
As with all patents, the implications are grand, but the technology to make it happen might not be cost-effective just yet. Companies often patent ideas to protect themselves from future infringements, even if they never make it into actual products.