A number of Google shareholders are asking for the Internet giant to follow in Apple’s footsteps and return part of its $44.6 billion in cash to investors, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Google has more cash as a percentage of market value than five of its largest competitors, including Apple. The iPhone maker recently reinstated a dividend and unveiled plans for a $10 billion stock buyout last month. Google is currently the only U.S. technology company with a market value of more than $125 billion that doesn’t offer a regular shareholder payout. The Mountain View-based company’s cash has almost doubled since 2009, and it has increased by between $2 billion and $3 billion each quarter. A dividend would ease the tensions between the company and its investors, who have endured a 1.5% decline this year. “There’s a pattern here that makes sense, and I’m sure Google will figure out the right thing to do,” said Michael Holland, chairman of Holland & Co., a New York investment firm that oversees more than $4 billion in assets. “It’s a little bit of a victory dance, if you will, to be able to have the sort of cash surplus that a company like Apple does and Google does. To share some of it is sharing the victory dance.” More →
Shares of Sprint stock fell 4.5% Monday morning after an analyst said there is an increasing risk that the nation’s third largest wireless carrier could file for bankruptcy. The company is facing increased competition, growing debt and steep costs, with flops in Clearwire’s WiMAX technology, a failed LightSquared partnership and a risky $15.5 billion gamble on Apple’s iPhone further complicating its position. Read on for more. More →
One in five smartphones sold in the United States during the second quarter was 4G LTE-enabled according to The NPD Group, and the market for LTE handsets is set to continue its rapid ascent according to a new report. Market research firm In-Stat on Wednesday suggested sales of handsets with embedded 4G LTE will surpass 154 million units in 2015. We’ve seen even more bullish projections — ABI Research said last week that annual LTE smartphone sales would reach 245 million devices in 2016 — but the consensus appears to be that LTE growth won’t be slowing any time soon. Read on for more. More →
Tablet vendors shipped 18.7 million units during the third quarter of this year, DigiTimes said on Tuesday. Third-quarter shipments were up 27.5% over the second quarter, but the increase was less than the 60.9% jump in shipments between the first and second quarters of this year. The slower growth was attributed to a weaker global economy, and the entire industry suffered. Apple is estimated to have shipped 13 million units in the September quarter, fewer than DigiTimes’s prediction that Apple would ship 14-15 million units. That figure, however, is still up up 36.8% over the second quarter. 5.7 million non-iPad units shipped during the third quarter, up 10.1% sequentially, but growth suffered due to an “inability to attract customers” away from the iPad, DigiTimes senior analyst James Wong said. Apple’s share of the tablet market grew from 64% in the second quarter to 70% in the third quarter according to DigiTimes’s figures. Apple will reveal its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday evening. More →
Investment in mobile security will increase 44% annually through 2015 according to a recent research report from Canalys. Reportedly, just 4% of smartphones shipped last year were sold with security software pre-installed. Canalys suggests that, by 2015, more than 20% of all smartphones and tablets will run some form of security software and mobile security will be a $3 billion market. The research firm attributes the growth to an increase in pressure from enterprise customers, and it expects the usage of client security products such as antivirus software, VPN encryption and firewalls will grow an average of 54.6% annually to 2015. “Enterprises must adopt a holistic view of mobile security, as there is no single solution that provides complete protection,” research analyst Nushin Hernandez said. “A more robust approach, even compared to that used to protect typical notebooks and desktops, is needed.” Read on for the full press release from Canalys. More →
A recent report from Net Applications suggests that Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X operating systems both achieved a record high global market shares during the month of September. iOS had a global market share of 54.65% for the month, up from the 53.04% grip it had on the market in August. iOS is trailed by Java ME with an 18.52% market share, Android (16.25%) Symbian (6.12%) and BlackBerry (3.29%). Mac OS X reached a record high 6.45% share of the operating system market during September, up from 6.03% in August, which is dominated by Microsoft’s Windows (92.44%). Linux has a fraction of the market with a small 1.11% piece of the pie. Apple is expected to take the wraps off of its next iPhone during a press conference in Cupertino on October 4th, and we’ll be reporting all the news as it breaks. More →
The Windows Marketplace for Mobile is now home to more than 30,000 applications according to app tracking website WindowsPhoneAppList. On July 2nd, the Windows Marketplace for Microsoft’s Windows Phones passed the 25,000 milestone. By comparison, Apple’s iTunes App Store is populated with more than 500,000 applications and Google confirmed in May that the Android Market has more than 200,000 apps. The Windows Marketplace’s paid app list is loaded with games — as it should be considering the great Xbox Live integrations — and the top-five paid apps are Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, Need for Speed Unleashed and Cro-Mag Rally. More →
China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest PC market during the second quarter of 2011 according to a new report from IDC. PC shipments in China totaled 18.5 million units during the second quarter, more than the 17.7 million units shipped in the United States. The research firm is projecting that Chinese PC shipments will total 85.1 million units next year, compared to just 76.6 million units shipped in the U.S. The influx of new tablet devices and advanced smartphones, such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, may be driving consumer interest away from notebooks and traditional desktop PCs in developed markets, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. “The center of gravity of the PC industry has shifted away from the developed world,” Wolf Group Asia CEO David Wolf said. China’s growth helped Lenovo become the third-largest PC maker, behind HP and Dell, with a 12.2% of global PC shipments. HP’s share of the Chinese market dropped from a 16.6% during the third quarter of 2009 to 8.5% during the second quarter of 2011. The decline has been partially blamed on buggy NVIDIA chips that shipped in HP devices last year. HP recently announced that it is considering a partial or full separation from its personal systems group.
Last week we saw the first images of a new Motorola handset largely believed to be the successor to the ATRIX 4G. Now rumors have surfaced that the phone’s model number is actually “MB865” and that it packs a 4G LTE radio, which lends credence to the possibility of it launching as AT&T’s first 4G LTE smartphone. According to PhoneArena, which purportedly obtained a leaked internal system screenshot from AT&T, the MB865 will be field tested in a number of markets where AT&T has already confirmed it will deploy its new 4G network. The phone also said to sport an 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video and is equipped with an HD display and a dual-core processor. AT&T has confirmed that it will launch 4G LTE service in several markets this summer including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The carrier expects its faster network to be available in a total of 15 markets by the end of this year and has already announced two devices. AT&T may hold off on launching the MB865, or what is now being called the ATRIX 2, until its LTE network is available in more areas, so it is unclear when we will see the phone become official. More →
Apple, Google, HTC, Samsung, Microsoft… it’s hard to name a technology company that’s not currently involved in a patent battle with another firm. Google’s general counsel Kent Walker thinks the legal battles could actually hurt consumers and the landscape of today’s ever changing smartphone market. “The tech industry has a significant problem,” Walker said. “Software patents are kind of gumming up the works of innovation.” Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently said that his company will stand behind HTC, one of its Android partners, in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t lose an ongoing patent battle with Apple. “We have seen an explosion of Android devices entering the market and, because of our successes, competitors are responding with lawsuits as they cannot respond through innovations,” Schmidt said. According to Bloomberg, Walker said that Google is looking to purchase patents that will allow it to compete better against its rivals, such as Apple. It is unclear what acquisitions Google will pursue in an effort to bolster its patent portfolio, but there is speculation the search giant will buy Kodak’s InterDigital arm. “Each side can blow the other up on some level –everybody can block the other’s products from coming to market,” Walker said. “You create this mutually assured destruction scenario, but it’s very expensive to get all those munitions. Buying patents so you can hit the other guy, it’s not good form. You hate to unilaterally disarm here, but we haven’t in our history.” Walker said that he’s confident Google has the muscle to “balance the scales” against the likes of Microsoft and Apple. More →
Taiwan-based Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute expects roughly 360 million combined personal computers and media tablets to ship in 2011, Taiwan Economic News reports. MIC sees PC shipments growing 6.6% over 2010 to land at more than 320 million units this year, and it thinks shipments of media tablets like Apple’s iPad 2ill w exceed 48 million units in 2011, up 198% from 2010. MIC senior industry analyst Chris Wei notes that the improving global economy and replacement PC purchases in the enterprise market would be largely responsible for this year’s growth. Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf recently estimated that Apple would ship 30 million iPad tablets in 2011, but the company will likely far exceed that figure if tablet shipments are indeed to surpass 48 million units as MIC predicts. More →
Sales of Apple’s iPad 2 tablet are set to explode in the third quarter according to Hong Kong-based research firm CLSA. Citing LCD sales data from DisplaySearch, the firm thinks Apple will unload 14.4 million iPad 2 tablets in the third quarter this year, well above the consensus of between 10 and 12 million units. But nothing is set in stone and Apple has widely missed iPad sales estimates in the past, though those misses were due largely to supply constraints. “Keep in mind that AAPL has missed iPad consensus in 2 out of the last 3 quarters, even when supply chain forecasts were higher,” the firm’s note warns. If CLSA’s research is accurate, we can also expect Apple to launch a 4G LTE-compatible iPad model ahead of the holidays this year.
Google’s share of the U.S. smartphone market dipped for the first time since 2009 according to Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf. Needham says Android’s share slid from 52.4% to 49.5% in the first quarter, its first sequential market share loss in any region since the second quarter of 2009. Wolf attributes the dip to the launch of Verizon Wireless’ iPhone 4; Apple’s U.S. market share ballooned more than 12 points to 29.5% in the first quarter. Wolf believes Android’s market share in the U.S. will rebound in the June and September quarters, though it will see a “material decline” in the fourth quarter of 2011 following the launch of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone. “This is just the beginning of Android’s share loss in the U.S.,” Wolf wrote in a note to investors. “The migration of subscribers to the iPhone on the Verizon network should accelerate this fall when Apple coordinates the launch of iPhone 5 on the GSM and CDMA networks. The iPhone could also launch on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.” Hit the break for a graphical representation of U.S. smartphone market share from IDC. More →