A security researcher in Germany claims to have discovered an encryption flaw in SIM cards that allow a user’s cell phone to be hacked in mere minutes, The New York Times reported. Mobile security expert Karsten Nohl noted that an encryption hole allows unauthorized users to obtain a SIM card’s digital key by sending a text message to a device that is disguised as a carrier message. With access to the digital key, Nohl is able to send a virus to a cell phone’s SIM card with a second text message. He added that the virus allows him to listen to phone calls, make mobile purchases and even “impersonate the cell phone’s owner.” More →
Smartphones are starting to look an awful lot like PCs these days. Bloomberg reports that as smartphone shipment volumes have skyrocketed in recent years, their average selling price has started to plunge, similar to how personal computer prices began dropping in the late 1990s. Specifically, Bloomberg reports on new data from IDC showing that smartphone ASPs have fallen all the way down to $375 from $450 at the start of 2012, mostly due to the influx of Asian vendors such as Huawei who have been cranking out low-cost Android handsets to sell in emerging markets. More →
So Nokia missed its smartphone volume expectation by about 10%. BlackBerry missed its BlackBerry 10 volume consensus by about 15%. And HTC missed its earnings consensus by about 35% (HTC updates its revenue numbers every month, so it never misses quarterly sales numbers by much). The autumn outlook is gruesome for these second-tier vendors for many, many reasons. First, they all ramped up their key models during the spring with the Nokia Lumia 520, the BlackBerry Q10 and Z10, and the HTC One. This was not just any old quarter. This was a quarter when all three had major new models shipping pretty much throughout the quarter. By autumn, all of these new models will start losing their pricing power. A slow start is bad news these days. More →
Some analysts have claimed that because everyone already owns a smartphone, growth is slowing in the industry. While this may be the case, it’s still truly staggering to consider how many smartphones are being sold right now. Horace Dediu of Asymco cited recent comScore results that revealed 98 million Americans above the age of 13 still don’t use smartphones, representing 41% of mobile phone users in the United States. He went on to note that 2.5 million more people started using smartphones in the three-month period ending in May, compared to the three months leading up to the end of April. This means roughly 583,000 people in the U.S. are buying smartphones for the first time each week, an increase from an average of 572,000 smartphone purchases per week over the past 41 months. Dediu explained that “the rate of adoption of smartphones is not slowing in any perceptible way,” adding that the U.S. market is clearly not saturated. More →
Given that everyone from Apple to Samsung to BlackBerry has posted disappointing sales for their flagship devices over the past year, it shouldn’t be surprising that smartphone buyers as a whole aren’t feeling the same excitement about new devices that they were just a few years ago. The Wall Street Journal reports that new research from UBS shows the rate of smartphone upgrades declined by 9% year-over-year in 2012 and is projected to decline by another 2% year-over-year in 2013. More →
Since we’re still witnessing the slow death of the traditional PC, it may seem a little premature to already start talking about the deaths of smartphones and tablets. But Frog Design’s chief creative officer Mark Rolston, writing at Technology Review, thinks that it’s only a matter before we start talking about the end of today’s mobile devices and the rise of wearable and embedded computing devices that are even less visible than smartphones. More →
Shipments of smartphones and tablets are continuing to grow at unprecedented rates. Research firm Gartner estimates that channel sales of smartphones and tablets will surpass 2 billion units in 2013. Tablet shipments are forecasted to grow 67.9% to 202 million units, while smartphone shipments are expected to increase 4.3% to more than 1.8 billion units. In 2014, shipments are estimated to continue to grow, with smartphones shipping more than 1.9 billion units and tablets more than 275 million units. The PC industry isn’t expected to see the same success, of coruse. The firm predicts that desktop and notebook PC shipments will decline 10.6% from more than 340 million units in 2012 to 305 million units in 2013. Shipments are then expected to continue their decline moving forward, dipping below 300 million in 2014.
Emerging markets are expected to greatly contribute to the continued growth of smartphones, tablets and PCs over the next few years. Research firm IDC projects shipments of “smart connect devices” will grow to 1.7 billion units in 2014, roughly 1 billion of which will be shipped to emerging markets. China, India, Brazil, and Russia are expected to generate shipments of 662 million units valued at more than $206 billion, while the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan will account for more than 650 million units valued at $204 billion. Tablets and smartphones are expected to make up a bulk of the shipments, accounting for more than 1.4 billion units worth around $500 billion. The PC industry will likely continue to suffer, only seeing shipments of 300 million units valued at less than $200 billion.
While bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies have made big strides over the past few years, it seems that there’s a sizable contingent of companies that are still reluctant to let their worker use their personal phones for work. ZDNet points us to a new survey from Ovum showing that just over a third of employees who bring their smartphones to use at work do so without the consent of their IT departments. Ovum analyst Adrian Drury says that companies that don’t have BYOD policies in place are making a critical mistake because “if you take the King Canute approach and try to drive that behaviour underground you just lose control of it.”
Anyone wondering why smartphone vendors have been plugging resources into developing devices for emerging markets lately needs look no further than the latest projections from Ericsson. Reuters reports that Ericsson sees smartphone subscriptions quadrupling over the next five years to total 4.5 billion by the end of 2018. Ericsson last year forecasted that there would be around 3.3 billion smartphone subscriptions by 2018, so it seems that smartphone adoption in emerging markets is accelerating significantly. With billions of new potential customers at stake, it’s easy to see why Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry and Nokia are all ramping up production of low-cost devices for key markets such as China, India, Brazil and Nigeria so they can hopefully lock in users’ loyalty for years to come.
A teenager from Saratoga, California took home one of the top prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair late last week after showing off her invention, which can fully charge a cell phone in 30 seconds or less. Eesha Khare was given the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and a $50,000 prize for being runner-up in the competition, which was won by a 19-year-old who unveiled a new spin on self-driving car technology. Khare’s battery technology requires a new component to be installed inside the phone battery itself, and Intel notes that it also has potential applications for car batteries.
European governments are casting a baleful eye on the explosive smartphone and tablet growth. The problem for many Europeans lies in the way these devices promote vehicles for American entertainment — from Amazon and Netflix to Apple and Disney. The new proposal made by the president of France would slap a 1% tax on all smartphone and tablet retail sales, with a goal to protect “l’exception culturelle”. This exception is a concept France created in 1992 to defend protectionist measures aimed at preserving the cultural heritage of France. More →
Over the last 12 months, the NASDAQ has moved up by 17%, a respectable performance. However, most of the best-known hedge funds in the world continue lagging both NASDAQ and the broader S&P index woefully. The smartest investors in the world are having trouble matching index funds in both 2012 and 2013. Probably the biggest reason for this is the way smartphone-related stocks have underperformed. This was something that was extremely difficult to predict in early 2012. Not only has Apple tanked over the past year but other hedge fund darlings have also lagged behind NASDAQ: Omnivision, the camera module champion, is down 16% in a year and Qualcomm, the key phone chip vendor, is up by only 4%. More →