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 →
The days when smartphone buyers valued devices that fit neatly into their hands appear to be over — nowadays it’s all about the big, beautiful display. A new survey from Strategy Analytics has found that consumers are increasingly attracted to smartphones with larger screens, indicating that the trend Samsung started with its Galaxy Note line of phablets has taken hold. Overall, the survey found that consumers preferred an average smartphone size of around 4.5 inches in the second half of 2012, or right in the middle of Apple’s 4-inch iPhone 5 and Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy S4. What’s more, the survey also found that many smartphone owners have a case of “phablet envy” since “the majority of consumers surveyed indicated that they preferred prototypes that have a larger screen than their current phone.”
A new report has found that the number of gamers playing games online has continued to increase over the past year. According to NPD Group, 72% of U.S. gamers play online, up from 67% in 2012. Not only are more gamers connecting to the Internet, but they are also spending more time playing games in general. The average amount of time spent each week on gaming has gone up 9%, and for online play, it has increased 6%. More →
A new study from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University found that using a voice-to-text feature such as Siri to send messages while driving is just as dangerous as texting. Researchers found that both methods significantly delayed a driver’s response time. The study involved 43 participants who were required to drive along a test track while concentrating only on driving, and then repeat the task once while texting and again time using a voice-to-text feature on a smartphone. More →
Mobile devices have come a long way in a short period of time. It seems as if smartphones and tablets are capable of just about anything, however battery restrictions are holding these powerful devices back. The rate of innovation has not be been the same in the battery field and users are forced to bring chargers with them wherever they go. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are looking to change that with a new lithium-ion battery that is 2,000 times more powerful than comparable technologies. More →
The word “sapphire” typically conjures up images of luxury gems, but it could soon be associated with high-end smartphone displays as well. Technology Review reports that engineers at New Hampshire-based GT Advanced Technologies are working on ways to make sapphire a practical alternative to Corning’s ever-popular Gorilla Glass as a building material for smartphone screens. While Technology Review concedes that sapphire screens will likely remain much more expensive than Gorilla Glass screens going forward, the publication points out that sapphire screens would be roughly three times more durable and resistant to scratching than Corning’s displays. The key will be to get sapphire display costs down to around $20 per unit, which would still represent a major premium compared to a typical $3 Gorilla Glass screen, but would at least make the material viable for a limited number of high-end smartphones.
The United States has outstanding LTE coverage compared to other markets, however worldwide carriers are beginning to upgrade their networks to deliver the high-speed wireless technology to their customers. According to a new report from ABI Research, the total mobile data traffic for 2012 amounted to 13,412 petabytes, an increase of 69% from 2011 when 3G data usage accounted for 46% of all traffic. The accelerated adoption of 4G LTE is expected to increase in 2013, however. The research firm estimates that LTE data traffic will grow an astonishing 207% year-over-year in 2013, compared to 99% growth for 3G traffic. The increase for LTE traffic comes as a result of added 4G deployments in developed markets throughout the world. There are still a number of markets that have not yet upgraded to the technology, though.
We’re rapidly approaching a time when we can start referring to smartphones as simply “phones.” According to the latest projections from market research firm IDC, smartphone shipments will top feature phone shipments for the first time ever this year, with China accounting for nearly one-third of all smartphones projected to ship in 2013. According to IDC, vendors will sell 918.6 million smartphones into channels in 2013, including 301.2 million devices shipped to China, 137.5 million shipped to the United States and 35.5 million shipped to the United Kingdom. More →
In a surprising development, it seems that a lot of people don’t like being told they can’t unlock their cell phones. NPR reports that a petition posted on the White House website asking the Obama administration to “champion a bill that makes [cell phone] unlocking permanently legal” has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, which means that the White House by its own rules must now issue a formal response. More →
While we don’t expect police will start arresting 9-year-old girls for unlocking their Winnie the Pooh smartphones anytime soon, we can’t say that the newly enacted American law that outlaws unlocking your smartphone sets a good precedent. Contrast this with what our neighbors to the north are pondering: According to CBCNews, Canada’s top telecom regulator wants to not only limit the early termination fees that wireless carriers can charge but also mandate that carriers unlock their smartphones under “reasonable terms.” Even more amazingly, CBC says that the country’s wireless carriers have actually praised the proposed new rules, as a Telus spokesman said they were “a good start to work from.” A public hearing on the proposed rules is scheduled to occur next month.