Jun 252014

Google Launches AndroidOne in IndiaGoogle Executive Sundar Pichai Launching Android One

Google tightened its grip on Apple’s cojones in emerging markets like India with the launch of the new Android One “turnkey solution” initiative for smartphone manufacturers.

Over the last couple of years, Google has extended the sway of its Android mobile platform through various partnerships pushing Apple’s marketshare down relentlessly.

Already an irrelevant player in the growing Indian smartphone market, Apple will find it even harder to gain marketshare in the face of initiatives like Android One.

Android accounts for the overwhelming majority of the Indian smartphone market while Apple languishes around 1%-2%.

Android One – Indian Beginning

Google touted Android One as a turnkey solution combining hardware reference platforms and software to enable manufacturers to quickly launch smartphones at low prices in emerging markets like India where smartphone pentration is less than 10%.

On the hardware side, Google will identify a set of components that go into “next-generation smartphones” and pre-qualify vendors so that they can easily build high quality smartphones quickly.

The software on Android One will include stock Android (found on Nexus and Google Play Edition phones), locally relevant apps and automatic updates to the Android software.

At Google’s annual I/O conference today, Google senior VP Sundar Pichai identified Indian smartphone vendor Micromax as one of several companies Google is working with on the Android One program to offer smartphones for less than $100.

Au contraire, Apple’s iPhone 5S cost $891 for the basic 16GB model. Even the three-year-old iPhone 4S costs $641 in India. Unlike in the U.S., smartphones are not subsidized by carriers in India. Continue reading »

Jun 022014

More Cool Stuff Coming Out of Apple in Fall 2014
Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference today in San Francisco.

The conference provided Apple CEO Tim Cook the opportunity to take to the stage and present some drool-worthy facts to the audience and outline new cool stuff that’s on the way:

Apple 2014 - Hightlights

What’s Coming

OS X Yosemite – Apple’s successor to OS X Mavericks desktop operating system

iOS 8 – The new mobile OS (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch)

Swift – A new programming language for Apple platforms that works alongside Objective C and C in an application

OS X Yosemite

Apple executives introduced OS X Yosemite desktop operating system and iOS 8 mobile OS to the developer community today.

Some nice features of OS X Yosemite include the ability to make and receive iPhone calls on the Mac. Useful when the iPhone is upstairs and SI is responding to a priceless comment. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Another cool feature is Handoff which lets the Mac know the last thing you were doing on the iPad or iPhone and vice versa. This means you can start a job on an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch and complete it on the Mac or the other way around.

Spotlight is beefed up to search both the local device and pull material from the Internet.

I skipped OS X Mavericks out of concern that my Mac would slow down. But when OS X Yosemite releases I might be tempted to do the upgrade. Since I have 20GB of RAM, and a quad-core i5 processor, my speed concerns are perhaps unwarranted.

iOS 8

iOS 8 enhancements include adding voice to text messages, improved photo management, WiFi calling, a Healthbook app, better Spotlight search and integration with Mac to let users start a task in iPhone and continue on iPad or Mac and vice versa.

iOS 8 should work with iPhone 4S and above, iPad 2 and above on the tablet side and iPod touch (5th generation).

Both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are available for developers today.

The public will be able to get them in the fall.

Did I tell you the Yosemite and iOS 8 upgrades are free? :)

Apple also talked up Swift, a new coding language to build apps for its iOS and OS X platforms and it’s supposedly 220 times faster than Python.

Other announcements included an iCloud Drive that lets users easily store and access files kept in Apple’s iCloud from all devices including Windows PCs.

Related Apple Posts:
The Many Idiots Who Were Wrong on Apple

Five Most Sizzling Smartphones of 2014

 Android, iPhone, Smartphones  Comments Off on Five Most Sizzling Smartphones of 2014
May 022014

2014 will be the year of the great shakeout in the smartphone and phablet arenas.

Feature phones are starting to fade into the mist and the year will likely end with over 60% of mobile phones sold in 2014 being smartphones.

This year will also be make and break time for high profile vendors like Sony and LG that are struggling to establish themselves as smartphone contenders and challenge the dominance of Samsung and Apple.

Here is our pick of the five devices that we believe have the most potential to create waves in the smartphones marketplace in 2014:

* Redmi Note

I’m betting big on Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note phablet.

But not the only one!

Redmi Note Phablet
Chinese smartphone and phablet vendor Xiaomi is on a tear and aims to sell 60 million smartphones this year.

The four-year-old company’s Android-based Xiaomi Hongmi smartphones and Redmi Note phablets have won legions of fans for their solid specs and low prices.

If you believe the latest buzz, Redmi Note has attracted 15 million pre-orders.

Redmi Note comes in two versions – The premium ($161) version has a faster 1.7MHz processor and 2GB RAM. The lite ($130) model runs on a 1.4GHz processor and 1GB RAM.

8-Core MTK 6592 1.4GHz/1.7GHz processor
5.5-inch full HD IPS display
3,200 mAh lithium-polymer battery
13MP rear facing camera
5MP front facing camera
8GB internal storage
SD card slot
Dual SIM card

Last month, Xiaomi announced plans to invade India later this year. This is one Chinese invasion that will find a warm welcome.

Alas, Xiaomi is still essentially an Asian phenomenon and it’ll be at least a couple of years before it turns its eyes toward Europe and America.

* Amazon Phone

Considering its deep pockets and a vast base of mostly satisfied customers including yours truly, e-commerce powerhouse Amazon’s upcoming Android smartphone cannot be ignored.

Amazon SmartphoneSupposed Picture of Amazon Smartphone
(Pix Courtesy: BGR)

There’s been talk that the Amazon phone will have six camera modules for 3D effects, gesture-based controls, a 4.7-inch screen with 720p HD resolution, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2GB RAM, and a custom version of Android.

The rumor mill says that Amazon will introduce the phone with Prime Data, which is described in some media quarters as an unique wireless data package.

Look for the Amazon phone to ship in the third quarter, well in time to capitalize on the holiday season.

* LG G3

LG’s new flagship smartphone G3 will debut on May 27 and 28 in New York, San Francisco, London, Seoul, Singapore and Istanbul.

The G3 will most certainly have a 2K display (2560ร—1440) and run on Android 4.4 (KitKat).

Will that be a game-changer for LG, which ranked as the fifth largest smartphone vendor in the first quarter of 2014?

If the G3 fails to take off, LG’s smartphone hopes may well sink forever.

Expect G3 to start shipping in July.

* iPhone 6

With so many rumors flying fast and furious on Apple’s successor to the iPhone 5S, it’s hard to separate the possible from the wildly fanciful.

It’s safe to say that iPhone 6 (or whatever the next iPhone model will be called) will come with a larger screen, an improved camera and launch in the second half, closer to the holiday season.

I’d be surprised if the iPhone 6 comes out with a screen smaller than 5-inches. The current high-end iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen size.

2014 could possibly be the year that Apple starts to feel severe pricing pressure from the cheaper Chinese Android phones like Xiaomi with powerful specs.

* OnePlus One

Man, whoever thought of the OnePlus One name deserves accolades for imagination.

Don’t you think so?

Hot as hot can be, OnePlus One is already a sizzler among netizens.

A 5.5-inch screen, SnapDragon 801 quad core processor, 13MP back and 5MP front camera, 16/64GB internal storage, 3GB RAM and a 3100 mAh battery.

And all of this for a mere $299 (16GB).

What’s wrong with these OnePlus One folks?

Did no one ever tell them, Greed is Good! ๐Ÿ˜‰

OnePlus One - A Sizzler of a SmartphoneDrool Baby, Drool

By the way, the 64GB version of OnePlus One is $349.

Now if OnePlus One is not smartphone Nirvana, I don’t know what else counts!

Looking at the above five sizzlers, my 8-month-old iPhone 5S look positively antiquated, as if it belongs in the age of dinosaurs! :(

May 012014

Millions of Americans pay less than $99 for their spanking new iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C.

That’s because a huge number of American consumers trade in their existing iPhones when Apple puts out a new model.

For instance, I paid a mere $59 for my new iPhone 5S (16GB) at Best Buy last year after trading in my three-year-old iPhone 4 (which I had maintained in pristine condition thanks to my tank-like Ballistic case).

Logitech Case+ for iPhone 5S and iPhone 5Logitech Case+ for iPhone 5S/5 – $200

Logitech Case+

And now comes along Logitech with the $200 Case+ for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5.

Case+ includes a case, wallet, tilt stand, car drive mount and battery pack.

The back of the case is magnetized so that the other parts can attach to it.

Logitech Case+ Magnetized BackLogitech Case+ (left) has Magnetized Back

The extra battery juice is useful but it’s not worth $200. Since Case+ is not available in unbundled form, you have to get the whole shebang – wallet, tilt stand, drive mount and all.

From the looks of the Case+, I can see that this case is not a rugged cover and will not protect my iPhone 5S should I drop it on the sidewalk or the train platform. Continue reading »

Apr 152014

Americans and Europeans have been paying through their nose for smartphones, boosting the fortunes of greedy corporations like Apple and Samsung to stratospheric heights.

The latest model of unlocked iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones purchased at retail (which few do in the U.S.) will set you back at least $650.

Together, Apple and Samsung account for over 47% of the global smartphone market. All the other major smartphone manufacturers have less than 5% marketshare each.

Xiaomi Redmi Note Phablet
Xiaomi Redmi Note Phablet – $161
(Pix Courtesy – GSM Arena)

Asia – Different

Americans and Europeans may be jumping on the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy bandwagon but Asians (excluding South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong) are a different kettle of fish.

The low income levels of majority of people in China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka plus the frugal culture and absence of carrier subsidies means folks out there will be highly unlikely to buy a smartphone unless it’s around $100-$150.

To cater to the unwashed masses in South Asia and parts of South East Asia, a gaggle of Chinese companies have launched smartphones with prices as low as $95.

Samsung & Apple Face Tough Battle in Asia

With the exception of the Blackberry Z3, all of the low-cost smartphones targeted at Asians are based on Google’s Android software. Most of these Android devices run older versions of the software like Jelly Bean.

But the dai in Mumbai, vegetable seller in Jamshedpur, the housewife in Villupuram or the randi in Karachi couldn’t care less whether her phone runs Jelly Bean or KitKat. All she wants is a cheap phone (preferably nice looking) that will allow her to yak-yak with friends and family and come in handy in boosting the tiny business she runs on the side.

Many of these new low cost smartphones are pretty impressive with fast processors, impressive cameras and decent amount of memory.

For instance, Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note phablet is decked up with a 5.5 inch 720 x 1280 display, a 1.7GHz Octa-core chipset, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a 13MP camera, 3200mAh battery and Android 4.2.2. And it costs just $161.

So popular is the Redmi Note that last month the Chinese manufacturer sold 100,000 units in 34 minutes. Asian media reports described it as “agonizing 34 minutes” because Xiaomi sold 100,000 units of the cheaper Hongmi smartphones in just four minutes in November 2013.

There are smartphones cheaper than the Xiaomi Hongmi in Asia.

Just the other day, Asus launched its line of ZenFones with prices starting at $95.

Impact on Samsung, Apple

Given the huge price difference between the cheap smartphones flooding the Asian market and devices made by the two Goliaths Apple and Samsung, I wonder how the two titans will surmount the price obstacle. Continue reading »

Mar 112014


Google’s Android platform will see a huge leap in its smartphone user base in India in 2014 and drive Apple into an insignificant status.

Kinda like what South Indian superstar Rajinikanth does to his foes in movie after movie.

As Tamil movie fans know well, by the time Rajinikanth leaves the battle field his enemies have lost the use of all their limbs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

For Apple, already irrelevant in the Indian smartphone sector, Android’s huge growth in 2014 and 2015 will crush its aspirations for the iPhone in a key emerging market and make it extremely hard if not impossible to gain ground.

2014 – Android Celebration

In 2014, market researchers expect 225 million smartphones to be sold in India (versus 89 million units projected for the U.S.).

The Indian mobile phone market is still dominated by feature phones which account for 78% of all cell phones.

Of the 225 million smartphones projected to be sold in India this year, I expect over 80% will run Google’s Android software.

The bulk of Android’s growth in India will come from cheap Chinese smartphones without a big brand image. Not from high-end Android players like Samsung or HTC whose phones have the latest bells and whistles.

Smartphones, often running older versions of the Android software like Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, can be had for as low as $100 in India. And they will rule the roost for the foreseeable future in India.

Apple’s iPhones (even the older models like the iPhone 4) are several times more expensive, putting them out of reach of majority of Indians.

Apple’s current share of the Indian smartphone market is insignificant, likely in the 1%-2% range.

Don’t be surprised if Apple’s share of the Indian smartphone market slips below 1% over the next 18-months.

By the way, Apple’s reported moves to push the three-generation-old iPhone 4 (8GB) in India is silly. Indians may be poor but they’re not dumb to pay a premium for old junk.

Although sinking elsewhere, Blackberry still has a large base in India with several medium and large businesses and financial institutions offering it to their employees.