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Samsung posts record net profit on smartphone sales

Samsung Electronics has reported record profits in the three months to September, led by strong sales of its Galaxy range of smartphones.

Net profit was 6.5tn won ($5.9bn; £3.7bn), a 91% jump from a year earlier.

Strong demand and improved profitability at its display panel unit also boosted earnings.

However, increased competition and its legal tussles with Apple have raised concerns over its future performance.

“There are concerns that Samsung’s earnings would peak this year,” said Lee Sun-Tae an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

‘Not sexy enough’

While Samsung has enjoyed tremendous success with its Galaxy range of smartphones, other manufacturers have been releasing new models, crowding the market space.

Last month, its biggest rival Apple launched the latest version of its iPhone.

Meanwhile, HTC and Nokia have also introduced new models powered by Windows 8, as the two firms look to regain some the market share they have lost in recent times.

Analysts said that increased competition means that firms may have to lower their prices to attract buyers as well as spend more on their marketing campaigns – which will dent their profit margins.

Samsung, which derives the bulk of its earnings from smartphone sales, is likely to feel the affect of any such moves.

“It’ll be difficult for Samsung to maintain such a high profit margin from handsets as the market gets crowded,” said Nam Dae-Jong, of Hana Daetoo Securities.  Read More

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Apple Shifts iPhone Chip Suppliers

By JUNG-AH LEE

SEOUL—Apple Inc. AAPL +0.62%has recently shifted some memory-chip orders for its coming iPhone from Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +4.52%to other Asian chip makers, people familiar with the matter said Friday, suggesting that the U.S. company is diversifying its component suppliers as patent disputes between the two technology giants escalate.

As patent disputes continue, Apple shifts its chip orders for the new iPhone from Samsung to other companies. The WSJ’s Yun-Hee Kim explains the future of their rocky relationship.

A person familiar with the situation said Apple AAPL +0.62%has been ordering more memory chips used to store data in its smartphones from South Korea-based SK Hynix Inc. 000660.SE +7.66%However, Samsung will still be supplying the main processors used to power the new iPhone, another person familiar with the situation said.

“Orders to SK Hynix for both mobile DRAM and NAND flash memory chips from Apple have risen in recent months,” said one of the people, who declined to be named.

Spokesmen for SK Hynix and Samsung declined to comment. A spokesman for Apple in Korea also declined to comment.

imageBloomberg NewsAn Apple Inc. iPhone 4S smartphone.

Samsung, which competes with Apple in the smartphone market, is also one of Apple’s biggest component suppliers. In addition to memory chips and processors, it also supplies the displays used in Apple’s iPads. However, the new iPhone is expected to be equipped with displays from Japan’s Sharp Corp., 6753.TO +3.00%Korea’s LG Display Co., 034220.SE +2.04%and Japan Display Inc., according to other people familiar with the situation, as it uses a different panel manufacturing technology that Samsung doesn’t use. Apple is also likely diversifying its supply chain for chips in anticipation of strong demand for its product.

Analysts said that the ongoing high-profile litigation between the two companies may have accelerated Apple’s move to reduce its dependence on Samsung.  Read More

The Kindle Wants To Be Free

Next week or next year, Amazon will start giving away its e-reader. Here’s why.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos holds the new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos holds the Kindle Fire on Sep. 28, 2011 in New York CityPhotograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

My record on predictions about Amazon is mixed at best. Two summers ago, I guessed that “before the holidays,” Amazon would cut the price of its cheapest Kindle e-reader to $99. My logic was solid—the cost of the Kindle’s parts kept declining rapidly, and Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, seems to be happiest of all when he’s slashing prices—but my timing was off. Amazon’s cheapest Kindle didn’t break the $100 barrier until last year, when the company lowered the price to $79.

Being wrong doesn’t deter me, though, so last month I reported on another vision in my Amazon crystal ball. The company was moving toward offering same-day shipping to people in large metro areas across the country, I said. But a few weeks after my piece, Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s chief financial officer, pooh-poohed the same-day shipping plan during a call with stock analysts. “We don’t really see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad scale economically,” he said. To me, that sounded like a bluff meant to throw off competitors. Amazon already offers same-day shipping on select items in 10 American cities, and shipping things faster has always been one of its primary corporate missions—that’s why it’s building dozens of new shipping centers across the country. I’m still sticking to my guns—I believe that over the next few years, Amazon will offer same-day service on more items in more places. But until I’m proven right, you can go ahead and call me wrong.

Keep that record in mind when you hear my next report from Amazon’s future. Next week, the company is holding a press event in Los Angeles to introduce some new stuff. Many observers believe that we’ll see upgrades to the firm’s Kindle lineup. These include, according to All Things D, a new Kindle Fire that has a camera and a better display and, per TechCrunch, a “front-lit” E Ink Kindle, meaning one that you can read at night. If that’s the case, I’ll be ecstatic.  Read More

13-inch Retina MacBook Pro on the way?

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Devin Coldewey

How a new 13-inch MacBook Pro might look next to its big brother.

One of the things we noted was not announced by Apple at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference was a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina screen. But chatter in the supply line suggests that such a device is almost certainly on its way.

DisplaySearch, which noted that the new MacBook Pro’s 15.4-inch Retina display was being manufactured months ago, says that the 13.3-inch version just wasn’t quite ready to go at launch. But it will come later in the year, and probably in greater quantity than the 15-inchers, the research firm says.

The resolution is expected to be 2,560-by-1,600, somewhat less than the 2,880-by-1,800 on the new models but still twice the pixels in both directions as today’s 13.3-inch MacBook Pros. But manufacturing limits caused Apple to only be able to launch one at mid-year.

Apple chose to launch an expensive item first — the MacBook Pro with Retina display starts at $2,199 — and then gradually drop the price and add lower-cost versions, much as it did with the MacBook Air and iPad. DisplaySearch says that the smaller Retina laptops are likely being manufactured and assembled now and could be available later in the summer.  Read More

Microsoft Shows SmartGlass

By IAN SHERR

Look out Nintendo Co., Microsoft Corp. MSFT +0.35% is preparing its response to the Japanese company’s next-generation console, a technology it calls “SmartGlass.”

The Microsoft software, unveiled at the E3 videogame conference in Los Angeles on Monday, promises to bring together several key Microsoft products: its Xbox videogame console, tablets running the new Windows 8 operating system and Windows phone devices.

SmartGlass, Microsoft says, will allow a tablet or smartphone to stream media to a big screen controlled by the Xbox console. It also can augment videogames with additional information such as team formations in a sports game.

Microsoft says SmartGlass will be free and work with Windows phones, Windows 8 and other portable devices.

“We all go into our living room and have a touch surface like a phone or a tablet, but it has no idea what’s occurring on the TV,” said Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s gaming business. The SmartGlass apps he said, by contrast will allow the Xbox to “communicate with whatever glass surface you have.”

He said Microsoft spent about a year developing SmartGlass, and that it will work with devices customers already own, including Apple Inc.’s AAPL +0.59% iPad and iPhone as well as devices that use Google Inc.’s GOOG +1.33% Android operating system, aside from Microsoft’s own devices.

“All they do is download the app and it knits their content together,” he added.

The Redmond, Wash., company’s efforts to expand its Xbox 360 game console come as Nintendo prepares to release its next generation Wii U game console later this year. The console, which has so far had mixed reactions from investors and industry analysts alike, includes a tabletlike controller called the Wii U GamePad. Nintendo says the device will use its touch screen and onboard sensors to interact with games.

There are existing products on the market that try to accomplish similar chores. Apple, for example, has a technology called AirPlay, which can stream video, music and images from an iPhone or iPad to an Apple TV.  Read More

Rumor: Apple to demo new Apple TV OS at WWDC, will be used on iTV

Apple could be preparing to demonstrate a new operating system for the Apple TV set-top box at theWorldwide Developers Conference in a couple of weeks. The OS is much more feature-complete than the current offering and while that alone could be exciting news for some, BGR says that this OS will also be utilized on the company’s long-rumored HDTV.

A trusted source told the publication that Apple has been shopping around a new “control out” API that would allow manufacturers to make accessories and components that would be compatible with the new TV OS and the pending television set. This new API will reportedly be able to control any connected component from the Apple remote control and probably the Apple iOS remote app as well.

As you can imagine, having this level of control over components would be unheard of as today’s home theater systems typically include a bevy of different remote controls, infrared codes, physical cables and / or separate Wi-Fi apps for each device.

The publication’s source claims that the API works on all levels of popular components, even allowing the user to control programming guides on a cable provider’s box. Perhaps this could be the game-changer that the late Steve Jobs was referring to when he said he’d finally cracked it? Read More

Another idea for Apple’s rumored TV: An ‘iDevice’

A Forrester analyst puts out the idea that Apple needs to offer something less like a TV to make a splash. But that only tells part of the story.
(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

It still may be a down economy for many, but the veritable cottage industry for jockeying when Apple will enter the TV business is booming. The latest to weigh in on the topic is Forrester analyst James McQuivey with a suggestion that Apple ought to offer a device that sounds to me like something between a giant iPad, and Microsoft’s latest version of its Surface computer.

Without mentioning Microsoft’s table computing product, which was revamped last January to work both as a table and mounted to a wall, McQuivey suggests a TV set from Apple would be more like a giant iPad married with Microsoft Kinect, enabling both touch and gesture controls, and — of course — apps:

Here’s me putting on the record what I’ve been telling clients behind closed doors for more than a year: Apple should sell the world’s first non-TV TV. Instead of selling a replacement for the TV you just bought, Apple should convince millions of Apple fans that they need a new screen in their lives. Call it the iHub, a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, and iPad control that can be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating — in more and more U.S. homes, that room is the dining room or eat-in kitchen. By pushing developers to create apps that serve as the hub of family life — complete with shared calendars, photo and video viewers, and FaceTime for chatting with grandma — this non-TV TV could take off, ultimately positioning Apple to replace your 60-inch set once it’s ready to retire.

As Fortune points out, McQuivey isn’t the first to float the idea of the Apple TV as a catch-all device. In a note to investors last month, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek suggested Apple’s TV set would be named the “iPanel” and serve as a “display, gaming center, media hub, computer, home automator, etc.”   Read More

Google: Here’s What Our Sci-Fi Glasses Look Like

We’re more than a quarter of the way through 2012, and as you may have noticed, we have failed to acquire silver jumpsuits or jetpacks. In fact, aside from that headset in your ear, smartphone in your pocket and tablet in your purse, everything is looking quite boringly un-futuristic.

But if Google has its way, we will start wearing some very science fiction-like glasses by year’s end.

The search giant’s research arm launched a Google+ page Wednesday for Project Glass, its augmented reality glasses project. The page revealed that Google researchers have started testing the glasses, with an Android-run heads-up display, that the New York Times suggested Google will start to sell this year for roughly the cost of a regular smartphone.

[Update: a Google spokesperson has indicated to Mashable that the company selling the glasses this year would be “extremely unlikely.”]  Read More

Next iPhone may be housed in ‘Liquidmetal’

Liquidmetal would make the outer surface of the iPhone

After releasing two generations of iPhones with exactly the same form factor, Apple is expected to show off a new chassis design — and possibly new materials — in its sixth-generation smartphone.

And a little-known alloy that Apple has quietly been using for the past two years could be just the ticket to make consumers swoon.

Korea IT News reported Wednesday that the iPhone 5 is likely to be housed in Liquidmetal, the commercial name for an alloy of titanium, zirconium, nickel, copper and other metals. It would make the outer surface of the phone “smooth like liquid,” according to the report.

“The next iPhone needs to truly stand out from the crowd,” Canalys analyst Chris Jones told Wired via email. “A change in materials is a likely way to differentiate its form factor.”

Liquidmetal was discovered at the California Institute of Technology in 1992. It’s a class of patented amorphous metal alloys (basically metallic glass) with unique properties including high strength, high wear resistance against scratching and denting, and a good strength-to-weight ratio. Apple was granted rights to use it in August of 2010.  Read More

My Beautiful, Obsolete iPhone: Has Apple Lost Its Design Mojo?

My lovely, tech-challenged wife bought her first iPhone the other day. She looked at the price for the 3GS at the AT&T store—99 cents—and she thought it was a typo or some sort of post-Steve Jobs, fine-print come-on. When I assured her that the right to buy a discounted smartphone was rolled into our monthly bill, she was sold.

Her pink Razr would finally be consigned to that Great Cell Phone Graveyard in the Sky.

As the clerk unboxed her shiny new Iphone, I experienced déjà vu all over again. I wanted to pick up my wife’s old-school iPhone and, well, fondle it. Like my own late, lamented 3G, this phone was rounded and smooth, one part worry beads, two parts Brancusi sculpture. As I peeled off the plastic, I cradled it in my hand and it cradled me back.

My new edgy, glassy iPhone4S is a much better phone. The retina display kicks serious butt. But as a piece of design, it just doesn’t compare to the 3G. Its busy design doesn’t look as sleek or feel as good. The 4S is different, but it isn’t better.

And that’s been the trend with the Apple products that have been finding their way into our household lately.  When they’re powered off and unplugged, they’re not ugly or clunky. Unless you compare them to the product they’re replacing.  Read More

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