Monthly Archives: June 2017

Nokia Smartphone Comeback

Nokia on Wednesday announced its return to the mobile phone and tablet business in connection with a larger agreement by Microsoft to sell its entry-level phone business to HMD Global and FIH Mobile for US$350 million.  Under the deal, Microsoft will sell its Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility to FIH Mobile, a unit of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group. Workers will be given the opportunity to work for FIH Mobile or HMD Global, according to Microsoft.

Nokia will grant HMD, a newly formed company, the exclusive global license to create Nokia-branded phones and tablets for the next 10 years and will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of those devices, covering both brand and intellectual property rights. HMD plans to invest more than $500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of the Nokia devices, which will be paid for by investors and profits from the new business. HMD will be led by CEO Arto Nummela, a former senior executive at Nokia and the head of Microsoft’s mobile device business in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Florian Seiche, senior vice president for Europe, sales and marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and also a former Nokia executive, will become president.

Nokia’s Long Game

Nokia found a strategy to get its name back into the mobile device business when faced with competition from brands such as Apple, Samsung and Google, which have dominated the mobile landscape in recent years, analyst Jeff Kagansaid. “After selling their failing handset business to Microsoft several years ago, Nokia has been trying to re-enter the marketplace,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “Unfortunately, to date, they haven’t really created any growth waves yet.” Nokia has been stuck in a noncompete situation since the sale of its phone business to Microsoft in 2013, according to a report by IHS Technology. The company’s goal was to re-enter the business in a way that required much less capital investment and reduced risk. Feature phones represent a declining market, with only 400 million units shipped worldwide in 2015, the report said. However, Nokia still has a great deal of brand recognition, and HMD likely will target emerging markets under the new relationship. The company likely will pursue smartphones and wearables, he told the E-Commerce Times.



Lenovo’s Yoga Book

Lenovo’s recently unveiled 2-in-1, the Yoga Book, is available in Android Marshmallow and Windows 10 Home versions. Reviews have been mixed, with some praising its look and feel, but some considering its capabilities not up to scratch. Its Intel Atom processor doesn’t provide enough power for a workhorse device, they have argued. The Android version costs US$500 and the Windows version goes for $550. The Atom processor “was a cost-saving measure, because Lenovo hasn’t yet shown that its customers will shell out top dollar for a device with a sixth- or seventh-generation Intel processor,” said Eric Smith, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The Book’s 8500 math li-ion polymer battery is rated to provide more than 70 days of standby time and 13 hours of general use. It has a 10.1-inch FHD IPS 1920 x 1200 capacitive touchscreen with a 70 percent color gamut and brightness rated at 400 nits. The Windows version runs Any Pen technology, and the Android version runs EMR Pen. The Book has a metal housing. The Windows version is available in carbon black only; the Android device is available in carbon black, gunmetal gray and champagne gold.

The Book has an 8-MP autofocus rear camera and a 2-MP fixed-focus front camera with standard sensors. The Windows device comes preloaded with Microsoft Office Mobile: Excel, Powerpoint, Word and OneNote, as well as a trial version of Evernote ArtRage Lite. The Android version comes with Lenovo’s Note Saver, Collection, SHAREit and SYNCit, as well as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, McAfee Security, Evernote ArtRage and TouchPal IME. The Real Pen, which is compatible with both OSes, costs $40.

The Yoga Book “feels more like a mobile device than a heavy-duty computing machine,” wrote Lauren Goode for The Verge. The Android version makes more sense, but Lenovo is not using the latest version of Android and has put its own skin on top of Marshmallow instead, she noted. The Windows 10 version “takes several seconds to boot up and apps stuttered or froze up entirely on it more than once” while Goode was testing it.

Apple Unveils Budget

The iPad upgrade has a 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel Retina display with 264 pixels per inch, and Apple’s A9 64-bit processor. The unit will come in silver, gold and space gray with a starting price of US$329 for 32 gigabytes of storage and WiFi-only support. It will cost $459 for a 32-GB unit with WiFi and cellular support. As with prior models, the battery life for the new iPad is 10 hours. It has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.2-MP front-facing FaceTime unit. The new iPad is available for order on Mach 24 from Apple’s website and will be in Apple Stores next week. With the latest upgrade, Apple’s iPad lineup looks like this: iPad Pro 12.9 inch ($799); iPad Pro 9.7 inch ($599); iPad 9.7 inch ($329) and iPad mini 4 ($399).

Apple introduced red versions of its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to celebrate the company’s 10-year partnership with (RED), an organization that funds programs to help prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to unborn babies. A portion of the sales of the RED iPhone will go to the organization, to which Apple has contributed more than $130 million during the partnership. Slated for availability in Apple Stores on Friday, the RED iPhone pricing will start at $749 for a 128-GB model. Apple also announced Clips, a new video-editing app. The software is designed to combine photos, video and music without timelines or complicated tools.  Its LiveTitles feature lets you use your voice to create animated titles and captions. As you speak, titles appear on the screen perfectly synced to your speech. You can edit titles with a tap. Comic book filters are included, as well as support for speech bubbles and shapes. You can use the software to create full-screen posters with animated backgrounds too. Dozens of music soundtracks are available for the content you create with the app. What’s more, the app automatically trims them to fit your production. Available in April, Clips runs on iOS 10.3 and is compatible with the iPhone 5s or later, all iPad Air and Pro models, the iPad mini 2 and above, and the iPod touch 6th-generation model.

The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame

I hope that, like me, you are off this long holiday weekend and have a chance to think about the drama that now surrounds the U.S. administration. What I find fascinating isn’t that the government is a bit of a mess but that the accidental transparency of this administration is focusing us more on the visibility of the problems rather than on the problems themselves. For instance, let’s take the issue with the Russians hacking the election. President Obama knew about it but largely sat on the information, while President Trump likely wanted to do the same thing, but leaks made it impossible. So, our focus currently is split, with blame going to one of the two administrations, when it should be focused on fixing the system so that the next election isn’t hacked.

It is kind of like having a barn fire and rather than getting the horses out before they burn, arguing over who forgot to turn the lights off. What is troubling about this is that in the face of some of the most dangerous digital times we’ve ever lived in, our government isn’t focused on making us safe it is focused on using the recurring mistakes to make peers look bad. That is pretty stupid, and the result could be not only avoidable digital disasters, but also avoidable escalation to war. Neither party seems to have a clue that the focus is on the wrong things at the moment. It is almost as if the politicians seem to think that the purpose of government is drama rather than keeping its citizens safe.

The focus on blame isn’t limited to security, though that is where much of the concern does lie, and likely should. It also seems to surround healthcare. We currently have two badly flawed programs tied to two different administrations. Obamacare ignores the excessive cost of healthcare and uses a hidden tax to cover up the massive cost of covering folks who couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay for insurance before they got sick. Its replacement attempts to reduce this massive tax without focusing at all on the actual excessive cost part. Effectively, both plans simply move around the costs which are unsustainable so different people are taxed to pay them.

Collectively, those of us who have been good about making sure we had insurance coverage are screwed by both programs but the amount of pain varies, based on which constituents vote for which party. Of course, rather than either party focusing on the excessive cost, both parties are focused like a laser on blaming the other for what are both unsustainable healthcare programs. This is the problem with a focus on blame. The actual problem takes a distant second place to articulating with great depth and vehemence the belief that a rival is an idiot. If you were sick and the two parties were your disagreeing doctors, you’d be well advised to buy a burial plot because you clearly wouldn’t survive but you’d know that once you were dead, the blame would fall someplace.