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The dogfight between BlackBerry and Windows Phone in the U.S. has a new leader. Microsoft’s smartphone platform now controls more market share than that of the Canadian firm. But there is more to the story. New Comscore data indicates that even while besting BlackBerry at last, Windows Phone’s market share in the U.S. isn’t budging. Read More
Reporters are drunkenly finding their way home from a long week in Barcelona, where the Mobile World Congress conference yielded a number of exciting new phones and tablets. Most notably, Samsung launched the Galaxy s5, Nokia launched a new Nokia X line of Android/Windows Phone hybrid devices, and we finally got up close and personal with the BlackPhone. We discuss all this and more on this… Read More
There was once a rumor that Apple would actually use a ring device for input to an Apple television. Neither of those gadgets exist yet, of course, but Ring is a Kickstarter project trying to fund a finger-based wearable that could enable the kind of controls envisioned in that Apple flight of fancy. The Ring is a hardware device that resembles an ordinary (if slightly chunky) ring, filled with… Read More
BlackBerry still enjoys a number of government smartphone contracts, but a new Android device forthcoming from Boeing might threaten that relationship. The aviation giant copped to development of a secure smartphone last year, but now the so-called « Boeing Black » has hit the FCC (via Myce), providing a little more background. Read More
In case you feel the white Nexus 5 is too ostentatious and the black Nexus 5 is to monotonous, the Nexus 5 now comes in red. Because red says your confident and are not afraid to show it.
Pricing is the same: $349 for the 16GB and $399 for the 32GB. It’s currently only available through the Google Play store, but a recent Sprint leak seems to indicate it will hit at least that carrier in the near future.
Personally, I’m holding out for the translucent version because it’s what’s inside that counts. Or some malarkey like that.
Lenovo’s aspirations for an established mobile handset company goes back a few years. According to a report published by the WSJ, Lenovo competed with Google for Motorola Mobility in 2011. Then just last October Lenovo submitted an offer for BlackBerry. That deal also fell through.
However, Lenovo’s search ended last Thanksgiving when Google Chairman Eric Schmidt called Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s chairman and chief executive, and asked if he was still interested in Motorola.
“And I said yes”, Yang told the WSJ. “This was a longtime love story.”
The story goes that Yang and Lenovo’s CFO attempted to acquire Motorola’s handset division in 2011. The pair visited company executives in Chicago. But they met with the co-CEO of the systems business, not the handset business Lenovo was after.
Google went on to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in 2012.
Following that purchase, Yang invited Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt over for dinner. “I told him if they really want to run a hardware business, they could keep it. If they are not interested in the hardware business, they could sell Motorola to us,” he said, according to the WSJ.
This deal is similar in nature to when Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC division in 2005. The purchase gives Lenovo access to a historic brand and a vast support network that includes engineers, manufacturing rights and a struggling, but established brand. Lenovo reportedly does not plan on laying off any of Motorola’s 3,500 employees.
In a conference call yesterday, Yang said Lenovo expects to sell 100 million handsets the year after the purchase is complete. It’s a lofty goal by any measure, but, with Lenovo’s global reach and dominance in their home country of China, a goal that is certainly obtainable.
On today’s Q1 earnings call, Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer bragged that “nearly all NFL teams use iPads as playbooks.”
This wouldn’t necessarily be interesting, except for the fact that Microsoft has a multi-year contract with the NFL to provide players, coaches and other personnel with a Surface tablet.
Of course, NFL teams have been using the iPad for years.
In 2011, a number of NFL teams had figured out how to transfer their playbooks over to iPad, as well as view and edit game film on the fly. By fall 2012, the number of NFL teams using iPads as playbooks had grown from 2 to 14.
In 2013, though, Microsoft signed a multi-year deal with the NFL that had a number of stipulations. As the official sideline technology partner of the NFL, Microsoft Surface and Windows would be “the official tablet and PC operating system of the NFL.”
This is made clear when you watch the NFL on Fox, as all the sports announcers sport kickstand-equipped Surface tablets on-air.
However, it seems that coaches and players prefer iProducts, according to Oppenheimer’s statements on today’s call. And it wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened.
The iPad has been a major tool across a number of enterprise businesses. Originally, health companies and car companies began using the iPad for sales purposes. Inevitably, the iPad became a sales tool across many verticals in the enterprise. More recently, industries are looking to replace paper manuals, as is the case with airlines and flight manuals.
In fact, American Airlines will save $1 million in fuel costs because of the weight decrease on flights.
Apple’s iPhone sales for Q1 2014 have broken the company’s previous record, and they also mark the company’s ability to ship as many smartphones as Samsung, which was previously the only company in the world to move over 50 million units in a single quarter back in 2012. But the number represents only 3 million more devices sold than in the same quarter last year, or around 7 percent growth. That’s a far cry from previous years, and it’s already caught the attention of those watching the company.
This suspicion that the iPhone 5c is not selling quite as well as Apple might have expected is backed up by the average selling price (ASP) of devices. The ASP dropping would suggest that the more expensive iPhone 5s is far and away the stronger seller, which is also supported by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer’s assertion on the earnings call that the iPhone 5s faced supply constraints, while no mention was made of the iPhone 5c. They sold more iPhone 5s devices than expected in North America, CEO Tim Cook explained, which made it difficult for them to get the right “mix” and caused the North American market to actually contract year over year. Cook also suggested that changes in carrier upgrade policies negatively affected North American sales.
There are a couple of potential takeaways which could suggest changes to Apple’s iPhone strategy: First, it could indicate that Apple needs to really deliver on the idea of a cheaper iPhone – the iPhone 5c was anticipated to be that, but in the end it was the same price as older devices bumped down the line in previous quarters. Second, it could provide the reasoning behind the recent report from the Wall Street Journal that Apple will ditch the plastic case for any upcoming iPhone devices to be released this year.
Refocusing on the top end and premium metal finishes is one way to address the iPhone 5c, but it’s unclear what effect that might have on growth plans. Emerging markets are still the prime target when it comes to driving continued smartphone growth, and that’s where cheaper devices are going to stand out. Apple may discuss iPhone 5c specifically during the conference call, so stay tuned to find out more.
BlackBerry has an almost uncanny ability to not die when it’s been written off again and again. Today, the Pentagon has announced that it will install 80,000 BlackBerry handsets on its network by the end of January. According to Fox News, the new phones are part of the Pentagon’s “new mobile program for unclassified work.” BlackBerry’s shares soared 10% in midday trading on the news.
The Pentagon’s faith in BlackBerry gives the company the sort of credibility it needs to retain corporate clients and keep investors interested in its future — that it has one.
Today’s gains pushed BlackBerry temporarily north of the $10 per share mark. The company is trading at the time of writing a hair below that threshold. BlackBerry ended 2013 at $7.44, meaning it is up around 34% so far in 2014.
Given that we are less than a month into the year, that’s somewhat impressive.
BlackBerry has suffered from declining device sales, loss of corporate clients, and eroding mind share more than commensurate with its slipping unit volume. This Google Trends chart is telling, I think, showing the decline in interest in BlackBerry:
Blue: iPhone. Red: Android. Yellow: BlackBerry. Green: Windows Phone
But whether BlackBerry could carve out a niche away from the consumer space, vending its hardware and software to large clients was never a closed question. The Pentagon’s installation plan of new BlackBerry devices certainly keeps the dream alive.
Unless, of course, the Pentagon is making a poor buying decision and BlackBerry’s future remains as cloudy as widely thought.
Top Image Credit: Flickr
Los Angeles-based startup Petnet announced today that it has landed a $1.125 million seed round from Grishin Robotics, Kima Ventures, SparkLabs Global Ventures, and Launch Capital. Petnet (a different company from the Australian pet supply seller of the same name) will use the investment to commercialize its first product, the Smartfeeder, which is scheduled to ship to customers in the middle of this year.
Over the last few years, the pet care industry has proven to be relatively recession-proof. According to statistics from the American Pet Products Association, spending on pet products has continued to grow steadily, even after the global financial crisis in 2008. In 2013, spending in the U.S. hit an estimated $55.53 billion, with most of that amount, or $21.26 billion, going toward food.
The pet care market is also growing around the world and was expected to hit $96 billion in sales by the end of 2013, according to analysis firm Euromonitor.
Pet owners are willing to pamper their fur babies even if it means making financial cuts in other areas. In fact, some animals might be getting a little bit too much pampering. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says that an estimated 54 percent of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese, due in large part to overfeeding.
Roly-poly animals are cute, but the extra weight can lead to long-term health problems, like diabetes, heart or kidney disease, joint conditions, and cancer. These conditions not only cause vet bills to mount up, but also reduce a pet’s quality of life and can ultimately shorten its lifespan.
Pet food dispensers already for sale that seek to address overfeeding include the Petmate Le Bistro Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder, which uses a timer, as well as the Gatefeeder, a dispenser that uses a Smart ID attached to collars to figure out when to release cat food.
Petnet wants to differentiate by creating a pet feeder that taps into the Internet of Things. The $199 SmartFeeder features “intelligent sensor technology, learning algorithms, and processing power that assesses the dietary requirements of a pet, creates a custom feeding schedule to meet those requirements, alerts pet owners when their pet has been fed and even reminds owners to purchase more food when they run low,” says the company. Demand appears to be strong so far. Petnet has already received over 10,000 pre-orders for the SmartFeeder.
Petnet received initial funding while participating in Bolt, a seed-stage fund and incubator in Boston for hardware startups. In addition to commercializing SmartFeeder, the company says it will use its seed round to enhance the product’s technology, hire more people, and develop other projects. Petnet CEO Carlos Hererra, who grew up in L.A., also wants Petnet to mentor high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In a statement, Dmitry Grishin, founder of Grishin Robotics, an investment company, said “Even the simplest things around us are quickly becoming robots these days. Through unique combinations of powerful hardware, smart software, and internet-connectivity, Petnet is a perfect example of this trend. I am confident in the company’s ability to successfully tackle the worldwide pet health challenge and disrupt the multi-billion dollar industry.”