Start up: digging into Samsung’s numbers, Pono launches, a billion tablets!, a CES wearables binge, and more


These, but multiplied by a big number. Photo of tablets by Martin Voltri on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Contains small parts. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

I tried on 56 wearables today. Here’s a photo of every single one of them » VentureBeat

Harrison Weber:

I just tried on every single wearable I could find at CES 2015, and yes, I’m freaking exhausted.

The total count (so far) totals to 56 wearables across every category you can think of, from clip-on trackers to full-fledged Android and Linux-powered wrist computers. Heck, I even wore a smart sweatband.

Really worth scrolling through this lot.


Tablet users to surpass 1 billion worldwide in 2015 » eMarketer

More than 1 billion people worldwide will use a tablet in 2015, according to new figures from eMarketer, representing nearly 15% of the global population and more than double the number three years ago. By 2018, the number of tablet users in the world will reach 1.43 billion.

This is the first time eMarketer has made projections for the number of tablet users worldwide. The key takeaway is that growth in the global tablet-using population will slow dramatically in 2015 and continue to taper off.

That’s almost as many tablets as PCs; and that 2018 figure surely is. The slowing growth in sales of tablets doesn’t mean people are giving up on tablets – just that they’ve sold in amazing numbers already.


The truth about 4K and curved TVs » Business Insider

Let Henry Blodget walk the floor of CES and tell you it like it is:

true: 4K TVs do look sharper than regular high-definition TVs. But they do not offer anywhere near the same leap in sharpness and enjoyment as the jump from regular def to high-def did. So don’t prepare to be astounded.

As I was getting my first look at 4K TVs, I asked myself how much the 4K feature would be worth to me.

I concluded that if both TVs were the same price, I’d take the 4K. Why not? It’s sharper.

I concluded that if the 4K were maybe 10% or 20% more than the HD, I might even shell out that much extra for the 4K.

But there is no way I would pay two times the premium that 4K TVs are commanding.

Wait until you hear what he thinks of curved screens, too.


Samsung’s mobile moment of Truth – The Information

Jessica Lessin:

The world’s largest consumer electronics company showed off a giant television, a slew of “Internet of Things” connected devices and an oven that cooks two dishes at once. (Don’t all ovens do that?)

But the spectacle was all a sideshow for what really matters for the hardware company. That is how it plans to remain relevant in the area of technology that will end up controlling these futuristic connected devices: smartphones…

…Most at risk is Samsung’s mobile chief J.K. Shin. While he survived a management shakeup at the end of last year, people who work at the company say he may only have one more chance to prove he can stabilize the business. He will fire that shot in the spring with the launch of the latest version of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, the hotly anticipated S6…

…Unfortunately for Mr. Shin, according to those people [in his mobile group] there’s little about the device that could help restore Samsung’s momentum. While company executives have been internally praising its slick design, reported images leaked online show a device that is little different from the most recent Galaxy phone.

(Subscription required)


Samsung earnings hint at recovery » WSJ

Jonathan Cheng, on the pre-announcement announcement from Samsung Electronics that Q4 2014 revenues will be down about 12%, and operating profit down about 37% (to a margin of 10%):

In the third quarter of 2014, Samsung’s mobile profit margins dropped to just 7.1% from nearly 20% at the beginning of the year.

In the fourth quarter, the mobile division likely suffered a drop in handset shipments compared with the third quarter, even as the company rolled out its new Galaxy Note 4 smartphone-tablet hybrid, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The company is already beginning to look beyond smartphones for growth. Earlier this week, Samsung co-chief executive B.K. Yoon said in a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that by 2020, “every single piece of Samsung hardware will be an IoT device, whether it is an air purifier or an oven.”

I’ve tried modelling how many handsets Samsung shipped, based on this small amount of data; the “drop in handset shipments” suggests fewer than 78.5m.

The only way I could get that is (1) mobile revenues are about 45% of total revenues and (2) average selling price (ASP) is $300-$325, substantially ahead of the $230 ASP of Q3. That would give a range of 72-78m. A lower ASP or higher proportion of revenues could easily push it to 80m. We’ll see.


Yahoo’s US share on Firefox quadruples after deal » Computerworld

Gregg Keizer, with more fine-grained detail that I wondered about yesterday:

As of Jan. 6, Yahoo’s search usage share on Firefox 34 was 32.2%, or more than four times the 7.5% that Yahoo had on Firefox 33 on the same day.

The Yahoo increase in Firefox 34 came at the expense of Google, which had a 60.8% share in that version, significantly lower than the 86.1% in Firefox 33. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, at 5.5% in Firefox 34, was only slightly up from the 5.4% in Firefox 33.

On Jan. 6, StatCounter’s search provider usage shares for all browsers in the US were 75.3% for Google, 12.4% for Bing and 10.5% for Yahoo. In other words, Firefox 34 users were more than three times likelier to reach a destination page from a Yahoo search than the US average because of the new default.

Now wondering how much value that yields to Yahoo, and whether it will have to detail the financial arrangement in its next quarterly filing.. this month.


Palm makes a comeback! China’s TCL to ‘recreate’ the brand » Facebook

Lynn Hill Fox, a PR, noted the CNet story about this and wondered what Ed Colligan – who ran Palm – thought of it. Colligan popped up to comment:

I think it’s amazing these companies think they can buy a brand and stick some crappy products under it, and somehow they will get the benefit of the brand. The reason the brand was strong is we built compelling products that delighted our customers over 15 years. The word Palm is still a great name for mobile products, but they’ll have to actually build great products and be a great company to instill brand value in it again. Good luck to them.

I think that last sentence actually means the opposite of what he said.


PonoMusic store launches with album prices up to $27.49 » Musically

Stuart Dredge:

The store’s launch provides an answer to one of the key questions about PonoMusic: how much it would charge for its high-definition albums. More than regular downloads, yes, but how much more? Judging by the music available at launch, individual tracks are going for between $1.99 and $2.99, while albums can range from $17.99 up to $27.49 – although admittedly the latter is for the deluxe version of Led Zeppelin IV.

The obvious comparison is with vinyl rather than iTunes. However, there may be some concerns over fragmentation on the PonoMusic store, not just in terms of price but in terms of audio quality.

Pono has a “music quality spectrum” infographic showing that music will be available in four separate tiers of quality: from 16-bit 44.1KHz up to 24-bit 192Khz, with an “audio resolution” bar showing which each album falls into. It is difficult to imagine, say, Apple following a similar path rather than standardising a quality level for its suppliers.

This will sink straight off the slipway.


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