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New year, new predictions

Posted by pakin On January - 12 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Apple vs Samsung, iStudio training and radar tracking of aircraft on the iPhone

It is another new year and I expect there will be many new Mac and iPad and iPhone owners. It is also prediction time again. I do not join this game, nor the one in which Apple is told what it must do. Note that after insisting on a larger iPhone (there are two now of course) some say that Cupertino must produce a smaller one, with a 4-inch screen.

Some commentators admit that the broken record of Apple dying and Samsung making great strides may be wrong. To paraphrase Steve Jobs on Microsoft — the idea that for one to win, the other must lose, is false. However, it is reported that for Xmas 2014, 51% of new activations worldwide were by Apple devices.

Sales of 60 million iPhones for the first financial quarter of 2015 are being reported, with some sites suggesting iPhone sales of 70 to 75 million “before inventory build”. Either the fanboys are breeding or others are becoming infected.

In a short while — probably around Jan 20 — Apple will announce its quarterly figures. Just before, Wall Street will make wild guesses about sales, growth and income, then will send the share prices down if Apple fails to reach their predictions. Even if Apple is in line with its own guidance: between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion revenue. Apple does not work on market share or share price. Focus is on profit and product. That is how to measure success.

As part of the evolution and a move to a consolidated approach using iCloud for photographs on the Mac and iOS devices, it is reported that the beta version of the Photos web app is in a transition stage. Some are unable to use it, while others are finding access to be slow. Photos for the Mac is expected to be something like the iOS version. It should be released early this year.

As there will likely be several new users of Apple products, those owning their first Apple devices may need some help and local iStudio outlets are doing their part.

Although there are several sites dedicated to offering advice, it is sometimes the first steps when things go wrong for those new to the different approach that (certainly) OS X may need, but also iOS for those unfamiliar with these systems.

This weekend I saw that both the iStudio in Pinklao, a store run by Com7, and the iStudio in Siam Discovery Center (Copperwired), are offering free training sessions every day for iOS 8 and OS X.

The times are from 6pm Monday to Wednesday, from 3pm on Thursday and Friday, and from 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. Boards outside both stores show the times, with the Pinklao store also displaying some images of earlier demo sessions.

While sessions are being taught in Thai at the Siam Discovery store (and elsewhere), I am told that the personnel involved are able to communicate in English.

In the last few weeks, as well as the tragic loss of the AirAsia flight in Indonesia, a number of planes experienced problems and turned back, including a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 with landing wheel problems and a THAI Airbus A340-600 with a hydraulic problem.

In each case, information on Twitter linked to radar displays of flight paths allowed those interested to examine the last position or the flight path of the planes. Each time I tried to access these on the iPhone, however, I was offered a link to the Flightradar 24 app before the screen loaded. In the end, I weakened and bought the $3.99 app, allowing me to access live tracking of planes worldwide.

There are several ways I can use this. First there is a live map display. When this first opens, it centres on the user’s location. In my case this is Bangkok and I can see aircraft arriving and departing both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. It is easy to expand the map, to display a larger area or to switch to another world location. Tapping on any plane gives the user a small display of the plane, along with its flight number, departure airport and destination, and the flight progress. The path is shown on the map.

A search feature allows the user to find information by Text, Airline, Airport or nearby Flights. Of these the Airport search needed an in-app purchase. Airline and Nearby Flights showed a list of planes. Tapping any one of these showed it on the map.

An interesting feature, accessed using a binocular icon, allowed me to point the iPhone I was using towards the horizon. Basic details of any planes in the direction I was facing were shown on the screen. This did not appear to link to the map directly. Entering details in the search feature would allow the plane to be seen on the map.

Graham K. Rogers of Mahidol University’s Engineering Faculty, has OS X-flavoured web pages at www.extensions.in.th/index4.html

Handset war rages as big releases near

Posted by pakin On October - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The imminent release of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Thailand is prodding global smartphone makers to move up their launch schedules to stay current in the high-end handset race.

Additionally, international brands are under price pressure from mobile operators dumping the iPhone 4S and 5S at a discount of up to 10,000 baht each as they prepare for this month’s launch of the iPhone 6.

Global brands have less pricing power as more Asian brands do battle in the mid-range market of 6,000 to 15,000 baht, said Opas Cherdpunt, managing director of M Vision, the organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo 2014.

Samsung yesterday launched its much-anticipated Galaxy Note 4 at the expo ahead of the broader market launch on Oct 10. Thailand is the second launch country for the Note 4 after South Korea.

At the country’s biggest mobile exhibition, running through Sunday at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, handsets with 5.5-inch screens and “group selfie” capability are grabbing attention.

More than 40 handset brands including new entrants Wiko of France, Hong Kong’s iMI and China’s Xiaomi have joined the expo this year, lured by greater political stability and the fourth-quarter peak season for handset sales.

M Vision expects sales revenue to reach 1.5 billion baht over the four-day event, up from 1.2 billion at the company’s previous event in June.

Smartphones priced at 5,000 to 10,000 baht are likely to gain momentum, driven by strong replacement demand from first-time users wanting to shift to the high-end features and functions of smartphones.

Jarit Sidhu, senior market analyst at research firm IDC Thailand, said smartphone makers were increasingly turning their attention to mid-level phones priced at 10,000 to 15,000 baht, a fast-growing segment.

Smartphones priced at 10,000 baht or more are expected to account for 30% of fourth-quarter sales in the Thai market compared with 20% in the first three quarters, he said.

Handsets priced at 20,000 baht or more have also gained a strong foothold here thanks to the drawing power of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy.

Wichai Pornpratang, vice-president for telecommunications business at Thai Samsung Electronics, said the company brought nearly a thousand Galaxy Note 4 handsets to sell at the expo for 24,900 baht each.

After next Friday’s commercial launch, the Note 4 will retail for 25,900 baht.

Mr Wichai said Samsung sees smartphones with five-inch-plus screens as a growth segment next year after contributing 17.8% of smartphone sales this year.

Samsung plans to introduce new
smartphone models priced at about 10,000 baht to compete with mid-range Chinese brands.

Yantana Simavanichkul, managing director of Microsoft Devices Thailand, said the company was introducing a new smartphone, the Nokia Lumia 830, for 13,900 baht — much cheaper than the previous Lumia 820 that retailed for 18,990 baht.

The company is also rolling out the Nokia Lumia 730 for 8,790 baht to compete in the mid-level market.

“We remain committed to the Thai market, as the country is one of 14 global strategic countries for our smartphone business,” Mr Yantana said.

South Korean giant Samsung unveiled the next generation of its pioneering “phablet” and “smartwatch” gadgets at the IFA consumer electronics fair Wednesday in a bid to keep ahead of arch-rival Apple.

It also surprised technophiles with a virtual reality headset, the Samsung VR.

As media hype builds over the Apple’s latest launch next week, Samsung pulled out all the stops to push its own new Galaxy Note 4 at a special event held two days before the IFA officially opens its doors.

Berlin was the launch pad three years ago for Samsung’s first-ever “phablet” — a cross between a smartphone and tablet computer — the original Galaxy Note.

And the new devices are taking the markets by storm, particularly among mobile gamers in Asia.

The Galaxy Note 4 is “more enjoyable and more efficient” than its predecessors, said sales and marketing chief DJ Lee.

The new phone has been given a new design with a metal casing, a more resistant screen with better resolution.

Its built-in camera and microphone and its battery have also been optimised.

The Galaxy Note 4 comes with an electronic pen with which the user can multi-task between different applications and move pictures and deposit them where they want on the screen.

Simultaneously, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note Edge, which is another new version of its iconic device with a curved screen.

“Because the mainstream flagship smartphones have grown bigger, it is becoming harder for Samsung to differentiate the Note,” said IHS analyst Ian Fogg.

Another exciting new move by Samsung was its VR virtual reality headset, developed in collaboration with the Californian start-up Oculus Rift.

The headset acts as an add-on to the Galaxy Note 4, turning the image on the phone onto the immersive 3-D display and is targeted primarily at the video game market, said IHS analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.

The shadow of Apple is looming large over this year’s IFA — which opens on Friday — even though the iconic US brand traditionally snubs the five-day event, Europe’s biggest.

Apple has sent out invitations to a mystery unveiling of its own on September 9 and that is likely to upstage any of the announcements made by its rivals at the Berlin show, analysts said.

Rumours about Apple’s plans have been swirling for months, with many observers expecting it to unveil an iPhone 6, marking a move into the “phablet” sector.

But Apple might also unveil an “iWatch”, a wrist-worn device that links wirelessly to its iconic iPhones or iPads.

Samsung pioneered both the phablet and the smartwatch and presented a new version of the latter, the Galaxy Gear S, on Wednesday.

Samsung launches first Tizen phone

Posted by pakin On June - 2 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Samsung Electronics has launched the world’s first smartphone powered by the Tizen operating system.

The Samsung Z will go on sale in Russia in the July-to-September quarter.

Most Samsung phones currently use the Android platform, but the South Korean firm has been working with chipmaker Intel to develop Tizen as an alternative operating system.

It is seen as a way to make Samsung less dependent on Android’s developer, Google.

“Samsung is committed to enhancing the mobile experience of consumers with innovation that is both personal and unique to their needs,” said DJ Lee, Samsung Electronics’ president of mobile communications.

The company will show off the phone at the Tizen Developer Conference, being held this week in San Francisco.

It did not disclose the device’s price.

Tizen Store

Samsung is currently the world’s best-selling Android device manufacturer.

“Start Quote

The Tizen Store will provide a special promotional program to all developers for one year”

Samsung Electronics

However, many other rivals such as HTC, Sony, LG and Huawei also use the operating system to power some of their devices.

As the competition in the smartphone sector increases, and growth rates slow, Samsung has been looking at ways to maintain its lead over rivals.

One of the areas that Samsung has been working on is Tizen – a new open source operating system for its gadgets.

The firm has also taken steps to try an encourage developers to make apps for Tizen to make it more attractive to end users.

It said that users would be offered access to “additional applications through the Tizen Store at the launch of the Samsung Z”.

It said that in order to “encourage more developers to join, the Tizen Store will provide a special promotional program to all developers for one year”.

Having its own app store is also likely to help Samsung generate more revenue from app downloads.

This is because currently customers who purchase apps on Android-powered phones typically funnel revenue to Google rather than Samsung itself.

Multi-platform?

Tizen is also seen by some as being attractive to app developers as it has promised to run software written in the HTML5 web language smoothly.

Mozilla’s Firefox OS also relies on HTML5, offering developers the prospect of cross-platform compatibility in which they can write a single version of their app for multiple operating systems, helping cut costs and coding time.

Samsung’s Gear 2 uses Tizen instead of Android

HTML5-based apps can also be made to work on Android and iOS.

But last year developers, including Google and Facebook, faced performance issues when they released products using it, and later switched to native versions.

Samsung itself delayed the launch of the first smartphones using the operating system.

However, the firm has been looking to adapt the operating system in various gadgets of late.

The latest version of its smartwatch – Galaxy Gear 2 – uses Tizen, unlike its Android-powered predecessor.

On Sunday, Samsung announced that it would release a software development kit for TVs that allows developers to build applications for Tizen-based TVs.

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