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Microsoft eyes low-end smartphone users

Posted by pakin On February - 18 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Microsoft Corp has launched low-end smartphones powered by Windows 8.1 in Thailand for the first time to compete with Chinese players gaining significant market share.

Chinese mobiles and mobile operators’ house brands have been gaining in popularity due to their prices, especially for users looking to migrate to third-generation (3G) smartphones from second-generation technology, said Samarn Takort, head of technical sales at Microsoft Devices Thailand.

He said the latest Nokia Lumia was the company’s first affordable model, priced below 3,000 baht.

“We believe 9 million mobiles in the country still use wireless 2G,” he said.

The Lumia 435 Dual Sim is priced at 2,990 baht, while the Lumia 532 costs 3,590 baht. Microsoft is also offering exclusive features such as pre-installed Microsoft Office, cloud storage and Skype, a value of 1,000 baht, for free on these models.

“This segment could have one of the highest growth rates this year, about 30% of the overall handset market,” Mr Samarn said.

He expects Thailand will see sales of 20-25 million new mobiles overall this year, of which 15-20% will be basic phones. But basic users will eventually decline as the regulator forces operators to migrate all 2G subscribers to 3G.

Head developer Jirapat Janjerdsak said Microsoft Devices planned to encourage local software developers to develop applications to be compatible with its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft hopes Windows 10 will gain significant market share, as its software serves universal applications that can be used by any Windows device.

Microsoft Devices Thailand became a unit of Microsoft after it acquired Nokia’s devices and services division, with Nokia used as Microsoft’s brand for basic phones.

Smart Homes from smartphones

Posted by pakin On December - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A look at six exciting start-up apps set to bring convenience, safety and lower energy consumption in the coming year

A new innovative and free mobile app, called Wattcost, is set to turn ordinary homes into smart homes of the future, while helping save the energy consumption of households.

With the use an affordable wireless beacon that connects to an electricity meter, residents can now track and control the cost of electricity in their house via their smartphone.

Created by a start-up company from Australia, Wattcost beat out five other finalists from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, at the SingTel Group-Samsung Regional Mobile App Challenge staged recently in Singapore.

The six finalists were selected from a pool of over 500 start-ups comprising over 1,000 participants. The challenge aimed to identify innovative start-ups in Asia and help them accelerate their development, while improving the smartphone experience.

By simply attaching to the home’s electricity meter, the beacon analyses energy use by using advanced machine-learning algorithms and sends personalised real-time alerts to help users optimise their energy consumption and save electricity costs. The Wattcost Beacon with its unique “stick-on” electricity meter sensor is battery-operated, and designed for use with AA long-life batteries or optionally from a 5 VDC micro-B USB plug adaptor. An alert is automatically sent when it’s time to replace the batteries.

Once users download the Wattcost mobile app, from the App Store or Play Store, follow the installation instructions and complete the simple Wi-Fi set-up, they will be able to track electricity cost in real-time, Wattcost CEO and co-founder David Soutar explained.

The beacon’s low-power Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n machine-to-machine technology sends data via the internet to the company’s secure cloud-based servers for real-time analysis and sends saving alerts to a user’s smartphone.

On the smartphone screen, users can see the energy consumption of each appliance in the house, e.g. washing machine, fridge, air-conditioning and television. Users can set a target for your next power bill to control the number of savings alerts you receive to make your goal a reality.

“You can do direct comparisons of your energy use, by comparing old bills with new ones, to see how much the electricity costs today and have fun competing for the most energy smart home with your neighbourhood or friends on Facebook,” Soutar said, adding that this smart technology automatically calibrates and sends messages to help manage your home more effectively.

On its trial run, Wattcost worked with partners in Australia to run a pilot programme of 10 houses and the results were impressive.

“We are focusing on the development and pilot programme and are improving the software and whole architecture and are working very hard to ensure system accuracy as we’ve designed the product for the world and aim to save energy consumption by up to 20-30%,” said Soutar.

He noted that the company will work with three groups of partners: telecommunication operators, electricity companies and solar companies. As the winner of the challenge, Wattcost will also work with SingTel Group and Samsung to market its app to over half-a-billion mobile customers across Asia and Africa. The winning app will also enjoy prime product placement on Samsung content and services platforms.

In different countries, the model of working with partners may differ, said Soutar, noting that one of the models Wattcost will use from March is subscription, at about 100 baht per month, per house. At the moment, the application is in English, so needs to go through a localisation process to be functional in other countries. The company is therefore currently working with several partners in Thailand, China and Taiwan to manufacture the hardware.

One of the biggest challenges for now, according to Soutar, is running a Wi-Fi network on an AA battery, which is all very new technology.

The other start-up finalists from the competition include Catch It from India, a mobile app that enables users to share information, photos, video, contacts, documents and more with people around them. Jepret Story, from Indonesia, allows users to collect photos published on social networks and organise them into a special video story, helping them access and share their treasured memories with ease.

Fiuzu is a mobile app from Singapore that plans smart trips via a mobile app and on the web that plans travel activities by generating itineraries that match travellers’ time, budget and interests. Epic Life from the Philippines has been designed exclusively for Samsung smart watches. The adventure game can be played entirely from the customers’ wrists, while helping gamers stay in shape by syncing with the smart watches’ fitness data to unlock enhanced features and gameplay.

Nugrean, which translates as students, is a mobile app from a Thai team which provides a total solution for parents and teachers who might be worried about their child’s whereabouts after school. The app allows parents and teachers to supervise the safety of students as they travel back and forth between home and school via a hand-held monitoring device that comes with two applications: one for teachers to check the list of students using school transportation and the other enabling parents to monitor children in real time.

The gadget, which is attached to a student, is comprised of two tracking technologies: a wireless beacon and a cellular track and trace SIM. The team won AIS The StartUp 2014 and are currently in talks with AIS for the first prototype evaluation with some selected pilot premium schools to be operational in the first quarter of next year.

According to Pratthana Leelapanang, AIS executive vice-president of marketing for Nugrean, the app promises to be highly competitive in the marketplace because of its unique appearance and ability to offer end-to-end products with total solutions (for teachers, students and parents) and ease of being able to be replicated in other countries. AIS has become a channel for start-ups to present their ideas, as well as working together on co-development, co-marketing and co-investing.

The strength of Thailand lies in its people, said Pratthana, whom he believes are smart in both programming and design, but weak in bringing something new to market.

“We lack breakthroughs in the market and have been focusing on the local market, so it’s hard to compete in the global market,” he commented.

“Many start-ups today are at the stage of demand for funding and have to join the pitching process. The important thing is to have those who are at the seeding stage and who can reach the customers, but they have to be really new.”

Smartwatches are somewhat polarizing: some view them as interesting, but ultimately useless, toys. Others are more forward-thinking, anticipating uses for the type of wearable that are beneficial both now and potentially in the future. Steve Wozniak generally falls into the latter group, but that doesn’t mean he has taken kindly to all smartwatches on the market.

At the Flying Car innovation conference in Milwaukee last week, Woz had some stern words about Samsung’s wearable, finding nothing in particular redeemable about the Galaxy Gear, which earned top slot as his most disliked smartwatch.

Check out our SlashGear Wearables Hub!

Said Woz, “That was the only technology I bought to experiment with that I threw out after half a day, sold it on eBay because it was so worthless and did so little that was convenient. You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff.”

When it comes to smartwatches, Wozniak is looking for a smartphone on his wrist, not “just a little Bluetooth connection to the smartphone in my pocket.” He’d also like to see larger displays on the wearable type.

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.

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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.


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.