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The Galaxy S5’s new heart rate reader could come in useful for Samsung Electronic’s investors.

The South Korean firm warned earlier this week that it expected its profits to fall for the second quarter running.

Several analysts suggest the high-end market is becoming saturated, meaning most people wanting a premium phone already own one, making it harder to sell them another.

“Year to date, the share price of Samsung Electronics continues to underperform both in absolute terms and against the Kospi [Korea Composite Stock Price Index] as well,” Taewoo Kim, portfolio manager of Fidelity’s Korea fund tells the BBC.

“This weak performance reflected investors’ concerns on its smartphone business particularly in the high-end segment as a result of elevated competition.”

But Mr Kim believes things are about to improve, thanks in part to the improving performance of Samsung Electronic’s memory and home appliance divisions.
The new Galaxy could guarantee such a turnaround if consumers warm to its water-resistant build, improved camera and fitness-tracking facilities.
To mark the S5’s global launch the BBC asked four experts for their thoughts:

But Mr Kim believes things are about to improve, thanks in part to the improving performance of Samsung Electronic’s memory and home appliance divisions.
The new Galaxy could guarantee such a turnaround if consumers warm to its water-resistant build, improved camera and fitness-tracking facilities.
To mark the S5’s global launch the BBC asked four experts for their thoughts:

Chris Hall, Pocket-lint

The Samsung Galaxy S5 plays it safe on design, sticking to a tried and tested formula with its plastic body and chrome-trimmed finish.

There’s plenty of grip around the back and you still have the advantage of being able to change the battery, both to the phone’s credit.

Under the hood Samsung has packed in all the latest technology to make this a powerhouse.

There’s raw processing power and battery performance to get you though the day, fronted by a stunning 5.1in (13cm) display, with a camera that offers nice vibrant photos and the option for 4K ultra-high definition video capture, ready for the next generation.

But the implementation of the fingerprint scanner isn’t as tidy as the iPhone and we’re not convinced that the heart rate sensor was a feature that anybody was crying out for.

There is a huge number of features on offer making for a super-connected device, but we feel the user interface could be a little slicker and faster.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is undoubtedly a great device, we’re just not convinced it’s the greatest.

Nick Dillon, Ovum

The Samsung S5 launch was largely underwhelming and I think that most consumers will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the new phone and last year’s model.

Whereas handset launches used to have us on the edge of our seats, they have increasingly lost their wow factor.

This is symptomatic of the maturity of the smartphone market, where ground-breaking innovations are hard to come by.

Take the S5 – one of its headline features is a heart rate monitor, which is hard to see as much more than a gimmick.

It’s true that consumers do use heart rate monitors for running and cycling, but these activities demand specialist devices that provide the constant monitoring required, rather than the one-off measurements offered by the S5.

And this perhaps shows us where innovation will come from in the future, where the individual functions of the device are broken out into wearable devices and accessories that connect back into a smartphone.

Of course Samsung itself is not blind to this trend and spent almost an equal amount of time at the S5 launch talking about its new smartwatches and connected fitness band.

The smartphone isn’t going away any time soon, but if you are looking for the latest innovations then look instead at the myriad of wearables and smart accessories that are starting to flood on to the market.

Prof Sea-Jin Chang, National University of Singapore

While many Chinese players rush to introduce low-end smartphones at a half or even one-third of the prices of Samsung’s, Samsung will not easily lose its market share.

Samsung has invested a lot on its brand for many years and is now considered as cool and sharp among its dedicated users – although not as loyal as Apple’s.

Samsung is also trying very hard to create differentiation-based advantages by offering complementary products and services such as wearable pieces, contents and software.

If home electronics networks – including freezers, air-conditioning, washing machines – become a reality in the near future, it will be in the best position to integrate all the devices.

While I expect Samsung will not easily lose market share to its competitors, its profit margin will be severely under pressure.

It has already expanded its product offerings in the medium to low-end segments, which will affect its pricing in the high-end segment.

Yet, Samsung is driven by strong execution-oriented culture, and will remain competitive in the future.”

Evan Blass, @evleaks

With Samsung poised to release its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, there are some of us whose minds are already focused nearly a year down the road: on the presumed Galaxy S6.

Unlike this past cycle, the South Korean giant will very likely be forced to make significant upgrades in the area of specifications.

While the transition from the S4 to S5 involved only minor spec bumps, we’ll probably see Samsung in a position of playing catch up with rival LG, whose upcoming G3 handset is rumoured to feature a higher resolution display.

Likewise, we should see a more substantial jump in processor speeds, as well as a move from 32-bit to 64-bit chip architecture – a choice which would help developers offer the same apps on disparate platforms.

Samsung also has a growing problem it needs to address which has nothing to do with spec parity: consumers are yearning for the company to begin employing more premium materials like the aluminium of the HTC One or wood backs on the Moto X.

Until Samsung is ready to take mass production to the next level – in the areas of software and hardware alike – there is always going to be a relatively easy marketing strategy rivals can employ to capture market share.

Facebook to require separate mobile app for messages

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 10 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc will no longer let users send and receive private messages within its main smartphone app, and will require that users install a separate messaging app, the Internet company said on Wednesday.

Facebook began notifying users in France, England and several other European countries on Wednesday that beginning in a couple of weeks they will need to install the company’s standalone Messenger app in order to send and receive messages.

Facebook plans to eventually require that users in all countries install the Messenger app, spokesman Derick Mains said, though he could not provide a specific timeframe for the change.

The move is intended to ensure that users have a consistent and high-quality experience, a Facebook spokesman told Reuters. The free, standalone Messenger app is faster than the messaging service that’s currently built into Facebook’s primary mobile app. Facebook users can also access more features in the Messenger app, such as the ability to make voice phone calls.

“We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook faces increasing competition from a new crop of fast-growing mobile messaging apps, such as Snapchat and Line. It stunned observers by announcing plans in February to buy the popular WhatsApp messaging app for $19 billion.

Forcing users to install a separate messaging app on their phones could help boost the popularity of Facebook Messenger, but could also cause a backlash if consumers view Facebook’s move as heavy-handed. A post on the technology blog Mashable on Wednesday was titled “11 Reasons why Pulling Messenger From Facebook Mobile is a Terrible Idea,” and many people took to Twitter to post critical comments about the change.

Facebook, the world’s No.1 social networking service with 1.2 billion users, has increasingly moved to develop a catalog of standalone apps to complement its main app. In January, Facebook launched Paper, a photo-heavy news-reading app that has earned positive reviews.

Facebook also acquired photo-sharing app Instagram in 2012 and announced plans to buy WhatsApp, which has more than 450 million users. News of the change in Facebook’s messaging service was first reported by the technology blog TechCrunch on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Samsung ‘puzzled’ by early S5 smartphone launch

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 27 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Mobile operators in South Korea have started selling Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S5 phone three weeks early.

Due to go on sale on 11 April in South Korea, the S5 is already available from three operators, including the country’s biggest network.

The three are selling the phone now to get round government restrictions on to whom they can sell new handsets.

Samsung said it was “very puzzled” by the operators’ actions and was deciding how to respond.

SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus have all been able to start selling the S5 because Samsung has already shipped large numbers of the handset to them prior to the official launch.

Many Korean mobile firms are facing a ban on signing up new customers, imposed by the country’s telecommunications regulator. The operators are being punished for using illegal subsidies to attract new customers.

The ban on SK Telecom, the country’s biggest operator, comes into force on 5 April and lasts for 45 days. Selling the S5 now means it can make up some of the sales it would lose if it waited until the ban expires – well after the official S5 launch date.

KT Corp and LG Uplus are already subject to restrictions that limit to whom they can sell phones. In reaction, the operators are selling the phone to those customers not covered by the restrictions.

The Galaxy S5 was launched at the Mobile World Congress show held in Barcelona late last month. Samsung said the early sales of the S5 in Korea would not affect launch dates for the phone elsewhere in the world.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker, Samsung, has launched a free music streaming service called Milk Music.

The service, currently only available on its Galaxy range of smartphones in the US, includes over 200 radio stations and 13 million songs.

Music streaming is seen as a key area of growth and many firms have been keen to tap into its potential.

But Samsung is entering a crowded market which has players like Spotify, Pandora and Apple’s iTunes Radio.

Some of these streaming services can be used on any mobile device, unlike Samsung’s version.

However, the South Korean firm said it was still confident of attracting users.

“We feel that while the music space is very competitive there is room for improvement,” said Daren Tsui, vice president of music at Samsung Media Solutions.

Samsung said its new service would be free to download and have no adverts for a “limited time”.

The firm has previously ventured into music streaming with a service called Music Hub, which was launched in 2012.

However, that was shut down recently.