Tag Archive: Smartphone


LG-logo-Android

Just a month ago I read somewhere on the web that “considering LG’s dedication towards its incredible work and consumer response especially in the mobile segment, it lets us witnessed very soon that the company (LG) will also be in line along with Apple or Samsung to generate maximum revenue from its mobile sector”. And finally, that day has come! Strategy Analytics has confirmed that worldwide smartphone shipments have reached 210 million units that shows the growth of 36% annually in just the first quarter of 2013. The Major market share was captured by the top giants Samsung and Apple obviously however, they were followed by LG at number three for the first time ever.

According to the report issued by the researchers team of Strategy Analysts, Samsung, Apple and LG shares were as mentioned below:

Brand

Smartphone Units Sells

Market Share in (%)

Samsung

69.4 Million

33.1

Apple

37.4 Million

17.9

LG

10.3 Million

4.9

Currently, LG is wooing the market with the Optimus G Pro while Samsung looks all set to rule the roost again with its powerful Galaxy S4. The Korean manufacturers have some strong competition from Taiwanese company HTC with their super stylish HTC One and let’s not forget the iPhone 5 which has been around for a while. In essence, all these companies are pushing hard for market dominance. However, it all comes down to the decision of today’s customer who is well informed and nitpicky and can easily differentiate between the different flagship mobiles.

Now LG’s unit volume might look meagre as compared to that of Samsung and Apple but the truth is that it is a big step in the right direction as these sales show that end users now have a much more positive outlook towards LG mobile as compared to the insipid response from previous years. It is also the perfect catalyst for LG to constantly improve and increase its market share in the coming years.

Parental control applications and features are already available there in various digital devices at home but the question is does this feature ever let the parents know exactly how much time their children are spending on the internet on a daily basis? Or what your family members are doing on the web in your absence or whether your kids are accessing websites which they are not allowed to? The answer is NO, we do not have such precise control yet. However, if you are looking for some serious control over your home’s Wi-Fi network through which you can manage, monitor and control every single internet activity of your family while on-the-go, you can do it with the help of Skydog, a smartphone application which is required to be connected to your home network.

A Paloalto, California based network company has developed ‘Skydog’, a combination of smartphone application and a Wi-Fi router which uses cloud services to give real-time accessibility report of the internet.

Skydog-Mobile

Functioning

One can setup a network by replacing their existing Wi-Fi router with Skydog’s 802.11n wireless router and then signing up using Skydog account. As soon as you are done with this setup, you can monitor all the activities such as – what all devices are connected, who exactly is online in your home and which websites are being accessed and even the usage of current bandwidth. Skydog provides relatively detailed output which you can easily review on your desktop or on mobiles.

Skydog-on-PC

The administrator can easily set priorities on various websites as per their choice. For example, if you want your kid to access Twitter for around an hour a day, Skydog allows you to set their accessing time limit. And if your child exceeds their time limit you will get a notification message from the system alerting you that your child has crossed his/her usage limit for the day and is still online.

In an interview Jeff Abramowitz, CEO and founder of PowerCloud describes that this application can also be used for positive purposes – “For example, Abramowitz said parents can see how much their child have engaged with a mathematic site. You can see the level of activity and then you know with confidence that your kid is putting forth the effort towards the right things.”

So readers, what is your opinion on Skydog parental control, is it worth considering or not?

Touchscreen interface in newspapers and textbooks is no more restricted only in Harry Potter movie series. We have all witnessed moving images and running live videos in the newspaper and other live art effects in textbooks of Hogwarts in this movie franchise. But today I read something which made me go crazy! Japanese manufacturer Fujitsu has developed a technology that turns the paper surface into a touchscreen!

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This technology is capable of detecting our fingers that are pointing on any flat/still surface like paper. We can easily cut, copy, drag and drop images or any other portion of the paper using our fingertips in a same way as we do in our smartphones or tablets for image editing. Or one can even copy or scan the selected portion of any page to save it for future reference, and that too by using his/her fingers.

Taichi Murase, a researcher at Fujitsu’s Media Service System Lab further describes the technology-

“We think paper and many other objects could be manipulated by touching them, as with a touchscreen. This system doesn’t use any special hardware; it consists of just a device like an ordinary webcam, plus a commercial projector. Its capabilities are achieved by image processing technology.”

Fujitsu’s research team claims that beside plane surface this technology can also work on uneven surfaces like rounded book pages, so that one can easily manipulate data from such curved pages as well. In a presentation video researchers demonstrated that this technology will not detect general hand gestures but it can sense the exact pointed finger facing towards any surface. Furthermore, one can use his/her hand gestures to perform actions without touching the board.

Watch this video to know more about what this technology is all about –

Although this technology is still in its initial stage to demonstrate the concept behind it, Fujitsu is planning to commercialize it by 2014. After watching this demo video I was left amazed! What about you all? I would love to hear your take on this upcoming next generation touch interface!

mayans

So another eventful year has passed by and I am sure everybody was in high spirits while welcoming 2013; buoyed by the fact that the Mayans got it wrong and you’re still alive and kicking! And to be honest, I won’t be exaggerating when I say that the jokes were getting stretched beyond imagination so I am glad it has been put to rest with the passing days.

Now that we’re done with that, I thought what better way to start the New Year than highlighting the highs and lows of consumer electronics in 2012. So here we go!

CES 2012: The Las Vegas electronics feature was quite the crowd-puller with several heavyweights unveiling new technologies. Announcement of flagship handsets by the mainstream players emphasized that future Smartphones will be bigger and better. Laptops were shown to getting evolved from compact machines to cutting-edge “Ultrabooks”. And HDTV’s turned over a new leaf of convergence with the unveiling of the world’s first 55-inch OLED TV by LG.

VERDICT: HIGH!

 

APPLE VS SAMSUNG SAGA: This never-ending dispute seems like giving Harry Potter and LOTR a run for their money! If it had been about core technologies, I would have understood the unrest but going through litigation for icons and features which are a standard for any Smartphone these days is just juvenile at best. This whole rundown is a glorified castigation for consumers who crave innovation.

VERDICT: ALL TIME LOW!

 

LAPTOPS: One would be forgiven for not finding it exciting with the amount of options available but look closely and there’s reason to rejoice. From just being laptops, these machines have evolved into sleeker, robust and faster computing units. Intel’s own Ultrabook and Lenovo Ideapad Yoga represents what mobile computing will be capable of in the coming years.

VERDICT: HIGH!

 

SMARTPHONES: With Android being the dominant OS, Samsung became the biggest manufacturer of Smartphones worldwide overtaking Apple. And the whole tussle did result in some funny commercials. With Sony, LG and HTC lining up their flagship handsets for MWC 2013, it’s exciting times ahead for the Android community. Another major highlight of 2012 has been the emergence of Windows OS as a worthy rival to Android. And with most of the manufacturers working on Windows OS based Smartphones you might soon be spoilt for choice as a prospective consumer.

Obligatory mention: The launch of iPhone 5 amidst the controversies. The newest avatar of iPhone failed to live up to its hype.

VERDICT: It’s a pudding of many flavors so I’ll let you pick and choose!

lg-84-inch-tv

IFA 2012: The next one in line, the most important unveilings at this event imo was the launch of Ultra HD TV’s and a few pointers of the impending launch of OLED TV’s. Another gadget that caught the eye was definitely the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

VERDICT: HIGH!

Well that’s about it from my end. And feel absolutely free to share something I might have missed and I’ll be more than happy to update it in here. Coz as they say, you can never know everything yourself!

So condensed is the Indian Smartphone market these days that it has become difficult to differentiate performers from the pretenders. Micromax-A110-Canvas-2-MobileWith the likes of Samsung, HTC and Sony Ericsson ruling the premier segment with their Smartphone line-up, Indian manufacturers are left with no option but to provide similar specs at prices which might make the average consumer jump with joy! And contrary to popular belief, these phones have not disappointed in the short span for which they have been in the market.

Taking a look at the ones available, Micromax A110 Superfone Canvas 2 is the one that has definitely caught my attention. At just under 10K (181$), the phone packs a punch with its 1GHz dual-core processor and ICS out of the box. It also boasts of a 5-inch IPS screen with 8MP Autofocus camera and a powerful 2000mAh Li-Ion battery for longer usage. And with a largely positive response, Micromax sure has a winner on their hands.

 

 

The other one though just announced and might as well be available for sale in Karbonn A30. With a humongous 5.9-inch screen and dual sim capabilities, this soon to be launched phablet will be available at a cut-price of 11-12K (200-218$). Again, the specs are karbonn-a30-default-1355487264008standard with a 1GHz dual core processor and 512 MB RAM. But the provision of a 2500mAh battery on board means the usage span per charge might be a little lower as per screen size. Only time will tell if this one turns out to be a VFM product or not.

But the way things stand, it is definitely a boon for Indian buyers as these phones are in a similar profile to the industry leaders (albeit with lower specs) and definitely gives an alternate to Smartphone enthusiasts who can’t loosen up their purse strings for a high-end handset.

Alright people, time for some fun. Everyone knows how obsessed people have become with their Smartphones these days. Installationapp-lock_icon_whatsapp and smooth running of an app is a matter of pride, abundance of features is a bragging tool and a moment’s disappearance from WhatsApp is considered to be a lifetime of social disconnect. While I do admit that Smartphones do make our lives a lot easier, the level of addiction with them is mind-boggling.

smartphone-funnyAnd then there are the promotional activities that take place for making these nifty gadgets appeal to the
masses. You will do limitless internet research, take opinions from existing Smartphone owners, scour through websites and retail stores to make sure you are getting a device which is complete bang for your buck! But what gets sidelined in all this is the funny side of marketing that these devices bring along with them. Here, I will cipher some of the funniest Smartphone commercials I have come across over the web. Lot’s of brand bashing and articulate sarcasm going on here ;p

1) Micromax slamming Galaxy Y –

Indian phone maker Micromax launched its Ninja range of Smartphones to compete with the Galaxy Y entry-level Smartphone and took a parodist potshot at Samsung with a couple of well-thought of commercials highlighting the VFM stance of their devices with bigger screens and processing as well as low costs. The claims are always subject to debate, but the commercials still made for funny viewing.

2) Significance of Smartphones –

This is a Best Buy commercial which shows an in-flight conversation between a woman with “Smartphone” and a man with a supposedly “dumb” one. What unfolds is best expressed by the video itself.

3) Smartphone Addicts –

Another one that caught my eye thanks to the sheer honesty of its underlying humor. As per the message, a Windows Phone is the shining light to save us from our Smartphones !

4) Samsung mocking Apple –

No need to summarize about what happened in the Samsung-Apple verdict as I pretty sure everyone must be bored to death from reading about it by now. But the creative heads at Samsung came up with a hard-hitting counter which showed Apple in inferior light. And judging by the 17 million views it had garnered so far, it is by far the big daddy of parodist commercials in my humble opinion.

Well, all these were basically the best ones from the lot from what I have seen, but at the end of the day I am only human. Do let me know if there are any more such funny Smartphone TVC’s that I might have missed but deserve a mention.. CIAO!!

With feature-laden Smartphones available in abundance in the marketplace, it has become exceedingly difficult to make a sane choice as budget constraint gets the better of our choices. Even the most neutral critics will end up giving you multiple choices making the whole process one big dilemma. While many of us love the big screens, applications and multimedia options as well as GUI’s of these devices, I personally admire the connectivity and sharing options these new age Smartphones possess.

One of the options attracting a lot of attention and apprehension is the advent and steady influx of NFC-enabled devices. Working on the same lines as RFID, these devices allow swift data sharing and transfer through a simple tap between two devices. And with the wide range of probable possibilities attached to it, NFC is far superior to a basic Bluetooth connection. You would have seen various TVC’s showcasing the new communication technology and how its extensive application can save time and stress in real world situations. At present, it is majorly being used for media sharing and I do acknowledge that the technology is relatively new and would take some time before it picks up but the scope of its convenience has already been well highlighted in various technology fairs and forums.

Even a simple wishful exploration of NFC will leave you taken aback (in a pleasant way of course !). Consider going to a shopping mart and instead of grabbing a carriage trolley, you can simply tap your NFC-enabled phone on the item tags on a large screen panel and move straight for checkout with all your grocery waiting there. Sounds time saving doesn’t it?! Take another instance; instead of standing in queue for purchasing tickets for travelling I Delhi Metro, you can simply tap your NFC device on a counter tag for ticket purchase as well as recharging your daily communication Smart Card. Wouldn’t that make the whole journey that bit more relaxing and convenient. And before you even think that something like this can only be considered in theory, have a look at what Nokia plan to do about it.

And search engine giants Google definitely seem to be ready to milk the cow as they have developed a virtual money storage application by the name of “Google Wallet”. It allows you to store your debit card, credit card as well as discount voucher information which can be used and redeemed at NFC-enabled payment terminals. But let’s not forget that there is a flip side to every new technology and NFC has its fair few drawbacks. The two major hurdles that NFC face at the present moment is the lack of extensive integration and vulnerability to privacy intrusion. With the number of NFC enabled devices increasing every day, there’s also the risk of all your personal information being compromised in case of theft.

But in spite of all these areas of concerns, there’s no doubt that NFC technology holds an abyss of potential and if the negatives can be worked upon, NFC may single-handedly manage to change and improve the way we live.

Just last evening in a general chat, my nosy neighbor caught hold of me on my way upstairs to boast about his HTC Evo 3D Smartphone that he had recently acquired. He blatantly plagiarized what major manufacturers claim and advocated that this Smartphone of his is the best investment he has made and it’s capable of replacing his laptop, PC, camera as well as TV. His staggering statements reminded me of how Samsung too believes that their Galaxy Tab is a one-stop technology companion which can do much more than all the standard devices.

Now in spite of being a technological enthusiast, I do not believe in half-witted ideology that a single device can compete and surpass the functionality of multiple devices. Simply because an engine is never greater than the sum of its parts; it’s those parts which render and identity to that engine. Nevertheless, I am open enough to understand an approach. A Smartphone or a Tab is a computing device which allows you to make calls, click images and record videos, enjoy media as well as surf the internet. Basically, it’s a full on recreational device (the focus is on recreational here.)

And that is where its limitedness gets highlighted. Apart from making calls which is the most clichéd USP of a mobile device, a Tab or Smartphone only marginally compensates for the features of other devices. Let’s start with a PC first. Your PC is nothing short of your home entertainment hub. You store a massive amount of media on it and with its memory expansion option there is no shortage of storage space. And the professional use of PC’s and laptops is not restricted to just sending mails and maintaining excels. Fields like programming and graphic designing require complex and heavy software for operation. Even the more personal aspect of gaming can only be enjoyed on a full-fledged gaming setup. Needless to say, a Smartphone or Tab does not even come close to be applicable in this regard.

 

 

Next comes the TV. Before I even start a comparison, we need to understand that with the advent of digitalization and multiple service providers queuing up; TV entertainment has acquired a whole new definition. And with addition and introduction of new and HD channels, the big screen couch potato experience has just gotten better. A Tab or Smartphone may play channels through an internet application and with the low amount of users, software and firmware updates seem farfetched thus reducing the whole experience.

And last but not the least is the good ol’ camera. Now I have to say that phones have come scarily close to a conventional digital camera and provide the additional portability benefit. And with Nokia bringing models like Pureview 808 in the marketplace, the stance of smart phones is bound to strengthen in the coming times. But unfortunately, there is still a large hurdle to come over as far as extensive use in concerned. Any enthusiast would swear by his DSLR any given day!

Now my emphasis here is not to insinuate hatred towards a Tablet or a Smartphone, but to highlight that they are fine computing devices which at best are “Jack of all trades, Master of None”.

The Apple launch affair was a stellar one. From highlighting the slimmer and taller design of iPhone’s latest variant to showcasing the new iOS6, it seemed like Apple had the structure and resources in place to prove all its doubters wrong. But a couple of weeks after its official launch, Apple looks like treading shores unknown.

What was essentially supposed to be the Big Debate between iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 has been overshadowed by unified claims of a failed product launch in the form of iOS 6 Maps. In coming out with the iPhone 5, Apple decided to completely ward off with YouTube and Google Maps; two of the most popular app services amongst Smartphone users. And in came the all new iOS maps which have been developed from the ground up (legitimate spokesperson quote).

During the official keynote, the crowd was given a firsthand look at how the Maps service on iOS works. The vector-based map system has the benefits of Local Search for getting photos and reviews of places they are about to visit. Apart from the standard turn by turn navigation and reroutes integrated with Siri, the Maps have been made capable of making your drives easier and time-saving. Another wonderful feature within the iOS maps was it “Flyover” feature, wherein you can actually see a live time human eye image of how places look like while flying over them and also allows you to adjust viewing distances and angles as per your convenience.

Now anyone who would have watched the keynote would have no doubt been left impressed the strategic innovation and enterprise on Apple’s part for the Mapping system. But the actual live use of this app has given less than impressive results. Users have used various social mediums with images showing glaring defects in the service. From poor route suggestions to obscure satellite imagery, mismarked and mislabeled places to obliterated building and structures, the iOS maps have left a lot to be desired. Various technology experts have been eager to highlight that Apple on its part had pre-meditated the reaction the service would get and expects to rapidly improve the mapping with the user inputs it get. As bold as the move looks, it jeopardizes Apple’s stance of being oblivious to safeguarding user interest.

 

 

Now taking things into context, this is a short term risk Apple is willing to take for long term benefit of its users. And their engaging approach of constant improvement through real time user data is also commendable. But as I see it, maybe Apple would have been better off releasing their Maps service app with the next update on iOS6. That way, they would have been able to improve on an already worthy alternate option to Google Maps and gather more concrete data to avoid the widespread glitches in iOS maps is facing at the moment. By rushing into replacing a Mapping service which has proven to be reliable worldwide with a half-baked mapping and navigation service which is still in its nascent stage has put Apple in the face of risking wrath of its loyal yet massive consumer base.

Despite my critical ascertainment with Apple’s persuasive legal course as a hindrance to innovation in the Smartphone arena, there’s no denying the fact that the latest avatar of the iPhone has been a runaway success. With Apple alongside its various carriers receiving close to 2 million pre-orders within the opening 24 hours and analysts expecting the sales to reach the 10 million mark within the week, the hype and curiosity surrounding the iPhone 5 is greater than ever.

And the way Smartphone markets work in US is what makes for an interesting reading for an average Indian mobile user. All the major mobile carriers namely AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have collaborated with Apple to sell their newest offering on no-commitment as well as 2-year contract plans. A no-commitment plan is similar to purchasing a new iPhone without any network services for 649$ (34,663 INR) while a 2-year contract means that the customer ends up paying just close to 200$ (10,682 INR) with a monthly data and call usage plans of between 85$-100$ (4540-5340 INR). Yes, the first part of a contract agreement is enticing enough to get your budget restraints wagging but it’s the premium monthly charge which translates to the analyzed fact that every iPhone 5 user will be able to actually take full benefit of his device after a good 9 months after purchase without burning a hole in his pocket.

From a consumer’s perspective, it is a good enough deal as they are getting the latest gadget for a knockdown price and willing to part with a substantial monthly amount for it. And you can’t blame them considering the phenomena an iPhone is considered in US. Some experts have even quoted iPhone 5 as the “new cash milking cow for the mobile carriers”. The contract system is a camouflaged and nifty business practice which allows mobile carriers to give products like the iPhone at subsidized prices and recover the costs and make handsome profits via the contracts. And with most of the phones in these contracts not being unlocked, change of carriers becomes increasingly hassle some once the contract period expires. But hey, Apple might just launch a new iPhone till then to keep the cycle running!

What I have always wondered is why mobile carriers have not been able to tap in on and successfully replicate this business model in India. And the latest advancements in the local Smartphone arena showed me exactly why. One, we are spoilt for choices both expensive and cheap when it comes to selecting a handset so this ideally leaves the companies at risk when it comes to subsidizing the handset costs due to numerous handset launches and upgrades. Secondly, Indians are not the splurging kind and are very particular about their cell phone plans; be it Prepaid or Postpaid. “Call per second” is a good example of that. And most importantly, the shelf life of a Smartphone being used by an average mobile user is 12 months at maximum which leaves the contracts proposition less profitable. Reliance and Tata Indicom have already tried this with low-end CDMA offerings which ultimately failed to excite. And even though Nokia is providing a few handsets with such contracts, it is not preferable for majority of the mobile users.

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