Apple Becomes World’s Leading Smartphone Manufacturer

Apple vs. Nokia

Nokia for many years had been the world’s leading smartphone manufacture, but now Apple has surpassed them. Apple now has sold more smartphone units and brings in more revenue,  with Apple shipping more iPhones than Nokia this last quarter.

A year ago, IDC reported that  Apple had come in second for the number of global worldwide smartphone shipments against other smartphone manufactures and achieved a 16.1% of global market share. Nokia, on the other hand, dominated with 28% of the market. However, over the last few years Nokia has seen a decrease in market share. Apple’s most recent numbers not only puts them ahead of Nokia, but every other smartphone manufacture!

The Financial Times reports that Apple’s last earnings call,  during which 20+ million iPhones had been shipped during the Q3 of 2011 was announced. In comparison, Nokia reported a 34% decrease in handset sales  to only 16.7 million devices sold in Q3.

Shipments of Nokia smartphones declined by 34 percent to 16.7m units, compared with the 20.3m iPhones shipped by Apple in its second quarter. Apple was already the biggest smartphone maker by revenue and profits, but the April-June period marked the first time it had surpassed Nokia in volume.

The drop in sales caused Nokia’s rank to drop to third place, behind Apple and Samsung. Before 2007, Apple had no existence in the smartphone industry. Now, they have become the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer in less than 5 years. Yup, looks like iPhone is definitely “dead in the water“.


T-Mobile Targets iPhone Owners By Offering Micro-SIMs

T-Mobile USA Micro SIM

T-Mobile revealed a month ago that  it had over one million iPhones running on its network. A surprising annoucement because the iPhone officially didn’t support T-Mobile’s network and the phone wasn’t able to take advantage of 3G data speeds due to differences in the carrier’s network standard. Before today’s announcement, T-Mobile customers who wanted to use the iPhone on the network had to trim their T-Mobile SIM cards to fit into the iPhone’s micro-SIM slot because the carrier wasn’t offering smaller cards.

First spotted by App Advice  , T-Mobile USA has officially started to sell micro-SIMs which are compatible with the iPhone. T-Mobile USA is specifically targeting iPhone owners on its page promoting the new cards.

Already have a GSM phone or iPhone that you need to activate—or have an unlocked GSM phone you want to use on the T-Mobile network? Just get a Micro SIM card and choose a plan. Slip the ready-to-use Micro SIM Card into your phone and you’re ready to go.

The micro-SIM is free through T-Mobile’s website if purchased with a two year contract via the website or $9.99 without a contract. However, even if you decide to use the iPhone with a official micro-SIM from T-Mobile, it will still not be compatible with T-Mobile’s 3G network.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is testing a T-Mobile USA compatible iPhone, and will offer it to the public at some point. In addition, a T-Mobile compatible iPhone is even more likely since AT&T and T-Mobile are currently in the process of merging.


Google Gets Serious About Patents; Wants to Hire Patent Agents

While Android is probably one of Google’s biggest successes, it has been getting screwed by almost every major technology company which has a few patents to its name. The patent wars, as I like to call them, have intensified so much, that almost every mobile company in the US is involved in a patent lawsuit with each other. Apple is suing HTC and Samsung, Samsung is suing it back, Nokia is suing Apple, and Microsoft is making more money from Android than it ever did (or will) from Windows Phone 7. Dying giants like Nokia are making more money from patent settlements and licensing agreements than they make by selling smartphones.

Even Oracle, which is known for its huge army of patent lawyers is suing Google, over the use of Java in Android, and hopes to make a few billion dollars out of it. It seems like everyone except Google is going to make money off Android now, which is probably why Google is now taking things into its own hands.

It has been trying to get its hands on some patents related to wireless telecommunication, just so it can fight off other companies wanting a piece of the Android pie. It bid billions of dollars for the Nortel patent portfolio, even going crazy momentarily, bidding all sorts of weird numbers like Pi billion dollars, but eventually lost the auction, when Apple, Microsoft and some others decide to gang up against it bidding a huge amount which was ridiculously high even for Google.

It has apparently shown interest in acquiring InterDigital, which has a huge patent portfolio, but Apple is trying to crash even that party. Apple has roughly double the cash reserves of Google, and it is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that Google doesn’t get hold of any patents.

So now Google seems to be trying the standard way – inventing stuff and applying for patents. It has put up a job opening on its website for patent agents.

Patent Agent @ Google – Job Listing

“As a Patent Agent, you’ll help protect Google’s valuable and growing intellectual property. This is a vital role on the Patent team in which you’ll work with and manage outside counsel during their preparation and prosecution of domestic and foreign patent applications. A significant portion of your job will be to acquire a deep understanding of Google’s business and technologies and to collaborate with engineers and product managers for the purpose of harvesting ideas for new patent applications. This will include educating them on the intricacies of the patent system. Your responsibilities may also grow to include assisting with the review of third-party offers to license and/or purchase patents and supporting due-diligence activities in merger-and-acquisition transactions. You’ll work with an invigorating, inspiring team of innovators who are passionate about future technologies and excited about resolving their ensuing legal challenges.”

Good luck, Google. You need it. You are probably going to get screwed a lot in the coming months. I’m rooting for you.

Apple To Place Bid For Hulu?

Apple + Hulu

According to a new report, Apple is in early talks to make an offer to purchase Hulu; a popular online streaming service which provides TV shows and movies.

Apple Inc. is considering making a bid for the Hulu online video service, according to two people with knowledge of the auction.

Apple is in early talks that may lead to an acquisition offer for Los Angeles-based Hulu, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Many other companies have considered making an offer to Hulu, with Yahoo having made a bid of $2 billion but the company wanted a five year  exclusive on streaming content. Rumors have also suggested that Google, AT&T, and many other companies have considered bidding while Microsoft has dropped out of bidding earlier this week.

If a deal is made between Apple and Hulu, Apple would receive a new subscription service and could be a potential threat to Netflix. Hulu would retain its exclusive content licenses from its current owners  Disney, FOX/News Corp., and Comcast/NBC. In addition, Apple would be able to offer even more choices for movies and TV shows via the iTunes store and possibly convert Hulu’s video content from Flash to HTML5.

Apple recently  reported  that it had $76.2 billion in cash reserves and securities on its chest. Such a large acquisition for Apple would be unusual since they normally acquire companies that aren’t “well-known” and this large in size. Their biggest  purchase to date of a company was $400 million spent for NeXT Software Inc back in 1996.

Apple Sells 1 Million Copies of OS X Lion on Launch Day

Apple announced on Thursday that they have sold a stunning one million copies of thier new operating system, OS X Lion, in the first 24 hours of its lifecycle. The new OS, which was launched via the Mac App Store for $29.99 on Wednesday, is now the top paid app in the digital marketplace. This launch is the most sucessful of any of Apple’s Mac OS launches.

Lion is off to a great start, user reviews and industry reaction have been fantastic, according to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. This is backed up by the above information, as well as the generally posotive response to OS X 10.7.

Personally, I am loving the update to Lion. It was my first major update for my MacBook Pro, and it went flawlessly. It took a little longer to install than I might have liked, but it was still shorter than many Windows installations I have done.

As far as features go, I am loving most of the stuff in Lion. The scrolling was a little strange at first, but now that I have adapated my thinking, it is very natural. Some of the gestures are odd, only because I had gotten used to the ones that were in Snow Leopard.

According to Apple’s press release, Lion is currently avaliable in 123 coutnries via the Mac App Store. The distributioon of Lion seems to be work as planned, with no major hiccups reported at this point. In order to purchase Lion, if you haven’t already, you will need to be running Snow Leopard 10.6.8, have an active iTunes account, and be connected to the internet.

Google and Apple Slugging it Out to Acquire InterDigital and its Patents

Google is in a very tight spot right now. Being a relatively young company, compared to Microsoft, Apple, IBM etc, it doesn’t have many patents to its name. It has surely been innovating a lot, and has been building its patent portfolio in the past decade, but it is still nowhere compared to Microsoft or Apple, with less than 1000 patents in its portfolio. Its plan to acquire Nortel’s patent portfolio, which had over 6000 patents, failed when it lost a bidding war against a consortium of its greatest rivals – Microsoft, Apple, RIM and some others.

In the meantime, almost every company (well not every company, just Apple, Microsoft and Oracle so far) is bullying Google and its partners which make Android devices over patent infringement related to Android. To put an end to all the bullying and litigation, Google needs to bulk up its patent portfolio, and the only way to do it fast is by acquiring a company which has a huge one, related to telecommunication. Once Google acquires a decent number of patents, it won’t remain vulnerable and can easily defend itself and its partners against patent infringement lawsuits from the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.

Google obviously knows this, which is why they bid billions of dollars for the Nortel patents in the first place, but it’s hard to win an auction when you are up against heavyweights like Apple and Microsoft, who have billions of dollars in cash waiting to be used.

According to a report by WSJ, it seems like Google has another acquisition target in its sights – InterDigital. InterDigital has almost 8,800 patents related to wireless technology, and is possibly the best option for Google right now. Apple knows this, and with $76.2 billion in cash, it will likely try to acquire InterDigital as well. Ever since word of a possible acquisition got out, InterDigital’s stock has jumped up almost 65% in 3 days. Its market cap is now $3.3 billion, which is still way lower than the $4.5 billion Apple and Microsoft paid for the Nortel portfolio.

InterDigital’s management team knows this very well, and will try to auction itself to the highest bidder. Google is running out of options, and Apple has nearly double the cash that Google does. So, none of them are going to back off easily.

If I had to pick one stock to invest in, right now, it would definitely be InterDigital. It’s priced quite high right now, but I expect to rise even more, however irrational it may seem. Currently, patents are worth their weight in gold, and with Apple and Google’s billions in the game, the prices are very likely to be bid up. Winner’s curse, Auction theory 101.

Disclosure: I have no open positions in any of the companies mentioned in the post.

Xcode 4.1 is Free for Lion Users

If you are a developer on the Mac, then you are aware of what Xcode is. If you aren’t a Mac/iOS/Safari Dev, then you may not have even heard of Xcode. That’s to be expected, as it used to be only  available  to those with developer  licenses.

However, when the Mac App Store launched, Apple released Xcode for a mere 5 dollars. I, like many others, picked it up for personal reasons. I wanted it to enable the beta versions of the multi-touch gestures for my iPad.

Now, Apple has decided to give Xcode away for free, given that you have purchased a copy of OS X Lion. This is huge news, because it will save casual developers a hundred bucks a year. If you need an application to write the  occasional  piece  of code, or even just a simple script now and then, you should check out Xcode.

Xcode is constantly rated as one of the best sets of tools for development on the Mac. It sports some of the best formatting and color coding I have ever come across. While I don’t write code for a living, I have done some basic web development, and Xcode makes my life easier when I do.

If you are interested in Xcode, and you have already upgraded to Lion, then I suggest you pick it up. While the price may stick, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple changed the price with an update in the future. Jump on this deal while its  available.

Nokia’s Q2 2011 Results Announced; I AM DISAPPOINT!

Nokia Q2 ResultsNokia used to be the number one smartphone maker in the world. It created the smartphone market in the late 90s and dominated it for years. But then, in 2007, Apple launched the iPhone. It redefined the entire category, and soon became the number one smartphone company in terms of sales, in the US. Trying to emulate Apple’s success in smartphones, Google launched the Android OS, and it soon dethroned Nokia’s Symbian as the leading smartphone platform worldwide.

Stephen Elop, the man who people call Microsoft’s trojan horse in Nokia, has been at the helm of Nokia for about a year now. He has been making some changes to Nokia’s strategy to make it a smartphone giant again, but they don’t seem to be working. Nokia has pledged allegiance to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform, sidelining Symbian and MeeGo in the process.

Today, Nokia released its Q2 2011 earnings report. Compared to Apple’s outstanding results, they are extremely disappointing.

Nokia has posted a €487 million operating loss, down €782 million from a profit of €295 million in Q2 2010. Its sales are down to €9.275 billion, from €10 billion in Q2 2010. While it had nearly €1 billion in cash last year, it now has €176 million in debt. Even its EPS is down to €0.06; a drop of nearly 45%. The sales of all its product divisions have been dropping; smartphone sales are down 32% while feature phone sales are down 20%. Apple sold more smartphones than Nokia, at a much higher profit margin. In other words, it is completely fucked.

Nokia hasn’t launched a single successful product this quarter, as it concentrates its efforts on the Windows Phone 7 devices it plans to launch soon. If it screws up its Windows Phone 7 launch, which I think is very probable, it will likely end up either dead, or will be acquired by Google, Microsoft or Apple for its enormous patent portfolio.

Interestingly, Nokia seems to have made nearly €430 million as patent licensing fees, most of which is probably from Apple, as part of a settlement in a patent lawsuit that Nokia won.

Nokia’s Q2 2011 Earnings Release

Apple’s Proposal for Grand Central Terminal Store To Get Approved Soon?

A few months ago, rumors suggested that Apple would open their  largest Apple Store yet in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Today, there are new reports suggesting that Apple is indeed going to take Manhattan by storm and bring a significant change to Grand Central Terminal’s retail scene by opening up a store there.

The New York Times reported  that Apple’s bid for retail store space in the terminal is likely to be accepted next week. According to the people familiar with the matter, Apple is said to have delivered the proposal in “linen-lined boxes” to leave a memorable impression.

When Apple proposed opening a store on the balcony overlooking the main hall, it submitted its bid in linen-lined boxes, as if it were a wedding present to transit officials, a source familiar with the application process said. The board is expected to approve the deal at its monthly board meeting next week.

The report also suggests that a lot of vendors at the Grand Central Terminal are unhappy with the strict control enforced by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Many vendors  are upset with the fact that they are asked to reapply for their own space through a competitive process at the end of their lease term.  The process in itself is not a easy and has selected newer vendors as “better” options for the available spaces.

Apple has been rumored to have acquired the space on the two adjacent balconies on the north and east sides of the terminal. One of the balconies was being used by a resturant known as ”  Métrazur”, but  closed July 1 as reportedly received a “substantial sum of money” to vacate.

In addition, some retail experts predict that a Grand Central store could be even more popular than Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue location.

Apple Officially Releases Mac OS X Lion, Available for Download

Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7, codenamed “Lion”, is officially released and is available for purchase at the Mac App Store for $29.99. Apple showcased the new version of OS X at WWDC 2011 in San Fransisco, last month.

OS X Lion has over more than 250 new features,  which include the new multi-touch gestures, full screen apps, Air Drop, and new security features such as hard drive encryption. The OS X Lion will be a 4GB download. Alternatively, users can head to their local Apple Retail Store to download Lion. Later in August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through Apple Store for $69.

Additional new features in Lion include:

  • Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app;
  • Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work;
  • Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions; and
  • AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.
Apple Mac OS X Lion

Before you upgrade, please keep in mind the following configuration to run Lion –

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor to run Lion and not anything lower than this.
  • RAM: A minimum of 2GB RAM
  • HDD Space: At least 4GB of additional disk space is a must.

If you have purchased your Mac in 2006 or later, then you’re good to go.

In order to upgrade to OS X Lion, make sure that you have Snow Leopard 10.6 or higher version running. You also need to have the Mac App Store app installed in order to take advantage of the built-in App Store. In case you are running Snow Leopard 10.5 or anything less, then you must consider upgrading it to a higher version first (Snow Leopard is available for $29 at the Apple Store).

Also, please make sure that any third-party applications installed on your Mac system, are upgraded to their latest version. Third-party applications may not be compatible with the new version and will require an upgrade.