iPhone 4 and 3GS Rank as Best-Selling U.S. Smartphones

Today, research firm NPD released its new mobile phone track report for the second quarter of 2011. The report shows that Android continues to lead the U.S. smartphone market with 52% of new sales during the quarter. iPhone accounted for 29% of the market while Research in Motion’s BlackBerry continued to decline and only accounted for 11% of the market.

SplatF points out that Apple’s 14 month-old iPhone 4 continues to lead the market in sales. In addition, the 8 GB iPhone 3GS ranks second. Apple’s iPhone 3GS was introduced 26 monnths ago, and they have kept the device available for purchase following last year’s iPhone 4 introduction by dropping the capacity to 8 GB and price to $99. Pricing for the iPhone 3GS has dropped to $49 since then.

Here are the top five best-selling phones during Q2, via NPD’s Mobile Phone Track service:

1. Apple iPhone 4
2. Apple iPhone 3GS
3. HTC EVO 4G
4. HTC Inspire 4G
5. Samsung INTENSITYII

Apple has continued to keep the iPhone 4 traction going by introducing a CDMA version on Verizon and the launch of the white iPhone 4. The company is expected to release a new version of the iPhone at the end of September or early October, and is expected to offer a lower end version of the iPhone 4.

If you were to ask me, for a phone that has be pronounced “dead in the water” many times, these results are shocking.

Apple Testing LTE in iOS 5

Last week, Boy Genius Report reported that Apple has been testing a 4G LTE-enabled iPhone with carries, and suggested that an “internal iOS test build” was being used for testing. The build was a property list file (.plist) for LTE. BGR says that this is the file Apple was already using to test LTE hardware in the field. LTE is a new type of wireless broadband network that is currently being deployed by Verizon and AT&T. If the next iPhone is 4G LTE compatible, data speeds will be significantly faster.

iOS 5 LTE

MacRumors has discovered that the same LTE plist file in the last couple of iOS 5 builds. The LTE.plist file was only found in some of the builds (GSM iPhone 4, CDMA iPad), and it was related to Apple’s internal “Fieldtest” application.

In addition, Engadget posted a photo from a source who claimed that AT&T had installed 4G LTE equipment in a major Apple retail store. Forbes also pointed out that Apple has put out a job listing for field test engineers with specializing in LTE.

Field testing in the wireless industry typically means going outside (into the field) with a new cellphone and measuring its signal strength. It is an integral step that phone makers must take before releasing products to the public.

Rumors from Verizon and China Mobile executives have suggested that Apple is planning on offering an LTE iPhone at some point.

 

Verizon’s Android Share Down Dramatically Following iPhone 4 Launch

At the end of March, Chitika Insights reported that Verizon was the largest Android carrier, due to the carrier’s migration from RIM’s BlackBerry to Android throughout 2010.

Five months later, Chitika Insights now reports that there is a huge decrease in Verizon’s share of the US Android market share after the iPhone 4 became available on Verizon.

Chitika Insights Android Marketshare

Even though several promotions for Android devices were offered,  AT&T’s share of Android users is up just 5 percentage points. T-Mobile and Sprint both have maintained a ratio of the nation’s Android users as Verizon moved millions of its subscribers to the iPhone.

Surprisingly, the largest growth comes from other carriers, including MetroPC, Virgin, and US Cellular. These carriers amounted to less than 3 percent of the US Android market in  in March, but now claim 8.5 percent.

Chitika Insights says the “Verizon’s share of iPhone traffic continues to increase, but it seems that Verizon is gaining market share in Apple’s prominent smartphone at the expense of its other, Android-running devices.”

In conclusion, in less than six months Verizon Wireless’s share of Android phones sold in the US has declined from 51.4 percent to 41.1 percent, suggesting a shift among Verizon subscribers to iPhone 4.  In any case, the iPhone remains to be “dead in the water”.

Apple, Starbucks Team Up To Give Away Free iPhone Apps

Since April 2008, Starbucks has partnered with Apple for the “Pick of the Week” program. The “Pick of the Week” program provides users with iTunes Music Store content via cards. Previously, the promotion only allowed  customers access to a free song each week, with tracks priced up to $1.29. Now, CNET reports that these cards are now also offering free downloads of paid iOS applications.

Shazam Encore, the first Starbucks Pick of the Week App

The first application made available for free is Shazam Encore, which usually sells for $5.99 in the App Store. Starbucks has not commented on whether the free applications offer will replace music tracks for good, or if both will be offered in the future. Judging by the first free app offering, it seems they’re serious about providing quality apps because Shazam Encore is a very popular music app costing $5.99.

Customers who visit Starbucks can pick up the free “Pick of the Week” cards at the register that contain codes  redeemable in the App Store towards the purchase of iOS apps.  Last year, Starbucks also did something similar by partnering with Apple and Yahoo to offer digital content to in-store customers.

Android owners, are you jealous yet? Anyways, Apple’s evil.

[image credit: CNET]

iPhone 5 Preorders Starting September 30, Launching October 7? [Rumor]

It seems like we can’t go a single day without hearing a new rumor about the next iPhone. First we heard that it would be called the iPhone 4S, and would come “sometime this fall.” Next, we started hearing that it would be a big redesign deserving of the name iPhone 5.

Well, we have a new release date rumor to deal with. 9to5 Mac is reporting that, according to their sources, Apple is planning to launch the next generation smart phone on October the 7th. While they are reportable not completely sold on that date, it is the one they are leaning towards. 9to5 Mac is also reporting that Apple is planning to take preorders for the iPhone 5.

via MacRumors.com

This is a change from the launch of the iPad 2 earlier this year. With that launch, Apple did not take any preorders, which was viewed by many (myself included) as a bad move. However, it is clear that they wanted to have people waiting in lines outside of Apple stores, which they certainly got. It would seem they don’t see the need to force people into lines with the iPhone.

If we are to believe these dates, and I can’t see a reason not to consider them, then we can draw a couple easy conclusions. The first is that the iPhone 5 is probably in production or will be very soon. In order to meet the kind of demand that Apple has seen in the past, they would need a petty large number of these phones.

The second thing we can safely assume given these dates is the timing of a media event. If Apple does plan to take preorders starting on September 30th, then there has be a media event before that. Now, the timing is up in the air. It would be reasonable to think that the event would also be on the 30th, but it wouldn’t have to be. It’s possible that they would introduce the iPhone 5 at an iPod/iOS event earlier in the month, and then just announce the preorder and launch date.

Overall, this seems as possible as any there date we have heard so far. However, it is just a rumor, so don’t bank on it coming true. We will have to wait until Apple is ready to show us the new iPhone before we get out our checkbooks.

What are your thoughts on the iPhone 5 rumors? Do you like the sound of these dates? let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich to be Launched in October?

Rumors about the launch date and specifications of the upcoming Apple iPhone 5 have been circulating since months. Every other day, some blog comes up with a new rumor about the iPhone 5 specifications or design, based on the iPhone 5 cases designed by some obscure Chinese company. The iPhone 5 may be launched by Apple in either September or October, depending on who you choose to believe.

New Windows Phone 7 devices are also expected to be launched in September, along with the Mango update.

However, there has been relatively low buzz about the next version of the Android OS – Android Ice Cream Sandwich. In fact, other than a rumor or two, we haven’t heard anything about it at all.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich will be the unified OS which developers and users have been praying for. It will run on both smartphones and tablets. The next Nexus device will likely be powered by the TI OMAP4 platform.

Today, BGR revealed that Google may be planning to launch Android Ice Cream Sandwich, along with the new Nexus smartphone as early as October. Google is apparently pushing up the release date of Ice Cream Sandwich to steal some limelight from the much awaited iPhone 5 launch. It also doesn’t want potential Android customers, whose contracts are set to expire in October, going for the iPhone 5.

How Nokia Could Save Itself and Dominate the Smartphone Market Again – My Thoughts

Nokia is clearly in a very bad position right now. It has screwed up badly in the last couple of years, and is completely behind the curve. Symbian used to be the leader in smartphones, but now it has just been relegated to the sidelines by Android, iOS and surprisingly, even Windows Phone 7.

If there is any other company which is doing as badly as Nokia, it’s Research in Motion. Even they used to lead the U.S. smartphone market, but now their flagship Blackberry devices have been completely trounced by iOS and Android.

Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, couldn’t have been more right when he said that Nokia was on a burning platform. However, I don’t quite agree with what his proposed solution to the problem was: Windows Phone 7.

Nokia effectively ditched Symbian and officially adopted Windows Phone 7 as its primary OS months ago. It will likely launch a couple of Windows Phone 7 devices before the end of 2011.

Even so, with HTC, Samsung and LG already in the game, I doubt that the Windows Phone 7 deal will save Nokia.

Here’s my take on what Nokia should do to avoid almost certain death.

Launch Devices on Multiple Platforms

As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Especially when it’s Microsoft’s.

Nokia may think that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 may be the dominant smartphone in the future, but no one knows how it might play out. It could turn out that Android may remain the most popular smartphone platform for a long time.

Instead of trying to predict which platform will be the leading one in the future, Nokia should try to do what it does best – hardware.

Nokia’s expertise lies in building quality, inexpensive smartphones which offer excellent value for money. It has some of the best production facilities and distribution network worldwide.

If I were Nokia, I would continue to build Symbian, as well as MeeGo smartphones (it seems to have received some great reviews). Additionally, I would also ship smartphones powered by both Windows Phone 7 and Android.

That way, Nokia’s future wouldn’t remain tied to any particular platform.

Three Devices Per Platform

Nokia currently has over 20 different smartphones powered by the Symbian OS, and even more feature phones powered by S40. Many of them hardly differ at all. If you want to buy an iPhone, you just go ahead an buy an iPhone.

However, if you want to buy a Nokia device, you just end up getting confused and then buy a phone which you are not sure you really like. Too many choices can really suck.

Nokia should develop smartphones powered by these four platforms – Android, Windows Phone 7, Symbian and MeeGo, but only 2 or 3 devices for each platform.

Budget

The budget smartphone should be an inexpensive, budget device priced around $200-$300 without contract. It could have a 3.5 inch capacitive LCD display, a 2.0 MP or 3.2 MP camera and 4 GB of storage. But it should have at least 512 MB RAM and a 1 GHz processor.

Mid Range

The mid-range smartphone should be priced at around $400-$500. It should come with a 4 inch capacitive S-LCD display, a 5 MP camera and 8-16 GB of internal memory. This device should come with a 1.4 GHz single core processor, or a 1 GHz dual core processor, with 1 GB RAM.

Superphone

This would be the best smartphone on the planet. It should be priced at around $600-$700, and come with a 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED display. It should have an 8.1 MP or 12 MP camera, and be powered by the best hardware available – 1-2 GB of RAM, coupled with a something like the Nvidia Kal-El chip – a quad core processor. This should offer 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage.

With these three devices on each platform, Nokia should be in a position to dominate the smartphone market.

The Killer Stroke

Nokia should use only the stock version of Android, so that it can push out updates faster than the other manufacturers. It seems that Nokia plans to customize Windows Phone 7; it should scrap those plans.

And finally, here’s the killer stroke:

Nokia should produce only three devices, based on the specifications I outlined above, for all the four platforms.

It should allow users to buy a device, and then allow them to choose whichever OS they want to install on it. All the three devices are powerful enough to run any of the 4 operating systems easily.

This way, anyone looking to buy a smartphone can buy a Nokia device without having to choose between platforms – he can just install whichever OS he wants. Nokia could also provide a dual booting option if it wanted.

This will have another advantage: Nokia will have to produce only three devices. This will alllow it to produce them at a much lower cost, with many components used in all of them. It could potentially be able to price them lower than any of its competitors.

Additionally, Nokia should refresh its new product line only once an year, like Apple. This way, when a consumer buys a Nokia phone, he will be assured that his phone won’t become outdated in a month.

With this product strategy, I believe Nokia could regain the top position in the smartphone market. If anyone would want to buy a phone, he would just have to choose between the Nokia phone, or the iPhone. With 4 OS options on the former, I bet most would choose the Nokia phone.

I haven’t really thought this through, but I think this would be the best strategy for Nokia. What do you think? Comments, please.

Rumor: Apple and China Mobile Reportedly Strike Deal to Bring iPhone To World’s Largest Carrier

China Mobile Logo

In the past, rumors have suggested that Apple was working on making the iPhone available to China Mobile customers. Now, a new report from CapitalVue suggests that Apple has finally closed a deal with China Mobile to launch the iPhone on their network. China Mobile currently has over 600 million customers making it the world’s largest mobile carrier.

The source of the rumor is uncertain since the report indicated to “a company filing” picked up by Chinese-language site ccidcom.com. MacRumors  auto translated the article and reports that the report came from the Associated Press. They have been unable to locate such an article.

If ccidcom.com’s report does prove to be true, it suggests that China Mobile will announce the iPhone 4 in October, and then later will be followed by the iPhone 5 and future 4G LTE models based on the carrier’s homegrown TD-LTE standard.

In China, Apple currently offers the iPhone through China Unicom, but has been rumored many times to be trying to strike a deal with China Telecom. Clearly, Apple is getting ready to make the Chinese market a priority and is working on trying convince all of the country’s top carriers to offer the iPhone.

Look Out RIM, US Govt Testing iPad & iPhone For Security Standards

Given Apple’s recent Q2 numbers  indicating a 113% growth in iPhone sales, it’s no real surprise that people love their iOS devices. Many businesses and organizations have been slowly loosening their grip on forcing employees to use ‘sanctioned’ devices (read: BlackBerrys) in order for provisioning and providing support on their corporate network. Employees are now being allowed to put their consumer devices to business use, provided they meet certain requirements. The US government is no different.

The US Department of Commerce recently signed off on a $44,000  purchase of ‘Apple Equipment’, which consists of 55 iPad 2 tablets and 5 16GB iPhone 4s. The acquisition request was put through by the National Institute of Standards and Technology  (NIST) and was approved just a few days ago. One of the most relevant things to keep in mind, is that NIST provides mandates and standard procedures for FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002). Among other things, FISMA governs the development, documentation and implementation of information security and information systems within government agencies. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are used to define standards developed by the US federal government for implementation in computer systems. This is where FIPS-140-1 and FIPS-140-2 come into play, which define a standard for cryptography modules.

As seen above, NIST has recently updated their Cryptographic Module Validation Program Process List  (PDF) to include both the iPad and iPhone FIPS cryptographic module tests. Both are in IUT (Implementation Under Testing) phase as of August 1st, 2011. This comes just after RIM announced the PlayBook to be the first FIPS-140-2 compliant tablet  for deployment within federal agencies.

Could this be an indicator that the US government is aggressively looking to bring iOS devices to their federal workforce instead of simply renewing contracts with Research in Motion for legacy BlackBerry devices? RIM has had the government supply market locked up for decades, it’s a very strict niche, but if anybody can force their way through, it’s Apple.

iPhone 4 Prices Slashed; iPhone 5 Launch Imminent?

While most of the rumors of the iPhone 5, the next version of the iPhone, have been wild guesses by ‘trusted unknown sources’, there is one thing which has been consistent in all the rumors. All of them seem to indicate that Apple will launch the iPhone 5 in September. A recent report also indicated that Apple had already ordered shipments of 15 million iPhone 5 units from its supply partners in anticipation of huge demand.

Usually, just a few weeks before the launch of a new iPhone is scheduled, Apple or its retail partners cut the prices of the current models to quickly sell out the existing stock.

Today, Engadget and PhoneArena have reported that both Radio Shack and Target will start offering price cuts on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS.

Radio Shack has cut down the price of the 16 GB iPhone 4 from $199.99 to $169.99, and the price of the 32 GB iPhone 4 from $299.99 to $269.99. The price of the 8 GB iPhone 3GS will now be dropped to just $19.99. These price cuts will be effective only on the AT&T iPhone models.

Similarly, Target has also announced a few price cuts which vary depending on the carrier. Both the AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4 16 GB devices will be going for $149.99. The iPhone 3GS will be sold for $19.99, while the Verizon 32 GB iPhone 4 will be priced at $249.99.

Obviously, if you plan to buy the new iPhone 5, these price cuts won’t matter at all.