Archive for July, 2011

Apple and Samsung both sold more smartphones than Nokia in the second quarter, although Nokia still sold most phones overall, market researcher Strategy Analytics said Friday.

A dual-SIM phone.

A dual-SIM phone

Nokia’s smartphone sales have plunged since its February announcement that its future smartphones will run Microsoft’s Windows Phone instead of its own Symbian OS: In the second quarter, it shipped 16.7 million smartphones, down 30 percent from shipments of 23.8 million a year earlier.

In comparison, the smartphone market as a whole grew 76.3 percent year on year, according to Strategy Analytics.

Apple, meanwhile, more than doubled its shipments to 20.3 million for the quarter, up from just 8.4 million a year earlier. For Samsung, the increase was even more dramatic, moving from just 3.1 million smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2010 to 19.2 million in the second quarter this year.

That puts Apple top of the smartphone market, with an 18.5 percent share, up from second place with 13.5 percent a year earlier. Samsung is now second, with 17.5 percent, up from a third-placed 5 percent a year earlier, while Nokia’s share has plummeted to 15.2 percent, from 38.1 percent a year earlier. Other manufacturers have seen their share of the smartphone market rise from 43.4 percent to 48.9 percent, Strategy Analytics said.

Nokia also fared badly in the market for feature phones, with shipments slipping to 71.8 million in the second quarter, down from 87.3 million a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics.

Other manufacturers saw similar declines, so much so that overall shipments of feature phones declined for the first time in about two years, research firm IDC said Friday.

Overall, phone shipments totalled 361.1 million in the second quarter, up from 320 million a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics. IDC put the figure at 365.4 million, up from 328.4 million, a growth rate of 11.3 percent — lower than the 13.3 percent IDC had forecast.

Overall, Nokia’s phone shipments fell from 111.1 million in the second quarter last year to 88.5 million phones this year, still enough to leave it in first place, Strategy Analytics said. IDC published identical figures for Nokia’s shipments on Friday, adding that Nokia had shipped 2.6 million dual-SIM feature phones in the second quarter. In previous quarters, the company’s sales had suffered in markets such as India, where phones are often shared by several users and dual-SIM models are a popular way to let each user store their own address book and pay for their own calls.

Because of the slight disagreement on the overall size of the market, Strategy Analytics put Nokia’s share at 24.5 percent for the quarter, down from 34.7 percent a year ago, while IDC said Nokia’s share had slipped to 24.2 percent from 33.8 percent a year ago.

The two analysts also disagreed slightly on their estimates of Samsung’s total phone shipments for the second quarter, with Strategy Analytics putting it at 74 million and IDC at a more conservative 70.2 million, but the conclusion was the same: Samsung is still in second place, with a market share of 20.5 percent (IDC: 19.2 percent), almost unchanged from 19.9 percent a year earlier (IDC: 19.4 percent).

Third place — for now — is LG Electronics. While its smartphone sales are holding up, sales of its feature phones are dipping. Its share is now 6.9 percent according to Strategy Analytics, 6.8 percent according to IDC. LG has recently lowered its sales forecast for this year. If LG’s forecast holds true then other vendors may overtake it, IDC said.

Fourth place overall is Apple: both analysts put its share at 5.6 percent, up from 2.6 percent last year.

It is followed by ZTE at 5 percent (IDC: 4.5 percent), up from 3.3 percent (IDC: 3.7 percent) a year earlier. Strategy Analytics put ZTE’s growth down to keen pricing of low-end 2G phones and mid-range 3G Android phones — a very different market from the high-end 3G phones that Apple sells.

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Breakthrough: Transparent battery….but why?

Posted July 31, 2011 By David Kolle

Researchers at Stanford University have just created a thin, flexible, totally transparent lithium-ion battery.

Seeing clearly ... Stanford's transparent lithium-ion battery.

It is about the size and shape of a Listerine breath mint strip, and as clear as Glad Wrap.

According to an article on the university’ website, researchers were inspired to make a see-through battery partially because they want transparent Apple products to be a reality in the future.

“I want to talk to Steve Jobs about this. I want a transparent iPhone!” said Yi Cui, battery expert extraordinaire and an associate professor of materials science at Stanford who worked on the project.

Cui created the battery with graduate student Yuan Yang, who is the first author of the paper “Transparent Lithium-ion Batteries,” published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The challenge of making a battery see-through is that certain key materials that make a battery work are fundamentally not transparent, and no good transparent substitutes could be found. The Stanford scientists found a way around the hurdle by making the non-transparent parts of the battery so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Here’s how the Stanford story explains it:

“If something is smaller than 50 microns, your eyes will feel like it is transparent,” said Yang, because the maximum resolving power of the human eye is somewhere between 50 to 100 microns.”

Yang and Cui devised a mesh-like framework for the battery electrodes, with each “line” in the grid being approximately 35 microns wide. Light passes through the transparent gaps between the gridlines; because the individual lines are so thin, the entire meshwork area appears transparent.

The battery is not strong enough to power a laptop yet, but it could power a camera. And Ciu is optimistic that it won’t be long before the battery gets stronger.

If you want to geek out, you can read more about the crazy science that went into this battery here.

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A stolen iPhone 4 tracked down with Google 'Latitude'

Posted July 31, 2011 By David Kolle

Emily Kitson (pictured right),  thought her iPhone 4 was gone forever when it was stolen from beneath a cash register while she was at work.Emily, 19, with her recently recovered iPhone 4.

Her partner, Josh, was beginning to think so too after dealing with what he said was an unhelpful police officer.

On Saturday May 21 this year, Ms Kitson, 19, had been working at a lolly store at Broadmeadows Shopping Centre in Victoria.

“It was just like a normal Saturday and I had my phone underneath the till where everyone else leaves their phone,” Ms Kitson said.

During the day she served a man she described as being in his 30s or 40s who “distracted both of the staff and paid for his lollies and left”. Immediately after serving him, though, another man came up to Ms Kitson, she said, and told her that he saw the man she just served steal her phone.

“I checked and … it was gone, so I went and got the security guard and they sort of chased after him.”

After waiting about an hour, Ms Kitson said she was told by security that the man who stole her phone had got away in a taxi but that they had imagery on CCTV footage of him stealing it.

Tracking app discovered

Following the iPhone theft, Ms Kitson said she called Josh, who remembered installing “Google Latitude” on to her phone, a location-aware app that lets authorised friends track where someone’s phone is. The app uses GPS, wi-fi and mobile phone towers to determine a phone’s location.

Luckily for Ms Kitson, Josh was an authorised friend. “I completely forgot about it,” she said.

After realising the app was installed, Ms Kitson said Josh told her he had tracked the phone “to a place about a kilometre from the shopping centre”. The location was constantly updating.

With CCTV footage available for police to obtain from Broadmeadows Shopping Centre and the Google Latitude app pinpointing the phone to a suburban house, Emily and her partner believed they had some hope in retrieving it with the help of police.

Police involvement

But Ms Kitson said the police officer she and Josh spoke to at Broadmeadows police station was unhelpful to deal with. “I told them everything that I had, I gave them a description, I said that we had tracked [the thief] to an address and that it was still updating and that I had him on video doing it,” Ms Kitson said.

But the police officer she spoke to “wasn’t very nice”, she said.

“He didn’t seem to be very interested in what we were saying. I don’t know if it was because we were young. [But] he sort of gave me the impression that I was lying [and] he said that [he didn't] understand how something like [this could] happen.”

Despite this, Ms Kitson said the officer wrote down the information she gave him on a notebook and said that he would send a report to her by Tuesday.

“I was a bit disheartened considering how much we had,” she said. “I figured [the information I gave them] would be enough for them to actually do something. I didn’t think that I would get my phone back – but at the very least maybe the [thief] would get charged because I heard from people within the shopping centre that he was the common person there that stole a lot of stuff.”

Case chased up

Josh “was pretty upset” about the officer’s effort, Ms Kitson said. “So he sort of just started chasing it up and ringing up and seeing if it had been reported.”

In doing so, she said he “found out that the guy that I had spoken to at the police station had gone on … leave and hadn’t even reported the incident”.

“It wasn’t even reported yet, which was the very least that we would expect,” Ms Kitson claimed, which led her partner to continue to call police, checking up on the case.

“He just kept talking to people and they just kept stuffing him about and saying ‘You’re just going to have to wait it out,’” she said.

What made it worse for the pair was that the phone was not insured.

Ms Kitson understood there were “more important crimes out there” than a stolen iPhone but believed that with the information she had the case could be closed fairly quickly.

“All the time that this was happening … the phone was updating the address. And that was horrible because I could see that [a] person had my phone but there was nothing that I could do about it.

“I wasn’t about to go to their address and say ‘Give me back my phone.’”

The phone had even made its way to a nearby Catholic girls’ school, Josh said.

Police complaint made

After dealing with police for a number of days, Josh took the case to the Victoria Police Conduct Unit. “The police were not helping us at all,” Ms Kitson said.

After her partner communicated with the unit a number of times, the officer who the couple first dealt with told Josh he had sent a squad car to the address where the Google software had located the phone, only to find the address did not exist, Ms Kitson said.

“So Josh went on Google Maps and printed out pictures of the house. He found a real-estate listing of it to prove that it was a real house. I don’t know what [the police] were looking at.”

They then went to the police station to explain how the Google Latitude software worked and officers were given several photos Josh had of locations to which the phone had been tracked.

“We were taking screenshots every time it updated,” Ms Kitson said.

iPhone found

Ten days after the phone was stolen, Josh received a call he wasn’t expecting.

“One morning we had a call saying that [the police] had gone to [a] house at 12 o’clock at night and gotten my phone,” Ms Kitson said. “Apparently it was a 14-year-old girl who had it.”

Ms Kitson said the police informed her the girl had bought the phone for about $80 from a man who they believed stole it from the shop.

The man had apparently taken the iPhone directly to the girl after he stole it, Ms Kitson said police told her.

She described how the girl had left a number of text messages on the phone that indicated the girl knew the phone had been stolen. An online instant messenger program - MSN - was also left signed in.

“I was very shocked that I got my phone back; I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Now Ms Kitson has the girl’s phone number saved in her contacts under “Idiot Who Bought A Stolen iPhone”. The number was made available to Ms Kitson as the girl had sent messages to her friends with the new number she presumably got from buying a new SIM card for the iPhone to work.

“They left messages on there, texting everyone saying they got a new phone but ‘I can’t tell you where from’.”

Ms Kitson said she read many of the messages on the phone, as it was her property, but “didn’t do anything mean – though I probably could have”.

There were also a number of new purchased apps on the phone.

Victoria Police statement

Victoria Police said it did not immediately investigate the matter due to a staff member being ill and incorrect information provided by Emily. Four days after the initial complaint police said officers went to the address provided as the location of the phone but the address did not exist.

“The investigator was able to determine the correct address, a search warrant was applied for and this was then executed on 30 May resulting in the recovery of the phone,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

Police said the investigation was ongoing and a person had been interviewed and released without charge. The spokeswoman said the Ethical Standards Department was aware of the victim’s concerns over the timeliness of the police response but defended the officers’ actions. They needed to take account for competing priorities and also had to wait for warrants to be granted.

“Victoria Police is satisfied this matter was investigated thoroughly and, within the competing context of policing priorities, a good result was achieved,” the spokeswoman said.

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