Lenovo is now the fourth-largest smartphone seller and a possible BlackBerry buyer

Samsung and Apple are obviously the world’s top two smartphone vendors, but how many people can honestly say that they know the fourth place seller? The answer is Lenovo, which revealed strong earnings today that will reignite talk of it purchasing BlackBerry.

Lenovo, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, today reported a net profit of $174 million thanks in part to a push into the mobile market. Lenovo sold more smartphones than PC’s for the first time in the company’s history in the most recent quarter. The strong sales propelled Lenovo to its fourth place position, behind Samsung, Apple, and LG.

Readers outside of Asia may wonder how Lenovo could manage such a feat with virtually no western presence, but the company is the No. 2 smartphone company in China’s heavily-populated market. Canalys issued a report yesterday stating that Lenovo accounted for 4.7 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter of 2013, up from 2.8 percent during the same period last year.

While Lenovo is on the rise, it’s viewed as the most sensible company to pick up a company in decline. Lenovo has long been rumored as a potential BlackBerry buyer. Talk of Lenovo stepping in to pick up the troubled company has increased in wake of BlackBerry’s confirmation that it is willing to sell. When asked about a potential BlackBerry acquisition, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told the Wall Street Journal:

“I cannot comment on any specific target or deal. We believe that the PC industry and the mobile phone industry will continue to consolidate. So Lenovo is definitely in a good position to become an important player. If a target or deal is consistent with Lenovo?s strategy, we would take the opportunity.”

Purchasing BlackBerry could provide Lenovo a way to establish itself in more markets with a stronger brand and access to more patents and technology currently held by BlackBerry. However, that brand’s cache has diminished in recent years and BlackBerry is a hard sell to consumers. Lenovo purchased IBM’s PC division and still managed to grow its share of that market. Lenovo could potentially do the same and grow its mobile business outside of China by purchasing BlackBerry.

source: Wall Street Journal




Red HTC One launching on Sprint tomorrow

Sprint recently announced an exclusive color for the Samsung Galaxy S 4, and the Now Network will also have an exclusive color for the HTC One. Already available in silver or black, a red HTC One will go on sale beginning August 16.

One might expect Verizon, nicknamed Big Red, as the carrier that would offer a red smartphone, but Red hasn’t even delivered its standard HTC One color options. Sprint snagged the exclusive and has a temporary sale associated with it. Anyone who purchases an HTC One for $199.99 with a two-year agreement by August 30 will be able to get a second device for free.

Samsung Hennessy, aka the inexplicable Android flip phone, is now official

Clamshell smartphones may be a relic of a forgotten tech era in the eyes of many, but Samsung has decided it’s not quite done with the flip phone phenomenon and announced the Android-powered Samsung Hennessy. Like the last flip phone that you’ve probably seen, it’s destined for the Chinese market. Whatever the reason, buyers in China were interested in last year’s dual-screen flip phone enough to make Samsung build a sequel.

The Samsung Hennessy has a 3.3-inch HVGA display (320×480); two of them actually. The outside of the phone has a display showcasing a clock and links to Android apps, and the inside has the familiar Android 4.1 with Samsung’s touches to the software. There’s even a dial pad with physical buttons. It also has a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1,500 mAh battery. The phone clocks in at 208g (7.34oz) of weight and 110.85 x 59.3 x 18.62mm (4.37 x 2.33 x 0.73in).

Chinese buyers can pick up the Hennessy with dual SIM CDMA/GSM support, but consumers in other regions will not be able without paying a hefty import fee. It’s strange to see the device considering that there are so few clamshell phones still seen today in an era where smartphones have rapidly replaced feature phones. Even the candybar-style feature phones outnumber the clamshell kind in the west. Clearly the smartphone revolution hasn’t killed off flip phones.

What if Apple Holds a Launch Event and Nobody Cares?

Sept. 10 is the day Apple will unveil its latest iPhone, according to a report in All Things D citing unnamed sources.

Although there have been some apparently well-founded leaks, Apple has not confirmed anything. It hasn’t said whether it will be launching an iPhone 5S or a 5C, as rumored. It has not even confirmed the Sept. 10 launch date.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.


iPhone Rumors

Despite the radio silence on Apple’s part, there’s been no shortage of speculation. There is talk, for example, of an iPhone 5S with a fingerprint reader — something that Apple’s acquisition of Authentec would support.

There will be a new budget-class iPhone offered with colorful plastic cases, suggest other rumors, which perhaps will represent a new way for Apple to target the mid- to low-tier market.

The iPhone 5C, as it may or may not be called, is also expected to come equipped with new security features and to run iOS 7.

A Busy Time

Apple will launch the new device or devices — assuming the date is correct — during a busy period when it could be easy for a lackluster launch to quickly fade from sight.

It will be following Samsung’s week earlier launch of its Galaxy Note III, which is expected to be a high-profile event. The new iPhone(s) will debut during the week of the IFA consumer electronics show, when presumably many other products will be unveiled.

Following the relatively quiet summer vacation month of August, September is usually a busy time for product launches and conferences. A few years ago, it would have been easy to regard the launch date as simply a convenient month for the company and industry.

However, Apple has been battling the perception that it has lost its innovation chops, and this slot on the calendar adds to that narrative. In short, a cynic’s viewpoint might be that Apple wants to get lost in the crowd.

“The hard truth is that if this was the iPhone 6 or another completely new product, they would not be announcing it a week after the Note III,” Dan Roche, VP of marketing at TalkPoint, told MacNewsWorld. “Apple recognizes that the playing field is even enough that everything they do isn’t monumental.”

A Morsel at a Time?

For that reason, Apple is not likely going to save all of its marketing oomph for one product or one announcement, N. Venkat Venkatraman, a professor at Boston University, told MacNewsWorld.

“I think Apple realizes that it needs to position its message as part of a stream of new products that would be introduced by many companies over the next few months,” he noted.

If the Sept. 10 date is indeed correct, it will be the iPhone 5S that is released, according to Venkatraman. “That is predictable, and iOS7 is already announced and needs a new device — albeit a minor hardware refresh.”

That doesn’t discount entirely the possible launch of an iPhone 5C for China and emerging markets, he continued.

That would be big news for many reasons, Venkatraman said, if only because it deviates from the Jobsian view of one product for the world, instead of separate products for different regions.

More likely, though, Apple will be focusing on more mundane offerings, Venkatraman said.

What Apple needs to do, he suggested, is emphasize useful features such as fingerprint ID for security and convenience, and perhaps aggressive pricing.

LG G2 hands-on and first impressions with HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4

The new LG G2 debuted today and it was hard to get excited about a product that has seen not only leaks but also official confirmations from its manufacturer weeks ahead of the official unveiling. At today’s global launch event for the LG G2 in New York City, excitement was in short order but there was still room for impressions.

Despite the leaks, the G2 makes one – a more than decent impression, after all. The phone joins the conga line of flagship Android smartphones that choose offer a big screen and a big body to go with it. The 5.02-inch IPS display is very attractive thanks to its 1080p HD and high levels of brightness. I held it next to an HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 for the sake of comparison, and the LG G2 had the most impressive of the three. Aside from the aforementioned brightness and great colors afforded by the IPS display structure, it also benefits from the very narrow bezel that permits the screen to be larger than average without making the device too much bigger than it needs to be.

LG also made a big impression with the hardware specifications, including the new 2.26 GHz quad-core processor that will likely inject a major boost in performance to the device. You can never really make reasonable analysis of a phone based on a pre-production model at a launch event, but snap judgment suggests this will be a snappy phone.

It might also be an awkward phone because of LG’s decision to move the volume keys and power button to the rear of the device. It’s a strange sensation to power on or controlling the features with my index finger in the middle of the back rather than the sides of the phone that they have rested for so many years. People who cup their phones along the edges may find it strange, especially given the size of the G2, to suddenly turn to the back o the device. People who naturally hold their index fingers along the back may be pleased. On the plus side, there are some utility features built into the software.

Here’s a hands-on video discussing the G2’s shape, materials, and more. Also include is a quick body comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One.

LG G2 debuts with 2.26 GHz quad-core processer, 13MP camera, and support on all four major carriers

LG announced its 2013 flagship smartphone, the LG G2, with the kind of specifications that may please the many consumers disappointed by the Moto X. For starters, the phone features the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 that offers 2.26 GHz in each of its four cores. The Snapdragon also has extended battery life, 4G LTE Advanced, and enhanced graphics.

The LG G2 places the volume and power buttons at the back of the phone directly below the camera. LG claims that’s where consumers typically place their index fingers, and that’s why they decided to create the sides of the device button-free. That maintains symmetry and clean lines as part of the aesthetic. It’s a strange yet interesting change of pace. The button relocation also allows users to do things like press a hardware button to take self-portraits with the rear camera or launching QuickMemo.

The G2 has a 5.2-inch display, chosen because that’s the biggest size that can still accommodate one-handed use by the average consumer. The IPS display has a 1080p HD resolution (1920×1080, 423ppi). It also has 2GB of RAM, a 3,000 mAh battery, 16GB or 32GB of storage, a 2.1-megapixel front camera, and a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization.

LG says that the G2 will go on sale at all four of the major U.S. cameras. The phone will run LG’s custom user experience and software based on Android 4.2. Those features include Answer me, a setting that answers incoming calls by putting the phone next to the ear. It also has Guest Mode to allow only certain apps to load when the owner lends his or her phone to someone else, and the QuickRemote feature.

LG G2 Specs
– Processor: 2.26GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon? 800 featuring quad Krait CPU
– Display: 5.2-inch Full HD IPS (1080 x 1920 pixels / 423 ppi)
– Memory: 32GB / 16GB
– RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 800MHz
– Camera: Rear 13.0MP with OIS / Front 2.1MP
– Battery: 3,000mAh
– Operating System: Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2
– Size: 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9mm
– Colors: Black / White

Russian Social Network Tycoon Offers Job to Snowden

Pavel Durov, the 28-year-old Russian CEO of social network site VKontakte, has offered Snowden a job as a security software developer. VKontakte is akin to Facebook and has 100 million active users, mostly from Eastern Europe.

Last week, Russia granted Snowden, who had been holed up in a Moscow airport, temporary asylum.

Snowden has been mum about the job offer. He is keeping a low profile, period, with his series of leaks about National Security Agency surveillance having riled U.S. authorities, who are pursuing an extradition.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is slated to have a meeting with Barack Obama in Washington this week.

[Source: CNN]


Thailand Threatens Jail for Misplaced Likes

In Thailand, an investigator threatened to jail anyone found to have Liked Facebook posts claiming that a military coup had taken place.

Thai police are investigating four people who allegedly caused a bit of a ruckus by posting rumors of a military coup on Facebook. That woke up the nation’s censors, who are extra wary ahead of an upcoming bill related to a 2006 coup. Some say the bill could allow former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister is currently in charge of the government, to return to power.

He was ousted by… a military coup.

The original quartet accused of spreading the coup rumors — along with advice to hoard food and water — could face up to five years in prison and a US$3,200 fine. One of the accused is the political editor for a public television station.

Despite his ouster, Shinawatra has reportedly been intimately involved in Thailand’s affairs. While living in exile, he has used Skype and other electronic communications to advise his sis on what to do.

[Source: The Associated Press]

Australian Electoral Commission’s Hacked Twitter Account Goes Phishing

Hackers commandeered the Twitter account of the Australian Electoral Commission on Tuesday, shooting out direct messages to users in an attempt to gain login information.

“I found a funny pic of you!” some of the messages read, offering a link to a fake Twitter page on which users could plug in their login details.

The commission said it will now change its Twitter password daily to avoid any future problems.

Australia has a federal election coming up next month.

[Source: The Age]

App-Controlled Toilet Vulnerable

A $5,500-plus, smartphone-controlled toilet is susceptible to attack, according to security experts at Trustwave’s Spiderlabs.

The “Satis” toilet, manufactured by Japanese firm Lixil, provides music, fragrance release and automatic flushing. It connects to mobile devices via Bluetooth and is controlled by an Android app called “My Satis,” but a hardware flaw means the toilets can be activated by any phone that has the app installed.

The problem is that the initial pin code for every model is 0000, allowing it to be reset and activated by anyone with the app.

The downside, as Spiderlabs explains, is that an attacker could repeatedly flush a toilet or activate the “air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress… .”

Of course, Bluetooth only goes so far, so any covert toilet-hacking would have to take place from close range.

[Source: BBC, Spiderlabs]

South Korea Concerned About Apple Pardon

South Korean officials are concerned about Barack Obama’s reversal of a trade ban against Apple’s iPhone 4 and 3G-capable iPad 2.

Samsung was awarded the ban by the U.S. International Trade Commission. Obama’s reversal is the first veto of an ITC ban since 1987.

There are concerns that Samsung is not offering reasonable deals for its standards-essential patents for 3G systems. The European Commission has also hinted that Samsung is abusing its standards-essential patents by incessantly seeking sales bans.