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Posts Tagged ‘Samsung’

The creator of Android explains how his new phone can take on Apple and Samsung

Andy Rubin at wired business conference Andy Rubin at the Wired Business Conference with the new Essential Phone. Getty Images for Wired

Andy Rubin is best known as the guy who created Android, sold it to Google, and nurtured it into the most popular smartphone operating system on the planet.

But Rubin left Google back in 2014, and now he’s on his own.

His latest gig is Essential, a startup he runs as CEO that’s trying to become a new kind of gadgets company. It starts with a phone, called the Essential PH-1, and the plan is to expand into smart appliances and cars from there.

Rubin spoke Wednesday at the Wired Business Conference in New York and shed a bit more light on Essential’s plans. After the Essential Phone launches this summer, the company plans to release Home, a voice-controlled hub for all the connected appliances in your house. Rubin claims Home will be compatible with the wide variety of smart home platforms, ranging from Apple’s HomeKit to Samsung’s SmartThings, even though it’d take a wild level of technical wizardy to pull it off. Many are skeptical he can pull it off. He calls this new platform Ambient OS.

Beyond that, Rubin teased that he’d like Essential to tackle the car, which is increasingly coming into focus as an area of growth for tech companies.

And questions remain how the Essential Phone, which costs $699, can find success in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

Business Insider and some other members of the press spoke with Rubin following his Wired talk. Below is a transcript of that conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity. (I’ve labeled each journalist’s question as just “Question” since so many people were in the room asking questions. I put my name on the questions I asked.)

Q&A with Andy Rubin, CEO of Essential

Steve Kovach: I want to talk more about Ambient OS. You were talking a lot about how you’re really confident you’re going to be able to stitch all these various platforms together.

Andy Rubin: I didn’t say I was confident. I’m definitely going for it.

Kovach: If I’m understanding it correctly, especially with Apple, it’s actually impossible. What they allow people to build into now doesn’t allow what you want to do. Does this thing fall apart if they say no to you?

Rubin: You have to understand this approach. There’s a client and a server. And what Apple has with HomeKit is a bunch of individual consumer electronics companies enabling HomeKit with their products. I don’t know what the percentages are, but they don’t all only speak HomeKit. They speak a whole lot of other stuff as well. And what Apple is trying to do is trying to be the screen that drives these things. And that’s excluding anybody in “Android Land” or Windows from driving those things. So the natural effect will be for those companies to support other products as well, and they’re the ones that are plugging into Apple’s APIs. So the trick that I talked about on stage is: I can produce the same APIs. And I can call it Essential Kit. And those same exact APIs that someone has already developed for their Sonos thing or whatever this point product is, I’m compatible with.

Kovach: But isn’t that just another product like Samsung’s SmartThings?

Rubin: No, no, no, no. You know what this is? This is [like] Windows emulation [on a Mac]. This is Windows emulation for IoT. APIs for all these people who are building these islands. And if I emulate eight things and turn it on, I control 100,000 devices.

Kovach: And have you been able to do that yet in testing?

Rubin: I haven’t launched a product. I’m teasing a product, but it’s going to be awesome. These are all forward-looking statements.

Question: How far in advance are you teasing?

essential home hub A rendering of what Essential Home will look like. Essential

Rubin: We have round LCDs — big ones. What’s after that is basically everything that’s in a smartphone. Right? There’s a bunch of cool things about starting a company today. I have a system in my lobby where I can print badges for people. There’s some startup company whose job it is to do lobby registration now. And when I used to start companies, those guys didn’t exist. But the other thing that happened, obviously, is smartphones have driven the supply base, based on the volume of the component tree of smartphones. And you’ll find those things going into a lot of products like these home assistant products. So it’s kind of a new era as far as leveraging the economies of scale of smartphones into these other products.

Question: So Essential Home is a touch interface. Is it also a microphone?

Rubin: Yeah it has far-field speech recognition. It has an array of microphones.

Question: Is there any plan to add video chat to something like that?

Rubin: Really good question. So once you do this job of bridging these islands, you kind of rise above all these other UIs, and you become a kind of holistic UI for every other product that might be in your life. So if you think of it purely from a UI perspective: Who is your UI developer? I actually thing developing for smartphones is too difficult. It’s almost like you have to go to school to learn how to be an iOS developer or learn how to be an Android developer. The good ones have four or five years of experience, and the industry is not that old. So the reason we created a new OS is to basically solve the UI problem and redefine the definition of who a developer is. I want the guy who owns the home to be a developer, in some regard. I can tell you today, there’s a $13 billion industry of Crestron or AMX or Control 4, and they’re drilling holes in your wall and installing screens in your home. That’s an outdated approach. But the guys that are doing the UIs for those are the same guys that are drilling the holes in your wall. There’s this whole installer thing with these high-end homes which is not a mass-market consumer value proposition. So I need to change who the installer is. And I think we’ve built enough technology for a consumer to kind of do a drag and drop.

Question: There’s this argument that’s been out there that innovation in smartphones has peaked, that they’ve already gotten so good and can do so many things. Where do you see things going? Where does it go from here?

essential ph-1 colors The Essential Phone. Essential

Rubin: When there’s this duopoly with these two guys owning 40% of the market, this complacency sets in where people are like, “Oh what they’re building is good enough. I’ll just go to them.” And that’s the perfect time to start a company like this, when people are complacent and it needs to be disrupted. And the real answer is you guys and the consumers need to tell me if there’s enough new innovation in [the Essential Phone].

I think the 360 camera and the magnetic accessory bus is a pretty good example of the innovation we’re thinking about. And there’s gonna be a string of those things. Let me broadly position this: In the era where smartphones were new and everyone was upgrading from their feature phone to their smartphone for the first time, the product cycle was every six months. There’d be some new thing coming out, everyone’s excited, there was a bubble kind of feeling that you were involved in something completely new and exciting. And then once everybody who wanted a smartphone got one, we’re in a saturated market — at least in the first world. In saturated markets, the upgrade cycle is every 24 months. And the problem with the 24-month cycle, which happens to snap to the carriers’ [ownership] of the consumer, is the consumer doesn’t get to see the innovation. It’s still happening in the background, but it happens every 24 months in these very lumpy onstage announcements. I think there’s a way, and the reason we built this magnetic connector to continuously produce innovation and show it to the consumer happening in real time. It’s almost like software updates for hardware.

Andy Rubin at wired business conference Rubin and his Essential Phone. Getty Images for Wired

Question: Explain how the Essential Phone is different from a modular phone. From the consumer point of view, it’s, “I’m getting this phone and I can snap a camera on and I can snap on a better battery.” Does it matter if it’s magnetic or not?

Rubin: That’s a good question. It’s two things. It’s kind of the core to the way we designed this from a product design perspective. The first one is what’s “modular.” [Google] Ara was the definition of modular, which is you can remove a core component of the phone, like its processor, and replace it with a faster one. We’re not doing that. You buy a phone, the phone works great as a phone. We’re adding stuff onto it. So that’s why I prefer accessory bus as an example. So that’s modular versus accessory.

Now, connectors, in my view, are dumb because they get outdated. So a wireless connector is the holy grail. We’re close to that. We transmit power between two pins and everything else is wireless. Actually, the technology we’re using is wireless USB 3.0. So it’s 10 gigabits a second of USB, and we’ve built these transceivers that do that. The benefit of having a connectorless connector is I don’t suffer from what Moto Mod suffered from, which is every phone they come out with in the future has to have that 33-pin connector in exactly the same location so all the accessories you’ve invested in as a consumer still work. So they’ve painted themselves in the corner. They can never change the industrial design of their next phone because it has to match all these accessories. Or they have to trick the consumer into throwing away all their accessories and getting the new one that fits this new thing.

A completely wireless thing means I can come out with a phone that’s invisible. And as long as it has this magnetic area on it I can use this legacy of accessories that I’ve purchased. Again, this is a pro-consumer brand. It’s not easy to articulate. We’re trying to do right by the consumer where they don’t have to throw away their stuff every time there’s a connector change. Or get some weird dongle. True story, I went and bought one of those beautiful new MacBooks with the OLED TouchBar. And that’s when they changed to the USB-C thing. And in the IT department in my company I needed to plug in to the Ethernet to get the certificate for the new laptop, and I went to the Apple store and I said, “Do you have a USB-C to ethernet dongle?” And they said, “Oh no we don’t have that yet.” So I had to buy a USB-C to Thunderbolt dongle, and a Thunderbolt to Ethernet dongle. So I had two dongles plugged into each other. And that’s the point where I’m just not feeling too good about being a consumer of those products.

Question: Based on the conversations you had today and at the Code Conference, Essential is much more than just a phone company. How do you find that your brand is going to track these consumers?

Rubin: It’s anti-walled garden. We chose Android because that’s a big component of that. We have a team of engineers, a lot of them, doing the job of other people to make our products work with theirs. These other companies, especially the walled gardens, they’re sitting here with their ecosystem and they expect people to come to them. And they get to be the toll gate guys and say “yes” or “no.” So we’re actively going out and making our products work with other people’s products because we know that’s how our consumers want to live.

Kovach: You spoke a lot on stage today about home and the car as major new platforms, but you didn’t mention AR.

Rubin: There’s baby steps into AR, and then there’s all-in. Scoble’s all-in is the shower picture… so the glasses might come later. Cellphones have had augmented reality for a long time…

What the real question is: ‘What is the end product?’ What is the developer going to build with augmented reality? And so far I’ve seen interactive media… movies and game-like movies, where you’re both a participant and a viewer, which I think is a little too mixed reality for me. There’s a lean back where you’re a consumer of this stuff and it happens, or you’re a participant like a game. The mixed part of it hasn’t been proven yet.

I think when consumers are ready to wear things, whether it’s a motorcycle helmet that overlays a map… or if it’s some goggles that they’ll use for a board game… in the end for these big things I think…

One of the problems is the price. It’s just crazy. It’s not ready for prime time. There will be a day where you might have a head mounted display and it costs $199, and you just plug it into your cellphone. And it won’t be ‘I’m wearing this 24 hours a day.’ It’ll be, ‘It’s time to sit down and play Monopoly with the family or something.’ It actually might be more social than what you would do with VR.

Question: Is that why you started the 360 camera? Because it’s a taste of that?

Rubin: This is all speculation, but I’m hoping there’s going to be a format change in the future. I think I can kind of move the needle a little bit in that format change by taking the world’s largest mass-market product and adding something onto it, rather than trying to create something completely new. So it’s more of a slipstream approach.

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It’s a make-or-break moment for Samsung with the launch of the Galaxy S8

DJ Koh, Samsung president of mobile communications, shows the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones during the Samsung Unpacked event in New York City, United States March 29, 2017. Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh with the Galaxy S8. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Samsung’s big test is coming in less than a week.

On April 21, customers will get their hands on the Galaxy S8, Samsung’s first flagship phone since the embarrassing Galaxy Note 7 debacle that damaged the company’s reputation and wiped about $17 billion from its value last year.

Not a good look.

But early impressions of the Galaxy S8 have been amazing.

From a design perspective, the phone features a gorgeous curved screen that takes up almost the entire front of the phone. (Samsung calls it an “Infinity Display” because it gives you the impression that there are minimal borders on the sides.) It’s also made from all glass and metal, with a svelte body that feels great in the hand or pocket.

Overall, the phone features a larger screen in a slim and light package. The iPhone looks chunky by comparison. The Galaxy S8 is the early favorite for the best phone of 2017.

Plus, there are loads of thoughtful hardware innovations like wireless charging and a top-of-the-line camera that has yet to be beaten by competitors. Even after last year’s stumbles, it feels like Samsung is gearing up for a major redemption thanks to the Galaxy S8. (As long as the battery doesn’t explode again, of course.)

Still, there are a few concerns ahead of the launch. Samsung was forced to admit Tuesday that its new voice assistant Bixby won’t be ready when the phone launches. That’s probably a good thing, given that Bixby struggled to work properly in an early demo I saw a few weeks ago. But it’s an embarrassing admission by Samsung that it can’t keep pace with the growing voice-control category dominated by Amazon, Apple, and Google.

Samsung’s decision to create Bixby didn’t make much sense in the first place, since the phone will also ship with Google Assistant, Android’s excellent digital helper. That threatens to confuse users with two different assistants on the same device. Good luck with that.

And until Bixby does launch with a software update later this spring, the dedicated Bixby button on the side of the phone won’t serve a purpose at all. That’s another bad look at a time Samsung needs to really wow users again to make up for last year’s embarrassments.

All that said, the Galaxy S8 will likely live up to most of its expectations. Samsung hasn’t commented specifically on demand, but did say the phone saw growth in pre-orders in the US over last year’s Galaxy S7, which was also well received.

If I had to bet, most people will look beyond the relatively minor software flubs Samsung is making with the Galaxy S8 and instead focus on the innovative hardware and design. Frankly, the iPhone has never looked so far behind in those categories.

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Article from GigaOm.

Whatever the final tally is, one thing is for sure — Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a legitimate platform and will be driving app downloads for the tablet based on a modified version of Android OS. Today, Read It Later (a service that is like TiVo for web content that I recently profiled) came out and said their downloads are getting Fire-d up.

A lot of happy people unwrapped new gadgets this holiday: Device registrations for Read It Later jumped 148 percent from November to December—a bounce for all the devices and platforms we support, including the iPhone and iPadAndroidKindle Fire and Firefox extension.

This holiday it was the Kindle Fire—12.5% of all devices registered on Christmas day and an impressive 17% of new users on the day after Christmas were from the new Amazon device. As you can see below, the Kindle Fire is still quite a bit smaller than our Android and iPhone/iPad audiences (it’s also the only platform with no free version yet).

While some have claimed that Android users aren’t interested in paid or premium apps, 45% of Read It Later’s Pro users during the holidays came from Android, and 19% came from the Kindle Fire.

Those are some substantial gains for a new tablet that came to market just a few months ago. Nate Weiner, CEO and founder of Read It Later, tells me that “the Fire had a huge presence in our holiday numbers (almost on par with the iPad).” His findings are in keeping with early results from other developers, as my colleague Ryan Kim reported earlier.

It is clear that Kindle Fire will be a presence in the tablet landscape. Only yesterday I was saying that app developers with limited resources need to support two flavors of Android – Samsung’s version and Amazon’s version. The early data from Read It Later only reinforces that.

Read orginial post here.

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Article from SF Gate.

“Intel Corp., the world’s biggest chipmaker, said it will spend between $6 billion and $8 billion on U.S. factory upgrades, spurring the creation of 800 to 1,000 manufacturing jobs.

Two plants in Chandler, Ariz., and two in Hillsboro, Ore., will be renovated, and a new research and development facility will be built, Intel said Tuesday in a statement. The plans will also create as many as 8,000 construction jobs, the company said. The initiative will be carried out over “several years,” Intel spokesman Tom Beermann said in an e-mail. The Oregon plant is to open in 2013.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, has manufacturing facilities at three sites in the United States, including New Mexico, as well as in Ireland and Israel. The company is also building its first production facility in China. Intel, which is vying with Samsung Electronics Co. to be the industry’s biggest spender on production, budgeted $5.2 billion for plants and equipment in 2010.

“Today’s announcement reflects the next tranche of the continued advancement of Moore’s Law and a further commitment to invest in the future of Intel and America,” Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini said.

Moore’s Law is Intel co-founder Gordon Moore‘s famous prediction in 1965 that computer chips’ performance will roughly double every two years as manufacturing technology improves and more transistors, or tiny on/off switches, can be crammed onto the chips. The other side of that prediction is that prices will also fall.

Semiconductor companies are locked in a race to shrink the line widths on the circuits that give computer chips their function. Intel’s budget will be spent on so-called 22-nanometer production. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Reducing line widths lowers costs and makes products more capable. Modern semiconductor plants cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct and billions to equip with machinery. They run 24 hours a day, year-round.

Intel rose 2 cents to $19.21 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have declined 5.8 percent this year.

The company’s microprocessors run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers. Rival Samsung is the biggest maker of memory chips. The two companies compete in the market for memory used in mobile products such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone.

Intel ended the third quarter with more than $20 billion in cash and short-term investments after generating $3.5 billion in cash flow from operations. That cash total doesn’t include the two pending acquisitions it announced in the period – the $7.68 billion purchase of McAfee Inc. and the $1.4 billion deal for Infineon Technologies AG‘s wireless-chip unit.”

Read more here

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Here are some interesting stats on IPO´s from Forbes.

“More technology companies went public this year despite a world economy still trying to find its footing, and that is a good sign the pace of tech initial public offerings might accelerate in 2010.

Ten tech companies have gone public so far this year, raising $3.8 billion. In 2008, there were three offerings that raised $749.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Tech deals account for the biggest number of IPOs so far this year and are second only to finance deals in value.

‘We’ve been expecting an uptick in technology because it has really been underrepresented in the market over the last few years,’ said Paul Bard, a research analyst at Connecticut-based Renaissance Capital.

There could be 40 to 50 tech IPOs next year, raising $4 or $5 billion, Bard said.

Tech IPOs did well in 2007, but nearly shut down when financial markets collapsed last year. Getting more small, high-growth tech companies into the IPO mix would be a major engine for jobs and a boon for investors, analysts said.

‘If they’re done right, tech IPOs historically have had the greatest increase in revenues and profits of all IPOs,’ said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique.

Three technology companies filed for IPOs this week.

Netherlands-based Sensata Technologies Holding B.V. on Wednesday filed an offering worth up to $500 million. The firm, whose customers include BMW, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Samsung, makes sensors and other industrial technology.

Chipmaker Telegent Systems Inc filed for a deal worth as much as $250 million, and software maker RedPrairie Holding Inc said it would try to raise $172.5 million in its IPO.

‘There is an enormous amount of capital on the sidelines right now, in mutual funds and hedge funds, looking to make high-return investments as they would find in technology IPOs,’ said America’s Growth Capital Chief Executive Ben Howe.

Howe warned that investors have become more cautious and companies without strong balance sheets could meet a lukewarm response. A good idea used to be enough for a tech company to go public, he said, but the financial crisis has changed that.

Sensata, which filed for the largest IPO this week, posted revenues of $796.9 million in the nine months ended Sept. 30, down 31 percent from $1.2 billion a year ago. In the same period it narrowed its net loss to $41.6 million from $82.3 million.”

Read the full article here.

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