Forced migration

Like these geese, Singtel ADSL subscribers need to migrate in order to keep more than just the broadband connection,
Like these geese, Singtel ADSL subscribers need to migrate in order to keep more than just the broadband connection,

By Edward Lim

The telecommunications market, except for mobile, is facing a slowdown in growth. According to IDC, the Pay TV services market, which consists of cable, satellite, Internet protocol (IP), and digital terrestrial TV services, will remain flat over from 2017 to 2021.

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Sweet quarter for Apple in China

iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 helped spur Apple’s growth in Q3.

The launch of the iPhone 8 and drop of prices of older models have helped Apple turn in a sterling quarter in China, with shipment rising 40 percent to 11 million units this Q3.

Continue reading “Sweet quarter for Apple in China”

Enter the gaming smartphone

Razer Phone
Play Final Fantasy XV on the new smartphone.

Finally, a smartphone that’s made for gamers. Razer has launched in London the latest high-end smartphone with a focus on mobile gaming.

But what makes this phone different from others in the market? And how does it enhance the mobile gaming experience?

Continue reading “Enter the gaming smartphone”

7-minute grace

whatsapp-logo

Ever sent a WhatsApp message only to wish that you could delete it later? Or have you ever sent a message to a wrong chat? Well, it looks like you’re not alone because WhatsApp has introduced a delete function that lets users delete messages within seven minutes of sending.

This seven-minute grace could be a face- or even life-saver for those moments when we hit sent too quickly.

Delete only works if both the sender and recipient are using the latest version of WhatsApp for Android, iPhone or Windows Phone.

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Samsung Pay extended to smartwatches

Samsung Gear 3Guess it was only a matter of time as Samsung Pay has been extended to the Gear 3 and Gear Sport. This will let consumers use their smartwatches, on top of their smartphones, to make purchases.

Samsung Pay on Gear is protected by Samsung Knox for enhanced security. It functions independently so users need not bring their phone along to make payment with their smartwatches. They can view their transaction record on Samsung Pay Plugin, an associated application for Samsung Gear.

In another development in Hong Kong, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank have become Samsung Pay partners. Both banks’ customers can start using Samsung Pay for their credit cards from November 2.

 

 

Smartphone makers in a rush?

Google Pixel 2 XLIn 2016, Samsung had battery overheating issues with its Note 7. Recently, Apple is constantly pushing out iOS 11 fixes to improve battery life for the iPhone 8. And now, Google is working on a solution to address the screen burn-in issues of the Pixel 2.

What’s happening? Are smartphone makers in such a rush to launch new phones that they are cutting short quality tests? Admittedly, this is the probably the hottest segment of the consumer technology market and every player is trying its best to outdo each other.

According to IDC, the worldwide smartphone market will reach a total of 1.53 billion units shipped in 2017, up 4.2 percent from the 1.47 billion units shipped in 2016. That’s a lot of phones and perhaps the reason why makers are hurrying to snare a share.

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E-commerce to account for a quarter of retail sales by 2025

Greater internet and mobile device accessibility are driving e-commerce growth in Southeast Asia.

According to ABI Research, Smart Retail has gone through revolutionary changes in the past 10 years and will exponentially continue to do so going forward.  Brick and mortar stores are no longer the only option for consumers across the globe to make their everyday purchases, due to significant advancements in technology, both in-store and online.

Key players include Senion, who implements some of the world’s largest Indoor Positioning System (IPS) solutions to enhance in-store experiences, and AisleLabs who provides shopper traffic behavior analytics to help retailers optimise store layouts.  Leading POS software vendors, Shopkeep and Square are allowing retailers to sell across multi-channels from a single platform. These and other key vendors are paving paths to making the offline and online worlds seamless experiences.

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Google sets up online Singapore store

Hurray, Google has finally set up an online store for Singapore! Amid the flurry of announcements made yesterday, this is probably the most significant for those in Singapore. After all, what’s the point of reading and hearing about all the launches in recent years without being able to buy the products anywhere in the country.

The bad news, however, is that only three products were listed on the Google Wifi, Google Chromecast and the newly-launched Google Pixel 2 XL.

Google’s latest smartphone sports front-facing stereo speakers, and front and rear cameras capable of producing amazing shots using fused image stabilisation of optical and digital zoom. Though the headphone jack is gone, Google has introduced Pixel Buds that can translate up to 40 languages on the fly. Continue reading “Google sets up online Singapore store”

Nokia 3310 makes comeback at under S$100

Nokia’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in February that it was resurrecting the iconic Nokia 3310 was met with enthusiasm, which was quickly dampened when the phone was said to run on 2.5G.

However, Nokia has responded remarkably by upgrading the 3310 to 3G and making it available at “below S$100”.

“Our fans around the world have been asking for this iconic phone to support 3G. Fans asked, we listened, and today welcome the Nokia 3310 3G,” said Mr Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of HMD Global, maker of the Nokia phone.

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New Apple iPhone is real X — for eXpensive!

Even though the X in the newly announced iPhone X is supposed to be pronounced as “10”, it can be interpreted as eXpensive. At S$1,648 for the 64GB version and S$1,888 for the 256GB iteration, the new iPhone X is a costly device, bringing it right into the price range of notebook computers.

Apple seems to be pushing the price ceiling on how much consumers are willing to pay for a high-end smartphone. It may even cause some die-hard fans to consider if it’s really worthwhile upgrading to this new rendition. The iPhone X comes with a six-core A11 Bionic processor, GPU, a bezelless super retina display, wireless charging, dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with optical image stabilisation, and Face ID. Most of these are already available in other high-end smartphones without such a hefty price tag.

Face ID, which lets users unlock and pay with the device, is probably the most unique value proposition but is this enough to justify the high price?

Guess the answer will be known when the iPhone X becomes available in Singapore on November 3.

New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2

New Android mobile phone launches spurred growth in Australia, leading to year-on-year growth of 18.4 percent to 2.16 million units, exceeding expectations in Q2, according to IDC.

Smartphones accounted for nearly all of the shipped phones — totalling 2.06 million.

Android returned to being the most popular smartphone OS in Australia. Recently, iOS had overtaken Android as the most popular smartphone OS in Q4 2016 as it held over 54 percent of the market compared to 47 percent for Android.

Continue reading “New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2”

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 available in Singapore from Sep 15

After missing a beat with the Galaxy Note 7, which resulted in a massive recall and lots of bad press, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 8 with availability in Singapore from September 15.

Sporting a similar look to the Galaxy S8, the new smartphone’s key differentiator is the S Pen, which is designed to communicate in more personal ways. It has a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity, and features such as Live Messaging that enable users to better express themselves.

The always on display allows users to stay on top of notifications without unlocking their phone. Screen off memo lets them take up to one hundred pages of notes as soon as they remove the S Pen. Users can also pin notes to the always on display and make edits directly.

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5 reasons why I like the Google Pixel

By Edward Lim

When the Google Pixel was first announced late last year, my antenna went up as my trusty Samsung Note Edge though working generally fine and still looking great was slowing down.

I’ve been a Samsung user since the original Note and love the phablet with its stylus but the Google Pixel is something else. It looks great, has powerful features, including a 12MP rear camera, and best of all, runs on stock Android. Goodbye, bloated Android!

But, there was a major letdown. Google had no plan to make its new flagship smartphone available at this part of the world. While not impossible to ship from overseas, the cost is fairly prohibitive, bearing in mind the strengthening US dollar.

However, a recent trip to Sydney proved to be the turnaround. The Google Pixel was staring right at me as I was heading towards the gate at Kingsford Smith Airport. I couldn’t take my eyes off the smartphone and there was added incentive. JB Hifi was offering the phones at A$100 off the retail price. A quick mental conversion of the price of the Google Pixel 128GB version (the smaller model) was more than S$1,100. While not cheap, the deal proved too good to pass and I returned with a spanking new toy.

It’s been more than a month since I switched from my Samsung Note Edge to the Google Pixel and I’m loving it. Here are five reasons:

  1. Stock Android: The smartphone will always get the latest version of Android. Better yet, there’s no service provider additional dead weight.
  2. Fingerprint access: The fingerprint sensor at the back just hits the sweet spot. It’s ideally located with a natural holding position. And it works perfectly, turning on the phone and screen quickly.
  3. Swipe: I love swiping and somehow this feels and works better, making it so convenient for crafting messages.
  4. Rear camera: The 12MP camera is fast, shoots well and produces great shots.
  5. Smooth transition: Nothing dampens getting a new phone more than the pain it takes to transfer the necessary files and data over. With the cable provided, switching over took just a few minutes. It doesn’t get any better.

Do I miss my Samsung Note Edge? Only one thing, the stylus when I need to annotate images. There again, I hardly annotate images. Possible shortfalls are the lack of a replaceable battery and inability to upgrade memory. That’s why I went for the 128GB version.

Overall, thought pricey, the Google Pixel has proved its worth.

Video services analytics to double in 5 years

The market for analytics within Pay TV services will grow by 105 percent in the next five years, from US$1.8 billion this year to US$3.7 billion in 2022, according to ABI Research.

Comcast, Netflix, Sky, Telstra, and other successful video companies differentiate themselves from their peers by their strong use of analytics to optimise and improve operational metrics. Pay TV companies are starting to transform products to support an analytical focus, moving in the direction of artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable self-optimisation.

Video companies sell today’s products in a host of point-solutions, including content and metadata engagement, customer management, network optimisation, and consumption measurement. Larger network-oriented business support systems and business intelligence vendors also play a significant role within these markets.

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Return of Note 7

The embattled Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is making a return — as a limited edition Galaxy Note Fan Edition!

According to a statement, Samsung plans to sell the refurbished device (which comes with new battery) from July 7, starting with a 400,000 limited run in Korea. The smartphone will be priced at 699,000 won.

Problems with the batteries led to a recall which left a mark on an otherwise remarkable run by the highly popular Galaxy Note series.

Singapore to focus on 4 technology areas

Singapore will be focusing on four technology areas to build the foundation for its digital transformation. These are artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, cybersecurity, immersive media, and Internet of Things and future communications infrastructure.

At the opening of Infocomm Media Business Exchange at Marina Bay Sands Singapore Convention Centre, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim noted that “they are exciting fields with bright prospects in their own right, and they have great potential to transform other industries and enhance people’s lives”.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
The nation has established AI.SG, a national programme with funding of up to S$150 million to boost Singapore’s AI capabilities.

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China vendors corner India smartphone market

China-based vendors strengthened their grip in the India smartphone market, snaring 51.4 percent share of the smartphone shipment in Q1, according to IDC. They grew 16.9 percent sequentially and an impressive 142.6 percent over the same period last year.

In contrast, share of homegrown vendors dropped to 13.5 percent in the Q1 from 40.5 percent in the same quarter last year.

Overall, 27 million smartphones were shipped in Q1, a  14.8 percent growth over the same period last year. Unlike last year, shipment grew sequentially in the first quarter of 2017 by 4.7 percent recovering from demonetisation impact in Q4.

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Enhancing public safety

Motorola Solutions has unveiled highly advanced technology solutions to enhance the capabilities of nation-wide public safety networks at Critical Communications World 2017 in Hong Kong. These include mission-critical radio technologies, specialised software, mission critical broadband, command centre solutions, and future innovation concepts.

Growth in both mission-critical communications and mobile broadband technologies is fuelled by demand for end-to-end, interoperable solutions combining the most needed elements of voice, data and multimedia communication.

“Public safety customers in Asia Pacific are among the most technically advanced in the world and are continuing their rapid adoption of mission-critical mobile intelligence services and smart technologies. This is enabling them to filter and analyse the vast amounts data available today so they can make better and faster decisions to protect our communities,” said Iain Clarke, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, of Motorola Solutions.

Huawei smartphone strides ahead in China

Huawei has taken top spot again in China’s smartphone market, edging past Oppo after two quarters of trailing in second place. According to Canalys, the Chinese smartphone giant, which launched the P10 and P10 Plus during MWC, shipped close to 21 million units to secure an 18 percent market share in Q1.

Despite strong annual growth of 55 percent, Oppo fell to second place with shipments of just under 20 million units. Third-placed Vivo had the lowest annual growth of the top three, capturing a 15 percent share with its shipment of 17 million units.

“China’s smartphone market continues to grow, with shipments increasing by over nine percent year on year this quarter. But there is a clear indication that the market is consolidating. The top three vendors are pulling away at the head of the market, accounting for more than 50 percent of shipments for the first time this quarter,” said Lucio Chen, Research Analyst of Canalys.

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Singtel identified as APAC leader in 2016-17

Singtel is one of four telcos identified as leaders in Asia Pacific (APAC) in 2016-17 by IDC in its report entitled IDC Telecom MarketScape for Next-Generation Service Providers 2016-17.

The report, which evaluates the leading regional and global telecommunications service providers (SPs) in APAC, also listed AT&T, BT and Orange alongside Singtel was “Leaders” of the next-generation telecom service providers in the region along with plenty of challengers in the market.

These service providers demonstrated a strong regional network presence, comprehensive suite of enterprise cloud and managed ICT service offerings, diverse portfolio of services in areas such as Internet of Things (IoT) and collaboration in the region, as well as a large base of mid and large-sized enterprises, multinational corporations (MNCs), and government clients across Asia Pacific.

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Hello, hello, it’s the Nokia 3310 again!

nokia-3310With a slew of product introductions now on at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, what’s amazing is that an old icon has grabbed loads of attention. Nokia has resurrected its 3310 phone, albeit in an updated version that runs on Opera.

Nostalgia has won over the latest technologies as the 3310 looks to maintain its old form factor and offers the long battery life that it’s renowned for. It’s claimed to be able to last up to a month on standby or an incredible 22 hours of talk time. Many phones today can’t even last a day without needing to be recharged.

In an insane world where top-end mobile numbers cost more than notebook computers, the 3310 will be priced at just €49 in Europe. With dual SIM, it makes for a great travelling companion. Let’s see if this phone will come to Asia — and if yes, which parts.

China smartphone market hits record high

The very popular Huawei Mate 9 helped propel Huawei to the top.
The very popular Huawei Mate 9 helped propel Huawei to the top.

Everybody knows China is big but with nearly half a billion smartphones shipped last year, the market is massive — that’s one smartphone for every three person in the world’s most populous country.

According to Canalys estimates, China reached 476.5 million unit shipment, growing year on year at 11.4 percent, far exceeding the annual growth rate of 1.9 percent in 2015. China shipment reached 131.6 million units in Q4, which is the highest single quarter total in history, accounting for nearly a third of worldwide shipment.

Huawei took the top spot in the market with 76.2 million shipment, a small lead ahead of runner-up Oppo with 73.2 million units, followed by Vivo in third place at 63.2 million units.

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China phone makers dominate India market in Q4

CanalysWhile Samsung remained at the top, China smartphone makers occupied four of the top five positions to snare the lion’s share in India in Q4, according to Canalys.

Their extremely price-competitive devices pushed out India makers, who have been hit hard by the Indian government’s decision to demonetise the INR500 and INR1,000 (US$7.30 and US$14.65) banknotes.

“Local brands’ target customers typically buy in cash and from independent retailers. With the short-term liquidity crunch caused by demonetisation, these retailers are suffering a slowdown in consumer spending. Local vendors are losing out as retailers look to shift their stock to fast-moving, current devices. In Q4 2015, Micromax, Intex and Lava took second, third and fifth place, accounting for almost 30 percent of the market. One year on and all three vendors have dropped out of the top five, with their collective share falling to around 11 percent,” said Rushabh Doshi, Analyst of Canalys.

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1 in 5 user interaction with smartphone will be via VPAs in 2019

google-nowAdvances in various technologies will drive users to interact with their smartphones in more intuitive ways, said Gartner. It expect that, by 2019, 20 percent of all user interactions with the smartphone will take place via virtual personal assistants (VPAs).

“The role of interactions will intensify through the growing popularity of VPAs among smartphone users and conversations made with smart machines,” said Annette Zimmermann, Research Director of Gartner.

Gartner’s annual mobile apps survey conducted in Q4 among 3,021 consumers across three countries (US, UK and China) found that 42 percent of respondents in the US and 32 percent in the UK used VPAs on their smartphones in the last three months. More than 37 percent of respondents (average across US and UK) used a VPA at least one or more times a day.

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Xiaomi: No money from smartphones

xiaomi-mi-maxMany of us may know Xiaomi as a leading China handphone maker with its unique business model of selling in batches online.

In an interesting revelation to Reuters, Xiaomi Global Vice President declared that the company does not make money from selling handsets.

He is essentially saying that Xiaomi is giving away smartphones because the focus is on “recurring revenue streams over many years”. The company is looking at revenue from other products, such as smart-home device, software and services.

WhatsApp video call on the way

whatsapp-logoLast year, WhatsApp added voice to its messaging application. This year, it’s taking it one step further with video calls.

WhatsApp video calling is on the way for more than one billion users on Android, iPhone and Windows devices.

“We’re introducing this feature because we know that sometimes voice and text just aren’t enough. There’s no substitute for watching your grandchild take her first steps, or seeing your daughter’s face while she’s studying abroad. And we want to make these features available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks,” said WhatsApp’s official press statement.

Smartphone shipment up 6% in Q3

CanalysThree Chinese smartphone vendors — Huawei, Oppo and vivo — helped drive the global smartphone market in Q3. Together their shipment grew 60 percent while the overall global market just moved up six percent that quarter, according to Canalys.

The standout performer was Oppo, which had a stellar quarter, taking hold of the Chinese market from under the noses of its rivals. Its smart phone shipments grew around 40 percent sequentially and 140 percent year on year. Tough competition in China has affected Huawei’s global position, with it now looking increasingly unlikely that it will reach its annual shipment target of 140 million units.

Samsung continued to lead the market, but its issues with the Note 7 are starting to affect its business. It shipped just over 76 million units (excluding all Note 7s), down nine percent on the same quarter a year ago. In second place, Apple’s iPhone shipments also suffered an annual decline, falling five percent  to just over 45 million units.

Continue reading “Smartphone shipment up 6% in Q3”

Oppo tops China’s smartphone market

The Oppo R9 has helped propel the Chinese smartphone vendor to the top.
The Oppo R9 has helped propel the Chinese smartphone vendor to the top.

Move aside Huawei and Xiaomi because Oppo is now the leader in China’s smartphone market. And the number goes to vivo, another Chinese maker.

According to IDC, the China smartphone market grew 5.8 percent year-on-year and 3.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 with Oppo and vivo overtaking Huawei for the first time.

Oppo and vivo rose because the Chinese market has evolved beyond operator and online driven channels over to an offline structure that dovetails with Oppo and vivo’s strengths.

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