December 7, 2010
As it did with Eclair (Android 2.1), Google has taken the occasion of a new version of Android dubbed Gingerbread (Android 2.3) to bring out a new handset offering a “pure Android experience.” This time around, that purity is brought to you by Samsung rather than HTC, which produced the original Nexus One, a handset that stole some thunder (but few sales) from the Motorola Droid juggernaut.
Google has used the Nexus handsets for experimenting with distribution outside the carrier channel, even if it made the original Nexus somewhat of a sacrificial lamb. The superior distribution of Best Buy should certainly help with the push of the device.
However, the improvements in Android 2.3 may not do much to drive consumers to the Google-branded handset, at least for a while. Unlike recent Android enhancements that brought improvements such as more home screens, dramatically faster operation, and mobile hotspot capability, .most of Gingerbread’s improvements are under the hood. The marquee feature, NFC, could yield some compelling new applications, but the one most popularly considered – enabling payments – is hardly a magnet.
The “S” serving as the device’s surname refers to the Samsung Galaxy S family that is the foundation for not only the Nexus S design, but defines many of the key hardware characteristics for the Samsung Focus, which many consider “the Windows Phone to get.” With the Galaxy S, Samsung has pursued a strategy of ubiquity versus exclusivity, and so the Nexus S will compete with similarly priced and specced siblings at all four major carriers, including the Vibrant (as well as the faster G2 and MyTouch 4G) on T-Mobile’s own portfolio. Even though the Nexus S is an unlocked device, its (partial) optimization for T-Mobile’s network all but assures that it will be most appealing to customers using the smallest of the national facilities-based carriers.
The Nexus S may be less “a Nexus to perplex us,” but Google’s vanity handsets still seem like a bug in its diversification strategy, one that must be generating considerable head-scratching among Android licensees, particularly those that are not anointed to build a Nexus in a given cycle.. Google is still staying clear of going head to head with OEMs at major carriers, but while it is providing more serious competition this time around, the carriers are better armed as well.
Tags: Android, Google, HTC, licensing, motorola, Nexus One, Nexus S, NFC, OEMs, Samsung
July 2, 2010
This week, Samsung, which noted that it has the highest market share in the U.S. for cell phones overall according to “several analyst firms” (ahem), gave notice that it is now getting into the smartphone market for real with the launch of the Galaxy S. Samsung is indeed making a big splash with this device. Unlike similarly specced devices that are exclusive to one carrier, different flavors of the Galaxy S will launch on all four major U.S. carriers. This should work to Samsung’s favor when it comes to gaining smartphone market share, but may also reflect the phone’s arrival date, coming in after Sprint and Verizon are making big bets with their 4.3” Android devices in a bid to fend off the iPhone.
But the branding of the deices will go beyond the model numbers used for the BlackBerry Curve on multiple carriers. Rather, they will each have distinct names and, in most cases, distinct industrial designs. On the verb camp are the Verizon Fascinate and AT&T Captivate while Sprint and T-Mobile have adopted adjective names with the Vibrant and Epic 4G. Yet they are all identified as Galaxy S smartphones.
Having checked out the phones for a bit earlier this week, I have a few early thoughts. First, the screens are very bright and do well in direct sunlight, although they are not significantly brighter than that of the iPhone 4. That said, the extra resolution and screen size of the Galaxy S’s screen enables it to display more of a Web page without striking one as overwhelming the way the Droid X and HTC EVO 4G do.
Tags: AT&T Captivate, Ganaxy S, Samsung, smartphones, Sprint Epic 4G, T-Mobile Vibrant, Verizon Wireless Fascinate
March 22, 2010
At the sale of the first 3D television at Best Buy in New York’s Union Square, Best Buy representatives agreed with their partners at Panasonic that 3D was an experience best merchandised in the store. In fact, Best Buy would not roll out its Panasonic TVs onto the main selling floor until later in 2010, highlighting the newest technology in the Magnolia home theater specialty section.
Apparently, though, there’s no compunction about selling Samsung 3DTVs online as Best Buy, along with other retailers such as Amazon, is offering a 55” LED television and offering free shipping when purchased in a bundle that includes the glasses, a Blu-ray player, and Geek Squad setup. The difference comes down to how manufacturers want to manage their channel distribution. While Best Buy can take advantage of selling the Samsung online though, it retains an advantage in avoiding competition with online retailers for the Panasonic.
Tags: 3DTV, Best Buy, channel, Panaoniic, retailers, Samsung
October 19, 2009
One of the most brash moves at CES 2009 came from Samsung, which not only asserted its consumer electronics ascent by launching one of its first sub-brands outside of mobile phones, but by designating it for a high-end luxury product in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in memory. While many TV manufacturers distinguish between their main brand (Sharp, Toshiba) and luxury brands (Aquos, Regza), Luxia was clearly aimed at answering Sony’s XBR series to designate the top of the line. The main technological differentiator of Luxia was LED backlighting, which facilitated its slim profile, wide color gamut, and associated slim mounts.
Curiously, though, while Samsung has seen great success with its LED televisions, and has done extensive advertising around “LED TV” (including TV spots), the Luxia name has been largely missing in action. Even on Samsung’s own LED TV site, there is no way to search for Luxia televisions or clue as to the existence of a Luxia designation. I’m sure Samsung is pretty nappy to be dominating the LED-backlit landscape. A $4,500 television by any other name is still mighty profitable. But the difference between Samsung’s marketing of “LED TV” and “Luxia” provides very high contrast indeed.
Tags: branding, LED TV, Luxia, Samsung, sub-brands, XBR
March 30, 2009
It’s no secret that Symbian is the most prevalent smartphone operating system around the word but barely has a toehold in the U.S. as i has been hampered by Nokia’s poor showing in the States. But both Nokia and Symbian could well pick up some domestic share with the Nokia E71x, which Chris Ziegler at Engadget Mobile (with whom I shared a doomed episode of TechVi) reports is slated to hit AT&T. . Its svelte profile, solid keyboard and efficient if not glamorous UIs made it the E71 one of the best smartphones released last year. and by far the most broadly appealing S60 QWERTY device to ever hit U.S. shores.
Being launched by one of the two biggest U.S. carriers a a price under $100 could create significant market pull. It’s a Centro-priced smartphone that is in nearly every way superior to the Centro,. And while I personally think the E71x looks fetching in black, I think AT&T would have been wise to do some alternative colors as Sprint did with the Centro. Like the Centro, I suspect that most consumers won’t seek out third-party applications although there’s much more there for he taking for the E71x.
The same Engadget Mobile post also notes that AT&T will also roll out the Samsung Propel Pro, which stuffs Windows Mobile into the feature phone offered by the operator. This will mark the entrant of a rare Windows Mobile vertical slider, and should provide a rare opportunity to ferret out how much of a market advantage, if any, Windows Mobile offers a device that shares a sub-brand and form factor with a feature phone.
Tags: at&t, Centro, Nokia, Propel Pro, Samsung, smartphones, Symbian, Windows Mobile
December 4, 2008
News this week that Panasonic and Samsung — the two leaders in plasma television– had invested in Sunbeam, a semiconductor company driving the WirelessHD standard, was another strong expression of support for the company that is using adaptive beam forming, and other technologies to enable mulcting high-definition wireless video delivery. Even SuNbeam’s competitors have praised its approach, but have said that it would take a long time for the technology to come to market, adding in that when 60 GH is ready for prime time, they’ll be there.. However, a recent blog post by Erica Egg at Net says that Wireless (as well as WHDI) products will be shipping by the first quarter of 2009.
WirelessHD is also backed by Sony and Sharp, so it will also likely appear in LCD televisions as well. One key difference between Wireless and WHDI is range with WHDI having more of a WI-Fri-like footprint. As a result, while both technologies will be marketed primarily as cable-replacement technologies within the home theater (as has been the case for Belkin’s delayed pre-WHDI FlyWire product), WHDI should be more interesting to convergence-minded home networkers wanting a theoretically more effective way then Wi-Fri of bridging the classic PC-TV gap.
Tags: amimon, panasonic, Samsung, sibeam, whdi, wirelesshd
October 24, 2007
Fall CTIA is the less device-centric of the two annual wireless shows. Some attribute that to it being bumped up close to CES, but I think it has more to do with the spring CTIA show coming on the heels of the even larger European 3GSM show, a handset announcement bonanza. So, there wasn’t that much really new on the device side of the show, but it did provide an opportunity to get hands-on with some recently announced products, particularly from Samsung and LG.
I liked Samsung’s Juke (differentiated form factor and inexpensive) and the BlackJack 2 is a strong contender to the Motorola Q9. I was less drawn to the somewhat chunky and industrially styled i760 side-slider, but a colleague has ordered one and is satisfied so far.
The LG Voyager really brings the ball forward from the company’s successful enV. It is by no means an iPhone-killer as it has been portrayed. In fact, it’s not even a smartphone at all. But it should be. It’s not so much that the Windows Mobile UI would dramatically improve the overall user experience, but getting a few decent communications (IM, Web) and media applications on the Voyager would make it a formidable Sidekick competitor.
LG is the only top-five cell phone company that doesn’t offer a smartphone. It would be interesting if they offered Symbian’s OS (they are a licensee) as it would be nice to have more options for that operating system in the U.S. market, particularly on the CDMA side.
As for the Sidekick, I had been more interested in the Slide than the LX (which I’ve dubbed the “Widekick”), but, having now seen them both, the LX is not appreciably thicker than the Slide. The Sidekick would definitely benefit from a touchscreen, if only to address its longstanding need to reveal the keyboard in order to dial a number.
Tags: Juke, LG, Samsung, Sidekick, smartphones, Voyager