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Industry news

Samsung Electronics' smartphone business is sagging badly, and it issued a profit warning for the September quarter. A new wave of manufacturers are leveraging the Shenzhen ecosystem to reduce Samsung's scale advantage and take share at the mid-range and low-end - Xiaomi, but also lots of others in China and many emerging and middle-income markets. The arrival of new larger-screen iPhones at the high-end means this can only get worse in the short term. Samsung has been very effective at exploiting Android and its scale in components to replace Nokia, but it's not really been able to differentiate - a systemic problem for OEMs using commodity software and near-commodity components (Windows OEMs had the same problem). Link

Amazon is going to open an actual bricks-&-mortar retail store in New York. Link

Apple will announce new iPads (and probably Macs with retina screens) on the 16th - this Thursday. The event will be live-streamed. There are obvious things Apple will do (fingerprint scanner, faster chips), but there is no obvious growth lever to pull along the lines of larger screens for the iPhone, and sales have been effectively flat for over a year. Apple will talk about education and the recent IBM deal, but it's not clear what would reignite iPad (or indeed tablet) growth. Link

Apple may be planning to launch Apple Pay next weekend. Link

The Apple watch is featured in a cover story in Vogue China. Revealing. Link

GT Technologies, which supplies sapphire-making equipment to Apple, amongst others, went spectacularly and unexpectedly bankrupt. Not clear yet exactly what happened - Apple is certainly using sapphire in the watch but that's not due for months, and though there was some speculation that sapphire would be used for iPhone screens it seems that's actually pretty impractical. In the meantime, a mess to clear up. Link

The biggest problem facing Google Fibre is actually getting TV rights, apparently. Link

People in Hong Kong are apparently using Firechat, a smartphone messaging app that uses Bluetooth to build a local mesh network, and so cannot be shut down. Mesh networks have been a tech fantasy for years and work well in limited scenarios but tend to have problems scaling to lots of traffic (you end up with lots of bottlenecks), but with this sort of density it could work pretty well. Worth noting it's not encrypted, though. Link 

Apple patent outlining technical details of Apple Pay. Link 

Truecaller, a mobile social app that builds a social number directory, raised $60m and has 85m (active?) users. Tools that rethink how to make those old-fashioned voice call things are getting very interesting right now.  Link

Blog posts

Long Vanity Fair feature story on Microsoft and Satya Nadella. Link

Video: Facebook's iOS architecture. Link


Ofcom, the UK media and telecoms regulator, put out a large study on children's use of and attitudes to media and technology. Lots and lots of interesting data. Link

Jana survey on barrier to app use: device storage and data costs, unsurprisingly. Link

Line has 170m MAUs, on 560m registered users. Link

UK mobile ad spending is now larger than national newspaper spending. Link
This is issue 84, sent on October 13, 2014.
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