T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.
T-Mobile today unveiled a new program for consumers interested in cheaper handset upgrades called Score. With Score, users will qualify for a free entry-level smartphone after six months or significant discounts on all T-Mobile devices after 12 months. Score costs $5 per month and is open to all T-Mobile customers, whether prepaid or postpaid. After paying $5 per month for six months, for example, customers may choose to get the Alcatel OneTouch Evolve 2 at no additional cost; or, after paying $5 per month for 12 months, take $150 off the price of the Motorola Nexus 6 or $100 off the Samsung Galaxy S5. (Actual handset discounts will vary based on when the customer chooses to upgrade.) Customers who enroll in Score today will be able to upgrade to a new, free phone as soon as July 25 or enjoy a heavily discounted flagship as soon as Jan. 25, 2016.
LG said it will begin selling the G Flex 2 in its home market of Korea on Jan. 30. The phone will reach other markets in the "coming months." Several U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have said they'll sell the phone but none has said when or for how much. The G Flex 2 will cost Koreans approximately $830 when it goes on sale next week. Separately, an LG executive refuted reports that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor overheats. Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Samsung plans to drop the Snapdragon 810 chip from its forthcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone due to overheating issues. "I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip's performance is quite satisfactory," said Woo Ram-chan, vice president for mobile product planning at LG. Woo said the chip emits less heat than other devices. "I don't understand why there is a issue over heat." LG uses the Snapdragon 810 in the G Flex 2.
MetroPCS today unveiled a new rate plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and LTE 4G data for $50 per month. Customers can sign up for the promotional plan between today and April 5. Once signed up, users can keep the unlimited LTE 4G data plan indefinitely. In order to use this plan, however, customers have to have a MetroPCS-branded LTE-capable handset. Customers cannot supply their own, unlocked handset. MetroPCS also increased the data available to its existing plans by 1GB each. For example, its $40 plan now includes unlimited talk, text, and up to 2GB of LTE (improved from 1GB), and a $50 plan with unlimited talk, text, and up to 4GB of LTE (improved from 3GB). These plans are available to BYOD customers and MetroPCS-branded devices. Last, MetroPCS said customers can buy the Samsung Galaxy Light for $49 and the LG F60 for $59. MetroPCS does not require contracts.
Samsung has hired Lee Don-tae as senior vice president of Samsung’s global design team, where he will oversee all Samsung's designs. Before being scooped up by Samsung, Lee worked for a U.K. design agency called Tangerine. Tangerine once consulted for Apple more than 20 years ago, and is where Apple found its current design chief Jony Ive back in 1992. Sales of Samsung's top phones slipped during the latter half of 2014, which has effected changed across its entire mobile device business. The company shook up its executive ranks at the end of 2014 and rearranged several business units. Lee's hiring is one of many steps the company has taken to help revitalize interest in its products.
Sprint today increased the number of devices eligible for its leasing program by adding the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Sprint said new and existing customers can lease the G3 for $15 per month for 24 months or the Note 4 for $25 per month for 24 months. Customers can take the devices home for $0 down. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the device in and lease another or return the device (as long as it is in working order) and terminate their service. Sprint already offers leases on the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5.
Virgin Mobile today announced the pending availability of the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime smartphone. The device, which was approved by the FCC in late December and is the same as Boost Mobile's Galaxy Prevail 2, features a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and Android 4.4 KitKat. The Core Prime will go on sale Jan. 17 -- the same day as Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans -- for $129.88.
Virgin Mobile today announced a new plan available exclusively to Walmart customers that includes sharable data without contracts. The plans are available to four specific phones for between two an four lines per account. The two-line plan costs $65 per month and includes unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of shareable data. The three-line plan costs $90 per month and boosts shared data to 8GB. The four-line plan costs $115 per month and includes 12GB of shared data. Users can manage their shared data with Virgin Mobile's account application. Top-ups costs $10 per 1GB. The plan includes parental controls and low-cost international options. Virgin is also offering an add-on that provides unlimited monthly access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora for $5 per month per line. Using these apps/services won't impact subscribers' monthly data allotments as long as they subscribe to the add-on plan. The four handsets capable of accessing the shared data service are the HTC Desire 510, LG Tribute, LG Volt, and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. More devices will be compatible with the plan by the end of February. Virgin's new no-contract shared data plans will be available beginning Jan. 17. Last, Virgin announced two revised single-line plans. For $35 per month, Virgin customers get 300 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed of data. For $40 per month, users get unlimited voice and messaging, and up to 2.5GB of high-speed data.
Xiaomi today announced the Mi Note, a new flagship device for the company that will compete with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. The Mi Note features a 5.7-inch full HD display, 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0. The main camera has a 13-megapixel Sony sensor with OIS, f/2.0 aperture, and two-tone LED flash. The user-facing camera has a 4-megapixel sensor. The phone has curved glass on the front and back surfaces and it measures 6.95mm thick. It will cost about $370. Xiaomi also announced a Pro version of the Mi Note, which steps up the display resolution to quad HD, improves the processor to a Snapdragon 810 with better graphics, and boosts memory to 4GB. It will cost about $520. At the moment, Xiaomi sells its devices only in China, India, and other emerging markets. The company has global ambitions, but it hasn't announced plans to sell the Mi Note outside of its home region.
Samsung has approached BlackBerry about a potential acquisition, according to a report published by Reuters. Citing people familiar with Samsung's plans, Reuters suggests Samsung would be willing to pay up to $7.5 billion for the one-time smartphone king. Samsung is most interested in BlackBerry's patent portfolio, and executives of the companies met last week regarding a potential deal, says Reuters. BlackBerry still makes smartphones, but the bulk of its current business is based on selling mobile device management software to business and government customers. At the same time, Samsung is anxious to build up a strong base of enterprise customers and sells its own Knox security platform to that effect. BlackBerry later denied it was in talks with Samsung.
Samsung today announced the Z1, its first smartphone to run the Tizen platform. Tizen is Samsung's homegrown operating system and its arrival has been delayed a number of times over the last 18 months. The device is an entry-level smartphone and will initially be sold in India for the equivalent of $92. The Tizen OS includes a browser optimized for low-data usage as well as messaging and other core features. Samsung loaded the phone with media apps, too. For example, Samsung partnered with Hungama.com to provide access to Bollywood content, and included a service called Joy Box for other music and video content. Some of the hardware specs include a 4-inch WVGA display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 768MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage with support for microSD memory cards up to 64GB. The phone has a 3.1-megapixel main camera and a VGA user-facing camera with software for assisting in selfies. The Z1 has an emergency alert that is triggered when the power button is pressed four times in a row. It alerts the owner's top contacts and includes GPS data for location. Samsung also added its Private Mode for storing protected files, and included antivirus software to warn against malware. The Z1 goes on sale today. Samsung didn't immediately say if the Z1 will be sold in other regions. If it is, the Z1 and other Tizen-based phones will likely be restricted to emerging markets.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, the largest of the three A Series handsets. The A7 features a 5.5 inch HD Super AMOLED screen and a slim, metallic design. The device will be sold in two multi-core processor configurations, including one based on Samsung's own Exynos platform and another based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon line. The A7 includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle user-facing camera with tools for capturing better self portraits. The phone ships with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and it supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It carries a typical set of radios, including Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi, and supports LTE Cat 4. It has a 2,600mAh battery and runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a wide selection of Samsung's custom software. The Samsung Galaxy A7 will ship in white, black, and gold. Pricing and availability were not disclosed.
Verizon Wireless today announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Verizon is selling the phone for $399 with a new contract, though it is also available via Verizon's monthly Edge payment plans. The Note Edge has a curved display that shows additional content, such as notifications or news feeds. Otherwise it is similar to the Galaxy Note 4. The Galaxy Note Edge is also the first Verizon smartphone to launch with Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities preinstalled. Owners can access HD Voice and Video Calling with other compatible Verizon smartphones. Activating this feature also enables simultaneous voice and data use, so owners can talk and surf the web at the same time.
Under Armour today announced UA Record, a health and fitness app for Android and iOS devices that allows users to monitor and share their fitness data and goals. Smartphone owners can track motion and GPS activity, view analysis from individual workouts (steps, sleep, weight), as well as see a snapshot of overall progress towards specific goals. UA Record lets people invite up to 20 friends to health and fitness challenges, and even allows people to share videos, photos, workout stories, and nutrition guides. As part of the announcement, Under Armour mentioned that third-party hardware makers can support UA Record through the Under Armour Connected Fitness API/SDK platform. HTC is among the first smartphone vendors to voice support for the platform and it said it has a series of UA Record-compatible products in the pipeline, which will debut later this year. Samsung has worked with Under Armour in the past (notably with the Galaxy S5 Sport), but it has yet to say it will adopt UA's Connected Fitness platform. The Android and iOS apps are free to download from the Play Store and App Store, respectively, beginning today.
Boost Mobile today announced that a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Prevail will reach its stores on Jan. 19. The Galaxy Prevail LTE adds LTE 4G connectivity; improves the screen from 4 inches to 4.5 inches; increases the size of the battery from 1750mAh to 2000mAh; and updates the operating system from Android 4.1 to Android 4.4. Other features include a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and support for Sprint's HD Voice service. The Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE will cost $130. Boost Mobile does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
ReSound is a line of proper hearing aids that connect to your iPhone or Android phone for both audio and control. They connect just like a Bluetooth headset, to enable the user to hear calls, music, and video clearly. An app also offers detailed control over the hearing aid functions. The app lets the user choose from and customize various sound profiles, and also includes a "find my hearing aid" feature to help locate a lost hearing aid. ReSound is already available for iPhone; Android support was just announced this week, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S5. Read on for more detail in our quick hands-on report.
Volkswagen today took the diplomatic route with respect to enabling smartphone connectivity in its cars. Beginning with select models later this year, Volkswagen's second generation modular infotainment platform will support Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms, in addition to the platform-agnostic MirrorLink spec. The company said Android Auto will support devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony, while CarPlay will support Apple's iPhone. The services will allow smartphone owners to access their device content, apps, and services through the infotainment console of their Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Golf will be the first model to support these connectivity platforms.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The Core Prime, which is already for sale in select markets, goes by the model number SM-G360. The FCC recently approved two devices with the model numbers SM-G360P and SM-G360V, which fall in line with the model numbering schemes employed by Sprint and Verizon. The Core Prime includes a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Neither Sprint nor Verizon has confirmed plans to sell the device.
Samsung today announced a modified version of the Galaxy Note 4 that takes the company's flagship handset to the Nth degree. The new Note 4 supports LTE Advanced (LTE-A) Tri-Band Carrier Aggregation (CA), which can provide peak download speeds of 300Mbps once such networks are available. Samsung says the tri-band CA configuration can support three 20MHz channels or three 40MHz channels. Further, the new Note 4 supports LTE Category 9, which offers theoretical max download speeds of 450Mbps. Current networks do not support such speeds, but some markets, such as South Korea, will offer faster LTE service beginning in 2015. None of the major U.S. carriers have yet announced plans to improve the speeds of their LTE networks to these levels. Samsung didn't say when or where the new Note 4 will be sold.
Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.
Samsung is ready to put 4GB of high-speed RAM into smartphones. The company today announced it has begun production of 8 gigabit, low power double data rate 4 mobile DRAM based on its 20nm processes. The 8Gb LPDDR4 chip allows smartphone vendors to create RAM modules up to 4GB. Some of today's top phones ship with 3GB of RAM, but use slower technology. According to Samsung, the new chip is twice as fast as the previous LPDDR3-based chips and is more power efficient, too. The modules support input/output data rates of up to 3.2Gbps, which is swift enough to support 4K video recording and playback, and continuous shooting of images exceeding 20 megapixels. Samsung said it is already delivering 2GB and 3GB LPDDR4 modules to some phone makers and it expects to deliver 4GB modules beginning early next year.
Samsung plans to shutter its ChatON messaging application early next year. The service will go dark in international markets on Feb. 1, and will wind down in the U.S. by the end of March. ChatON is an over-the-top messaging service similar to WhatsApp and others. Samsung preinstalled the free app on most phones it sold since 2011, though it began to vanish from U.S. handsets in recent months. Despite the app's wide availability it never gained much traction. Samsung said it plans to focus on "health, mobile commerce, and other platforms" moving forward.
AT&T recently pushed out a system update to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. The primary new feature added to the phone is support for AT&T's VoLTE service. The update must be downloaded and installed via WiFi, but it is free. AT&T expanded the availability of its VoLTE service earlier this week. It is now available in select regions across 18 states.
Samsung took several steps today to further streamline operations across its various businesses. In the U.S., Samsung has consolidated the sales organizations of Samsung Electronics America and Samsung Telecommunications America, which oversee distribution of the company's consumer electronics and mobile devices, respectively. Shared functions between the two business units will be merged, with excess resources reassigned to other aspects of the company. In Korea, Samsung will fold the Media Solution Center into its mobile device business. The Media Solution Center, which makes apps for Samsung's smartphones and tablets, recently lost 15 executives, including its president, amidst internal management changes. Last, Samsung replaced the global head of strategic marketing for its mobile business. Kim Seok-pil will take the place of D.J. Lee to oversee Samsung's marketing efforts moving forward. All the changes are meant to help the company revive its smartphone business, which has seen a massive drop in profits this year.
AT&T and Samsung today announced the availability of the Gear VR Innovator Edition, a virtual reality headset that works with the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. Samsung, which worked with Oculus, announced the Gear VR earlier this year. It is a headset that encompasses the Galaxy Note 4 and uses it to create a 3D, 360-degree environment that can be explored. The sample content that ships with the Gear VR was made by Oculus and additional content can be downloaded from Oculus' platform. Samsung and Oculus hope early adopters will buy the Gear VR and use the available SDK to create their own apps and experiences for the headset. AT&T and Samsung are both selling the Gear VR online for $199 ($249 with recommended Bluetooth controller). It won't be sold in stores. The Galaxy Note 4 (required) is sold separately.
Microsoft recently updated its Torque application for Android Wear and carried it over from smartwatches to smartphones. With Torque, Android Wear and Android smartphone owners can shake or twist their device to launch Bing Voice Search. Bing Voice Search requires internet access, but can be controlled through a wide variety of voice commands to check the weather, perform simple math, or search for information. Torque works with most Android smartphones, and works best with the Asus Zen Watch, LG G Watch, and Samsung Gear Live Android wearables. Torque is free.
Sprint reaffirmed its commitment to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform today after the HTC 8XT vanished from its web site. The 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo are the only Windows Phones Sprint has sold this year. Sprint said the phones are still available at a limited number of retail stores, but are no longer listed online. Sprint has not been Windows Phones' strongest supporter, but the carrier isn't ready to give up on Microsoft's mobile platform. "We do expect to bring new Windows Phone devices to our customers in the near future, and Sprint is committed to offering a variety of operating systems to our customers," said Sprint in an email to Phone Scoop. Sprint didn't say which Windows devices it will sell, nor when they might reach stores.
Samsung recently decided to keep CEO J.K. Shin at the helm of its mobile business, but executives who work for Shin were not so lucky. Samsung has relieved or reassigned dozens of executives, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Among those let go were vice presidents, senior vice presidents, and executive vice presidents across Samsung's marketing and development teams. The media solution center group lost 15 executives and saw its leader reassigned to another department. The 1,000-person unit is responsible for Samsung's own apps and services, such as ChatOn. Samsung reassesses its leadership ranks at the end of every year. For the last several years, Samsung has promoted hundreds of executives. This year marks a dramatic change as the company seeks to turn around slowing sales of its smartphones. Samsung did not comment on the Journal's report.
Samsung will not replace the head of its mobile electronics business, J.K. Shin, as had been suggested last month. In an annual review of executives, Samsung decided to keep its three co-CEOs in place. Samsung recently recorded its worst financial performance in three years, with profits across its mobile device business crashing 60% amid slower sales of its high-end smartphones. Lee June, Samsung Group Senior Vice President, credited Shin for being "a major contributor in Samsung Electronics' emergence as the top global player in the handsets business." Shin is being given the chance to turn the mobile device business around.
Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.
Milk Studios has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Samsung, which it says "intentionally, willfully, and knowingly" used the Milk name despite a business partnership with Milk Studios. Samsung launched Milk Music, a music-streaming service, earlier this year and followed it up just this month with Milk Video. Milk Studios, which produces music and other media, asked Samsung to stop using the Milk name for its products in March, but Samsung refused. Milk Studios says Samsung partnered with it on 18 different occasions since 2006, which gave Samsung "personal knowledge" about the company. Milk Studios claims Samsung's use of the name has caused "immediate and irreparable harm," such as business partners assuming Milk Studios was running Milk Music for Samsung. Samsung didn't immediately respond to the lawsuit.
T-Mobile's Music Unlimited service today doubled the number of music streaming apps available, jumping from 13 to 27 in total. The new services include Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, RadioTunes, Digitally Imported, Fit Radio, Fresco Radio, Jazzradio, Live365, Mad Genius Radio, radioPup, radio.com, Rockradio, and Saavn. With Music Unlimited, T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of music over their data connection without it counting against their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile claims its customers are streaming 66 million songs -- or 200 terabytes of music -- per day. Music Unlimited already supports Rhapsody, Pandora, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Samsung Milk Music, Radio Paradise, Rdio, Slacker, Songza, and Spotify. T-Mobile does not charge extra for Music Unlimited.
Samsung Mobile CEO J.K. Shin may be in danger of losing his job, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company is weighing whether or not it should rearrange its current leadership, and one of the scenarios would see Shin lose oversight of the company's mobile division. Samsung has three co-CEOs, each of whom oversees a different aspect of the business. J.K. Shin leads the mobile device group, B.K. Yoon oversees the appliance and TV businesses, and Kwon Oh-hyun manages the semiconductor and display businesses. The Journal's sources say Shin's responsibilities could be given to Yoon. Samsung's mobile device business is its most profitable, but saw a 60% drop in profits during the third quarter amidst slower-than-expected sales of its smartphones. Samsung conducts an annual review of its leadership towards the end of the calendar year. Samsung has not made a final decision and didn't comment on the Journal's story.
Samsung today announced Milk Video, a video content discovery service for Galaxy-branded smartphones. Like Samsung's Milk Music, Milk Video has a refined user interface that makes browsing the best way to find new and interesting videos. According to Samsung, Milk Video will learn and refine its content recommendations every time people use it to create a more personal experience. Some of the content partners include Condé Nast, Funny Or Die, Red Bull, Vevo, and VICE. Samsung says it is working to score more content down the road. Milk Video is compatible with the Galaxy Note II, 3, 4, and Edge; Galaxy Mega; and Galaxy SIII, S4, S4 Mini, and S5 smartphones. It is free for owners of these devices to download from the Play Store.
Samsung has lost its bid to delay a trial with Microsoft, which is seeking interest payments of $6.9 million on patent licenses. Samsung and Microsoft forged an agreement in 2011 in which Samsung agreed to pay royalties for patents Microsoft holds that are used in the Android operating system. Samsung delayed making its royalty payments after Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Nokia's handset business. According to Samsung, Microsoft's move made it a direct competitor, which it feared could lead to collusion charges. Samsung asked an international court in Hong Kong to hold arbitration hearings, which it wanted to complete before dealing with Microsoft in the U.S. A U.S. District Court Judge disagreed, however, and said Microsoft's case can move forward during the arbitration process.
Samsung said it will reduce the number of distinct smartphones it sells next year by 25% to 30% in a bid to reduce costs. Samsung didn't say exactly how many models it will eliminate from its lineup. The company is looking for ways to cut expenses and still remain competitive with makers of inexpensive handsets. Last month, Samsung said it "will increase the number of components shared across mid- to low-end models, so that we can further leverage economies of scale." The company reported a massive drop in profits during its most recent financial quarter thanks in part to slow sales of flagship models such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. Samsung has also lost a lot of ground in the entry-level segment in China.
Intel plans to combine its mobile chip business with its PC chip business so it can make its mobile chips more competitive. Intel has struggled against competitors Qualcomm and Samsung when it comes to supplying processors for smartphones and tablets. The company now believes combing its chip businesses will lead to more nimble operation. "The market continues to evolve rapidly, and we must change even faster to stay ahead," said CEO Brian Krzanich in an email to employees. The transition will take place during the first quarter of 2015. The new client-computing group will be lead by Kirk Skaugen, who will oversee sales of both application processors and wireless modems to smartphone and tablet makers. Intel processors are available in only a handful of smartphones sold in the U.S.
BlackBerry and Samsung today agreed to sell one another's security software. The joint effort is meant to help Samsung sell more phones and to help BlackBerry win more BES customers. Samsung's Knox security platform is embedded on many of its devices. It can be used to separate work and personal information, as well as secure that data on the device. BlackBerry's BES services allows businesses to remotely manage Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones. The companies think this partnership will appeal to businesses that want to use Samsung handsets for the Knox platform, but manage them via BES. BlackBerry's enterprise chief John Sims said the deal "isn't about one company displacing the other. This is about one and one makes three." BlackBerry's presence in the smartphone market has been reduced to practically nil in the face of stiff competition from Apple, Samsung, and others, while Samsung has long been making overtures to potential business customers.
Samsung hopes to differentiate its smartphones from its competitors' phones by using more curved displays. Samsung is on track to record a huge loss in profit for the year thanks to weaker-than-expected sales of phones such as the Galaxy S5 and Note 4. It has also lost ground to low-cost competitors in markets such as China. Now that big-screened phones are a healthy device category, Samsung is looking for different wants to set its products apart. One way it will do that is to use curved displays, such as the one on the Galaxy Note Edge. "A change in the platform can bring about a variety of new considerations," said Note Edge designer Kim Nam-su. "I think a curved screen is a big solution for overcoming those [competitive] challenges." Reuters suggests Samsung's ability to mass produce curved displays at a lower cost than its rivals gives it an advantage in this respect. The Note Edge is set to go on sale in the U.S later this month. Samsung also plans to resurrect sales of mid-range devices.
Samsung today announced new initiatives targeting the healthcare, home, and wearables markets. On the health front, Samsung revealed the Samsung Digital Health Platform and associated SDK. Samsung hopes developers will take advantage of the platform to help track information on personal health and fitness activity so it can be stored, managed, and shared in the Samsung Cloud server. The company introduced a bio processor so other OEMs can add health monitoring to their own wearables. Samsung debuted the Samsung Smart Home platform and SDK, something that it believes will help power smart homes of the future. The SDK will let developers create appliances that are controlled by Samsung smartphones or smart TVs. The company also showed off a new SDK for the Gear S smart wearable, and a virtual reality headset it created with Oculus. Developers interested in Samsung's health, home, and wearable tools can find more information via Samsung's developer portal.