Info & Phones News
Google and its partners today revealed the first three Android One handsets. Google initially spoke about Android One in June. The idea behind Android One is to bring low-cost handsets to the largest-possible populations around the world. To that end, Google worked with hardware makers, component suppliers, and wireless network operators to develop inexpensive smartphones for India. The first three devices are the Karbonn Sparkle V, the Micromax Canvas A1, and the Spice Dream UNO. The phones include front and rear cameras, large touch screens, MediaTek processors, dual SIM card slots, memory card slots, FM radios, and removable batteries. All three phones are being sold for about $105. According to Google, the devices ship with Android 4.4 KitKat, but will be among the first to receive Android L later this year. Google, rather than the local network operators, will provide all the system updates for these devices. Google said it has signed more manufactures to the Android One project, including Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm. Google plans to expand the Android One program to Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka later this year, with more to follow throughout 2015. The main goal is to connect as many people as possible - more than 5 billion - to the internet.
Motorola today indicated it will close the Ft. Worth factory used to assemble custom-designed Moto X handsets by the end of the year. Motorola opened the plant a year ago and at its peak employed about 3,800 people. The move allowed Motorola to offer four-day turn-around times on Moto X handsets created with its online Moto Maker tool. According to Motorola's Rick Osterloh, however, slow sales of the Moto X meant the company never achieved the economy of scale it needed to operate the plant. "What we found was that the North American market was exceptionally tough," said Osterloh in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Motorola will continue to make the Moto X at facilities located in Brazil and China. Osterloh didn't say if the Moto Maker tool will vanish along with the Ft. Worth plant. Lenovo is in the process of acquiring Motorola from Google. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Lenovo plans to use the Motorola brand on its future smartphones destined for select markets, such as the U.S. and Europe.
Apple and Motorola today dismissed all patent litigation between them. The companies told a court overseeing several lawsuits that the claims should be dismissed. Though the two smartphone makers agreed to drop their lawsuits, they did not reach a cross-licensing accord. Motorola first sued Apple over smartphone technology in 2010 and Apple responded with a suit of its own. Neither lawsuit resulted in a verdict. Further, the two companies agreed to work with one another on select aspects of patent reform. Motorola is currently owned by Google, but it is in the process of being sold to Lenovo.
Motorola Solutions has signed a patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft that will allow it to use Microsoft's intellectual property in its Android and Chrome devices. Neither Microsoft nor Motorola Solutions identified the patents at issue, nor the cost of the licensing agreement. It is important to note that Motorola Solutions is not Motorola Mobility. Motorola Solutions makes enterprise-grade mobile products for businesses, some of which run Android and/or Chrome. Just last week, Motorola Solutions agreed to sell its enterprise business to Zebra Technologies for $3.45 billion. Motorola Mobility is currently owned by Google and makes Android smartphones. Motorola Mobility is on deck to be divested by Google to Lenovo in the months ahead. Motorola Mobility has staunchly refused to sign a licensing agreement with Microsoft, as it believes its own patents cover the disputed technologies.
Motorola today named Rick Osterloh as the company's President and COO. He replaces former CEO Dennis Woodside, who left the company after Google announced plans to sell Motorola to Lenovo. Osterloh will run Motorola's day-to-day operations until the sale with Lenovo closes. It's unclear what Osterloh's role will be after Lenovo acquires Motorola's phone business. Osterloh reports directly to Google's board of directors.
Lenovo today announced three new Android smartphones that hover in the middle of the market. The S860, S850, and S660 for the S Series and all share the same Lenovo user interface customizations. All three devices are equipped with quad-core MTK processors and run Android 4.2.
- S860: Lenovo is pitching this phone as ideal for business users. It has a metal exterior, 5.3-inch qHD display, and a battery capable of delivering 24 hours of talk time. The S860 includes 2GB of RAM and a large battery that can charge other devices. It retails for $349.
- S850: The S850 (pictured) is more fashionable and uses an all-glass design. It includes a 5-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel user-facing camera. It retails for $269.
- S660: This device is slightly smaller thanks to its 4.7-inch screen. It has a brushed metal design, expandable storage, and a scratch/fingerprint resistant screen. Lenovo says the battery is large enough to provide all-day use. It retails for $229.
Dennis Woodside, who served as the CEO of Motorola while it was under Google's ownership, announced plans to leave the company next month. Woodside will step down on March 31. Google's Jonathan Rosenberg will step in as COO at Motorola Mobility as of April 1. "I'm excited about what the next chapter in Motorola's storied history will bring under the new ownership of Lenovo," said Woodside in a blog post. "While Google imbued simplicity and software sensibility into the company, Lenovo will bring it the scale it deserves. I have no doubt the two companies together will be a force for good in the mobile industry." Woodside will take the COO position with Dropbox after he departs Motorola.
Google today announced that it intends to sell Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Google CEO Larry Page said that Google will hold onto the vast majority of Motorola's mobile-related patents, and will continue to use them to defend Android's position in the smartphone ecosystem. Lenovo plans to keep the Motorola brand alive, just as it did with the ThinkPad brand it acquired from IBM in 2005. According to Page, Google believes Motorola needs a hardware company to truly succeed. "Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem. They have a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach," said Page in a blog post. "This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere." The deal will need to be approved by regulators in China and the U.S., and will take some time. Page did not say when he expects the deal to close.
Lenovo today revealed plans to rearrange its internal business units. The company will divide its two-part organization into four parts, each tackling a specific business. The four groups will be PC, mobile, enterprise, and cloud services. Lenovo's current head of consumer products, Liu Jun, is set to lead the mobile business group, which will focus on smartphones and tablets. Lenovo recently announced plans to buy IBM's low-cost server business, which will be added to the cloud group. The changes are set to go into effect April 1. Lenovo hopes the altered structure will help it focus better on each individual unit. Earlier this month, Lenovo announced the Vibe Z, a high-end Android smartphone that supports LTE 4G. Though the bulk of Lenovo's phone sales are in its home market of China, the company wants to enter the U.S. smartphone market.
Lenovo today revealed the Vibe Z, its first Android smartphone to include support for LTE 4G networks. The Vibe Z offers high-end specs in a thin slab. It includes a 5.5-inch full HD display, 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM, and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in a frame that measures 7.9mm thick. The Vibe Z includes a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 aperture for improved low-light performance, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. In addition to LTE, the Vibe Z supports GSM/UMTS networks, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The phone comes with Lenovo's user interface tweaks, which include its Super Camera and Super Gallery apps, as well as motion- and gesture-based actions. The Vibe Z starts at $549 and is available starting in February in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines. Lenovo did not immediately say if it plans to release the Vibe Z in the U.S.
Lenovo is weighing whether or not it should purchase BlackBerry. The company has signed a non-disclosure agreement with BlackBerry in order to gain access to its financial details, according to the Wall Street Journal. BlackBerry already has an offer on the table from Fairfax Financial Holdings, a private equity firm. Cerebus, another private equity firm, has also signed an NDA with BlackBerry to go over its books. Cerebus, Lenovo, and others have until November 4 to counter Fairfax's offer. Lenovo, based in China, makes laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
NEC plans to exit the smartphone market, according to Japanese publication Nikkei. NEC's decision comes ater the company failed to forge a smartphone partnership with Lenovo. It tried to sell NEC Casio Mobile Communications to Lenovo, but the deal fell through. The two firms had been speaking since late last year. NEC indicated earlier this year that it might exit the cellphone market altogether, and the Nikkei now reports that NEC may sell some of its cellphone patents. The most recent NEC device to reach the U.S was the Terrain, announced by AT&T just last month.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group today announced that LG has joined the organization's board of directors. Specifically, Minsoo Lee, chief research engineer for standards and technology at LG, will fill the new seat at the SIG's board. The Bluetooth SIG's board is composed of 11 different companies spread around the globe, including Apple, CSR, Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Nordic, Toshiba, and now LG Electronics. The group has more than 18,500 member companies.
NEC is ready to exit the cell phone business. According to sources cited by Reuters, the Japan-based company may divest its cell phone business to Lenovo, with which it already has a business relationship. Lenovo, headquartered in China, has been clear about its ambitions in the mobile phone space, but has yet to field a successful device outside its home market. "Amid the rapidly changing market we are considering a number of ways to bolster the competitiveness of our mobile phone business, but nothing has been decided," said NEC in a statement. The company is also exploring a sale to a firm located in Japan, reports Reuters. NEC's handsets are generally sold only by Japan's mobile network operators, such as NTT DoCoMo and Softbank.
Lenovo today indicated that it wants to sell smartphones in the U.S., according to an interview with Reuters. David Schmoock, Lenovo's North American chief, said, "I will spend time over the next couple of years building out the relationship with the mobile providers -- AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. You have to build out that network first, then that allows you to put products on the shelf." Schmook doesn't see Lenovo hitting U.S. retail stores imminently, but he is working to make it happen. Lenovo recently announced a new Android-based smartphone called LePhone 2 that will be sold in its home market of China.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group today announced two new board members, Apple and Nordic Semiconductor. The Bluetooth SIG explains that Apple and Nordic Semiconductor will help evolve the way Bluetooth 4.0 is used at the platform, application, and sensor levels, as well as help ensure compatibility between Bluetooth devices. Other members of the board include Intel, Motorola, Lenovo, Nokia, Microsoft, Ericsson, and Toshiba. Apple and Nordic's appointments are effective July 1 and will last for two years.