Info & Phones News
Rick Osterloh, former CEO of Motorola, is returning to Google in order to run the company's new hardware division, which includes Nexus and Chromecast. Osterloh left Lenovo last month. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014. Osterloh will be responsible for working with Google's handset partners in designing Nexus phones and tablets, as well as Chromecast dongles and compatible products. Osterloh's role will also include oversight of Google Glass, ATAP, OnHub routers, Chrome-based PCs and the Android-based Pixel tablet line. Osterloh will serve as a senior vice president and report to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Lenovo today said Rick Osterloh will leave the company amid an internal reorganization. Osterloh has headed Motorola's efforts within Lenovo since the Chinese firm acquired Motorola from Google in 2014. The company is shifting its internal business groups. The PC unit will now include phablets, tablets, and PCs running Android, Chrome OS, and Windows. This unit will be led by Gianfranco Lanci, who is president and COO at Lenovo. The rest of the mobile business, including Motorola- and Lenovo-branded smartphones, will be led by company presidents Xudong Chen and Aymar de Lencquesaing. Lenovo announced new branding efforts for its smartphones earlier this year. The company is de-emphasizing the Motorola brand, shortening it to just Moto. Neither Lenovo nor Osterloh specified the reasons behind his departure.
At an event at Mobile World Congress this week, Motorola unit President Rick Osterloh gave an update on the integration of Motorola Mobility into Lenovo, and gave new information on some future plans. The mobility unit of the company is now profitable. The company has integrated Motorola and Lenovo mobile design, engineering, and manufacturing teams, combining best practices from both. Former Motorola designers are working on an all-new, unified design language for the company's Vibe line of phones, while continuing to work on new Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E models. The company also plans to expand Moto Maker to allow even greater customization of phones, although there are no plans to bring a Moto Maker assembly facility back to U.S. soil. Moto and Vibe will continue as separate brands, each with a unique identity and focus. Moto phones are intended to be innovative phones for "trend-setters", while the Vibe line will continue to focus on value. The company is integrating hardware and software platforms in all "behind the scenes" aspects, however. This will allow it to consolidate component procurement and achieve better economies of scale across both the Moto and Vibe lines. The company expects to present a "fully converged" portfolio of Moto and Vibe phone models by mid-summer 2016. The company is still working on a more unified brand strategy for the longer term.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, upgrades to last year's designs that make under-the-hood refinements and add several new features. The GS7 and GS7 Edge maintain the glass-and-metal design of the GS6, but update the chassis to provide protection from water and other liquids. The GS7 has a 5.1-inch quad HD screen, while the GS7 Edge has a somewhat bigger 5.5-inch screen at the same resolution. Samsung added an "always on" function to the screen, similar to that of LG's G5 and Motorola's Moto X for displaying notifications. Samsung admitted it made a mistake with last year's handset by bringing back support for expandable storage in the GS7. The phones ship with 32 GB included, but support memory cards up to 200 GB. Samsung reduced the camera's pixel count to 12-megapixels, but increased the pixel size by 95% for better low-light performance. The main camera has a lens at f/1.7, and Samsung changed the sensor from the 16:9 aspect ratio to the 4:3 aspect ratio. The front-facing camera captures 5 megapixels. The GS7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the GS7 Edge packs a 3,600mAh power cell with rapid and wireless charging. The phones rely on Samsung's octa-core Exynos processor with 4 GB of RAM. Samsung decided to stick with a micro USB port, rather than update to the newer USB Type-C port. The phones run Android 6.0 Marshmallow and include refreshed apps and services from Samsung. For example, the S7 Edge has the new Edge Panel content for expanded content. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be sold by all four major U.S. carriers. Preorders start February 23 and others will ship March 11. Pricing was not revealed.
Qualcomm today said it has signed a new patent licensing agreement with Lenovo, which will use Qualcomm's 3G and 4G wireless technology in future mobile devices. The patents will appear in both Lenovo- and Motorola-branded devices and cover technologies specific to the China market. Qualcomm said it has agreed to royalties that are inline with the terms set by China's National Reform and Development Commission. Last year, Qualcomm settled an investigation with China regarding its licensing policies for nearly $1 billion. Lenovo will use Qualcomm's technology to develop, manufacture, and sell 3G and 4G handsets, including tri-mode (LTE-TDD, TD-SCDMA, and GSM) devices. Terms of the deals were not disclosed. Qualcomm signed a similar deal with Xiaomi, Haier, Tianyu, and QiKu late last year.
Lenovo plans to phase out the Motorola brand from its phone lineup. Lenovo will now put its own name on all of its phones and related products. The company will still use "Moto" as a line brand, so phones like the Moto X will now be called the "Lenovo Moto X", making "Moto" a brand for high-end devices, while Lenovo's existing "Vibe" will designate lower-end Lenovo phones. The company will also keep using the iconic circular "M" logo on Moto phones. Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility from Google two years ago. Motorola Solutions continues to exist as a separate company making radio equipment for the public safety industry and related products and services.
Lenovo today announced the Vibe S1 Lite smartphone for select markets. The S1 is an Android handset that boasts a 5-inch full HD screen and a 1.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek 6753 processor with 16 GB of storage and support for memory cards up to 64 GB. The phone includes a 13-megapixel main camera with dual LED flash, and a wide-angle user-facing camera with software retouching so selfies turn out as clear as possible. The phone has a 2,700mAh battery, LTE, metallic frame, and curved rear edges to help it sit better in the hand. The Lenovo Vibe S1 Lite will reach China and India during the first quarter for approximately $199.
Motorola has revealed the depth of job cuts being made at its Chicago headquarters and they run quite deep. The firm will eliminate 500 positions, or about 25% of its staff, as its parent firm, Lenovo, restructures amidst weak sales. Motorola said the job cuts are "across all functions, affecting all departments." A spokesperson said, however, that Motorola "will maintain a substantial employee base there, as well as our labs and design facilities." Motorola said other job sites will see headcount reductions as well, but it did not provide specific details. Lenovo announced plans to trim its workforce by 3,500, or about 10%. Lenovo is focusing cuts on white collar jobs, and not those of its manufacturing facilities. Lenovo saw PC shipments drop about 9% in its most recent quarter, while smartphone shipments from Motorola dropped 31%. Lenovo said it will continue to rely on Motorola "to design, develop and manufacture smartphone products."
Lenovo today said it plans to reduce its headcount by as many as 3,200, or about 10%, as it looks to reduce expenses. The company reported earnings and said sales across its various business units dropped by 9% during the quarter. Lenovo's Motorola unit saw a significant drop in shipments, which plunged 31% to 5.9 million phones during the quarter. The company blamed the poor performance on competition in emerging markets. Even though Motorola's sales sank, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing expressed confidence in the division "I still believe mobile is a new business we must win. I still believe this acquisition was the right decision. Except Apple and Samsung, there is no third strong player. I believe that will be Lenovo." Motorola recently released the Moto G in the U.S., and plans to release the Moto X next month. Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google last year for about $2.9 billion.
Motorola must pay Fujifilm $10.2 million for violating one of its imaging patents. Fujifilm sued Motorola in 2012 alleging the handset maker was violating four of its patents. The jury invalidated three of the patents, but agreed that Motorola used the fourth without permission. The patent pertains to converting color images to monochrome images. Fujifilm had sought as much as $40 million in damages and did not comment on the outcome of the trial. "We are pleased with the verdict related to three out of the four patents," said Motorola, "and are evaluating our options on the one patent on which we did not prevail." Lenovo purchased Motorola from Google last year.
Microsoft today made a number of announcements regarding Windows 10, including details about its arrival. Microsoft will make Windows 10 available to smartphones, tablets, and PCs "this summer." Previously, Microsoft had only committed to "later this year." In addition to the timetable, Microsoft announced a commitment from Lenovo that will the see the company bring Windows 10 phones to market (in China) by the middle of the year. Further, Microsoft is helping Xiaomi create a downloadable technical preview of Windows 10 that owners of the Xiaomi Mi Note 4 will be able to install on their Android phones and test. Microsoft and Qualcomm today introduced the DragonBoard 410C. It is a developer board for Windows 10 with integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and Snapdragon 410 chipset. (Qualcomm recently released an Android version of the developer board, too.) At launch, Windows 10 will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages. More details will emerge at Microsoft's Build conference, scheduled for late April.
Google has completed its sale of Motorola to Lenovo. Google first announced plans to sell Motorola in January. The deal was valued at about $2.9 billion. Google purchased Motorola in 2012 for more than $12 billion, in part for its treasure trove of 17,000 patents. Since then, Google has retooled Motorola's products and released innovative devices such as the Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E in 2013. During the last several months Motorola delivered a range of new handsets, including the second-generation Moto X and Moto G, the Droid Turbo, and the Nexus 6. Motorola's devices all feature stock Android operating systems with unique and helpful additions, such as Active Display and Moto Voice. Lenovo plans to keep the Motorola brand intact and will use it to grow its own presence in the market. According to Motorola chief Risk Osterloh, Motorola will remain headquartered in Chicago and will continue to develop its Moto and Droid lines of hardware with a focus on quick OS upgrades and technology that solves real-world problems. "In Lenovo we have a partner that shares our mission and that brings global scale, a diverse product portfolio and a track record of seizing strategic opportunities and making the most of them," said Osterloh in a blog post. "Together we will go farther, faster. With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere."
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.