ZTE has fallen into the U.S. government's crosshairs once again, this time thanks to its involvement with Venezuela. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that ZTE supplied Venezuela's state telecommunications firm with gear from Dell. The equipment helped Venezuela create a database that uses something called the "fatherland card" to track citizens' behavior. Data collected by the card and the Venezuelan government includes financial and medical history, social media use, political affiliation, and whether a person voted. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D) and Marco Rubio (R) plan to submit a letter to the U.S. secretaries of state, treasury, and commerce to determine if ZTE collaborated with people under U.S. sanction, whether the U.S. gear was used unlawfully, and whether ZTE helped Venezuela spy on its citizens. Hollen and Rubio are concerned that ZTE used Dell's equipment in the database. The senators want to know "whether ZTE violated U.S. export controls with respect to the installation of data storage units built by Dell." ZTE is effectively on parole with the U.S. government. In April, the U.S. accused ZTE of violating a previous settlement concerning illegal equipment sales to Iran and North Korea. The company paid a $1 billion fine after it slogged through a three-month ban on the use of U.S. hardware and software. Many Venezuelan government officials are under sanction by the U.S. for authoritative behavior and human rights violations. If ZTE did in fact sell Dell equipment to Venezuela's government that was then used to spy on the people of Venezuela, it's possible ZTE violated its agreement with the U.S. Dell said it has no record of a sale to ZTE. No parties from the Venezuelan government or from ZTE commented on Reuters' story.
The Apple iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods are not among the list of products that will be subject to a new 10% tariff directed against imports from China. The tariff, levied by President Donald Trump, covers some $200 billion of goods shipped into the U.S. Apple had feared its products would be among those hit with the tariff, but it has been spared. FitBit said its products were spared from this round of tariffs, as well, but some Cisco, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard components necessary for cloud computing equipment do fall on the list of taxed products. The 10% tariff goes into effect September 24, and rises to 25% on January 1, 2019. Trump has threatened to expand the tariffs to an additional $267 billion worth of goods. In that case, Apple's products would no longer be exempt from the added fees, nor would the phones from Samsung, LG, and most other manufacturers. Tariffs are generally viewed as a tax on consumers, as they often result in higher prices on goods.
Intel today announced a range of efforts in the 5G space, including its timeline for bringing new Intel-powered 5G devices to market. The company says it has been developing 5G technology for some now, including virtualized network functionality and software defined networks. It is relying on the 3GPP 5G NR spec and is working with vendors and partners to create an ecosystem of products to support 5G as it rolls out. One of the primary pieces of the 5G puzzle is Intel's recently announced Xeon D-2100 system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor. It can handle intensive compute and network workloads demanded by 5G at the network edge. Further, Intel has partnered with China's Unigroup Spreadtrum and will pair a Spreadtrum processor with its own XMM 8000 5G modem. Intel expects to see phones packing the combined Spreadtrum/Intel SoC during the second half of 2019. PCs with embedded 5G are on the horizon, too. PC makers Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft all plan to enable their mobile computers to support 5G connections with the Intel XMM 8060 modem. Intel and its partners will have some concepts on display at the forthcoming Mobile World Congress trade show. They also expect to bring these concepts to market during the second half of 2019.
Samsung today announced that it and several other companies have created a group called the Open Interconnect Consortium. The OIC's goal is to create a connection protocol for what is commonly referred to as the Internet of Things. Some of the other companies include Dell, Atmel, Intel, Broadcom, and Wind River. The group is focused on delivering a specification, an open source implementation, and a certification program for wirelessly connecting devices, such as smartphones, tablets, PCs, and various other bits of gear. The group will first target hardware common to homes and home offices, such as thermostats and refrigerators, and will expand from there. The OIC is competing with a similar group supported by Qualcomm and Microsoft.
Microsoft and Dell have inked a patent-licensing agreement in which Dell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties for sales of devices based on Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Android uses some patents that are owned by Microsoft, and most major handset makers have already signed similar licensing agreements with Microsoft. Motorola is the last major hold out because it believes its thousands of mobile patents negate the need to license Microsoft's. Terms of the agreement between Dell and Microsoft were not disclosed.
Dell confirmed that it no longer plans to make smartphones. Speaking at the Dell World conference, head of Dell's consumer business Jeff Clarke said that the company does not intend to return to the smartphone market in the near future. "It needs a lot of investments to really be successful," said Clarke. Dell had offered the Venue and Streak Android devices and the Venue Pro Windows Phone through its web site until March of this year. Dell continued to sell those devices in other markets, but Clarke's comments confirm that Dell is exiting the smartphone business entirely. For now, Dell will focus on its PC and and tablet computer businesses.
Dell has confirmed that it recently ceased offering smartphones to U.S. buyers. Dell had offered the Venue and Streak Android devices and the Venue Pro Windows Phone through its web site, but each of these products has reached end of life status in recent months and they are no longer available. Speaking to PC World, Dell confirmed said that it is still selling these devices in other markets, and that more mobile devices are planned. PCMag and AllThingsD reported that Dell will release new smartphones and tablets in the U.S. later this year, but the company isn't ready to provide information about those devices at this time.
Microsoft and AT&T are now delivering the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango update to the Dell Venue Pro. Microsoft encourages owners of the Venue Pro to update their devices. Instructions are available on Microsoft's support site.
WiLan, a Canadian patent-licensing firm, today announced that it has initiated legal proceedings against a number of technology companies over patent infringement. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, names Apple, Alcatel-Lucent, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, HTC America, Kyocera International, Kyocera Communications, Novatel Wireless, and Sierra Wireless America as the defendants. According to WiLan each of the companies is infringing upon two patents, one pertains to CDMA and HSPA, and the other pertains to LTE and Wi-Fi. Patent litigation has become an oft-used tool to generate income.
Qik today announced an update to its video chatting client for T-Mobile Android devices. The most significant change to the software is enhanced privacy controls. Users will now be able to block anonymous video callers, and all videos recorded will be set to private by default. This lets users specify which videos their contacts are able to see. Qik for T-Mobile is available to the myTouch 4G, Galaxy Tab, Dell Streak 7, Vibrant 4G, Sidekick 4G, G2x, Sensation 4G, and Samsung Exhibit 4G.
Microsoft today announced that more hardware makers will soon be bringing Windows Phone 7 devices to market. Acer, Fujitsu Limited, and ZTE Corporation all join Dell, HTC, LG, Nokia, and Samsung. The first Nokia WP7 device will have Mango.
Dell recently began offering a variant of its Venue Pro Windows Phone 7 smartphone with support for AT&T's 3G bands. The FCC approved the AT&T variant back in December, though until now, the Venue Pro has only been available with support for T-Mobile's 3G network. Dell is offering it for $99 with an AT&T contract.
Microsoft today published a blog post regarding the status of the NoDo update delivery. Microsoft noted that it is making progress in getting the update out to WP7 users as quickly as possible. It also asked users to wait for the official update and avoid using any of the homebrew methods of forcing the update. Microsoft explained, "If you attempt one of these workarounds, we can’t say for sure what might happen to your phone because we haven’t fully tested these homebrew techniques. You might not be getting the important device-specific software we would typically deliver in the official update. Or your phone might get misconfigured and not receive future updates. It’s even possible your phone might stop working properly. Bottom line: unsupported workarounds put you in uncharted territory that may void your phone warranty." T-Mobile subscribers who own the HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro should be receiving the update. NoDo is still being tested by AT&T, and a delivery is still targeted at later this month.
Dell has indicated via one of its Twitter accounts that it will start pushing out the NoDo update to the Venue Pro WP7 smartphone starting today. Dell will also be pushing a Dell-specific update to fix bugs at a later date.
Microsoft has published a web site to provide Windows Phone 7 users with a general idea of when they might expect their devices to receive the NoDo update. According to the site, Microsoft is scheduling the update for the Dell Venue Pro and HD7 (both on T-Mobile), which means it should be available in the next 10 days or so. The update is still being tested for other phones, such as the Surround, Quantum, and Focus, and the update has yet to be scheduled for them. NoDo provides copy and paste and better Marketplace search.
Dell had the Venue, its slab-style Android phone, on hand in Mobile World Congress. We check it out.
Hands-on with the full range of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 devices announced this week, including the HTC HD7 and Surround, LG Quantum, Samsung Focus, and Dell Venue Pro.