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End for Nokia if new Lumia phones fail: Analysts

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NEW YORK/SEATTLE: Microsoft and Nokiaare loading up for their best — and possibly last — shot at denting a smartphone market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Google’sAndroid mobile software.

If the new Lumia phones do not appeal to consumers when they are unveiled next Wednesday, it could mean the end for Nokia, and a serious blow to Microsoft’s attempts to regain its footing in the mobile market, analysts and investors said.

“This is very high stakes,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. “Nokia bet everything on Windows, and if this doesn’t succeed the next step might be having to do what’s best for shareholders, and that might include selling off key assets or selling the whole company.”

The Finnish handset maker has logged more than 3 billion euros in operating losses in the last 18 months, forcing it to cut 10,000 jobs and pursue asset sales.

Its share of the global smartphone market has plunged to less than 10 percent from 50 percent during its heyday before the iPhone was launched in 2007.

For Microsoft, a successful Lumia launch would convince more handset makers and carriers to support its latest phone software, which is based on the same code as the upcoming Windows 8computing system, and promises faster performance and a customizable start screen.

Windows phones have only captured 3.7 per cent of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics. Android phones have 68 per cent, while Apple has 17 per cent.

The new Lumia phones will hit the market just as the world of Android reels from a potentially crushing legal blow, and as Research In Motion’s BlackBerry continues its decline.

A California jury decided last week that some of Samsung Electronics’s hot-selling Android smartphones copied features of the iPhone, which may result in import bans and drive handset makers to put more resources into making Windows-based phones.

The judgment opens a window for Microsoft to exploit — but it first needs to find favor with consumers.

“Windows Phone really is going to have to stand or fall on its own, it’s going to have to appeal to consumers,” said Jack Gold, an independent mobile analyst who runs consultancy J Gold Associates.

Good timings
Nokia is expected to launch two new Lumia phones on September 5, on the same day that phone maker Motorola, now owned by Google, also unveils a new product.

It kicks off a busy fortnight for mobile devices, with Amazon.com expected to introduce new Kindle tablets on September 6. Apple is seen unveiling the newest iPhone on September 12.

The costlier of the two Lumias will go up against the iPhone, and is expected to feature a larger, brighter screen; a powerful camera on both sides; Qualcomm Inc dual-core chips; Skype calling; voice recognition; short-range radio technology for wireless payments and built-in maps for navigation.

But Lumia will need something completely different to beat the iPhone and Android, such as a bold new shape, exceptional camera quality or a mini-projector, said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at mobile diagnostics company Alekstra.

Part of the problem is that Windows Phones have only 100,000 or so apps, compared with about 500,000 for Android or iPhones.

“Developers want to see more devices, and people want to buy only when they see more apps,” said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen. “I’d say it will take years, they are so far behind.”

Nokia may not have years. Finland’s most famous company, relegated to second place in the global cellphone market by Samsung after more than a decade at the top, has bet its smartphone future on Microsoft.

Samsung stole some of Nokia’s limelight by being the first to unveil a phone based on Windows Phone 8 software on Wednesday, a week before Nokia’s event. Canaccord’s Walkley expects Samsung to offer steep price discounts for Windows phones in markets where Nokia is also launching its phones.

While Samsung, HTC and Huawei Technologies are also making phones based on the new Windows software, only Nokia is focused entirely on Windows Phone 8. This means that Nokia should be able to deliver more sophisticated Windows phones.

Support from carriers
The job of saving Nokia, and getting the new Windows Phone 8 software off to a strong start, falls to Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft star who forged the agreement between the two companies.

One thing Elop has in his ammunition bag is support from big US mobile service providers who want see Windows become a third strong smartphone platform to counterbalance the market heft of Android and Apple, which charges a heavy price premium.

Top US wireless providers Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA have all said they will support Windows Phone 8, and AT&T Inc said it will sell Nokia phones based on the Microsoft software.

“Everybody’s liking what they see coming from Microsoft with the Windows 8 (mobile) platform from the user experience perspective and the integration perspective,” said Bill Versen, a Verizon Wireless executive who works with business customers on their smartphone strategies.

“Enterprises have Windows-based platforms they’re using for their businesses. They’ve been waiting for Microsoft to mobilize that in a user-accepted way,” he added.

Because Microsoft’s new phone software is similar to the upcoming Windows 8 desktop and tablet software – to be released on October 26 – developers can more easily write apps for both, which should help the platform’s popularity and may even lead developers to eventually build apps for Windows before Android, Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said.

Microsoft actually makes more money from royalties on Android products than it does on sales of its own phone software, but “can’t afford not to have a significant position in the global smartphone market,” said CCS Insight analyst John Jackson.

Microsoft needs to get at least a 10 per cent share of the smartphone market by the end of 2013 to be a contender, Canaccord’s Walkley added.

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4G SIM में चलेगा 5G या खरीदना होगा नया सिम कार्ड और फोन: जानिए हर सवाल का जवाब

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5G launch होने के बाद कई लोग सोच रहे होंगे कि अब 4G SIM card का क्या करें? और 4G Phone का क्या? क्या उन्हें फेंकने और 5G पर स्विच होने का समय आ गया है? यदि आपके मन में भी ये सवाल उठ रहे हैं, तो पढ़ें

भारत में प्रधान मंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने आज आधिकारिक तौर पर 5G launch कर दिया है। आने वाले कुछ सालों में पूरे भारत में 5G services मिलना शुरू हो जाएंगी। रिलायंस जियो के साथ एयरटेल ने बताया कि जल्द ही 5G सर्विसेस को देशभर में रोलआउट किया जाएगा। भारत में 5G तेज इंटरनेट स्पीड लो लेटेंसी, साथ ही साथ विश्वसनीय कनेक्टिविटी जैसी सुविधाएं प्रदान करेगा। ऐसे में कई लोग सोच रहे होंगे कि अब 4G सिम कार्ड का क्या करें? क्या उन्हें दूर करने और 5G को पूरी तरह से अपनाने का समय आ गया है? और उन पुराने 4G स्मार्टफोन का क्या? क्या उन्हें दूर फेंकने और 5G कनेक्टिविटी पर स्विच करने का समय आ गया है? यदि आपके मन में भी ये सवाल उठ रहे हैं और आप कंफ्यूजन की स्थिति में हैं, तो यहां वह सब कुछ है जो आपको जानना आवश्यक है।

भारत में 5G लॉन्च, क्या अब 4G सिम कार्ड फेंकने का समय आ गया है?

– नहीं, फिलहाल कुछ सालों तो बिल्कुल नहीं! 5G के आने के बावजूद, 4G LTE है जो भारत के टेलीकम्युनिकेशन इंफ्रास्ट्रक्चर की रीढ़ बना रहेगा। अगले दो सालों में, एयरटेल और जियो जैसे दूरसंचार ऑपरेटर जितना संभव हो सके अपने 5G नेटवर्क का विस्तार करेंगे। तब तक, आपका 4G सिम कार्ड आज की तरह ही काम करता रहेगा।

– 5G अपने शुरुआती दिनों में उतना विश्वसनीय और आसानी से उपलब्ध नहीं होगा जितना आज 4G है। 5G केवल कुछ ही पॉकेट में उपलब्ध होगा, वह भी कुछ ही शहरों में। इसलिए, आपको कुछ क्षेत्रों में केवल 5G स्पीड मिलेगी और 4G वह है जिस पर उद्योग बाकी क्षेत्रों के लिए निर्भर करेगा।

– एयरटेल का कहना है कि उसके 4G सिम कार्ड यूज करने वाले ग्राहक बिना सिम कार्ड बदले 5G सर्विसेस का उपयोग तब कर सकेंगे, जब सर्विस उनके क्षेत्र में एक्टिवेट हो जाएगी। इसलिए आपको अपना 4G सिम कार्ड बिल्कुल भी फेंकना नहीं चाहिए। जियो ने अभी तक इस पर कोई स्पष्टीकरण जारी नहीं किया है।

– हम नहीं जानते कि भारत में 5G सर्विसेस की कीमत कितनी होगी। ऑपरेटरों ने संकेत दिया है कि भारत में 4G सर्विसेस की तुलना में 5G थोड़ा अधिक महंगा है और इसलिए अधिकांश लोगों के लिए 4G अधिक किफायती विकल्प बना रह सकता है। अधिकांश यूजर्स के लिए, 4G LTE सस्ती कीमतों पर पर्याप्त डेटा स्पीड प्रदान करना जारी रखेगा, जबकि 5G हाई स्पीड चाहने वाले प्रो यूजर्स की जरूरतों को पूरा कर सकता है।

क्या अब किसी काम के नहीं रहेंगे 4G स्मार्टफोन: क्या इन्हें फेंकन का समय आ गया है?

– बिल्कुल भी नहीं। यदि आप 4G स्मार्टफोन का उपयोग कर रहे हैं, तो 5G प्राप्त करने के लिए इसे फेंकने की कोई आवश्यकता नहीं है। कम से कम अगले कुछ सालों तक को बिल्कुल नहीं, 4G LTE ऑनलाइन होने का प्राइमरी तरीका बना रह सकता है। तो आपका 4G स्मार्टफोन आज की तरह काम करता रहेगा।

– जब 5G चलन में आता है, तब भी आपका 4G फोन और उसका 4G सिम कार्ड अच्छी तरह काम करता रहेगा। आप अपने पुराने फोन से हमेशा कोई न कोई उपयोग कर सकते हैं- जैसे कि आपकी कार के लिए एक GPS नेविगेशन यूनिट या आपके बच्चे के लिए पहला स्मार्टफोन।

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How design beats functionality in Technology

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Philip W Schiller, Apple’s vice president for marketing, strode across the stage of the California Theater in San Jose last week trumpeting the virtues of new Apple products. As he caressed the side of the latest iMac personal computer, he noted how thin it was – 5 millimeters, 80 percent thinner than the last one. Then he said, with an air of surprise, as if he had just thought of it: “Isn’t itamazing how something new makes the previous thing instantly look old?”

Umm, yes, Mr Schiller, you design your products that way. It is part of a strategy that Apple has perfected. How else can the company persuade people to replace their perfectly fine iPhone, iPad, iMac and iEverything else year after year?

In the past, electronics makers could convince consumers that the design was different, because it actually was. The first iMac, for example, was a blue bubble. Then it looked like a desk lamp, and now it is a rectangular sheet of glass with the electronics hidden behind it. The iPod designs changed, too, over time, before they became progressively smaller sheets of glass.

Certainly makers add features like better cameras or tweak the software – Siri and Passbook on theiPhone are examples of that for Apple – to persuade people to upgrade. But in the last few years, consumer electronics have started to share one characteristic, no matter who makes them: They are all rectangles. Now, companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google need to persuade consumers to buy new rectangles once a year.

“This phenomenon happened to the TV manufacturers a few years ago. They all started to look the same: flat panels on a wall,” said Donald A Norman, author of “The Design of Everyday Things.”

The consequences for manufacturers were disastrous. “Customers no longer had to buy the higher-end Sony model; instead, they could get the cheaper, Chinese one,” Norman said. “This is what today’s companies are scared of. Turn off the screen on a smartphone or tablet and they look identical. They’re just rectangles.”

Each year, Apple and other companies seem to put those rectangles in a vise, flatten them slightly, alter the exterior dimensions and showcase them as the next big, or little, thing. (Apple did not comment on its design strategy.)

This was not always the case. As a child I remember exploring my father’s Minolta film camera – a camera from the mid-1950s that was given to him by his father. Although film cameras are now for the most part obsolete, you can bet that camera can still take 36 pictures without a hitch.

Yet can you imagine, 10 years from now, someone handing a child an iPad Mini, the latest Apple gadget? They would scoff, just as people do today when they see an older – 2 or 3 years old – version of the iPhone.

There is a term for all of this: “planned obsolescence,” which was popularised in the 1950s by Brooks Stevens, an industrial designer who specialised in making new cars. Briskly adopted by post-war consumer goods industries, the strategy coaxed Americans to sell their 1955 Cadillacs for the 1956 Cadillacs with their pronounced tail fins, and then the 1957s with even more exaggerated fins, and then ’58s, ’59s and so on.

Stevens’ term was often misinterpreted as meaning things were designed to fall apart on a regular schedule. But he believed that true upgrades and design changes would make people want to buy the latest thing. That still holds true in this era, when consumers are supposedly wary of the hucksterism of manufacturers. If you don’t upgrade to the latest iPhone or iPad, you fear you may look dated and clueless, even though the rational part of your brain says, “This is a perfectly fine, useful device.”

Consumer electronics companies, Norman noted, have adopted the same marketing techniques the automobile industry perfected decades ago.

“This is an old-time trick – they’re not inventing anything new,” he said. “Yet it’s to the detriment of the consumer and the environment, but perhaps to the betterment of the stockholder.”

He added: “For Apple, you forgot the other trick: change the plugs!” While the rest of the electronics industry has adopted micro-USB ports, Apple just changed the proprietary ports and plugs on all of its latest devices – laptops, iPads and iPhones included.

Even so, my first iPod still plays music. My laptop from four years ago can still browse the Web. And my first e-readers can still display books.

It seems some consumers are starting to feel upgrade fatigue. There is no lift in PC sales, and people are owning them longer. A report by Recon Analytics, a market research firm, found that people around the globe were waiting longer to buy new mobile phones. In 2007, Americans upgraded their phones every 18.7 months on average; three years later, that number had stretched to 21.1 months. In Finland, people now wait 74.5 months to upgrade, compared with 41.8 months in 2007.

Maybe Schiller’s comment about the iMac isn’t how consumers see it anymore. Instead, people are starting to realise that these upgraded products are simply flatter rectangles that don’t really offer much more than the last model. Just like the tail fins on the ’56 Cadillac.

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Can Windows Phone 8 stop Nokia’s downward spiral?

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For Nokia, it comes down to this: Is Microsoft’s new phone software going to get it back in the smartphone race, or is it going to be too late?

After being the top seller of cellphones in the world for 14 years, Nokia failed to meet the challenge when Apple in 2007 introduced thedazzling iPhone that caught the imagination of design-conscious customers and rattled mobile markets.

The Finnish company hit a downward spiral that has led to shrinking sales and market share, plant closures, thousands of layoffs and downgrades by credit agencies to junk status.

On Friday, research firm IDC said that in the July-to-September period, Nokia slid for the first time off the list of the top five smartphone makers in the world. It’s still the second-largest maker of phones overall, but sales of non-smartphones are shrinking across the industry, and there’s little profit there.

The ailing company’s CEO, Stephen Elop, sees Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 software as a chance to reverse that trend, describing it as a catalyst for the new models.

On Monday, Microsoft is hosting a big launch event for the software at an arena in San Francisco. The first Windows 8 phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC are expected to hit store shelves next month.

The launch of Windows Phone 8 follows on the heels of Windows 8 for PCs and tablets, which Microsoft released on Friday. That operating system has borrowed its look from Windows Phone, meaning Microsoft now has a unified look across PCs and phones – at least if people take to Windows 8. The company has also made it easy for developers to create software that runs on both platforms with minor modifications.

Analysts are calling this a make-or-break moment for Nokia.

“Nokia is placing a huge bet on Microsoft and if the gamble doesn’t pay off, the losses can be high,” said Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics, near London. “It’s putting all its eggs in one basket and that’s quite a high-risk strategy.”

In February last year, Nokia announced it was teaming up with Microsoft to replace its old Symbian and next-generation MeeGo software platforms with Windows. This move was made in the hope that it would rejuvenate the company and claw back lost ground.

Eight months later, they produced the first Nokia Windows Phone. Consumers didn’t warm to it, and it soon became clear that these phones, based on Windows Phone 7, were going to become obsolete. They can’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8. Lumia sales slumped to 2.9 million units in the third quarter after reaching 4 million in the previous three months.

“Retailers withdrew marketing and promotion because no one wants to sell customers a device that ages in a few months,” says Michael Schroeder, analyst at FIM Bank in Helsinki.

“Had there been a seamless transfer to Windows 8 from the old (Lumia) devices, sales figures would have been much higher last quarter.”

Mawston gives Nokia until April to prove it’s still in the race.

“If Nokia does not have more than 5 percent of the global smartphone market by the end of the first quarter 2013, alarm bells will be ringing,” Mawston said.

Analysts estimate Nokia’s current global smartphone market share to be some 4 percent – down from 14 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, uncertainty clouds its new venture with Microsoft.

“We’re a bit in the dark here,” Schroeder said. “Right now we can’t really say anything about Nokia’s future. Everything depends on how the new devices are received in the market.”

Nokia says its Lumia 920 and 820 phones are just the beginning of a new range of Windows Phone 8 devices, but early evaluations suggest they lack the “wow” effect necessary to make a dent in the smartphone market.

Also, Windows Phone 8 lags behind in the number of third-party applications available. There are some 100,000 available. Google’s and Apple’s stores have six or seven times as many.

“It’s a perception thing really,” Mawston of Strategy Analytics said. “Like in supermarket wars, if you have a store with lots of shelves with lots of apps, then consumers will choose you over a smaller store that has a smaller offering – even if you can’t use all those apps.”

Analysts expect 700 million smartphones to be sold worldwide this year. While network operators and retailers may welcome a third software system to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it is the consumer who will ultimately decide Nokia’s and Windows Phone 8’s fate.

Beside the smartphone challenge, Nokia is feeling the pinch in the lower end with manufacturers in China and in Asia producing cut-rate non-smartphones – Nokia’s former domain. Earlier this year, Samsung overtook it as the world’s no. 1 mobile phone vendor, ending Nokia’s reign that peaked in 2008 with a 40 percent market share.

“Dumb” phones continue to be the backbone of Nokia operations, including in India where it’s a top seller. With strong and extensive distribution networks and a brand well-known in emerging markets, all might not be lost for the company that grew from making paper and rubber boots to being the biggest manufacturer of cellphones.

Mawston says that in theory, Nokia and Microsoft have a good chance of success as they offer an across-the-board system that stretches across home computers, mobiles, laptops, tablets as well as in the office, backed by Nokia’s strong distribution and hardware and Microsoft’s multi-platform software.

“If they can exploit that underlying market platform… and tie it all together in a good hardware portfolio, then potentially Microsoft and Nokia could be a very, very strong partnership – a bit like bringing together Batman and Robin,” Mawston said. “But, in practice, whether they can execute on that reality still is a great unknown and remains to be seen.”

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