Apple Leads U.S. Smartphone Market, But Android Is Top OS
While Samsung sits atop the global smartphone market, things are a little different here in the U.S., where Apple currently leads the pack, according to new data from comScore.
As of February, Apple ranked as the top phone maker with 38.9 percent share of U.S. smartphone subscribers, up 3.9 percentage points from November. Samsung took second place with 21.3 percent market share, up 1 percent.
Rounding out the top five were HTC, Motorola, and LG, all of which lost share in February. No. 3 HTC dropped 1.7 percentage points to nab 9.3 percent share while Motorola lost 1.1 percent to grab 8.4 percent; and LG took 6.8 percent, a 0.2 percent drop.
Meanwhile, Google's Android once again ranked as the most popular operating system as of February. However, Android's share of the market dropped exactly 2 percent to 51.7 percent. Apple, on the other hand, saw its iOS platform increase 3.9 percent to grab 38.9 percent share.
BlackBerry came in third with 5.4 percent share, a 1.9 point drop, while Microsoft increased 0.2 points to nab 3.2 percent and take fourth place, and fifth-place Symbian remained flat with 0.5 percent share.
‘Facebook Phone’ Rumors Return Ahead of April 4 Android Event
Facebook on Thursday sent out invites for an April 4 event that encouraged members of the press to "come see our new home on Android."
The announcement naturally stirred up rumors about the elusive "Facebook Phone." According to TechCrunch, the social network will introduce a modified version of the Android operating system "with deep native Facebook functionality on the homescreen" of an HTC device.
Instead of debuting an all-out rewrite of the Google-based OS, sources told TechCrunch that it will instead be a new "flavor" with added Facebook functionality built in. It could also serve as an "application layer" integrating native apps like Messenger into the phone.
The concept of a "Facebook phone" is not new, though. In early 2011, HTC unveiled a small family of smartphones with a dedicated Facebook button, including the ChaCha, Salsa, and Status. While none of those phones were particularly popular, the two companies seem to have built long-lasting partnership.
9to5Google this week reported that HTC and Facebook have been working on a major marketing campaign, building ads that focus on the phone's potential user, not the hardware or software. One of the taglines, 9to5Google said, is "more than just an app."
Report: Google Prepping Android-Based Smartwatch
Just days after a Samsung executive claimed that the company is working on its own smartwatch to rival Apple's rumored iWatch, a new report has surfaced that indicates Google is working to bring a smartwatch to market, too.
In a report filed earlier this week by the Financial Times, the paper cites a source "briefed on the project" who said Google's Android team is developing a smartwatch that would act as a kind of peripheral device for smartphones.
Although Google is generally not as tight-lipped about impending product releases as Apple, a company famous for its secrecy regarding new releases, the search giant tends to do a good job of keeping major announcements under wraps until launch day. That's why these new rumblings about a wearable device that isn't Google Glass have come as something of a surprise to those who follow the company closely.
Lost in all of the talk about these supposedly innovative smartwatches is the fact that Sony already has a smartwatch of sorts available, a device (pictured) that delivers on its promises, but hasn't sparked a great deal of excitement from consumers. Additionally, the Kickstarter-backed Pebble smartwatch has finally begun to find its way into the hands of the project's supporters, but so far it doesn't appear to be the revolutionary game changer some may have imagined it to be.
Google Combines Android, Chrome Teams, Pichai Takes Over for Rubin
Google announced today that it will combine its Android and Chrome teams, and hand over control of the newly formed division to Sundar Pichai, current senior vice president of Chrome.
Andy Rubin (left), who has served as Android chief, "decided it's time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google," Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a blog post.
Page did not elaborate on what that new chapter will entail. But in a memo to staff published by theWall Street Journal, Rubin said "I am an entrepreneur at heart and now is the right time for me to start a new chapter within Google."
"I am amazed by what we have accomplished from those early days (not so long ago!), and remain passionate about the power of a simple idea and a shared goal - an open source platform freely available to everyone - to transform computing for people everywhere," Rubin wrote.
Page, meanwhile, championed the growth of Android, which is now the most popular mobile operating system in the world, and encouraged Rubin to develop "more moonshots please!"
"Pichai will lead Android, in addition to his existing work with Chrome and Apps," Page said. "Sundar has a talent for creating products that are technically excellent yet easy to use—and he loves a big bet."
HP Unveils $169, 7-Inch Android Tablet
HP today formally entered the Android tablet space with the introduction of the HP Slate at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
HP said the 7-inch HP Slate will be available in the U.S. in April (though the Slate website currently says May), starting at $169, which is less than Google's own 7-inch Nexus 7, which starts at $199.
The Slate will run a 1.6-GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. There's 3-megapixel rear-facing camera and a VGA camera on the front. HP also touted the embedded Beats Audio and the HP ePrint app for home and on-the-go printing. A micro USB port allows for the transfer of files.
HP is offering a two-year HP Care Pack warranty for $29 or a two-year HP Care Pack with Accidental Damage Protection (ADP) for $49.
Rumors about an Android-based tablet from HP cropped up earlier this month. HP has fallen behind on mobile in recent years. In 2010, it completed its $1.2 billion acquisition Palm, and by early 2011, it unveiled the webOS-based HP Veer and Pre 3 smartphones, as well as the TouchPad tablet. The TouchPad was barely on the market, however, before HP discontinued support for webOS devices in Aug. 2011, including the TouchPad.
HP said today that the Slate does not mean the company will become an Android-only shop.
Report: HP Prepping Android-Based Tablet
Hewlett-Packard is turning its attention to Android and will release several gadgets that run Google's mobile OS, according to a new report from ReadWrite.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the blog said the first Android-based HP device will be a tablet powered by Nvidia's Tegra 4 chip, which made its debut at CES. It's not clear, however, if HP will venture into Android-powered smartphones.
An HP spokeswoman said the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.
HP has fallen behind on mobile in recent years. In 2010, it completed its $1.2 billion acquisition Palm, and by early 2011, it unveiled the HP Veer and Pre 3 smartphones, as well as the TouchPad tablet (above).
The TouchPad was barely on the market, however, before HP discontinued support for webOS devices in Aug. 2011, including the TouchPad. It even considered ditching its PC business, but reversed course after Meg Whitman took over as CEO. The move left the future of webOS in doubt, but by year's end, HP decided to open source the OS.
Android Helps Samsung Secure ‘Colossal’ Lead Over Apple iPhone
While many might consider the iPhone to be the most dominant smartphone in the land, it's Android-based phones - particularly those from Samsung - that rule the roost.
According to Thursday data from Canalys, Android smartphones made up 34 percent of global phone shipments during the fourth quarter, while iOS came in at 11 percent. Overall, smartphones represented 50 percent of the phones that shipped during the quarter.
Drilling down on smartphones, Android handsets made up 69 percent of the 216.5 million devices that shipped. That's down from 74 percent as Apple jumped from 15 percent to 22 percent, thanks to the iPhone 5. BlackBerry and Windows Phone stayed the same at 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Canalys found that Samsung had a "very strong" quarter, growing 78 percent, while Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, and Yulong also saw triple-digit percentage increases. Huawei took the third-place spot behind Apple for the first time, followed by ZTE. They have been "relatively successful" in the U.S., with ZTE in fourth and Huawei in fifth, thanks to low-cost LTE phones. Still, neither have more than 5 percent share in the states.
The faltering handset makers, meanwhile, have a long road ahead of them. Sony fell out of the top five altogether, making way for Lenovo.
"BlackBerry, Microsoft and Nokia, as well as other Android vendors, have strategies and devices in place to attack, but the task is daunting to say the least," Pete Cunningham, a principal analyst at Canalys, said in a statement.
Kindle Fire Nabs 33 Percent of U.S. Android Tablet Market
The U.S. is dominating the Android tablet race, and consumers here seem particularly enamored with Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Approximately 59 percent of the Android tablets equipped with Localytics-intregrated apps are from the U.S. Of those, 33 percent are Amazon Kindle Fires, the firm said in a new report. The Nook follows in second with 10 percent, the Samsung Galaxy in third with 9 percent, and the Nexus 7 in fourth with 8 percent.
About 5 percent of Android tablets were based in Great Britain, while Korea and Spain had 2 percent of the market each. Localytics assigned the additional 31 percent to the "other" category.
Despite its popularity in the U.S., though, the Kindle Fire doesn't really register overseas, though it's only been available in select international markets for a short time. Eighty-nine percent of the Kindle Fire tablets logged by Localytics were from the U.S., with "most of the rest" in the U.K. "After those two, no other country has even one percent of worldwide Kindle Fires," Localytics said.
"Should [Amazon] get the distribution part right, their US success suggests they could quickly dominate the Android tablet market worldwide," Localytics said.
Panasonic Unveils Windows, Android-Powered Toughpad Tablets
For those mobile users who work in fields like the military, construction, and utilities, or just can't seem to keep a steady grip on their devices, Panasonic announced two new enterprise-grade Toughpad tablets.
Designed for mission-critical and highly mobile workers, the Toughbook brand now includes the 10-inch Windows 8 Pro Toughpad FZ-G1 and the 7-inch Android-powered Toughpad JT-B1 tablet (pictured).
Panasonic introduced the newest in its family of ruggedized tablets for businesses and government organizations at this week's 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Toughpad FZ-G1 runs on Microsoft's Windows 8 Pro operating system, featuring 4GB to 8GB of RAM with an optional micro SDXC, up to eight hours of battery life, and built-in Wi-Fi, plus the option to embed a 4G LTE or 3G network connection. Weighing in at 2.43 pounds with a 10-inch display, the tablet can withstand a 4-foot drop and temperatures between 14 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.