Archive for July, 2009

Global Phone Market Down 11%

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Research firm IDC finds that the worldwide market for mobile phones is fell 10.8 percent in the second quarter, with small signs of improvement in smartphone sales.

Market research firm IDC has released its figures for worldwide smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2009, and while the number are an improvement over the first quarter of the year, shipments were still off 10.8 percent compared to the same quarter of 2008. And that first quarter was even worse than IDC thought: IDC has revised its shipment figures for the first quarter to a 17.1 percent year-on-year decline, even steeper than the 15.8 percent it initially reported.

IDC cited uncertain demand, exchange rate volatility, and aggressive channel destocking as key factors in the decline, although demand for high-end smartphones has created a bit of a price war among large mobile operators and handset vendors, led by Apple’s price cut on the iPhone 3G.

“Vendors who were able to adjust quickly were rewarded with greater shipment volumes,” said IDC senior research analyst Ramon Llamas, in a statement. “Although this tested the handset vendors’ abilities to hit a moving target, customers reaped the benefits of lower costs, even on key high-end devices.”

According to IDC, Nokia remains the top handset maker on earth with second quarter shipments of 103.2 million units—although that’s a year-on-year decline of 15.4 percent. Samsung took second place with 52.3 million units shipped, while LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson rounded out the top five manufacturers. Of the major makers, only Samsung and LG saw positive growth in shipments between 2008 and 2009; Motorola saw the steepest decline, with a 47 percent year-on-year drop in shipments, although it managed to ship more handsets in the second quarter of 2009 than in the first.

Overall, IDC forecasts that the global handset market will decline some 13 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.

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AT&T Is HSPA Penetration Leader

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With 21% of all global HSPA subscribers, AT&T beats out such giants as NTT DoCoMo, according to a GSMA report

As the number of high-speed packet access (HSPA) subscribers approaches the 150 million mark globally, one name stands out on GSM Association’s list of most active HSPA operators: AT&T (NYSE:T). According to the GSMA, AT&T has 28.6 million HSPA connections, accounting for 21% of all HSPA subscriptions worldwide.

In fact, AT&T eclipses most of the major names in the global GSM operator community in terms of penetration. Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) and O2 (NYSE:TEF) in the UK have 2.1 million and 2.3 million HSPA subscribers, while NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) and Softbank in Japan have 5.1 million and 4.3 million respectively. The only operators approaching AT&T’s penetration levels are the Korean service providers, KT (NYSE:KTC) and SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM), which like AT&T launched their wideband-CDMA (W-CDMA) networks with the HSPA upgrade installed on day one. Still, KT has 9.5 million and SK has 12.4 million HSPA subscribers, less than half the number of AT&T.

AT&T’s lead in HSPA ironically is a direct result of it being so late to 3G. Deploying its first commercial 3G networks in late 2005, AT&T (then Cingular) was several years behind its Asian and European counterparts, but by waiting AT&T was also able to take advantage of new HSPA technologies as they emerged. The result: every AT&T 3G customer is an HSPA customer, while most other global operators have large stores of W-CDMA customers, whose network connections are slower but 3G nonetheless. DoCoMo, for instance, has 48 million W-CDMA subscribers on top of its 5.1 million HSPA customers.

T-Mobile USA (NYSE:DT), which launched 3G just last year, also only has HSPA subscribers on its 3G network—and a large number of them at that, considering its footprint is far from nationwide. New devices like the Android G1 have ballooned T-Mobile’s HSPA subscriber base to 2.6 million, putting it just outside of the global top 10, according to the GSMA.

Globally, 230 operators have deployed the HSPA upgrade and have a signed up a total of 131 million HSPA customers. The GSMA said that number is quickly growing, surpassing the 150 million mark by the end of the summer and reaching the 200 million in the first quarter of 2010. There are 255 million W-CDMA subscribers on 236 global networks, the GSMA report found, bringing the total number of UMTS 3G subscribers to 386 million. CDMA operators have also enjoyed high 3G and mobile broadband growth. CDMA 1X EV-DO customers grew from 97 million to 120 million between March of 2008 and March of 2009, making EV-DO a component of one quarter of all CDMA 1X connections.

Even though it was the first to deploy HSPA, AT&T has since been leapfrogged by other operators who have latched on to later-stage, faster iterations of the UMTS standard. Several operators have moved on to the final evolution of HSPA, supporting 14.4 Mb/s of capacity on a single channel, while Telstra in Australia has moved to evolved HSPA (or HSPA+), giving it 21 Mb/s of downlink capacity. AT&T’s networks have a maximum capacity of 3.6 Mb/s, but it is now in the process of upgrading to 7.2 Mb/s and has already started selling devices such as the iPhone 3G S, that can support the faster speeds. AT&T also plans to skip the upgrade to 14.4 Mb/s and move directly to HSPA+ before launching its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network.

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iphone Virus Attacks SMS

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iPhone virus attack. Can your iPhone be infected with virus? If you thought that iPhones came from mars and were secure from hacking, viruses and Trojans, beware. It was just a sweet dream.

Chris Miller today demonstrated that we all feared so far, our prized iPhones being infected by viruses and being hacked by hackers who so far had a field day harming our computers and taking over our machines.

Even last year there was a scare. A Trojan was reported last year that targeted iPhones. Targeting only “jailbroken” iPhones (which have been modified to allow the installation of third-party applications), this trojan masquerades as an update Erica’s Utilities and is named “113 prep.” Simply running the application causes no harm – it simply prints the word “shoes” to the screen.

Uninstalling the application, however, removes certain files from the iPhone’s /bin directory, making it impossible for various applications to function correctly.

Security research firm F-Secure, had also confirmed that early user reports were indeed the result of a malicious application.

Reports show that as per demonstration, and elaborating on the earlier story, the hack takes advantage of a memory corruption in how the iPhone handles SMS messages. There is still no patch for this, though Miller acted as a white-hat iPhone hacker and told Apple about the flaw six weeks ago.

In the meantime during a security conference in Las Vegas, author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, Dai Zovi said that once hackers start to put substantial resources into targeting Apple’s computers, they will be at least as vulnerable as Windows machines.

This disturbing news comes merely a month after the launch of iPhone 3GS.

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Samsung a777 Phone Here

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Samsung a777 Phone (a777 3G-enabled slider for AT&T) is the modernized version of its popular a737 slider phone and owing to modernization has come to the fore has come with a pack of better features. If you can get hold of one such model, you can feel the difference instantly. Besides sleeker styling, the a777 contains GPS capabilities, that enables the consumer to access the optional AT&T Navigator service for turn-by-turn directions.

Other AT&T exclusive features include over-the-air music downloads from AT&T Mobile Music (as well as compatibility with the Napster Mobile subscription service) and the Video Share service, which enables the user to send video of him/herself to another well-suited phone while making a voice call.

What’s more, on account of this matchless design, you can make best use of a 1.3-megapixel camera with video capture capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity for both handsfree devices and stereo music streaming, MicroSD memory expansion (up to 8 GB), multi-format digital audio player, quad-band GSM connectivity for global roaming, access to personal email and instant messaging services, and up to 3 hours of talk time.

Its technical details include:

* Affordable 3G-enabled slider phone in blue with 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder and digital audio player

* Compatible with AT&T Navigator GPS, Video Share, AT&T Mobile Music, and streaming video from Cellular Video service

* Bluetooth for handsfree devices and stereo music; MicroSD expansion to 8 GB; access to personal email and instant messaging

* Up to 3 hours of talk time, up to 250 hours (10+ days) of standby time

* What’s in the Box: handset, battery, charger, user manual, quick start guide

This AT&T phone has the intrinsic ability to cope with high-speed data connectivity via AT&T’s 3G mobile broadband data network, which is available in most major metropolitan areas. The AT&T 3G network makes use of the dual-band 850/1900 MHz 3G network (UMTS/HSDPA), which renders download speeds ranging from 700 Kbps to 1.7 Mbps, and upload speeds ranging from 500 Kbps to 1.2 Mbps.

As a result of all these, you can enjoy an assortment of feature-rich wireless multimedia services, and it gives you the advantage of offering simultaneous voice and data services.

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Symbian OK'S Bad Code

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The Symbian mobile OS is used by millions of phones globally and thanks to a (now corrected) oversight they could have potentially installed malware — with Symbian’s approval.

Symbian has a program called Symbian Signed — which digitally signs applications that meet the approval of Symbian. That system was thwarted and a piece of mobile malware known as Transmitter.C (aka Sexy Space and Sexy View) was signed. Symbian admitted the signing on Thursday and also provided a fix which demonstrates the power of the signing process.
“As soon as we were notified of that (the following day) we revoked both the content certificate and the publisher certificate used to sign the malware,” Symbian security chief Craig Heath blogged. “That means that the Symbian software installer will not now install the malware, providing that revocation checking is turned on.”

OK, so Symbian signed a bad piece of code — that’s bad — but the signing system does work as it should, doesn’t it? You see, with a digital signature or certificate there is always a signing authority. That authority not only signs the app but it is also where browsers (in this case the mobile phone) checks to ensure the authenticity of the signature or certificate. The signing authority can revoke a certificate/signature which is exactly what Symbian is doing in this case.

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Verizon Spends $105 Million On Florida

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Verizon Wireless said Thursday it spent $105 million in the first half of 2009 to boost its network and services across Florida.

The enhancements included the activation of 30 new cell sites or towers to strengthen coverage and increase 3G high-speed wireless services. And the start of construction on a new $50 million South Florida call processing center in Broward County.

The 45,000 square-foot facility — designed to withstand a Catergory-5 hurricane — will serve as its main call-processing hub for South Florida, serving customers from Broward to Key West.

Slated to open later this year, the center will handle millions of voice calls and wireless data transmissions such as text messages and Internet connections daily, the company said.

The center will act as Verizon’s emergency operations center in South Florida, and will house a fleet of mobile cell tower units for use during and after events like hurricanes.

Since 2000, Verizon has invested nearly $2 billion on network upgrades in Florida.

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iphone Holding AT&T Back

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Empty pockets and tight budgets are in style this season, but it looks like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) missed the memo. The company reported an unfashionably prosperous third fiscal quarter, growing its revenue nearly 12 percent year over year to US$8.34 billion. Its gross margins shot up to 36.3 percent, compared to last year’s 34.8.

Where did it all come from? Well, there was a 4 percent uptick in Mac sales, which may have something to do with the Macbook improvements it’s made over the last year. iPod sales actually trailed off by 7 percent. The real star was the iPhone, and the release of the new 3GS model and a price cut on the old version managed to move 5.2 million units, representing growth of 626 percent. That’s 5.2 million iPhones sold in Q3 alone.

Almost all of those sold in the U.S. — along with the many millions sold in previous quarters — send a handful of cash AT&T’s (NYSE: T) way every month in the form of mobile data fees. So the iPhone must be great for AT&T’s bottom line, right? Not entirely.

AT&T also pays a big fat subsidy on most of the new iPhones it sells. As iPhone sales accelerate, so do AT&T’s expenses. Sure, the idea is to eventually get the money back — and then some — by chaining you to a contract for a couple of years. But for now, it just has to keep feeding the beast. That grocery bill ground down the company’s profit by 15 percent in its second quarter this year.

Also, iPhone users tend to deal with a lot more wireless data than other smartphone users — all that browsing and Facebooking and Twittering and app downloading really adds up. AT&T has has to pump money into its 3G infrastructure just to keep pace. So, when the iPhone 4G eventually comes out — you just know it’s gonna happen someday — who knows whether AT&T or someone like Verizon would be the best carrier for the job?

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